The Empire of Fear & the Media
Robert Fisk wrote: “… a bejewelled lady on Fox TV telling American viewers that if “we” left Iraq, the “jihadists” would come after us. “They want a Caliphate that will take over the world,” she shrieked about a report that two children had deliberately been placed in an Iraqi car bomb which then exploded. She ranted on about how Muslim “jihadists” had been doing this “since the 1970s in Lebanon”. It was tosh, of course. Children were never locked into car bombs in Beirut – and there weren’t any “jihadists” around in the Lebanese civil war of the 1970s. But fear had been sown … fear seems to drip off the trees in America.
Dr Michael Noll’s students at Valdosta … packed into the same lecture I had given in Egypt and seemed to share a lot of the same fears about Iraq. But a sullen seminar that same morning was a miserable affair in which a young woman seemed to break down in anger. If “we” left Iraq, she said in a quavering voice, the jihadists, the “terrorists”, could come here to America. They would attack us right here.
I sighed with frustration. I was listening to her voice but it was also the voice of the woman on Fox TV, the repeated, hopeless fantasy of Bush and Blair: that if we fail in Iraq, “they”, the monstrous enemy, will arrive on our shores. Every day in the American papers now, I read the same “fear” transformed into irrationality … And I realise that the girl in Dr Noll’s seminar isn’t spouting this stuff about “jihadists” travelling from Iraq to America because she supports Bush. She is just frightened. She is genuinely afraid of all the “terror” warnings, the supposed “jihadists” threats, the red “terror” alerts and the purple alerts and all the other colour-coded instruments of fear. She believes her president, and her president has done Osama bin Laden’s job for him: he has crushed this young woman’s spirit and courage.
But America is not at war. There are no electricity cuts on Valdosta’s warm green campus … There is no food rationing. There are no air-raid shelters or bombs or “jihadists” stalking these God-fearing folk. It is the US military that is at war, engaged in an Iraqi conflict that is doing damage of a far more subtle kind to America’s social fabric.” read the article
… Can the BBC tell the truth about UK government crimes in Iraq when its senior managers are appointed by the government? … Why did the British and American mass media fail to challenge even the most obvious government lies on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction before the invasion in March 2003? Why did the media ignore the claims of UN weapons inspectors that Iraq had been 90-95 per cent “fundamentally disarmed” as early as 1998?
Guardians of Power, the myth of liberal media
Update: Sophia‘s comment led me to a very interesting interview in 2003 with Barry Glassner, professor of sociology at the University of Southern California, the author of the 1999 bestseller “The Culture of Fear: Why Americans Are Afraid of the Wrong Things”.