Propaganda. It's defined as "A concerted set of messages aimed at influencing the opinions or behavior of large numbers of people." To add a little bit to the context of what I will discuss, I will take it one step further.
Hate Propaganda. It's defined as "...the systematic dissemination of doctrine, rumour or selected information to promote or injure a particular race, color, ethnicity, religion or national origin."
The Republican Party just finished their National Convention, in which John S. McCain and Sarah Palin were officially nominated as the Republican candidates for President and Vice President of the United States. Now, there is much to be said about McCain, Palin, how she was picked, whether or not McCain is ready, whether or not Palin is qualified, etc. ad nauseum. But this isn't about those two, specifically. This is about a piece of propaganda that aired during the Convention. The piece was propaganda on the same level as D.W. Griffith's "The Birth of a Nation." If you're not aware of the film, it was basically a recruitment film for the Ku Klux Klan. Don't believe me?This is the poster.
So yes, "The Birth of a Nation" is not exactly progressive in it's approach to race relations. What does this film have to do with the Republican National Convention's "Tribute To 9/11 Video"? Absolutely everything. If you wish, you can click here to see it in its entirety. The link also has journalism's Prophet of Rage, Keith Olbermann apologizing on behalf of his network. Olbermann may have one of his patented Special Commentaries about this, but I decided that I couldn't wait for Olbermann to express what I was feeling. Let's begin.
The piece is supposed to be a "Tribute To 9/11."
See? It says it right there: "9/11 Video Tribute."
The house lights dim, and an ominous piano sets the stage for what we're about to see. So, how does this Tribute To 9/11 begin? Of course, it should begin with showing the courageous efforts of First Responders, the police, the military, and common everyday citizens showing remarkable courage in the face of an unforeseen catastrophe. That's what a tribute's supposed to be, right? Well, THIS piece of propaganda filth begins with...
A shot from the Iran Hostage Crisis. The ominous Narrator of Doom tells us "The first attack occurred in Iran... 444 days America held hostage."
Stop right there. My first reaction was that, as usual, the Republicans in this God-awful administration are tying together pieces that have nothing to do with each other. I first thought "What does the Iran Hostage Crisis have to do with 9/11?" If you said "nothing", then you get a silver star. However, if you dig a little deeper, you'll see that this video is designed to anger up the blood against Iran, who is on President Bush's "Axis of Evil." Pretty sneaky, sis. They are reminding us about how we were attacked by Al Qaeda by opening with images of Iranians holding Americans hostage. In other words, the Right is hammering the point home that Iranians are bad, too. The Republican Party sets the tone by tying an event from 1981 to the United States being attacked on 9/11. It's clever in its wickedness.
They move on from there to show all sorts of shots of terrorists rallying against the country, including this one:
...and the narrator reminds us that those big bad terrorists have been always pushing our buttons. The attack on the USS Cole is pictured, but the attack on U.S. troops in Beirut was oddly missing. My speculation is that since this attack happened under the watch of President and Patron Saint Ronald Reagan, it would undermine the current theme of this film. Even if it's not the case, it's strangely odd that an attack that killed 241 American servicemen was not featured as part of how "the terrorists" have been picking on poor ol' U.S.A. A shot of this terrorist is also featured in the video:
...you remember him, right? Osama bin Laden? The guy who actually ORCHESTRATED 9/11?!? The guy who is still making "Death To America" mixtapes in the caves of Afghanistan and/or Pakistan? Moving on...
Then, we get to the meat of this propaganda sammich.
Clips from the destruction of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon are shown over... and over... and over again.
Is it really a tribute to show horrific catastrophes over and over again? That's not a tribute, to me. That's like showing a tribute to police officers by airing footage of them being killed in action, or showing a tribute to firemen by watching a burning structure collapse on them and entomb them. What's next? A tribute to Hiroshima by showing mushroom clouds and the entire region being vaporized? A tribute to JFK by showing the assassin's bullet ripping his skull open? The Ominous Narrator chimes in on the attacks, and accompanies the footage by saying "...and kill us, they did. This time, on American soil. The date was September 11. 9/11." To bring the point home, the Evil Narrator of Doom also reminds the good citizens of the Republican Party of some more points, that need to be analyzed and dissected before it's swallowed whole like the poison it is.
Quote: "This enemy sworn to our destruction has been at war with us for decades. This we now know."
Analysis: For one, "decades" is a bit of a stretch, especially in the context of this video. The video opens with the Iran Hostage Crisis, which is about as far from 9/11 on every aspect as President Bush is from competence as a President. Remember, Al Qaeda is NOT based in Iran, and there wasn't even such a thing AS Al-Qaeda when the U.S. hostages were taken. Furthermore, it should be noted that the U.S. hostages were freed in the absolutely scandalous Iran-Contra Affair, in which "members of the Executive Branch (of the United States Government) sold weapons to Iran in exchange for hostages." It's not only disingenuous to paint Obama's ideas as appeasement, but it's downright hypocritical, seeing as how the Republicans TRADED WEAPONS WITH OUR "ENEMY."
The "decades" line is also a lie because the first public reference to Al Qaeda occurred in 1998, under an Executive Order from Bill Clinton, two weeks after the bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Furthermore, the first attack involving Osama bin Laden occurred around 1992, when bin Laden attacked a hotel.
This "decades" line is a propaganda piece because it lumps any Islamic faction that has anything to do with enmity of the U.S. into one lump of "Islamofascist terrorism." This video fans the flames of xenophobia wrapped in the comfortable blanket of Old Glory. It fails to underscore the differences between the Iranians that held the U.S. hostage, Al Qaeda, and Iraq. It also misleads the average person into ignoring how Americans' own actions precluded the Iranian Hostage Crisis and the attack on 9/11.
"We know this now" is another problematic phrase, because it misleads the average person into believing that we were blindsided and 'poor old Uncle Sam' was minding its own business when the bad guys attacked. But the Iranian Hostage Crisis...
...was seen by many as a blow against U.S. influence in Iran and its support of the recently fallen Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who had been restored to power by a CIA-funded coup in 1953 and who had recently been allowed into the United States for cancer treatment.Furthermore, a little research into Al Qaeda shows that its origin started as a result of the Soviet war in Afghanistan, that began in 1978. At the time, and leading into the 1980's, the Soviet Union was the big bully on the global block. And the U.S., wanting to stop the spread of Communism, did its part by funding the mujahedeen and the Taliban through Pakistan. So, once again, the U.S. sowed the seeds of terrorism by funding groups that would eventually turn on her. But the U.S. has yet to reap the whirlwind.
Trouble began to brew according to this account:
Following the Soviet Union's withdrawal from Afghanistan, Osama bin Laden returned to Saudi Arabia. The Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990 had put the country of Saudi Arabia and its ruling House of Saud at risk as Saudi's most valuable oil fields (Hama) were within easy striking distance of Iraqi forces in Kuwait, and Saddam's call to pan-Arab/Islamism could potentially rally internal dissent. In the face of a seemingly massive Iraqi military presence, Saudi Arabia's own forces were well armed but far outnumbered. Bin Laden offered the services of his mujahedeen to King Fahd to protect Saudi Arabia from the Iraqi army. The Saudi monarch refused bin Laden's offer, opting instead to allow U.S. and allied forces to deploy on Saudi territory.
The deployment angered Bin Laden, as he believed the presence of foreign troops in the "land of the two mosques" (Mecca and Medina) profaned sacred soil. After speaking publicly against the Saudi government for harboring American troops, he was quickly forced into exile to Sudan and on April 9, 1994 his Saudi citizenship was revoked. His family publicly disowned him. There is controversy over whether and to what extent he continued to garner support from members of his family and/or the Saudi government.
There's no need to get into further detail about the events that led to the attack on the World Trade Centers, but bear in mind something else: The Bush Administration had an explicit warning from the Clinton Administration about bin Laden's plans. The Bush Administration did nothing. Absolutely NOTHING. Research will also prove that the line from the film where the Evil Narrator says "It is a war we never chose to fight ...for too long, we looked the other way" is equally misleading. We only looked the other way after we interfered in matters that were none of our concern. We kicked the kerosene lamp onto a bundle of hay and we looked the other way when the structure burned to the ground. We lit the short fuse on a catastrophic bomb, and looked the other way when the bomb exploded. We looked the other way, like a bully would after wreaking havoc. We then feign surprise when the people we bully decide to fight back. "We never chose to fight"? Hardly. We chose to interfere. We chose to sow poisonous seeds, and we can't take it when we reap cataclysmic fruit.
And lest you forget just how low the Republicans will go in order to tug at the heartstrings of the simple minded, the film includes graphic photos like this:
What better way to show just how horrific the events of 9/11 were, than to show blood-stained signs where people were looking for loved ones or paying tribute? To say that this is in bad taste only marks the tip of the iceberg at my disgust for the Republicans. Again, would they show a tribute to a cop by showing a bullet-riddled uniform of a cop killed in a hail of gunfire? Of course not. But there is no problem with them including blood-stained images as a reminder of just how horrific and terrible the attacks were.
The video ends with this image:...and Darth Narrator saying "...the enemy is wrong. This is a war America will win. And we'll have a president that knows how. And... we will never let it happen... again."
Yes, to make sure that you're completely sold on the War on Terror, the propaganda spinmeisters end with footage of the World Trade Center, pre-9/11. And the Darth Narrator's screed underscores the necessity to understand the concept of cause and effect, actions and consequences. "We'll have a president that knows how"... the thinly-veiled implication is that Barack Obama's Presidency will give rise to more attacks on U.S. soil, and that the U.S. will surrender in the War on Terror. First of all, a war on a "belief" or "action" can't be won. You can have victory against Al Qaeda or any other group that's an enemy, but to win a war on "terror", you have to make sure that "terror" is destroyed across the globe. It is utterly impossible to do this, especially with this hamfisted approach to foreign policy.
For example, this criminally negligent administration decided to fight the war on terror (tm) by first circumventing the Constitution of the United States. The congressmen and Senators abdicated their ability to keep the President in check, by giving him the authority to invade Iraq. And as we all know, Iraq has been a complete disaster, even while Republicans crow about the success of "the surge." But what has toppling Saddam Hussein done, but create a power vacuum filled by Al Qaeda insurgents - who HAD NO PRESENCE IN IRAQ PRIOR TO THE U.S. INVASION - who then continued in their civil war. And while we were busy declaring "Mission Accomplished", the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan (remember them?) has been not-so-quietly regaining strength.
"We'll have a president that know how"? Oh, you mean the same future President that declared the following:
How would American troops be greeted? "I believe...that the Iraqi people will greet us as liberators." (March 20, 2003)The same future President that knows how to win a war will be the same future President that declared that Iraq was safe by walking the streets of Baghdad... without mentioning the soldiers, helicopters, and gunships that accompanied him on his leisurely stroll. THIS is the man that the Republicans say "knows how to win." And his second-in-command is a woman whose "foreign policy experience" includes living in Alaska, because it's so close to Russia.
Did Saddam Hussein have a nuclear program that posed an imminent threat to the United States? "Saddam Hussein is on a crash course to construct a nuclear weapon." ( October 10, 2002)
Will a war with Iraq be long or short? "This conflict is... going to be relatively short." (March 23, 2003)
How is the war going? "I would argue that the next three to six months will be critical." (September 10, 2003)
How is it going (almost two months later, from the war's "greatest critic")? "I think the initial phases of [the war] were so spectacularly successful that it took us all by surprise." (October 31, 2003)
Is this war really necessary? "Only the most deluded of us could doubt the necessity of this war." (August 30, 2004)
How is it going? (Recurring question for the war's "greatest critic") "We will probably see significant progress in the next six months to a year." (December 4, 2005)
Will the President's "surge" of troops into Baghdad and surrounding areas that the senator had been calling for finally make the difference? "We can know fairly well [whether the surge is working] in a few months." (February 4, 2007)
This propaganda is "The Rebirth of a Nation", because it caters to the lowest common denominator of demonizing "radical Islam" by tying all Middle Eastern conflicts to the spectre of the Islamic boogeyman. Just as "The Birth of a Nation" demonstrated how the valiant knights in shining robes known as the Ku Klux Klan will save virtuous White women from the scourge of Black men, "The Rebirth of a Nation" will show how the valiant knights of the Conservative Republican Evangelical movement will save virtuous White Christian citizens from the scourge of Islam, and the scourge of a Black American man with a funny name running for President.
We know better, so we should do better. If we don't act to stop a Bush III Administration, we have to make sure that propaganda such as this is nipped in the bud. It's up to us to understand this video, as well as the election, for what it is... a chance to begin correcting the wrongs of this administration, and an opportunity to return us to credibility on the world stage. This is one Rebirth that we should not allow to happen.