24 August 2006

The dumbing down of the American Human Mind

While this cartoon is a light-hearted and humourous poke, for some people it just may be the epitome of what's happening in the Middle East!

Two valuable information websites that I've discovered in recent days:

Populist Party of America – Commentary Articles
Information Clearing House – News you won’t find on CNN or Fox

Web surfing is a great time-waster. It’s not difficult to get hooked into websites that offer entertainment diversions and others that are mindless sources of how you should not be spending your valuable time. For some, the internet has become a replacement for TV, newspapers and radio, but today where the average human attention span is equivalent to the 10 sec memory retention of a goldfish, in-depth analysis is ignored in preference for “soundbites” of news and information, where the consumers think that they get to know the whole story just by reading 3 lines of sensationalised and manipulated wording.

An article on the Netscape homepage caught my attention and enticed me to click on the link to read more. Written by Doug Soderstrom in April 2006 and only just “mainstreaming” now, The dumbing down of the American Mind explains how he believes that the American population is already enveloped in a dangerous quagmire of abject arrogance and ignorance through the:
- degradation of education standards
- Christian fundamentalists putting their religious beliefs ahead of science and philosophy
- procurement of freedom and rights at the expense of concern and responsibility for others
- tendency for the American public to become bellicose and chauvinistic
- belief that the American way is the only right way to do things, and that anyone who doesn’t believe in it is simply wrong.

While Soderstrom is writing his article based upon the American public, I believe that his reasoning can extend to a wider audience and when localised to take other religions and other countries into account, it has relevance to the populations of many other nations as well.

I liked what I read in this article, so it led me to explore the source which is a website called The Populist Party of America whose slogan is Where the People Rule, and its introductory page has this to say:

The Populist Party promotes, and strives for, Common Sense solutions; Democracy as a tool to reign in the power of the federal government and ensure a greater responsibility of all public servants to the People.

Populism, as espoused by the Populist Party, is a federal system of government where the final check and balance on the power of the politicians is directly in the hands of the people; with the Constitution and Bill of Rights serving as legal boundaries to protect the rights and liberties of all citizens. Contrary to popular belief, this is the natural progression of society that Thomas Jefferson and many of our founding fathers felt was necessary to ensure America's lasting freedom.

I wish that it was that simple - it’s a very pure and idealistic approach and eschews the effects of human desires fuelled by avarice, control and personal gain.

Common sense solutions sound fine to me.

As for Democracy, my personal opinion is that it will only be successful when there are enough swing voters who will choose to vote either way with their conscience; because they believe in an individual candidate or in the particular values which a party is representing. This means that there have to be no other dominating factors such as a blind allegiance and loyalty to a political party regardless of their policies, or a powerful religion to further divide the voting public and sway their decisions. This is why I believe that democracy will not work in places like Iraq where there is a dominant religion (Islam) involved and that religion is divided into Shia and Sunni sects. Never will the Sunnis win a majority in a democratic election because of their minority population. So they may all be Muslim and Iraqis, but there will still be oppression based upon which form of Islam is followed and by how many.

The gem for me on the Populist website was the Commentary link which leads to articles written by real reporters! I’ve lost myself in reading a lot of the links, and still have more to read, but want to share some of them with you.

One thing that I’ve recognized in these reports is the in-depth, realistic, tell-it-like-it-is journalistic style that is sadly missing from most of the “instant noodle/candy floss” news service reports that are prevalent in today’s media.

I love what I’m reading here! I love to be educated, I love to be cerebrally stimulated and to think further about subjects by what I read, I love to want to learn more about what I read – I’m so sick of the crap standards which are so commonplace today. I don’t want to turn on CNN, BBC, Fox, whatever, to hear the same 3 shallow and often inaccurate news reports repeated ad infinitum and ad nauseum.

Soderstrom refers to an article by John Pilger which is found on the Information Clearing House website. Pilger is an Australian journalist whom I’ve admired for many years and it was his publication The New Rulers of the World that hooked me into his writing. In his piece War by Media he gives examples of how media has influenced historical account and changed public perception, through his personal experiences of the Cold War, Vietnam, Cambodia, Iraq, Central America’s Contra War, Indonesia and East Timor. He tells of how Venezuela’s President Chavez is a marked man by western leaders and portrayed as a menace. Yet, in Venezuela he is loved and supported by 80% of the population because Venezuela is the only oil-producing country in the world to use its oil revenue for the benefit of poor people. They (the readers of the false accusations being made against Chavez) would have no idea of spectacular developments in health, education, literacy. They would have no idea that Venezuela has no political jails - unlike the United States.

I recently came across Greg Palast's website with respect to his Blood in Beirut article that he wrote on the Lebanon/Israel conflict and its correlation to oil. In The True History Behind the Rise of Zarqawi he describes how the Americans dismissed General Jay Garner because of his plans to restore the country back into Iraqi power holds as soon as possible. Instead, a 101 page documented plan was instigated which included asset-stripping Iraq by selling off its oil industries, banks and changing Iraq’s copyright and tax code laws. Read it – what’s happening in Iraq has happened to countless other countries that were formerly resource-rich before being pillaged by the super-powers.

Other interesting articles that I’ve read so far include:
Three Iraq Myths That Won't Quit by Scott Ritter who was the Chief UN weapons inspector in Iraq from 1991 until his resignation in 1998.
How many Muslims does it take to Equal an Israeli Jew? by Populist contributing author and member Russell Cole.
Understanding the Middle-East Crisis by Steve Osborn - a clever analogy which compares the ME situation to a suburban neighbourhood setting.
Killing Iraqi Children by Jacob Hornberger, founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation
Does Anyone still read History? and Iraq, an Analysis - also by Steve Osborn
The Hiroshima Myth - by John V. Denson which questions why the atom bombs were dropped on Japan in August 1945 when the Japanese has already agreed to surrender in May of the same year.
I don't Support the Troops by Chas Chiodo.

I could go on! Instead, I encourage you to look at some of these articles for yourself. Hunt out others on the lists that interest you too. Read some thought-provoking intelligence from journalists and writers who are not standing in front of TV cameras in flak jackets, looking brave and quoting info gleaned from desensitised military reports and polished politicians' statements, and who are trying to get THE story or image that will win them prizes and fame.


Harsha said...

who else thinks the Michael cartoon could be used for Condolezza Rice as well?

trailingspouse said...

Some great links, thanks. You are so right about mindless web-surfing. I do too much of it myself. Perfect for this time of year too, when we are all suffering from cabin fever due to the heat. Now, let me just finish this game of solitaire . . . :)

grapeshisha said...

Thanks for this. Some great insight there. I like the burbs analogy. And you said it with your last para.

Balushi said...

everybody had their time!!!!

Now its America tomorrow someone else!

Who can imagine the Old Greeks with the New ones in Greece????

America will one day Collapse.

Seabee said...

It's the up-side of web surfing isn't it - finding stuff that's well thought through, well researched, well written.

A world of Symphony said...

Scott Ritter's article is an eye opener. Ritter's definition of (Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld/Wolfowitz & the Neocons) was summed up in two words 'Loony Gang' - LOL.

There's an equally great article written by Ambassador (Paul) Bremer just after he quit (or was taken off) as Big Boss in Iraq. If I find it, I'll send you a link.

Shannon said...

Thanks, I'm going to have a read of these. Some interesting stuff though. Being on the other side of the planet, it's hard to get decent news without digging for it.

Oh, and I will toast you with a Margarita on Saturday. Happy Birthday!

Mise said...

'..voters who will choose to vote either way with their conscience; because they believe in an individual candidate or in the particular values which a party is representing...'

...this, and not 'parish pump', or, in the case of Ireland, 'Civil War' politics is the only way to vote ... and that John Pilger book is a great read :-D

Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

What a busy little bee you have been! When I've time, I'll check out some of the links. Meanwhile I crash-read your piece in less than two minutes - yeah - that's the way we go these days. No time to stop and really think.

MamaDuck said...

Timely blog. I agree with much that you say on both democracy and the media, so I appreciate your research! I have to admit that I veer between earnestly trying to work out what's going on from the available information / misinformation / disinformation ; and turning my back on the whole damn thing because everyone's talking, no-one's listening, and between the big guys' manipulations and the little guys' terrorpower, it seems that it's all going to blow sooner or later, so I might as well get on with my own little life while I can. I shall come out from under the duvet and gratefully follow your links: John Pilger I'm familiar with, but the others are new to me.

My sympathies on the nasties: we had a very similar experience some years back. Still here though! Good luck with M&J's latest adventure - Grrrr! Does a long Friday blog mean you're back in the sandlands too?

Kishor Cariappa said...

Nice write-up and a superb cartoon!

Tainted Female said...

There are a lot of fantastic looking links here, and I’ll add them to my favorites list and make visiting them a regular thing for me. Thanks!

And yeah Harsha... I think it could for for Madame Rice as well!

blooshky said...

jews bad peepul, Americans bad peepul. Only us is good peepul. Why you draw cartoon of Saddam and Osama? It is insult. You good man. You not say bad things about us. Thank you.

Pandabonium said...

Thanks for the excellent links.

As for the USA, I read the writing on the wall in 1990's and finally was able to leave two years ago. IMHO things won't be improving there any time soon.

Mise said...

Hi Guys...hope things are working out for you there :-D

Sharron Kidney-Stone said...

I had the privilege to be "placed" as a child from the USA to Europe. I feel this was a real blessing every time I communicate with my relatives over there. The ignorance they transport in their statements is sad and frightening at times. Thats when I appreciate the education I received in Europe - the view on the world as a whole. Although not all-embracing I was not brougt up to believe that I am the best thing the world or God ever created. And my histiry lessons didn't stop at the Civil War. Unfortunately the USA or at least large parts- teach their children in a religious fanatic way, that they are God's chosen people. They are largely not brought up with a notion of history, with an acceptance of other countries or religions or beliefs. From day one you stand in class and swear an oath to the flag and sing God bless America. You are made to believe you are free in America. This is no different than young children who are taught in some Islamic schools that Americans are bad and that everyone outside of Islam is bad. Children are being misued and abused in many cultures and chnaging your atidtude is a hard task if you have no knowledge about actual people and lives in other cultures. The more you read and the more people you communicate with, the more you can change this...but this is a hard task and changing your beliefs and what you were taught from the beginning is not everyone's destiny. Educate all the children in your reach - they are the key to change after all.

kaya said...

I enjoyed reading this, it was very informative.
I watched Kofi Annan and his 7010 something on Fox yesterday.
Heavy is the head that wears the crown.
Did anone see that piece Chritianne Amanpour did on BIN ADEN.
Quite amusing at times. Suddely he has become a dark HERO.