The news media’s readiness to accept official pronouncements and failure to more vigorously analyze and question government authorities in the wake of “domestic terrorist” incidents contributes to the American public’s already acute case of collective historical amnesia, while it further rationalizes the twenty-first century police state and continued demise of civil society.
In 1964 Harper‘s magazine published the now famous essay, “The Paranoid Style of American Politics,” by historian and public intellectual Richard Hofstadter. Appearing in the wake of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination and Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater’s Republican presidential nomination, the tract remains emblematic of liberal anxiety toward serious and in many cases unresolved questions regarding the forces behind American governance. “The Paranoid Style” overall helped establish the term “conspiracy theory” as perhaps the most powerful epithet in the American political lexicon. “American politics has often been an arena for angry minds,” Hofstadter wrote.
The police state’s framework for suppressing information and opinion arguably threatens all forms of independent thought and appears poised to intensify as the “war on terror” continues. As the recent emergence of US plans for indoctrination in reeducation camps reveals (PDF), Western governments’ actual enemy is the capacity for a people to exercise critical thought en route to intervening in and altering political-economic processes.
“Sanitized killing is cheap and efficient. Rule of law principles and other disturbing issues aren’t considered. Secrecy and accountability go unaddressed.” –Stephen Lendman, “America’s Drone Command Centers: Remote Warriors Operate Computer Keyboards and Joysticks“.
It is estimated that one in three CIA drone strikes in Pakistan kills a child . Between 2004 and 2011 at least 168 children have been killed in America’s drone war in that country alone.
In the purported digital age one is frequently presented with the notion that communication will inevitably make society a more coherent whole. Yet media technology has failed to conquer the combined obstacles of the censorial use of language and geographic distance when it comes to relating the many horrors of modern warfare. Instead, such technology has reinforced a now familiar tradition of language games that cleanses atrocities from the popular memory.
Engage in water cooler conversation over the subject of terrorism and almost invariably the Oklahoma City Murrah Federal Building bombing and Timothy McVeigh will be proffered as vivid examples of what can happen when right wing extremism mixes with dangerous conspiratorial thought. Their relatedness to the ongoing “war on terror” will likely be an afterthought.