The Western Media its Tactics, Motive and Impact on People’s Minds
Paper presented by
Hameed Abdul Karim
At the Institute of Objectives Studies
At its Silver Jubilee Celebrations at Bangaluru on 14 October 2011
‘Oh you who believe, if a sinner comes to you with any news, ascertain the truth, lest you harm people unwittingly and afterwards become full of repentance for what you have done’
Most people associate media with TV, newspapers and radio. But when we were children we were not exposed to TV and didn’t have much to do with newspapers except the sports page. We were, however, exposed to comic books and we devoured every one of them we could lay our hands on. Our favourite ones were the Lone Ranger and Tarzan.
We did not know then that our minds were being ‘programmed’ or that we were being subjected to ‘Thought Control’ as one of the great intellectuals of our times Noam Chomsky put it in his book ‘Pirates and Emperors’.
The Lone Ranger brainwashed us to believe that the White man was superior because we found him riding a white horse and always solving the problems of the oppressed. Tonto, his side kick, was ‘red Indian’ and he rode a brown horse – no white horse for him. We started to believe the White man was superior and that a brown man was only good enough to do his bidding. It was around this time the supreme racist imperialist Rudyard Kipling wrote about the ‘White Man’s Burden’. (We were his victims)
Tarzan brainwashed us to believe that the White man was superior in every aspect of life and that if something good had to be done it had to be done by the White man. We couldn’t imagine why Tarzan had to be White man in the thick of the Black African jungles. That’s how ‘Thought Control’ operated then and continues to operate up until today in a variety of ways. High tech toys have replaced comic books, but they carry the same message.
We were so awed by the goodness that America and the rest of the West represented that we began to despise our leaders and the heroes amongst us. Our heroes were Western leaders like Churchill or John Kennedy. Jawaharlal Nehru or Mohandas Gandhi – the half naked fakir according to Churchill – or Allama Iqbal, or Rabrinath Tagore or Omar Khayyam and countless others were to us backward and regressive with the evil intent to keep us forever backward. Instead we were brought up to read William Shakespeare and Charles Dickens. Here I must confess the latter two Englishmen were of high quality and their writings still echo in my mind. But I think Dickens and Shakespeare among others were too overvalued and the sole purpose in getting us to read their works in school was to keep us within the realms of ‘thinkable thoughts’ the additional motive was to keep us away from ‘our’ writers and thinkers.
I remember a time when it was customary for any public speaker to quote Shakespeare or Winston Churchill among many other Western authors or leaders to be appreciated and accepted by the audiences they addressed. Fortunately, as perspectives change, it is not so now.
And let me give you an example of how perspectives have changed. During a short stay in London a few Sri Lanka friends had taken me out on a tour of London and one of the things they wanted me to see was the statue of the ‘great leader’ Winston Churchill. They were horrified when I told them I didn’t think much of him and that according to my thinking he was a ruthless racist. A few months later there were protests in London by the ‘natives’ themselves and one of the things they did was to deface Churchill’s ‘face’. So it seems that even the British have realised the evil this ‘supreme racist’ had indulged in. Churchill had made disparaging statements on Islam and Muslims at various times. In his extreme arrogance he had never attempted to hide his contempt for non-White people. It was reported in a Sri Lanka newspaper that he had had no qualms of gassing non-White people because he felt they were ‘anyway inferior to the White man’. There is this theory among certain people that even Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution had placed the Caucasian on the top of the heap so as to ‘prove’ he was the most ‘evolved’ and consequently superior to other races. This is not saying that all White people subscribe to these views. Indeed among them there are many who challenge these myths and support causes of those of us who are oppressed.
Islam and Muslims as News
This brings us to the Western media which has played a larger than life role in propagating these illusions and myths. And since most Muslims are not White it has become easy to place the Islamic faith to those who are not properly ‘evolved’ and as such in dire need of being civilised. For many years the Western media, especially TV networks like CNN, BBC, Fox News among a host of others, have carried programmes to embarrass and humiliate Muslims on account of their faith. Post 9/11 has seen an intensification of this campaign where Muslims in the West, mainly in the US, find themselves defending their faith in the face of extreme vilification. Some months ago Time magazine went to the extent of carrying a cover story that was titled the ‘Jihadi Next Door’. These stories along with the media hype of the Qur’an burning pastor are intended to create hate for Islam and the Muslims. Hate follows fear. And I have this feeling that the Western media, operating as it always does, according to the agendas of their respective governments are in the process of creating a situation where Muslims in Europe, if not the US, will face pogroms similar to the ones that European Jews faced. Is there a similar plan in place for European Muslims and is the Western media aiding and abetting this campaign?
Fiction and Non-Fiction
In recent times Samuel Huntington’s book ‘The Clash of Civilisations’ has generated more debates and controversy than most others. This is because the book was written as a prelude to America’s war against Islam and Muslims and it is almost a certainty that this book was commissioned by the CIA so as to set the stage for America’s ‘War on Terror’. Prof. Francis Arthur Boyle, in his wonderful book ‘Palestine, Palestinians and International Law’, says that Samuel Huntington attended Harvard University’s Department of Government which trains future ‘managers’ of the US global empire. This department is probably a CIA front. Some of the ‘managers’ trained there are Henry Kissinger (who is a war criminal according to the Vietnamese), Zbigniew Brezinski among numerous other realpolitiquers. The latter is one of the authors of the PNAC.
Fiction writers like Ian Fleming along with the likes of Huntington also have played a huge part in Walter Lipman’s technique of ‘manufacture of consent’. Flemings’ Bond books were primarily directed at the USSR just as much as Tom Clancy’s books were, while authors like Leon Uris, especially his book Exodus, were designed to boost the image of the Jewish people especially the Zionists among them. As a young man I read Harold Robbin’s book ‘The Pirate’ in which the Arab hero, ‘Baydar al Fay’, turned out to be Jew. Robbins’ ‘A Stone for Danny Fisher’ evoked in us sympathy for the Jews. To us it seemed that to be clever you had to be a Jew. Books such as these had a large influence on us. But as time went by we came to realise that we were subjected to ‘Mind Manipulation’ and now I can’t bring myself to read a novel, except on occasions where I indulge a bit in the fine and humorous works of P.G. Wodehouse. His works are not at our expense.
I have heard that fiction books by writers like Tom Clancy and others of his breed are classified as ‘prophetic’ novels which spin yarns of imaginary wars. One such book ‘predicted’ in almost exact detail the ‘Gulf War’ along with the trapping of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) hidden under a hospital somewhere in Iraq. Makes you wonder whether these fiction books are been commissioned by intelligence agencies like the CIA or MI6. There might be some truth in these considering that a lot of this stuff is being written and read by Western politicians. Ian Fleming, it is well known, worked for British intelligence. Among politicians, Jeffrey Archer is also a popular fiction writer. The aims and objectives of these fiction writers are to influence and manipulate public opinions so as to win the will and consent of their people to wage war against enemies that they have created in the minds of their audiences. Reinhold Niebuhr wrote, way back in 1932, ‘that given the stupidity of the average man it is the responsibility of ‘cool observers’ to provide the ‘necessary illusions’ that provides the faith that must be instilled in the minds of the less endowed’. He was speaking from a Christian left perspective, but today it is basically true from the Western media perspective.
America, it is often said, is a ‘corporateocracy’ where it’s hard to differentiate conglomerates from the media. In fact both work in cahoots. It was not so at one point of time, where the US media was truly independent with checks and balances in place. President Ronald Reagan put an end to this once and for all. Today media is big business not only in the US but all over the world, including India. In the book ‘Journalism after 9/11’ edited by Barbie Zelizer and Stuart Alan it is recorded that in 1983 about 50 corporations controlled more than half of all of the information, knowledge and entertainment companies in the US. In 1987 the number went down to 27. Presently the figure is down to just 10. The first Gulf ‘war’ – I use the word war loosely since this was not a conflict between two equal parties – brought in a new kind of journalist. He was called a ‘patriotic journalist’. CNN’s Peter Arnet, who somehow managed to maintain some semblance of objectivity, was quickly replaced by two pretty girls who were merely reading the scripts their masters at CNN had written for them. It reminded me of what happened in Iran when the US unabashedly launched a coup to overthrow the democratically elected Mossadegh. The Americans did an identical repeat of this campaign in Venezuela when they ‘overthrew’ Chavez for a few days. But that backfired (you must watch the excellent documentary ‘The Death of Democracy’ by John Pilger for an in-depth understanding of the subject). All the print news that appeared in Tehran at that time was written in Washington. But that was a crude way of doing things. Since then the media moguls and their governments have become sophisticated. So now we hear of ‘embedded journalists’ who report Hollywood type heroism of American soldiers from the war front. This is what I call the ‘Hollywoodisation’ of the news. The TV networks present the American soldier as a victim of the war, even though his country is an actual fact an occupying army in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is on the lines of George Orwell’s book ‘Nineteen Eight Four’. In his play Macbeth (if my memory serves me right) Shakespeare had said ‘right is wrong and wrong is right’. And that’s how the world operates today.
There is this notion called ‘balancing’ the news. But how do you do that? How can one balance truth and falsehood? How can one balance right and wrong? How can one balance justice and injustice? How does one explain the fact that even today 41% of Americans believe that Saddam Hussein had links with Al-Qaeda when it is patently clear there was no such connection? This is the result of the system of ‘Thought Control’ that I alluded to earlier, spawned as it is by a jingoist brand of patriotism. Whoever said that patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel had not uttered a truer cliché.
This brings us to the question of Palestine and how myths are perpetrated by Israel via the Western media. The way the Western media reports the Palestinian Catastrophe you might think it’s the Palestinians who are occupying Israel. This may sound absurd to us and indeed it is absurd. But there are millions of people in the West who harbour this ridiculous notion. Another such myth is that Ahmedinejad had wowed to ‘wipe Israel off the map of the world’. The whole of the Western media led by the extremist right wing network called Fox News, owned by the equally extremist Rupert Murdoch, carried this myth to all corners of the world. The fact of the matter is that Ahmedinejad said no such thing. What he really said was that Israel, at the rate it was going, will cease to exist as a racist country. Allow me to recount a humorous incident. Some of my friends in the media and I were invited on a Pakistani battle ship that was berthed in Colombo port along with ships of other nations. A European approached us and introduced himself as ‘Bruce’ and got talking about a certain situation in Sri Lanka. He was surprised when we whole heatedly agreed with what he had to say, and there was no cause to disagree because what he was saying was true. Then he touched on the subject of what Ahmedinejad had supposedly said about ‘wiping Israel off the map of the world’. At this point I interjected and said, ‘Oh yeah, Bruce, like you guys wiped historical Palestine off the map of the world? That rattled him and my friends and I enjoyed that moment. I went on to ask him how come the West condemned Nazism and Apartheid but go to such extreme lengths to support Zionism which is a more cruel form of Apartheid according to Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
Some days later when I was scanning the papers I discovered ‘Bruce’ was Canada’s High Commissioner to Sri Lanka. His government, headed by Roger Harper, is an ardent supporter of Israel. And there is a racist underlying in this support. Israel’s government is dominated by Ashkenazi Jews from Europe. The Sephardic Jews call them European Jews or ‘White Jews’. Arthur Koestler in his book ‘The Thirteenth Tribe’ says the Jews who run Israel are actually Khazars who converted to Judaism at some point of time in history. He goes on to stress that they are not ethnically Jews. The point I wish to emphasise is that there is so much going for us and that we are handsomely placed because we have truth on our side. All we have to do is to get it across to the world. And to do this we have to engage the media in a pro-active manner. For this we need dedicated, well informed, articulate and media savvy people to man the frontline as it were.
Perhaps just about the best exposition of the West’s disposition towards Islam and the Muslims is exemplified by that great Palestinian scholar the late Edward Said. His book ‘Covering Islam’ though written in 1981 is still just about the best book on the subject. He covers all aspects of hostility, the ‘us versus them’ theme and the general racist undertones of the West’s mindset against Islam and Muslims. In the chapter ‘Islam as News’ he laments ‘I have not been able to discover any period of European or American history since the Middle Ages in which Islam was generally discussed or thought about outside a framework created by passion, prejudice and political interests’. This state of affairs remains the same today as was patently evident in the terror atrocity Breveik committed in Norway. Breviek was portrayed as a good boy gone bad and nobody blamed his Christian faith for the atrocity he committed, even though he had said he was defending the Christian faith and culture to justify his crime. Compare this with the atrocity a Muslim army officer committed at Fort Hood. His crime was blamed on Islam and the Western media went to town with the story bringing in all sorts of what they call Muslim extremists into the picture. After 9/11 in a radio talk, Anne Coulter an extreme Christian rightist had no qualms when she said that ‘We (Christians) must invade their (Muslims’) lands kill their leaders and convert the populace (Muslims) to Christianity’. The Western media didn’t call her an extremist. You can only imagine the consequences if in reverse a Muslim had made a similar statement.
Hyping the ‘News’
This brings us to the subject of how the Western media hypes the ‘news’. You will recall the sudden demise of Pakistan’s coach Bob Woolmer during the world cup in the West Indies. ‘Murder’ howled the Western media. And there were doctors and even ‘witnesses’ who confirmed Woolmer’s death was not due to natural causes. They went crazy with reports that some Pakistani cricketers were to be arrested very soon. The world stood on its toes for news as one media outlet after another said something – anything- to claim that certain Pakistani cricketers were suspects in Bob Woolmer’s ‘murder’. India’s NDTV was no exception. When doctors confirmed that his death was due to natural causes, poor Bob Woolmer faded from the TV screens. There was not a single word of apology from any section of the media for misleading the public. The idea was to stigmatise Pakistani cricketers because they were Muslims. It is true that Pakistan has a bad track record on betting scandals in cricket. But this aspect should have been isolated from the inquiry into Woolmer’s death. Instead the media built their conspiracy theory focusing on this ugly aspect of Pakistan’s cricket. In the end the media came a cropper.
Lies and deception along with creating images in the minds of viewers or readers are a part and parcel of the Western media’s constant attack on Islam. CNN’s Christiana Amanpour is a past master on this subject. In a blurb promoting one of her many propagandist programmes she announced she ‘has sat with men of God’ and ‘listened to men who want to kill in God’s name’. No problem with that, but the propaganda becomes clear when pictures of Christian priests flash on the screen at the point where she mentions ‘Men of God’ and the pictures that blaze across the screen when she mentions ‘those who want to kill in god’s name’ are those of Muslims like Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, Sheikh Nasrallah, Palestinians protesting against Israel’s occupation and Osama bin Laden. The message that’s conveyed is that Christians are good and Muslims are bad. Misinformation is the method the Western media employs to ‘immunise’ the minds of Western and non-Muslim audiences against the killing of Muslims anywhere in the world. There is even applause, reminding me of how we would applause John Wayne and other cowboys when they killed ‘red Indians’ in Western movies. ‘The only good ‘injun’ is a dead one’ cowboys were fond of saying in Hollywood movies. Now the phrase can be stated at the expense of Muslims.
Planting stories is an old technique. There have been many that I have seen on Western TV channels. But let me point out one that might be fresh in your minds. The unfortunate and sad assassination of Mr. Burhanuddin Rabbani held centre stage for a few days. The Afghan president blamed Taliban for the murder – and it was murder, by all canons of justice, just as much as Osama bin Laden and more recently Anwar al Awlaky’s ‘extra judicial killing’ was murder. But the twists and tweaks in the coverage gave one the feeling that there was a propagandist blast in the story. Hamid Karzai called off peace talks with the Taliban and his ‘intelligence agency’ claimed that a Pakistani was the assassin. One wonders how Karzai’s intelligence agency could tell the difference between a headless Pakistani suicide bomber and an Afghan! Giving credence to this line of thought, Mr. Rabbani’s son appeared on TV blaming Pakistan for his murder saying, in the process, that he was ‘unfortunate’ to be born in Peshawar. When he repeatedly and patronisingly called Karzai his ‘commander in chief’ it gave one the impression that he was singing for his supper. The story took another turn when all Western TV channels and print media carried the story that Afghan police had discovered a plot to assassinate Hamid Karzai. The fact that this ‘breaking news’ was ‘exposed’ while Karzai was on an official visit to India adds credibility to the theory that somehow the Western media, at the behest of their governments, was making Karzai a hero and a victim of some sorts and that Pakistan was somehow responsible for all the evil that’s going on in Afghanistan. This ‘media ‘event’ had all the hallmarks of a PR company hard at work! It also suggests that the American empire is gunning for Pakistan.
Let’s not forget Hollywood as an extension of the Western media and yet another promoter of America’s hegemony of the world as articulated in ‘America’s Manifest Destiny’. Arundathi Roy the famous product of your state of Karnataka had said that Hollywood is America’s no.1 PR Company. She was spot on. Over the years Hollywood has vilified Islam and Muslims and also brainwashed audiences the world over into supporting America’s endless wars around the world. At one point of time I too was a victim of Hollywood. Hollywood has been and continues to be frightening source for American Imperialism. If you have watched ‘24’ you will know what I mean.
Let me briefly touch on just one movie that disparaged Islam and Muslims. In the ‘Jewel of the Nile’ Muslims are portrayed as backward medieval people in critical need for civilisation. No Hollywood hate movies of the same theme as Jewel of the Nile are free from the standard fare. And sure enough in this movie too you find Arab women dressed rather shabbily, moving about in the background like zombies carrying all sorts of things on their heads - like as if they were beasts of burden. The chief villain of course is the Arab king and why he got down our heroine all the way from America was to take her to bed and not to write his autobiography as was his stated intention. So we see yet another pretty blonde American being duped by this wicked Arab king.
As expected you find the same old filthy market place just outside the palace with all the attendant fanfare of filthy Arabs going about life with idiotic looks on their faces and dressed in soiled clothes like as if they lived in the most primitive of societies. Arabs are presented as messy desert dwellers and as some kind of buffoons you would expect to see in your local zoo.
Islam is not spared either. The word 'Sheikh' in Islam is one that is used respectfully to describe a religious leader or a devout man. But in this movie our 'Sheikh' is a clown who can only do some stupid things, like jumping from a rampart using his umbrella for a parachute. In comparison the American hero and his heroine are superior human beings and of course very modern. Hollywood’s vilification of Islam and the Muslims for the past one hundred years is graphically illustrated by Jack Shaheen in his book ‘Reel Bad Arabs’ and it’s a must read for all of us who want to know what’s going on behind the scenes in Hollywood.
One reason attributed to the vilification of Arabs and Muslims is to de-humanise them so that it would be easier for the world to accept their slaughter and the plunder of their lands by the US, Britain, Israel and the rest of the West.
Hollywood’s connection to America’s war industry and especially the Pentagon is well established.
The motive behind the American empire’s media assault on Muslims and Islam is because the faith and its adherents are the only ones standing in the way in the empire’s plan for full spectrum domination of the world. The days of the ‘red menace’ or the ‘red under the bed’ a la McCarthyism are gone. The days of the ‘green peril’ are here. And please don’t believe the myth of the free media in the US or of its claims to be the land of the free. CNN and other US networks like the horrible Fox News and print media like The Wall Street Journal, Time magazine, Newsweek and Reader’s Digest are acting as tools to put America’s Plan for the New American Century (PNAC) into place. BBC and Sky News are an adjunct in this campaign. Their motive is to brainwash us into believing that we Muslims are the bad guys. Unfortunately they have had some success in this campaign amongst some sections of our elites. Remember a mind under occupation is worse than a land or a nation under occupation. A conquered mind cannot think outside the box, but a conquered land will always have its inhabitants fighting back to regain their lost dignity. We saw this happening when the great Indian leaders fought the British to regain their independence in August 1947.
There is good news. Alternative media like Russia Today (RT) and China’s CCTV are making an impact on the world scene. US secretary of state Hilary Clinton in a thoughtless outburst said that ‘We are losing the media war’ and those networks like RT, CCTV and Al-Jazeera are winning the ‘war’. Al-Jazeera, very sadly, has been brought to heel by America’s soft power tactics - which means bribes and threats -according to WikiLeaks which were substantiated by the quality drop in the networks’ news and documentaries. The ‘we’ in Hilary Clinton’s flare-up stands for ‘America’ and her explosive remark about the existence of ‘media war’ should dispel any thoughts that such a thing as a ‘free media’ exists in the US.
WikiLeaks has come as a breath of fresh air in an otherwise dull and infuriating media culture that has prevailed for many years. Julian Assange must be congratulated and protected by all right thinking people in the world. He is not a villain as the Western media would have us believe. He is a hero.
Apart from established alternative media we have the social media network which played a major role in the Arab Spring. But don’t believe for even one moment that the empire is not at work trying to bring to heel these ‘outlets’. We must be alert at all times.