The physical violence of a crime is often accompanied by another kind of violation, an assault against the mind, for the criminal must disguise his evil deed. A murderer, rapist or merely adulterer will lie and spin, to conceal and/or rationalize what he has done.
For an empire, then, whose crimes are myriad, for it takes so much violence to maintain worldwide dominion, this assault against the mind is relentless, a blanket of nonsense that suffocates night and day, a miasma of photo ops and jive that poisons the conscience.
Thus, a chirpy CNN reporter talked about “terrorists” attacking the US Embassy in Afghanistan. She didn’t even called them “insurgents,” but simply and unequivocally “terrorists,” “terrorists,” “terrorists,” like a mantra, as she excitedly recounted how they had disguised themselves as women before overwhelming Afghan cops guarding a unfinished high-rise, killing them. Their aim was to gain a vantage point to rain rockets onto the US Embassy.
Of course, the CNN reporter could not point out that these men were classic nationalists, for a nationalist is one willing to defend his homeland against a foreign invader. Also, this paid-for mouth piece could not admit that these men were courageous and bold, as well as noble and selfless, for they had no escape plan. They were trapped inside that building. They knew that as they attacked, they would be surrounded by American soldiers, yet to do what was just and laudable to their own people, these brave individuals were willing to be killed by their hated enemy. They chose death and honor before subjugation and humiliation. Patrick Henry would be proud of them.
After this incident, US officials accused Pakistan of being the mastermind. Besides justifying continued drone and missile strikes against Pakistan itself, this charge also discredited the attackers as foreign agents and mercenaries, but let’s think about this for a second. A mercenary fights for money. He doesn’t choose certain death. Any Afghan willing to die battling foreign invaders, be them Americans or Soviets, is a nationalist, period.
Similarly, a Libyan is a nationalist if he’s fighting the vast American-led coalition, this oil-soaked crusade of mostly white, Christian countries that’s been attacking Libya for over six months now, but, no, the American media is calling him a “Gaddafi loyalist.”
Such deformation of facts also affects American victims of empire. When Pat Tillman was shot at close range by an American soldier, he was presented as a hero killed in action, a victim of the Taliban. A death loses its meaning and dignity when it’s perverted to serve someone else’s interest, and when a corpse is used to glorify the murderer, you have one of the worst of possible crimes, something akin to necrophilia. The empire will kill you, then screw you. It will derive pleasure from your cadaver.
Likewise, though it has been proven in court that the US government was behind the killing of Martin Luther King, he now has a huge statue on the National Mall, the very Mall where he organized Resurrection City, a poor people’s protest which hastened his assassination. With typical cynicism, our government is celebrating and appropriating a man it exterminated in cold blood.
Likewise, 9/11. It was nauseating for me to watch the 10-year commemoration of that tragedy without any airtime given to those who desperately wanted to probe deeper into exactly what happened. The many architects, engineers, pilots, first responders and relatives of victims who doubted the official version 9/11 were shunted aside so a self-justifying and congratulatory narrative from this criminal government could proceed without interruptions. This was the moment for sinister butchers like Bush and Obama to appear caring and statesmanlike, as father figures consoling us in our moment of grief, when they are in fact the authors of so much past and ongoing grief.
The truths about many key events in this nation’s history, Pearl Harbor attack, Gulf of Tonkin Incident, Martin Luther King’s, John’s and Bobby Kennedy’s assassinations, etc., have never fully come out, or only came out decades after the fact, so Americans should have learnt to suspect, by now, routine duplicity from Washington, yet many of us continue to believe. Such is the power of brainwashing. As they kill and lie in our name, we keep nodding and nodding.
We are not expected to ask questions, but merely to swallow whole the spoon-fed kitsch and bullshit. Recently, Americans were shown a photo of a dog that refused to leave the coffin of his master, a dead SEAL member, one of those “heroes” who supposedly killed Bin Laden. Though there was no physical proof whatsoever, no corpse, film or photo, we were told that a successful raid had occurred, and though an American helicopter tail was left behind, no American had died, incredibly, then we were told, three months later, that 22 of the SEALs involved, i.e., potential witnesses who could contradict the official narrative, were conveniently killed in an unprecedented attack by the Taliban.
These fairy tales are so bizarre but, before you can pause to parse one, if you’re so inclined, and most of us are no longer inclined or capable, another one comes down the chute, then another, then another. When one commits as many killings, lootings and rapes as this government does, one must lie constantly.
Linh Dinh is the author of two books of stories, five of poems, and a just released novel, Love Like Hate. He’s tracking our deteriorating socialscape through his frequently updated photo blog, State of the Union.