(Swans - September 12, 2011) When the government of a nation populated by dark-skinned people who speak a language I don't understand sponsors camps to train their young men how to efficiently kill other people; and then without provocation sends those young men to invade and occupy another sovereign nation, forcibly deposing the existing government of that nation; and then uses that nation as a staging area to inflict murderous attacks on the civilians of the neighboring lands, that's known as the activities of a "Terrorist State." When my government does the very same things, that's called "fighting terrorism." If the arbitrariness of these assigned designations seems to represent an illogical absurdity, I nevertheless know that they are accurate and true. I saw it on The News.
I hear on The News that our great nation is suffering through a cruel economic turndown. Last weekend, I had to make one of my occasional forays down out of the hills into town to replenish the pantry. While I was there, I did notice a pretty good handful of ragged citizens on the street corners holding up cardboard signs saying things like "Hungry and roofless. Please Help" or "Any little bit helps. God bless you." Authentic evidence of suffering, for sure. I also noticed that the parking lot at the local electronics big box store was packed to capacity with a steady stream of people exiting the doors with their arms and carts full of purchases. And later on, as I wandered the street mall before heading back to the hills, I noted that there were plenty of patrons milling around outside the doors of each of the trendy overpriced cafés and restaurants that line both sides of Pearl Street. They were patiently waiting for a table to free up in these very busy establishments. Observed empirical evidence might suggest that it's not "our great nation" that is suffering through the throes of a deep recession. It might, instead, suggest that a disproportionate share of the hunger, displacement, and suffering is actually being borne by a small, though growing, segment of the populace so that the rest of us can continue to buy gadgets we don't need before indulging ourselves with a night on the town. One might even speculate that if the extent and degree of economic agony were as widespread and equitably distributed as the reports seem to imply, then the Best Buys and upscale bistros of Boulder, Colorado, would be as boarded up and abandoned as the neighborhood groceries, hardware stores, and gas stations of Flint, Michigan. But I know for a fact that we're all in this together. I saw it on The News.
I see on The News that a lot of my fellow countrymen are angry and outraged, during this painful period of high unemployment, that so many undocumented immigrants are here stealing our jobs. That disturbs me, too, so I gathered together all the ones working for me to ask them point blank, "Why are you people here taking away all our job opportunities?" They said that their children have known hunger. They said that in order to feed them it is worth it to them to leave behind their families and the land they grew up on and to come here. It's worth it to risk the perils and uncertainty of entry. It's worth it to endure their lives in the shadows of society under a perpetual fear and threat of deportation. They said it's worth all that because, as little as I have to pay them, they can still earn substantially more here mowing my lawn, scrubbing my toilets, caring for my children and grandparents, and washing my Escalade than they can working in the factories that I built for them back home when I closed the doors on all the ones I owned here. I may just have missed it, I guess, but I don't recall hearing that version of the story reported very much on The News. Maybe they were too busy educating me on the finer distinctions of global terrorism or the workings of our domestic economy.
Don't assume that egregious and obvious packagers like Fox, Clear Channel, and CNN are the only culprits serving up a daily dose of distortion. ABC, CBS, NBC, and NPR are equally adept at pruning, processing, and preparing the facts for mass consumption. They just ramp up the subtlety and sophistication enough to meet the expectations and comfort levels of a better educated and more affluent demographic. The News can't pick and choose their audience when setting up and patrolling the boundaries of our thinking. They have to reach all strata of society and cover all bases. After all, it's their job.
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About the Author
Michael DeLang is a self-defined middle-aged blue collar worker in the trucking industry who lives in Golden, Colorado. (back)