Saturday, November 18, 2017

Stop the War! (1968)

Watching the 10-part (18 hour) documentary The Vietnam War on PBS, I was struck by what a large contingent of delegates at the 1968 Democratic nominating convention in Chicago raised signs in protest of the war ... and these were political party delegates ... mainstream Americans ... part of the system.

Vietnam, don't forget, was also a Democratic Party war.

What struck me was that, 50 years ago, the opposition to America's immoral (and illegal) war had definitely gone mainstream.  

And that is something that has changed dramatically in the half-century that has passed.

Americans today are far more passive in accepting an endless series of wars, known to be based largely on outright lies (as was Vietnam, which was the salient fact that was exposed in The Pentagon Pagers).  Americans are more than happy to yield their American value system (supposedly something for which they'd die) and all their civil liberties for empty promises of relief from fear.  Cowardly?  In the extreme.

Mainstream Americans today, regardless of which side of the political divide they stand, act like sheep; and neither political party has a monopoly on cowardice.  That's the one thing Americans share.

A tightly-controlled US press ensures that.

The uniformity of opinion molded by the media is reinforced through the skillfully orchestrated mass emotions of nationalism and patriotism, which paint all dissidents as “soft” or “unpatriotic.” The “patriotic” citizen, plagued by fear of job losses and possible terrorist attacks, unfailingly supports widespread surveillance and the militarized state. There is no questioning of the $1 trillion spent each year on defense. Military and intelligence agencies are held above government, as if somehow they are not part of the government. The most powerful instruments of state control effectively have no public oversight. We, as imperial citizens, are taught to be contemptuous of government bureaucracy, yet we stand like sheep before Homeland Security agents in airports and are mute when Congress permits our private correspondence and conversations to be monitored and archived. We endure more state control than at any time in U.S. history.
And yet the civic, patriotic, and political language we use to describe ourselves remains unchanged. We pay fealty to the same national symbols and iconography. We find our collective identity in the same national myths. We continue to deify the founding fathers. But the America we celebrate is an illusion. It does not exist.

– Chris Hedges

      Chicago, 1968