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[casi] Media manipulation - and economic expediency

This is an article about media manipulation, by an
Uruguayan writer. Interesting, I think, and spot on.
"There is a Gutlessness Competition at the Human
Rights Commission of the United Nations", he says.

-----------start fwd-----------

The Machine
Eduardo Galeano, May 1, 2002

Sigmund Freud had learned it from Jean-Martin Charcot:
ideas can be implanted by hypnosis in the human mind.

More than a century has gone by since then, and the
technology of manipulation has made great strides. This is
a colossal machine, the size of the planet, that orders us
to repeat the messages it puts inside our heads. It's a
word-abusing machine.

The President of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, had been elected,
and reelected, by an overwhelming majority, in a much more
transparent election than the one that put George W. Bush
in power in the United States.

The machine propelled the coup that tried to overthrow
Chavez--not because of his messianic style, or his
tendency toward logorrhea, but because of the reforms he
proposed and the heresies he committed. Chavez touched the
untouchables. And the untouchables, the owners of the media
and almost everything elsewere outraged. With complete
freedom they denounced the crushing of freedom. Inside and
outside his own country, the machine turned Chavez into a
"tyrant," a "delirious autocrat" and an "enemy of
democracy." Against him was the "citizenry". Behind him
were the "mobs," which did not meet in rooms but in

The media-engineered coup was able to generate only a
virtual power, and it didn't last.

The media campaign was decisive in the avalanche that lead
to the coup, programmed from abroad against this ferocious
dictatorship that did not have a single political
prisoner. Then the Presidency was occupied by a
businessman for whom nobody voted, and whose first
democratic measure was to dissolve the Parliament. The
stock market went up the following day, but a popular
uprising returned Chavez to his legitimate post. As
Venezuelan writer Luis Britto Garcia put it, the media-
engineered coup was able to generate only a virtual power,
and it didn't last. Venezuelan televisiona bastion of
information freedom--did not get wind of the upsetting

Meanwhile, another voted-by-none figure who also took
power by coup d'etat is displaying his successful new
look: General Pervez Musharraf, military dictator of
Pakistan, has been transfigured by the magical kiss of the
mass media. Musharraf says--and repeats--that the notion
that his people could vote does not even enter his head,
but he himself has given a vote of obedience to the so
called "international community, and that is the only vote
that really matters in the end, at the time of reckoning.

He has come a long way indeed: only yesterday, Musharraf
was the best friend of his neighbors, the Taliban. Today
he's become the "liberal brave leader of the modernization
of Pakistan."

And in the meantime, the slaughter of Palestinians
continues. The world's manufacturers of public opinion
call it a "hunting down of terrorists." "Palestinian" is a
synonym of "terrorist", but this word is never used to
refer to the Israeli army. The territories seized by
continuous military invasions are called "disputed
territories." And Palestinians--who are Semitic--turn out
to be "anti-Semitic." For more than a century they have
been condemned to atone for the sins of European
anti-Semitism, and to pay with their land and their
blood for a Holocaust they did not perpetrate.

There is a Gutlessness Competition at the Human Rights
Commission of the United Nations, which always aims South,
never North.

The commission specializes in charging against Cuba, and
this year Uruguay had the honor to lead the pack. Nobody
said: "I do it so that they buy what I sell, or: "I do it
so they lend me what I need, or: "I do it so they loosen
the rope that's tightening around my neck. The art of good
governing allows its practitioners not to think what they
say, but it forbids them from saying what they think. And
the media took advantage of the occasion to confirm, once
again, that the blockaded island is one of the baddies.

In the dictionary of the machine, the bribes that
politicians receive are called "contributions," and their
betrayals are called "pragmatism." The word "security"
refers not to notions of safety and protection, but to
investments; and it is in the stock exchange that these
"securities" undergo all kinds of crises. Where we see
"the international community demands," we should read: the
financial dictatorship imposes.

"International community" is also the pseudonym that
shelters the great powers in their military campaigns of
extermination, also called "pacifying missions." The
"pacified" are the dead. The third war against Iraq is
already in the works. As in the two previous ones, the
bombers will be called "allied forces" while the bombed
will be "fanatic mobs serving the Butcher of Baghdad." And
the attackers will leave behind a trail of civilian
corpses which will be called "collateral damages."

In order to explain this next war, President Bush does not
say: "Big oil and big weapons need it badly, and my
government is a pipeline and an arsenal. " Nor does he
explain his multibillion project for the militarization of
space with words like: "We are going to annex the sky the
way we annexed Texas." No, the explanation is that the
free world that must defend itself against the threat of
terrorism, both here on Earth and beyond, even though
terrorism has demonstrated it prefers kitchen knives to
missiles, and despite the fact that the United States is
opposed--along with Iraq- to the International Criminal
Court that has been recently established to punish crimes
against humanity.

In general, the words uttered by power are not meant to
express its actions, but to disguise them. More than a
century ago, at the glorious battle of Omdurman, in Sudan,
where Winston Churchill was both reporter and soldier, 48
Britons sacrificed their lives. In addition, 27,000
savages died. The British were pushing their colonial
expansion by fire and the sword, and they justified it by
saying: "We are civilizing Africa through commerce." They
were not saying: "We are commercializing Africa through
civilization." And nobody was asking Africans their
opinion on the matter.

"We're selling a product," quipped Colin Powell.

But we are fortunate enough to live in the information
age, and the giants of mass communications love
objectivity. They even allow for the point of view of the
enemy to be expressed as well. During the Vietnam War, for
example, the point of view of the enemy was 3% of the
coverage given by ABC, CBS and NBC.

The Pentagon acknowledges that propaganda is part of the
military budget, and the White House has hired Charlotte
Beers, a publicity expert who had pushed certain brands of
rice and dog food in the local markets. She is now in
charge of pushing the crusade against terrorism into the
world market. "We're selling a product," quipped Colin

Brazilian writer Millor Fernandes confirms that "in order
not to see reality, the ostrich sinks its head in the
television set."

The machine dictates orders, the machine stones you.

On September 11, the loudspeakers of the second twin tower
in New York were also giving stunning orders, when the
tower started to creak. As people ran down the stairs, the
loudspeakers were ordering everyone to return to their

Those who survived, disobeyed.

Translated by Francisco Gonz lez.

Eduardo Galeano, a Uruguayan journalist, is the author of
"[23] Upside Down: A Primer for the Looking-Glass World,"
"Memory of Fire" and "The Open Veins of Latin America,"
and one of most popular writers around the GNN bunker.



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