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     “Nothing is free.”  Remember that golden nugget of advice given back when you were young?  Of course you do, it made you wary of deals that seemed just perfect and produced nothing but unicorns and butterflies and the separation of you and your money once you made the agreement with the con artist in question.  The idea that nothing is free needs to be extended further because the deception continues on a much larger trans-national scale.  Citizens of democratic counties are bombarded with messages about the “free market” and the “free press” two terms that will not lose their scare quotes until they actually start representing what the words purportedly mean.

We’ll confine analysis to the “free press’ part of the equation, as Media Lens focuses on the unseemly bias toward the dominant power structures by the media in society today.  Objectivity? Fairness and Accuracy in reporting?  You will not find it inside the mainstream media of western countries, as shocking a revelation that is for many.  It is tempting here to go down the left-wing/right-wing bias arguement black hole at the juncture, but really the left versus right debate is but a mere flickering candle compared to the supernova-like malfeasance of the courtier “free press”  fawning to whomever hold the levers of power in society.

The article we’ll be looking at appears on the Media Lens website.  Significant sections will be reviewed here, but to see the work in full: “The Golden Rule of State Violence: Terrorism is What they Do; Counterterrorism is What We do.”

“A defining feature of state power is rhetoric about a ‘moral’ or ‘ethical’ role in world affairs. Errors of judgement, blunders and tactical mistakes can, and do, occur. But the motivation underlying state policy is fundamentally benign. Reporters and commentators, trained or selected for professional ‘reliability’, tend to slavishly adopt this prevailing ideology.

Thus, on the ten-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, an editorial in the Independent on Sunday gushed about ‘Bush’s desire to spread democracy as an end in itself’. It was, the paper said, ‘the germ of a noble idea’. There was  ‘an idealism’ about Blair’s support for Bush. The drawback was that the execution of the righteous vision had been ‘naive, arrogant and morally compromised by torture and the abrogation of the very values for which the US-led coalition claimed to fight’.”

Who in their right mind actually thought that we were “spreading democracy” in Iraq?  But I guess whatever it takes to sell the idea of war to enough people to make it popular.

“Note that the invasion-occupation of Iraq is described as a ‘mistake’, not the supreme international crime as judged by the standards of the post-WW2 Nuremberg Trials.”

We come to point very early in the article is really damning and says so much about the pablum we are fed by the media.  The Nuremberg Trials established rules for the world to follow after WW2 in attempt to head off another costly world catastrophe, they were to be followed not only by the losers of the war but by the victors as well.  We broke these conventions, actually we ripped them up used them as toilet paper, and an actual “free press” would brought this and kept this fact in the world’s eye for all to see.  But instead, only reputations are tarnished:

“The horrendous murder of Baha Mousa, an Iraqi civilian, by British soldiers ‘was a reminder of how much the Iraq war tarnished Britain’s reputation abroad.’ The implication is that Britain’s ‘reputation’ is fundamentally decent, only occasionally ‘tarnished’.

The paper concludes:

‘there is a hope that Britain, with a more realistic understanding of its capability, could regain some of the ethical role in the world that it lost after its mistaken response to 9/11.’

In the wake of all that has happened in the past ten years (and more), it takes a committed form of self-deception to cling to the shredded image of Britain’s ‘ethical role in the world’.”

Ah, self-deception, we all practice it to a certain extent.  When left unchecked on the level of societies and countries though, it becomes a malevolent, destructive force.

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