Saturday, February 28, 2015

Manufacturing Consent: How The Sausage Gets Made

Source: Hyperallergic
There is consent, and then there is manufactured consent. News blackouts are a good way of manufacturing consent. If people don't know about something, or know only a tiny sliver of managed truth, it's easier to get them to go along with official policies they would likely oppose if only they knew

A good example is the corporate news coverage of  last summer's attacks on Gaza by Israel. If you were a U.S. corporate news consumer, you would be left with the impression that Hamas started it (untrue, Israel broke the ceasefire). Also that their rockets were a comparable threat to the bombardment unleashed by Israel on hospitals, schools, water treatment plants and other infrastructure -- a ridiculous proposition.

What is an effective response to managed "news" in our day?

Conceptual artist Banksy traveled to Gaza and painted a kitten on one piece of the thousands of pieces of rubble that Gazans have huddled in this winter while trying not to freeze to death. From NBC News: 

Bansky says, "A local man came up and said 'Please - what does this mean?' I explained I wanted to highlight the destruction in Gaza by posting photos on my website - but on the internet people only look at pictures of kittens."
Here's his video: 

Students at the University of Toronto this week took a different, less aesthetic, yet elegantly simple approach. At a lecture by two prominent deniers of the Armenian Genocide, "WWI 100th Anniversary - Human Suffering in Eastern Anatolia,” students waited until the denial began and then stood and simply turned their backs.
Source: Armenian Weekly
According to the report in Armenian Weekly:
Several racial slurs and discriminatory comments were directed at the protesters as they stood in silence. 
Lecture organizers briefly stopped the event, but after campus police made it clear that the form of protest did not interfere with the event, they were asked to continue. 
Protesters continued standing with their backs to the podium as Fein spoke, then marched out in an organized walk-out, leaving the remaining twenty or so attendees to listen to the rest of the lecture.
The government of Turkey spends quite a bit of money each year to deny that the wealth of its oligarchs is, in many cases, based on the theft of resources the genocide of Armenians made possible. Author Orhan Pamuk was prosecuted by his government for saying in an interview, "Thirty thousand Kurds have been killed here, and a million Armenians. And almost nobody dares to mention that. So I do."

In the U.S. there is yet another way to manufacture consent, this one also at taxpayers' expense: Rep. Chellie Pingree sent out the following survey to her constituents. (She also sent it to me -- though I live in a different congressional district, I guess I have hounded her enough over the years to be considered an honorary constituent). 

You can see my comments following Pingree's carefully managed, Democratic Party flavored list of possible priorities.

My comments in full:

Stop ignoring the 50+% of budget going to the Pentagon and its contractors each year. None of your priorities will be addressed until that problem is fixed. Continuing to show up at General Dynamics/Bath Iron Works year after year pledging allegiance to the military contracting as a job creation program is disingenuous at best. Fix the bloated military budget, it will pay for everything else. 
And if BIW was building public transportation instead of nuclear-equipped warships that cost billions of my tax dollars, it would be creating far more jobs as well. As you claim you well know. It would also be far better for the environment to build something life sustaining rather than weapons of mass destruction. 
But, since this form is set up so that I have to check one of your pre-selected  issues, I will check "oppose unfair trade agreements" aka the Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership. If passed, the TPP will gut Maine jobs on a scale not seen since Bill Clinton passed NAFTA. And make corporate profits more important than state or federal laws. What could go wrong?

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