January 21, 2012
BOOK OF THE WEEK: WEEK THREE, 2012
Chris Hedges, The World As It Is: Dispatches on the Myth of Human Progress (New York: Truthdig/Nations Books, 2011) (America in the twenty-first century is a nation of people who do not want to know what they don't want to know. They want their news sanitized, into bite-size nuggets of entertainment. They do not want the truth. They do not want to have to take responsibility for what we have allowed to be done in our name. And they certainly do not want to own up to the myth (a false myth, as all myths are) of American Exceptionalism, notwithstanding reality of the nation being in rapid decline. American civilization is over. We are a third world country already. But you will not learn this by reading or listening to mainstream media, or, for that matter, in getting a college degree. Corporate America has negated the reporting and search for truth. And colleges and universities have gotten out of the mission of educating students. Instead, they have gotten into the business of training the next generation of corporate drones. The World As It Is is a collection of essays by Chris Hedges, essays which are not balanced, and, for that reason, have the possibility of getting at the truth. "But in the game of American journalism it is forbidden to feel. Journalists are told they must be clinical observers who interpret human reality through their eyes, not their hearts--and certainly not through their consciences. This is the deadly disease of American journalism. And it is the reason journalism is the United States has lost it moral core and its influence. It is the reason that in a time of crisis the traditional media have little to say. It is why the traditional media are distrusted. The gross moral and professional failings of the traditional media opened the door for the hate-mongers on fox News and the news celebrities on commercial networks who fill our head s with trivia and celebrity gossip." "As the center of American power were seized and hijacked by corporations the media continued to pay deference to systems of power that could no longer be considered honest or democratic. The media treats criminals on Wall Street as responsible members of the ruling class, They treat the criminals in the White House and Pentagon as statesmen. The media never responded to the radical reconfiguration of American politics, the slow-motion coup d'etat that has turned phrases like the consent of the governed into a cruel joke. And because the media are not concerned with distinguishing truth from news, because they lack a moral compass, they have become nothing more than courtiers to the elite, shameless hedonists of power, and absurd court propagandists. At a moment when the country desperately needs vigorous media, its gets celebrities such as Katie Couric masquerading as journalists, who night after night 'feel your pain.' The few journalists who do not as Couric does, function as entertainers and celebrities are so timid and removed from the suffering of our dispossessed working classes that they are rightly despised. The media are hated for a reason. They deserve to be hated. They sided with the corporate forces, like most liberal institutions, as these corporate forces decimated the working class, bankrupted the economy, corrupted the legislative, executive, and judicial systems of government, and unleashed endless war and the destruction of the ecosystem on which life depends." Id. at xii-xiii. Read these essays, and see how willfully blind and ignorant we are. Take special note of Hedges's warnings about America's potential fall into fascism. We have been close before. We may not be so lucky this time around. Think about the scary appeal of the religious right. Think about the political climate in Mississippi, Alabama, Arizona, and Texas as bellwethers for where America may be heading on issues such as immigration, crime and prisons, voting rights, civil rights, race, gender and and a woman's right to choose.).