Cindy Sheehan packed her chair, blankets and photographs of her dead boy into the back of her Ford F-150 pickup. Her life had changed suddenly and dramatically two years earlier on April 4, 2004 when she received word that her 24-year-old son had died in combat in Sadr City, Iraq.
Ravaged by her loss, Cindy made national headlines by organizing protests outside President George W. Bush’s sprawling ranch in Texas and later in front of the gates to the White House.
Now, tucking the last of her possessions into her truck, she was calling it quits. Cindy had spent the last 30 months protesting the Iraq War and demanding that Bush himself explain “for what cause” her son had died.“My protests have been a waste of time,” she said. «What good did they do? My son is gone. I've lost my marriage and my job. America’s still in Iraq. There’s little support from the people to stop the war. Our government won't even apologize to us for lying.»
Fast toward to today.
The masterminds of the Iraq War — Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld — are out of the White House. President Barack Obama, a Democrat who promised to bring an end to America’s aggressive international interventionism, is nearing the end of his second term. But not only is the United States still involved in Iraq, it is engaged in conflicts in Afghanistan, Syria, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia as well. Meanwhile, most Americans are disinterested and unconcerned, as each year countless numbers of servicemen die and billions are syphoned from the federal budget.
How can this possibly be the case when, just in 1973, America was forced to withdraw its troops from Vietnam precisely because the American public was sick and tired of war. Why aren’t they protesting today, as their government stirs up a perpetual state of conflict in the Middle East?
The reason is simple — the government’s control over the media.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Americans were bombarded with images of the Vietnam War’s horrors. Public opinion was finally swayed and for U.S. lawmakers supporting the war became political suicide.
Thirty years later, American journalists’ ability to show the gruesome realities of war to the people was crippled when President Bush issued an executive order that prohibited them from showing images to the public before they had been approved by the State Department. As a result, instead of seeing images of dead civilians in Iraq, bodybags of U.S. soldiers, and cities and towns razed to the ground, Americans saw statues of Saddam Hussein being torn down, smart-bombs destroying “terrorist” bases and soldiers feeding displaced civilians.
The government and the media had struck a new deal.
And this pattern of censorship continues.
Today, Americans aren’t told that U.S. drones over Pakistan and Afghanistan have killed 147 children during Obama's presidency. But they are inundated with news about an “evil Assad” and Europe’s refugee crisis — which fail to mention that American adventurism is to blame.
Americans are tricked and confused by government disinformation that is bent on keeping them in a state of ignorance and fear, making them apathetic bystanders to America’s violent actions on the international stage. At the end of the day, most Americans return home, dead-weary from work, numbly hang up their jackets and sit down to dinner, watching the latest sitcom as the TV drowns out their family talk. Meanwhile, in some corner of the world, U.S. missiles continue to pound the earth, as elderly statesmen in Washington whisper of their next reckless crusade.
But even a child who is told to be afraid of the dark ultimately learns that there is nothing to fear. It is only a matter of time before more Americans wake up and ask themselves: “Who’s the real terrorist?” The answer is more complex than what they’ve been told. It’s certainly not Russia.
Jeff Monson is an MMA fighter and political activist.
Фото: Дарья ИСАЕВА