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imperialism & war | media criticism selection 2004

Kerry, the media and faith

ESSAY (shortened and edited for length and brevity)
The main argument this election year should be: "How do we dismantle the war on terror system?" The unprovoked aggression, military posturing, threats against sovereign nations, fear mongering, race-baiting, limiting or eliminating of civil liberties, is all bundled up into the term "war on terror." Amazingly, both Kerry and Bush are outdoing each other to uphold the war on terror system. And our t.v. and newspapers are the biggest cheerleaders of both sides.

The combined efforts of Kerry, Bush, the media and media spectacles like the 9/11 Commission hearings are designed to teach us this: 1) war on terror is a fact of everyday life that is unavoidable and will or should last a generation 2) war on terror is also something everyone is actively engaged in, whether we know it or not, whether we accept it or not 3) the final outcome of war on terror is overcoming all perceived dangers that we all face everyday (though in theory, these dangers can never truly be overcome.

The dogma of war on terror is similar to religious piety in many ways, aside from the obvious comparisons to the Crusades in the middle ages. The assumption is that there is a right and wrong way to fight these imaginary threats which are ever-present, much like the devil. The right way involves strength, courage, wisdom, etc... Similarly, there is a right and wrong way to stay in touch with a diety or god, and the wrong way involves lax morality, laziness, and inability to suspend disbelief.

Kerry needs to come out and say that there is no god, in other words, there is no war on terror. The mass media has to develop a transition plan, which would mean the sabotage of its own revenue engine. The vacuum this would create may be even worse than what has transpired so far. People want to believe--whether it's in the evilness of Osama, "Zarqawi" or radical clerics, or in the innocence of an apparently dim-witted but well-meaning president.