On an MSNBC segment that aired on September 5, host Alex Wagner chastised former Congressman Ron Paul for an interview Paul did with Wikileak’s Julian Assange where they discussed the Obama administration’s highly dubious claims justifying a possible war in Syria.
While labeling Paul the “Father of the Fringe,” Wagner expressed outrage and shock that one could possibly express even the slightest amounts of doubt regarding the administration’s claims.
The case that the administration and its hawkish Congressional allies make for U.S. intervention in Syria are based on lies, more lies and special interests, eerily reminiscent of the same tactics used to justify the Bush administration’s war in Iraq, President Clinton’s bombing of Serbia, and many other U.S. wars.
Congressman Justin Amash recently claimed, “If Americans could read classified docs, they’d be even more against Syria action.” The rest of Congress is getting the same message, revealed by several Amash tweets.
All around the world, protesters are expressing their opposition to a strike in Syria. Syrians and Western activists are bravely volunteering themselves as human shields against areas where the U.S. is suspected to strike.
If a huge majority of Americans disagree with the president and the warhawks in Congress and agree with Paul, Senator Rand Paul, Amash, and Congressman Alan Grayson, who exactly are the “mainstream” and “fringe?”
This is a common mainstream media topic, however. The job of this top-down, centralized propaganda machine is to enforce the narrow, bipartisan authoritarianism of both political parties as mainstream while castigating anyone who dares to dissent from this tiny box as fringe, paranoid, kooky and many other unprintable names.
If one were to point out that, say, the senators that voted “yes” to strike Syria got over 80% more money from the military-industrial-complex than those senators that voted “no,” well then that’s just cynicism and unhealthy doubt about our noble public servants.
The goal is to discredit these voices not on the basis of their claims, but simply by the fact that they don’t fit neatly in the Approved Opinion Spectrum between Hillary Clinton and Lindsey Graham.
As Glenn Greenwald argued three years ago while discussing the topic of media orthodoxy, the supposedly fringe and kooky Paul saw through the lies used to justify the Iraq War, opposed the Patriot Act, the NDAA, warrantless wiretapping, torture, drone assassinations, the NSA surveillance program, the drug war, the corporate bailouts and every other piece of unconstitutional legislation or proposal that expands the power of the state over the individual.
The Democrats, Republicans and pundits who are now pushing for war against Syria, parroting the party line, and disparaging those that raise any types of questions unsurprisingly supported most if not all of the above.
In the old Soviet Union, those that held unapproved or dangerous (to the party and to the state, at least) were labeled in a similar manner and often times were literally dubbed mentally insane, kidnapped, and locked-up indefinitely in a gulag.
While things are not as bad as that here (yet), the tactics and goals are the same: enforce a narrow political spectrum that offers people a left-wing or right-wing face to a general agreement on military interventionism, massive federal spending and debt, and the power of the state to arrest and torture anyone it wants indefinitely. There are differences in how and to whom this massive power should be employed, but never on the wisdom of granting such power.
While the mainstream media has enjoyed a monopoly on this thought-enforcement for decades, thanks to decentralized power of the internet there are signs that Americans are starting to wake up. Administration claims, whether they be about the next country that needs to be bombed or the status of the economy, are now more easily scrutinized than ever before.
Rather than an acceptable, bipartisan mainstream and a kooky fringe, slowly but surely the real ideological battle lines are being drawn: individualism vs. authoritarianism. Those of us who believe in peace and the Bill of Rights on one side, and those who believe in unlimited state power on the other.
If the U.S. moves to start yet another war are any indication, then the media’s power over opinions and debate, especially among us millennials, is waning.