One nation, ignorant, deluded, and proud

Stuart Lawrence stuartwl at
Wed Mar 19 22:26:20 MST 2003

The single thing that I find most disheartening these days is the way so
many in the US completely buy in to the idea that the 9-11 attacks
directly justify the war on Iraq. What is disheartening to me, and not
merely frustrating in the ordinary sense, about this, is the seemingly
willful disregard for all the evidence people have been able to see from
the very day of the attack. A great deal of this is clearly just blind
racist hatred or a blundering, misguided vengeance and sense of
victimhood, or both, and the remainder can only be attributed to
ignorance and simpleminded confusion.

NY Times/CBS News polls taken between September 2002 and March 2003
found that between 42% and 51% of American adults think Saddam Hussein
was personally involved in the 9-11 attack.  Those who thought he was
not involved were never a larger percentage, ranging from 33-42%. Note
that this question began to be asked in September of last year as the
campaign to whip up pro-war sentiment gained strength. Americans' view
of world events, murky to start with, got even murkier when the Bush
team began turning the country's attention toward Iraq while desperately
seeking a popular rationale for war.

American media have made much of the fact that vast numbers of people in
Muslim countries firmly believe that the 9-11 attacks were engineered by
Zionists and that Jews working in the WTC were notified in advance that
they should stay home. When will we see the collective delusions of
Americans treated with the same disdain by the major media instead of
being sanctified as some sort of unchallengeable source of moral
authority to go to war? Or are we merely supposed to be happy that our
fantasies have more firepower to back them up?

One routinely sees surveys of U.S. schoolchildren that demonstrate a
lack of basic historic and geographic knowledge about the world outside
this country. Then there are occasionally surveys that demonstrate this
near-total ignorance does not diminish among adult Americans. This is
always cause for much hand-wringing and inaction. What is never said,
though, is whose interests this state of affairs serves. I want very
much to believe that people in my country have the capacity to
understand the world they live in and distinguish between reasonable and
well-founded claims about events and the lies and distortions they are
constantly being fed. But it is a difficult faith to keep, especially
when the man who spoke from the Oval Office tonight is the
quintessential American yahoo.


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