When the Respectable Become Extremists

May 29th, 2012

The Extremists Become Respectable: Colombia and the Mainstream Media – Published on Dissident Voice, by James Petras, May 26, 2012.

By any historical measure, whether it involves international law, human rights conventions, United Nations protocols, or standard socio-economic indicators, the policies and practices of the United States and European Union regimes can be characterized as extremist. By that we mean that their policies and practices result in the large-scale, long-term systematic destruction of human lives, habitat and livelihood affecting millions of people through the direct application of force and violence.  

The extremist regimes abhor moderation, which implies rejection of total war in favor of peaceful negotiations. Moderation pursues conflict resolution through diplomacy and compromise and the rejection of state and paramilitary terror, mass dispossession and displacement of civilian populations and the systematic assault on popular sectors of civil society … //

… Conclusion:

  • As the Obama regime and its European allies publically embrace extremism, including state terror, targeted assassinations and the car bombings in crowded urban neighborhoods, the respectable press has joined in. Extremism takes many forms — from the refusal to report honestly about the use of mercenary force and violence to overthrow another anti-colonial regime to the blatant cover-up of the slaughter of tens of thousands of civilians and the dispossession of millions of peasants and farmers. The ‘educated classes’, the respectable affluent reading public are being continuously indoctrinated by the respectable Western media to believe that the smiling and pragmatic President Santos in Colombia and elected President Lobos in Honduras have succeeded in establishing peace, market-based prosperity, mutually beneficial free trade agreements, and military base concessions with the US — even as these two regimes currently lead the world in the murder of trade unionists and journalists. On May 15, 2012 the US Hispanic Congressional caucus awarded Lobos a leadership in democracy award – the same day the Honduran press reported the murder of the news director of radio station, HMT, Alfredo Villatoro, the 25th critical journalist killed between January 27, 2010 and May 15, 2012.16
  • The respectable press’ embrace of extremism and its use of demonological and vitriolic language to describe critical regimes opposed to imperialism are matched by its euphoric and effusive praise of state and pro-western mercenary brutality. The systematic cover-up of crimes by extremist journalism goes far beyond the cases of Colombia and Honduras. Financial Times reporter Michael Peel ‘covered’ the assault on the Libyan government of Gaddaffi without mentioning the NATO-led bombing campaign that destroyed Africa’s most advanced welfare state. Peel presented the rise of armed gangs of fanatical tribal and Islamic terrorists as a victory for democracy over a “brutal dictatorship.”17 Peel’s mendacity and cant is evident in his outrageous claims that the destruction of the Libyan economy and the mass torture and racially motivated murders, which followed NATO’s war, was a victory for the Libyan people.
  • The totalitarian twist in the respectable press is a direct consequence of its long-term toadying to the extremist policies pursued by the western regimes. Since extremist measures, like the use of force, violence, assassination and torture, have become routine by the incumbent presidents and prime ministers, the reporters have no choice but to fabricate lies to render ‘respectable’ such crimes, to spit out a constant flow of highly charged adjectives in order to convert victims into executioners and executioners into victims. Extremism in defense of pro-US regimes has led to the most grotesque accounts imaginable: Colombia and Mexico’s Presidents are the leaders of the most thoroughly narcotized economies in the hemisphere yet they are praised for their war on drugs, while Venezuela, the most marginal producer of any drug, is stigmatized as a major narco- pipeline.18
  • Articles with no factual basis, which are worthless as sources of objective information, direct us to seek an underlying rationale: Colombia has signed a free trade agreement, which will benefit US exports over Colombian by over a two to one ratio.19 Mexico’s free trade policy has benefited US agro-business and giant retailers by a similar ratio.
  • All forms of extremism permeate Western regimes and find justification and rationalization through the respectable media whose job is to indoctrinate civil society and turn citizens into uncritical accomplices to extremism. By endlessly prefacing ‘reports’ on Russia’s President Putin as an authoritarian Soviet-era tyrant, the respectable media avoid any discussion of the doubling of the Russian standard of living and Putin’s over 60% electoral triumph. By magnifying an authoritarian past, the murdered Libyan President Gaddafi’s vast public works, social welfare programs and generous immigration and foreign aid programs to sub-Sahara Africa can be relegated to the oblivion. The respectable press’s praise of death squad Presidents Santos and Lobos is part of a large-scale, long-term systematic shift from the hypocritical pretence of pursuing the virtues of a democratic republic to the open embrace of a virulent, murderous empire. The new journalists’ code reads ‘extremism in defense of empire is no vice.’

(full long text and Notes 1 to 19).

(James Petras, a former Professor of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York, owns a 50-year membership in the class struggle, is an adviser to the landless and jobless in Brazil and Argentina, and is co-author of Globalization Unmasked (Zed Books). Petras’ most recent book is The Arab Revolt and the Imperialist Counterattack. He can be reached by email. Read other articles by James, or visit James’s website).

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