The Law of Opposites and the Law of Silence

Category: Europe, World Affairs Topics: Iraq, Saddam Hussein Views: 3854

Bringing you the news: Courtesy of the Law of Opposites and the Law of Silence

Can you imagine the BBC and other major broadcasters apologising to a rogue regime which practises racism and ethnic cleansing; which has "effectively legalised the use of torture" (Amnesty); which holds international law in contempt, having defied hundreds of UN resolutions and built an apartheid wall in defiance of the International Court of Justice; which has demolished thousands of people's homes and given its soldiers the right to assassinate; and whose leader was judged "personally responsible" for the massacre of more than 2,000 people?

Can you imagine the BBC saying sorry to Saddam Hussein's Iraq, or other official demons, for broadcasting an uncensored interview with a courageous dissident of that country, a man who spent 19 years in prison, mostly in solitary confinement? Of course not.

Yet, last month, the BBC apologised "confidentially" to a regime with such a record, so that its correspondent would be allowed back, having promised to abide by a system of censorship that continues to gag the dissident. The regime is Ariel Sharon's in Israel, whose war crimes, appalling human rights record and enduring lawlessness continue to be granted a certificate of exemption not only by the US-dominated west but by respectable journalism. The Blair government's collusion with the Sharon gang is reflected in the BBC's "balanced" coverage of a repression described by Nelson Mandela as "the greatest moral issue of the age". Simon Wilson, the correspondent made to apologise for a proper, important and long overdue interview with Mordechai Vanunu, will know better in future.

That is hardly new. Pressure applied to the BBC and other broadcasters by the Israel "lobby" has been so successful that, as a Glasgow University study revealed, many viewers of television news in Britain believe the Jewish "settlers" whose illegal and often violent squatting on Palestinian land has undermined hopes of real peace, are actually Palestinians. What is new is the extent to which insidious state propaganda has penetrated sections of the media whose independence has been, until recently, accepted by much of the public.

To appreciate this, one applies the Law of Opposites and the Law of Silence. The Law of Opposites can be applied to almost any news broadcast these days. The long-awaited death of the Pope is a case in point. By reversing the river of drivel about the Pope - "the people's Pope" (almost universal), "the man who changed history" (Bush) "a towering figure revered across all faiths and none" (Blair) - you have the truth. This deeply reactionary man held back history and destroyed lives all over the world with his fanatical opposition to basic decencies, such as birth control. He called this "abominable", spitting the word out, and so condemned millions, from starving infants to babies born with Aids. In Latin America, he publicly humiliated courageous priests whose "preference for the poor" dared to cross the medieval hierarchy he upheld. The claim that he "brought down communism" is also the opposite of the truth. As I learned when I reported his papal return to his native Poland in 1979, the church in that country, whose conservatism he embodied, was a scheming bedfellow of the Stalinist regime until the wind changed.

The Law of Opposites can be applied to the current western government/media fashion for saving Africa, known as the Year of Africa. The BBC has hosted a special conference about this, just as Blair will host the G8 summit in July with "eradicating Africa's poverty" as its theme. This is "Britain's big chance", wrote Polly Toynbee in the Guardian, "to engage the rich with debt relief, aid, fair trade, carbon emissions and Aids-crippled Africa." She added, "On debt and trade, Labour has done well."

The opposite is true. Like the rest of the impoverished world, African countries qualify for the vogue enlightenment only if they agree to impose on their people the deadly strictures of the World Trade Organisation, the IMF and the World Bank - such as the destruction of tariffs protecting sustainable economies and the privatising of natural resources such as water. At the same time, they are "encouraged" to buy weapons from British arms companies, especially if they have a civil war under way or there is a tension with a neighbour.

The Law of Silence is applied to crimes committed not by official demons - Saddam, Milosevic et al - but by western governments. An Australian Broadcasting Corporation correspondent, Eric Campbell, in recently promoting a book of his adventures, described the broadcast "coverage" of the war in Iraq. "Live satellite is a travesty," he said. "Basically, if [the reporters] are on satellite, they haven't seen anything. The correspondent is read the stories from the wire and told that is what they have to say on air - that's in the majority of cases."

That may help to explain why the horror of the American attack on Fallujah has yet to be reported by the other major broadcasters. By contrast, independent journalists such as Dahr Jamail have reported doctors describing the slaughter of civilians carrying white flags by US marines. This was videotaped, including the killing of most of a family of 12. One witness described how his mother was shot in the head and his father through the heart, and how a six year old boy standing over his dead parents, crying, was shot dead. None of this has appeared on British television. When asked, a BBC spokesperson said, "The conduct of coalition forces has been examined at length by BBC programmes." That is demonstrably untrue.

Similarly, the Law of Silence applies to the likely American attack on Iran. Scott Ritter, the UN weapons inspector who in 1999 disclosed that Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction and was thereafter virtually blackballed, has recently revealed that, according to a Pentagon official, Iran will be attacked in June. Again, he has been ignored by most of the media. As Bush's and Blair's "democracy is on the march in the Middle East" propaganda is reported uncritically, the Law of Silence applies to the Bush regime's campaign to subvert and overthrow Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, arguably the most democratically elected leader in Latin America, if not the world (nine elections) whose own "preference for the poor" has diverted the proceeds of the world's fourth biggest oil supplies to the majority of Venezuelans.

Last year, I did a long interview with Jeremy Bowen, a BBC reporter I admire, for a programme about war correspondents. Although I guessed that what was really wanted was my tales of journalistic derring-do on the frontline, I set about describing how journalists often produced veiled propaganda for western power - by accepting "our" version or by omitting the unpalatable, such as the atrocities of western state terrorism: a major taboo. I emphasised that this censorship was not conspiratorial, but often unconscious, even subliminal: such was our training and grooming. My contribution did not appear.

 

John Pilger was born and educated in Sydney. he has been a war correspondent, film-maker and playwright. Based in London, he has written from many countries and has twice won British journalism's highest award, that of 'Journalist of the Year', for his work in Vietnam and Cambodia.


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  7 Comments   Comment

  1. alia jaludi from usa

    i thank allah that there are people of good hearts and minds like your self ,i hope you will continue to search for truth and justices.

  2. Louise from USA

    I came to the US illegally through Texas 20 years ago. Since then yes I have found work and send money back home to my family. I even went to school and got a degree. Before when I found no job, the only job that was open to me and to almost all other Mexicans and Latinos was with the army. So we joined. After 8 years of washing pots and pans and mopping floors and cleaning out washrooms in the army, putting up with racial slurs and even a beating twice by some white boys from Texas, I finally was able to get out. All I have to show for my 8 years is a poor back, sore and chapped hands and $250 a week. Now they want me back. They want to send me to Iraq and give my life for "My Country" - I say let the white boys from Texas do their own fighting and their own dieing. I am happy here back in Mexico. This is my country.

  3. Norman from USA

    Amongst the illegal Mexicans in our border town in Texas, the news is that if you sign up at the US army post in Mexico you don't have to risk your life to get the Green Card. In fact if you are here illegally and if you can make you way to any Army recruiting center, as long as you enlist, the Army will guarantee you a green card -If you live I suppose. But what a lousy way to fight a war. Get some poor, desperate, hungry and illiterate people to act as cannon fodder for your stupid and illegal war. Who is the .. running this country again?

  4. Linsdale from UK

    The BBC reported today that.. British Labour MEP, Neena Gill, leader of the EU parliament's South Asia inter-parliamentary committee, said: "The European Parliament espouses the ideals of democracy, equality and human rights". I guess Neena Gill has never heard of the human rights abuses of the Chechnyans by the Russians. In fact it is outright murder in Chechnya by the Russians to whom the EU continues to offer trade and loan concessions. I also suppose France's racist stance towards Muslims and its continued insistence that the EU remain a white Christian club is also within acceptable democratic standards. I suppose Bulgaria, Serbia, Ukraine are all champions of human rights especially in their treatment of Muslims. have never laughed so hard and with such mirth and disgust.

  5. Frost from USA/Baghdad

    As opposed to Christian teachings I find myself part of an army that holds women and children hostages and protects those soldiers among us who regularly take part in the rape of not just Iraqi women but teenage boys and men, and boast about breaking necks and disemboweling their prisoners to their COs, who laugh it off over beer. I am simply lost to comprehend why pastors in our towns back home are not condemning this madness and criminal behavior. If this is what we represent of our country, the US in Iraq, then I say this honestly and with a very heavy heart that I am fighting the wrong battle with the wrong people and this is not the America my grand dad fought for in WWII.

  6. Bilal from England

    For many years peoples minds and way of thinking have been manipulated by the media. John PILGER is an excellent author and one of many people who likes to tell it how it is. People have stopped thinking freely and absorb what lies the media and the politicians tell them. We are living in times of great turbulance. Not so long ago we saw how the western governments exagerated the threat Iraq posed and invaded it twice, killing thousands of innocent people. Yet many think the likes of BUSH, BLAIR etc are sane people. Even the ligitimacy of the U.N is questionable. How can people in some countries think that the death of one innocent person is justifiable to make the 'WORLD' a better place. Surely if the roles were reserved they would have a different approach to the matter. I think I have said enough in this matter and could only hope that people can think for themselves and just not rely on what the mass media want them to believe.

  7. Stien from France

    Talk about opposites, in comparing occupations of the past and present, specifically present US/Europe allied occupations in contrast to the historical conquests by Islamic armies of Europe, Asia and Africa, the Moslems left a legacy of learning, knowledge of arts, medicine, astronomy, mathematics, arts and architecture, not to mention the superb dishes and spices and silks they brought with them. A sharp contrast to the legacy which will be left behind by the Americans, the English and the Poles - Torture, Murder, Rape, Kidnappings and Torture of women and children, Pillage & Destruction of cities, farmlands, civil infrastructure, Poisoning of lakes, rivers and reservoirs....Attila the Hun could not have done better.