As I said in my previous post, in 2010 I tried to get the truth out to the public. For the first part of the year, it seemed like Japan also wanted to get the truth out. During the Hatoyama administration, the government acknowledged the existence of several secret agreements relating to the return of Okinawa to Japan. Actually, much of the information had already been released to the public, but Japan hinted that it had more information and it looked like Japan might soon release that information. This sent the Western media in a tizzy and they frantically tried to convince Japan and me that telling the truth was not a good idea.
The New York Times led the charge in a series of articles which proclaimed the dangers of informing the public and letting the people talk to one another.
On February 2, Robert Wright argued that the Internet undermined democracy.
“The Web’s many ‘cocoons’ — ideologically homogenous blogs and Web sites — are in a sense interest groups; they’re clusters of people who share a political perspective and can convene only because of the nearly frictionless organizing technology that is the Internet,” said Wright. “Some aren’t themselves activist, but most provide a kind of sustenance to activists who carry their banner.”
This, apparently, is bad and undermines democracy.
“It’s no exaggeration to say that technology has subverted the original idea of America,” proclaimed Wright.
While Robert Wright wished that he could keep people in the dark by having them not talk to each other, David Brooks, another writer for the New York Times, had his own ideas on how to make sure the public remained stupid.
“Society is too transparent,” moaned Brooks. “Since Watergate, we have tried to make government as open as possible. But as William Galston of the Brookings Institution jokes, government should sometimes be shrouded for the same reason that middle-aged people should be clothed. This isn’t Galston’s point, but I’d observe that the more government has become transparent, the less people are inclined to trust it.”
Implicit in his statement is the idea that the American government has done things that the people would not approve of and therefore the government must keep people in the dark.
Anand Giridharadas, yet another writer for the New York Times, seemed to agree with Brooks.
“Do we really want the unvarnished truth?" asked Giridharadas.
Europe seemed to agree with America. Actually, it looked like Europe wanted to take things one step further. Apparently, it had dawned on the Europeans that the Internet was full of information and that such information was actually harmfully to them because that information incriminated them in a whole host of awful deeds. To deal with this, the Europeans wanted to add an automatic delete function to the Internet. You probably think I’m joking. I’m not joking. Viktor Mayer-Schonberger wanted to put expiration dates on files posted on the Internet. Throughout 2010, I kept expecting Joseph Joffe to try and delete every article he’s ever written and every video he’s ever been in. Remember that crap about learning from history? Just kidding!
Towards the end of the year, it appeared that America reached the same conclusion as the Europeans. The West had simply released too much information, much of which is now available on the Internet. America took a different approach from Europe though. Instead of an automatic delete function, America decided that it would try and convince the public that limiting freedom of expression was a good idea. To do this, America – and perhaps Europe - staged a series of political theater episodes which they used to argue that freedom of expression was dangerous.
The most infamous incident came when Terry Jones threatened to burn a Koran. His antics provoked a violent response from protestors in Afghanistan. Noting the violence, the media used this episode to warn of the dangers of freedom of expression.
In an article published in the Washington Post on September 14, Michael Gerson argued that the Terry Jones incident was a new phenomenon that could only take place in the Internet age.
“It is a horrifying wonder of the Internet age that a failed, half-crazed Florida pastor with a Facebook account can cause checkpoints to be thrown up on major roads in New Delhi, provoke violent demonstrations in Logar province south of Kabul, and be rewarded with the attention of America’s four-star commander in Afghanistan and the president of the United States,” said Gerson.
This comment just goes to show you how much Gerson fears the Internet. People burned books long before the Internet came around. I don’t believe for a second that Terry Jones threatened to burn the Korean of his own volition. I am willing to bet anything that somehow, someway, either Europe or America or both got Jones to do what he did. I am convinced that the episode was nothing more than political theater. It was a staged event created by the West and used by its media to convince the public that we really need to restrict freedom of expression.
Ayatollah Khamenei basically agreed with me. He believes the U.S. government orchestrated the burnings of the Koran. The only thing I would add is that Europe could have been behind the incident as well. After all, Terry Jones lived for 30 years in Germany. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if Germany had its hooks in him. The fact that Ayatollah Khamenei accused America and not Europe – for me – is just one more indication that Europe really does control Iran. But that’s a different story.
Interestingly, the Japanese media also seemed to agree with my interpretation of the Terry Jones incident. I remember watching one of the news programs made by Tokyo Broadcasting Systems in which a Japanese reporter seemed to be asking an American why the American media seemed so intent on focusing on this incident and bringing it to the attention of the public. After all, without the mainstream media, would anyone have known about Terry Jones? The answer is no.
Joe Scarborough had his own take on the Terry Jones affair. At the time of the incident, Newt Gingrich was calling Obama a secular socialist and accused him of having a Kenyan, anti-colonial viewpoint. Scarborough argued that the language Gingrich was using was dangerous and he cited the Terry Jones incident as evidence.
“If Gen. David Petraeus is correct that the burning of a Koran by an obscure preacher could make our troops’ mission more dangerous, imagine the impact of a national figure like Gingrich drawing parallels between Islam and Nazism,” said Scarborough.
Basically, Scarborough seems to be saying that using provocative language leads to the death of U.S. soldiers. Again, he doesn’t come out and say it directly, but implicit in his statement is that freedom of expression can kill and is therefore problematic.
Another bit of political theater happened on October 6, when the Supreme Court held a hearing on whether or not it should be illegal to protest at military funerals. Again, I think the powers that be decided to stage this whole event. And again, I believe they staged this event to try and convince the public of the need to start placing more restrictions on freedom of speech.
Bob Schieffer, the moderator of Meet the Press, argued that protesting at military funerals should be illegal.
“If we can bar political parties from campaigning at polling places, surely there is a way to stop those who wish, for their own selfish purpose, to harass those who have given their children in the cause of freedom,” said Schieffer.
To sum up, in 2010, western governments and their media threatened to burn the Koran, they got a bunch of Afghans to do a bunch of violent things, and they got some people to protest at the funerals of American soldiers all in an effort to convince the public that freedom of expression was dangerous because it could lead to the public learning about all the awful things that they have done. It was just that kind of year.
By the way, if my writing for this blog post seems somewhat confusing, you can blame my government. It was drugging me while I wrote this. Three cheers for freedom of speech.
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Political Theater Hits An All Time Low
I posted the following article on Blogging for a New World Order.