War And The Silent Media Curse Of Memorial Day



Another Memorial Day comes and goes with all the trappings of media rituals.

Old Glory flutters on television and in newsprint.

Grave ceremonies and oratory pays homage to the fallen. Officials and pundits speak of remembering the dead.

But for all the talk of war and remembrance, no time is more infused with insidious forgetting than the last days of May.

This is a holiday that features solemn evasion. Speech makers and commentators praise the "ultimate sacrifice" of American soldiers -- but say nothing about the duplicity of those who sacrificed them. War efforts are equated with indubitable patriotism.

In the truncated media universe of Memorial Day, the act of remembering bypasses any history that indicates an American war was not inevitable and unavoidable.

It's become popular to describe the U.S. invasion of Iraq as some kind of anomaly, a departure from Washington's previous record of seeking peaceful alternatives to war and refusing to engage in aggression. Such depictions are no more than a kind of pseudo-historical baby food, chopped up and strained so it can be stomached.

During the last half century -- when, for days or months or many years, U.S. troops and planes assaulted the Dominican Republic, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Grenada, Panama, Iraq, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq again -- the rationales from the White House were based on major falsehoods, avidly promoted by the U.S. mass media.

Unfortunately, the U.S. soldiers who died and are honored each Memorial Day -- including Danny, my brother -- were pawns of methodical deception.

Unfortunately, the Orwellian process of forgetting is not only about past wars. It's also about the next war.

Aldous Huxley observed about "triumphs of propaganda" long ago: "Great is truth, but still greater, from a practical point of view, is silence about truth."

Memory with integrity should inform our understanding on Memorial Day and every day. If we remember the Americans who were killed, but forget the people they killed -- if we remain silent while media scripts exclude crucial aspects of history that demolish Washington's claims of high moral ground -- the political/military/industrial propaganda system for war can remain intact. And set the stage for the next war.

War need not be inevitable.

When journalists defer to that silence, they're part of the deadly problem.

Larry Brophy, Payson

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