My first visit to Texas was in 1968, on the fifth
anniversary of the assassination of president John F. Kennedy in Dallas. I drove
south, following the line of telegraph poles to the small town of Midlothian,
where I met Penn Jones Jr., editor of the Midlothian Mirror. Except for
his drawl and fine boots, everything about Penn was the antithesis of the Texas
stereotype. Having exposed racists of the John Birch Society, his printing press
had been repeatedly firebombed. Week after week, he painstakingly assembled
evidence that all but demolished the official version of Kennedy’s murder.
This was journalism as it had been before corporate journalism was invented,
before the first schools of journalism were set up and a mythology of liberal
neutrality was spun around those whose "professionalism" and "objectivity"
carried an unspoken obligation to ensure that news and opinion were in tune
with an establishment consensus, regardless of the truth. Journalists such as
Penn Jones, independent of vested power, indefatigable and principled, often
reflect ordinary American attitudes, which have seldom conformed to the stereotypes
promoted by the corporate media on both sides of the Atlantic. Read American
Dreams: Lost and Found by the masterly Studs Terkel, who died the other
day, or scan the surveys that unerringly attribute enlightened views to a majority
who believe that "government should care for those who cannot care for
themselves" and are prepared to pay higher taxes for universal health care,
who support nuclear disarmament and want their troops out of other people’s
Returning to Texas, I am struck again by those so unlike the redneck stereotype,
in spite of the burden of a form of brainwashing placed on most Americans from
a tender age: that theirs is the most superior society in the history of the
world, and all means are justified, including the spilling of copious blood,
in maintaining that superiority.
That is the subtext of Barack Obama’s "oratory." He says he
wants to build up U.S. military power; and he threatens to ignite a new war
in Pakistan, killing yet more brown-skinned people. That will bring tears, too.
Unlike those on election night, these other tears will be unseen in Chicago
and London. This is not to doubt the sincerity of much of the response to Obama’s
election, which happened not because of the unction that has passed for news
reporting from America since 4 November (e.g. "liberal Americans smiled
and the world smiled with them") but for the same reasons that millions
of angry emails were sent to the White House and Congress when the "bailout"
of Wall Street was revealed, and because most Americans are fed up with war.
Two years ago, this antiwar vote installed a Democratic majority in Congress,
only to watch the Democrats hand over more money to George W. Bush to continue
his blood fest. For his part, the "antiwar" Obama never said the illegal
invasion of Iraq was wrong, merely that it was a "mistake." Thereafter,
he voted in to give Bush what he wanted. Yes, Obama’s election is historic,
a symbol of great change to many. But it is equally true that the American elite
has grown adept at using the black middle and management class. The courageous
Martin Luther King recognized this when he linked the human rights of black
Americans with the human rights of the Vietnamese, then being slaughtered by
a liberal Democratic administration. And he was shot. In striking contrast,
a young black major serving in Vietnam, Colin Powell, was used to "investigate"
and whitewash the infamous My Lai massacre. As Bush’s secretary of state,
Powell was often described as a "liberal" and was considered ideal
to lie to the United Nations about Iraq’s nonexistent weapons of mass destruction.
Condoleezza Rice, lauded as a successful black woman, has worked assiduously
to deny the Palestinians justice.
Obama’s first two crucial appointments represent a denial of the wishes
of his supporters on the principal issues on which they voted. The vice-president-elect,
Joe Biden, is a proud warmaker and Zionist. Rahm Emanuel, who is to be the all-important
White House chief of staff, is a fervent "neoliberal" devoted to the
doctrine that led to the present economic collapse and impoverishment of millions.
He is also an "Israel-first" Zionist who served in the Israeli army
and opposes meaningful justice for the Palestinians – an injustice that
is at the root of Muslim people’s loathing of the United States and the
spawning of jihadism.
No serious scrutiny of this is permitted within the histrionics of Obamamania,
just as no serious scrutiny of the betrayal of the majority of black South Africans
was permitted within the "Mandela moment." This is especially marked
in Britain, where America’s divine right to "lead" is important
to elite British interests. The once respected Observer newspaper, which
supported Bush’s war in Iraq, echoing his fabricated evidence, now announces,
without evidence, that "America has restored the world’s faith in
its ideals." These "ideals," which Obama will swear to uphold,
have overseen, since 1945, the destruction of 50 governments, including democracies,
and 30 popular liberation movements, causing the deaths of countless men, women
None of this was uttered during the election campaign. Had it been allowed,
there might even have been recognition that liberalism as a narrow, supremely
arrogant, war-making ideology is destroying liberalism as a reality. Prior to
Blair’s criminal warmaking, ideology was denied by him and his media mystics.
"Blair can be a beacon to the world," declared the Guardian
in 1997. "[He is] turning leadership into an art form."
Today, merely insert "Obama." As for historic moments, there is another
that has gone unreported but is well under way – liberal democracy’s
shift towards a corporate dictatorship, managed by people regardless of ethnicity,
with the media as its clichéd façade. "True democracy,"
wrote Penn Jones Jr., the Texas truth-teller, "is constant vigilance: not
thinking the way you’re meant to think and keeping your eyes wide open
at all times."