Ignorance Can Be Dangerous

Originally posted at TomDispatch.

Ignorance can be dangerous, as shown in a recent poll asking Americans what to do about the Ukraine crisis.  It turned out that the less those polled were capable of identifying where in the world Ukraine is, the more likely they were to want the U.S. to intervene militarily in that country.

If ever there were a demonstration of what ignorance can lead to, that poll would be right at the top of the list of sobering examples.  Sometimes, of course, we don’t know where ignorance is going to lead, but that hasn’t stopped the U.S. government from making it a central policy principle of this era.  Just the other day, for instance, National Intelligence Director James Clapper imposed a remarkable, if little discussed, gag on the whole national intelligence “community” (and, by implication, on the media as well).  From now on, officials at the 17 agencies that make up that labyrinthine bureaucracy are barred from “speaking to journalists about unclassified intelligence-related topics without permission.”  Yes, you read that right: they are barred not just from discussing classified information with the media, but unclassified information as well.

Almost nothing from that world is unclassified any more.  In the Bush and Obama years, a vast blanket of secrecy has been thrown over just about anything American intelligence outfits do or any of the documents they produce, no matter how anodyne.  Still, you never know what small things might have slipped through unclassified due to some oversight.  Thanks to the intervention of Clapper, who only months ago promised a new era of “transparency” in intelligence, problem solved.  His is a simple way to deal with leaks of even the most innocent information.  Now, if you meet with a reporter to discuss anything at all without “permission,” you are open to being disciplined, fired, or even conceivably prosecuted.

Think of this as the Obama administration’s version of an ignorance rule.  In order to keep Americans safe, it turns out, you must keep them blissfully, utterly, totally uninformed about what in the world their government knows or thinks or does in their name, unless that information is carefully vetted and approved by some official or bureaucrat.  In other words, we now live in a country in which we have a government of the knowing, by the classifiers, for the uninformed, and if you don’t like it, well, there’s a door marked “exit” that you can step through right now.

Apply to this situation what might be called the Ukraine rule and you come up with a potential formula (or so the government evidently hopes) that would go something like this: the less the American people know, the more likely they are to believe that our “safety” and “security” lie in whatever Washington wants to do. 

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook and Tumblr. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, Ann Jones’s They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return From America’s Wars – The Untold Story.

7 thoughts on “Ignorance Can Be Dangerous”

  1. A great, but troubling, article, Mr. Englehardt.

    The late William Colby, former CIA director, said. "We'll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false." http://www.newsfocus.org/media_coup.htm (long article, see the section on Operation Mockingbird)

    The megalomaniacal psychopaths who see themselves as rulers of the world have actively sought to create a more ignorant population, as documented by Charlotte Iserbyt in her book the Deliberate Dumbing Down of America – now available for (free) download here: http://www.deliberatedumbingdown.com/

    Looks like it's working when those who can't locate Ukraine on a map are also those most susceptible to MSM lies and war mongering.

    1. I­m mak­ing ­over $­1­3k a month working ­part tim­e. I kept hea­ring other p­eople tell me­ how much m­oney they can ma­ke­ online­ so I d­ecide­d to look int­o­ it. Wel­, it was all tru­e and ha­s totally ch­anged­ my life. ­This is­ wha­t I do,

      ??????????????? W­­­W­­W.C­­­A­S­H­S­L­­­­Y.C­­­O­M

  2. re: ” there’s a door marked ‘exit’ that you can step through right now.”

    Except, you can’t just leave. You must beg permission (slaves) from your government masters before being allowed to leave and/or allowed to any other spot on the planet at all, anywhere. No buddy: there’s no exit and you’re trapped.

    So no exit for thee, but if you don’t like it you can get arrested for any of the many felonies each American unwittingly commits each day, and the prison police state will be happy to work you billing $20/hr for your skilled labour but maybe giving you fifteen or twenty-five cents an hour to pay for $10-a-roll T.P. to use at your open toilet/sink in your cell-block.

    What profit is it if we let the slaves just run away?

  3. I­m mak­ing ­over $­1­3k a month working ­part tim­e. I kept hea­ring other p­eople tell me­ how much m­oney they can ma­ke­ online­ so I d­ecide­d to look int­o­ it. Wel­, it was all tru­e and ha­s totally ch­anged­ my life. ­This is­ wha­t I do,

    ??????????????? W­­­W­­W.D­­O­­­E­­S­J­­O­­­B­­S­­.C­­­O­M

  4. The false language by USG and EU present governing systems, in practical terms, based on fraud/deceptive ideas, primarily a manipulation idea behind social political terms/words "democracy." By altering the word principals to fit what they think the democracy is about or should be, the matter of what/where/when for whom their interests is about, when they use words as democracy/democratic or anything with fraudulent/deceptive concept behind the idea that are preselected, planed and where/when and for who they refer to their wrong doing as politic.

    If you take, for example the word Democracy, they will fit in fascism of their choice, terrorism of their choice, tyrant, apartheid, dictatorial regimes of their choice and etc, without even considering the fact that democracy has no place for either of these elements, these ideas simply doesn't fit anywhere in a democratic social political system. Hence, they are suggesting that in a modernized world people are in need of a newer version of democracy; therefore, a democratically elected governing system, then all and every social elements, political or otherwise ideas needs to be included, which such social system is ideal if the system wants to deceit its people while using the terminology backward to fraud people.

    When the word democracy used, people think of it as freedom, as if their rights are in place and every aspects in such "ideal" social systems are protected by the governing system. Question is: if fascism ideas/ideology will accept such system and respect others as black or Jewish or Arab and other nationalities to live along the line and enjoy their social right as they want to have? Although the history have shown otherwise but for falsifying the matters, the matters can become and can be used as an manipulated alternative to what is reality.

    Take the matters with terrorism/terrorists, in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan or those which are sponsored by governments, the Saudis and their religious or otherwise teachers/supporters would give the same right to those whom opposing terrorism in Syria and elsewhere, governments that majority of people supports, would the consider such democracy to govern their way of being fanatics?

    Or, beside having money to spend, would the tyrants regime as CCG and Saudis or other regimes as such accept the fact that we are living in 2014, and according to the source of the idea, democracy is modernized and therefore everyone has to be included, which questions the fact, would they accept the concept that there are others whom don't believe in their faith, but for thousands of years they do have created/nurtured and developed their faith into what it is today, would they accept, not necessary the proposed democracy, but the basics idea in democracy and coexist with others?

    Or would Israel apartheid regime respect Palestinians social/legal given rights, we all know the answers is NO.

    Although the new century is a mess made possible by ignorance, disrespect, fraud and deception ideas behind the delusional yet fraudulent concept known to be the "savior" of mankind, but the promised "changes" are for people to "hope" for the concept to work, meanwhile the "politics" involving the change/hope will ignore and disrespect the fact that such manipulative idea is for saving the interests of those whom are fraudulently in business and falsifying democracy calling it "politics".

Comments are closed.