When many consumers and presenters of “news” review anything involving Russia, there seems all too often to be an almost a priori patellar and Pavlovian reaction. Why?
The reasons are multiform as I will attempt to delimit.
In search of the Manichaean. This describes much of mainstream media (MSM) to a tee. The dualistic view of the world as either good or evil, the good guys and the bad guys. Apodictic proof with blinding certainty. The reflexive application of forced and absolute moral certitude when parsing and deconstructing any issue, especially of international import. Once you understand that, then you can see precisely the reality disconnect of the western MSM to what’s actually happening in the Middle East, especially as to Syria, Turkey, NATO, Russia and the fight against IS and its host of initialed aka’s.
The first question without fail. In every media analysis and appearance of mine especially as of late as to anything Russian-Syrian in context, my prolegomenon necessarily consists of “Here’s what the media don’t understand and can’t fathom.” Just think of that, before I even begin to assess and attempt to describe the salient issues I must start with an explication of the media disconnect. And if there was ever an Exhibit A of the effects of having a rodeo clown media to distract and redirect the attention and perception of the audience – a sleight of news, if you will – this is it. Imagine, the first rule of media analysis is not to believe the media.
The crow and mice studies. In a 2011 study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society entitled “Social learning spreads knowledge about dangerous humans among American crows,” murders of corvids when threatened by mask-wearing experimenters not only remembered the particular facial configuration of the masks but effectively conveyed the “grudge” to others within the community and their offspring. And speaking of crows, Donovan Crow cites a 2013 Emory University study that found that mice trained to fear a specific odor presented to them would actually pass their emotions and fears on to their offspring and future generations. Hatred, fear, distrust are not only communicable and communicative but inheritable and inherited.
Connection, please? Much of the almost reflexive reaction to anything Russian is in so many instances based on years of Cold War ideology and recurring media and popular culture incantations, rote recitations of decades-old ideology as to anything Moscow-centric. This from observers too young to even remember Cuban Missile Crisis days, grainy footage of a furious Khrushchev at the UN or anything vaguely causative of their Russian view. I respectfully submit, it’s learned and perhaps genetic. And when American MSM repeaters (versus reporters) regurgitate these hoary memes and tropes along with news chatterbox gaggles with mynah bird (switching from the crow theme deliberately) yammerings about the deliberately diabolical posturing of anything Russian, well, can you not see this connection?
Boris Badenov. When I as a wee lad of the 60’s I faithfully watched Rocky and His Friends and The Bullwinkle Show, two identical shows with different names. But I digress. Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale were favorites. Badenov, whose surname is a play on 16th-century Russian Tsar Boris Godunov, “was revealed in an advertisement as an active member of Local 12 of the Villains, Thieves, and Scoundrels Union.” Like the crow that was taught by fellow corvids to fear, I was conditioned through seemingly innocuous and playful cartoons who the enemy was. And I respectfully submit, like mice who inherited olfactory aversive stimuli, that disposition and worldview was passed on.
Acronyms, initalisms and utter confusion. I can remember first hearing various commentary as to the mindlessness and futility of the Vietnam adventure. When leaders were dismissed as benighted hawks with no rational understanding of a war whose participants were without the slightest understanding of who the participants were. Who was the enemy (harkening back to the initial Manichean discussion)? Villagers of all ages, “Mama Sans,” even kids were known secrete a grenade and detonate it while an unsuspecting GI was duped into showing kindness or inattention. Well, by comparison to today’s theater of war Playbill, that was child’s play. Enter al Qaeda, AQI, ISIS, ISIL, IS, Daesh, Boko Haram, Khorosan or al-Nusra Front. Most Ted Baxter echo chamber, media sockpuppets are still trying to distinguish Sunni from Shia, Persians from Arabs – not to mention distinguishing the taxonomy of moderate rebels, rebels, terrorists and central casting “bad guys.”
Historical nescience. Tolstoy remarked that history would be a wonderful thing if only it were true. I submit that history would be a wonderful thing if only it were read and appreciated. There have been countless references to Russia’s support of Assad’s Syria as though it were a strange Russian preoccupation or obsession versus the product of decades-long cooperation and bilateral relations. History is indeed a wonderful thing if one cares to even read it.
The neocon con. No term today is more overused (next to “hilarious”) than neocon. Or misunderstood. Neocon is not synonymous with conservative or paleocon or even liberal interventionism. It is a unique and historically singular political and ideological denomination that permeates much of the American political discussion. From the hallowed halls of government to the vaunted pages of opinion, neocon A-Listers write the script that the media as amanuenses transcribe almost verbatim. And virtually unknown to Mr. & Mrs. Sixpack and to the members of today’s narcotized MSM is this ideology that taints the discussion. When a neocon opines about Russia or Syria or intervention, knowing the script and ideological fundamentals explains the perception and description that the MSM produce.
Think tanks, institutes and propaganda factories. You’re undoubtedly familiar with the concept of Deep State. Peter Dale Scott citing Washington Post reporter Dana Priest defines it as “two governments: the one its citizens were familiar with, operated more or less in the open: the other a parallel top secret government whose parts had mushroomed in less than a decade into a gigantic, sprawling universe of its own.” What I’m referring to isn’t anything vaguely top secret, secret or even hidden. No, I refer to groups and think tanks and organizations and consortia with websites and Twitter and Facebook accounts and nothing to hide or fear that frame the perspective and are architects of opinion. They are the architects of our battles.
The presumption of correctness and authenticated validity. The final problem that contributes to the collective disconnect that many have is the presumption of correctness that media websites provide. They seem legit, appear valid and are presumed authenticated. With the trappings that accompany blogs, sites and pages, the pathetically susceptible reader is duped into believing that what appears before her eyes is true. Yet despite the stories of bogus claims and allegations, fraudulent war scenes, misquoted casualty data and the like, there’s not a resounding call to validate, authenticate and verify.
Clarity, limpidity and pellucidity as to any and all matters bellicose require and demand accurate reference, historical perspective and a decontamination of anachronistic historical memes and narratives.
It’s that simple.