Note: the post below is a brief excerpt from the central section of a much longer work in progress, tentatively entitled Confessions of an (Ex) Academic Dissident, which may or may not see the light of print someday. The topic, though, seems important enough given our present situation that it merits separate posting. In fact, I am kicking myself for not having done this long ago. Official narratives should be of interest to philosophers concerned with propagandistic barriers to important truths of various sorts. They are, after all, a form of propaganda that is not usually recognized as such, because they are literally everywhere …
For our purposes let’s define an official narrative as a government-approved and media-sanitized account of some dramatic event, such as an assassination or war or terrorist attack or mass shooting, or perhaps any major event which went contrary to official expectations such as the outcome of national election. An official narrative can often be identified as such by appearing in relatively complete form very quickly after the event that prompted it, and then being reiterated endlessly in all major media, its essentials never again questioned by “responsible” commentators — frequently despite the absence of actual evidence (witnesses, physical, “smoking gun,” etc.). A convenient enemy is named whose motivations explain the event. Patriotism may be invoked (or possibly its opposite as the case may be), as this also suspends judgment and helps manufacture public consent around the narrative.(1)
Two obvious examples are the immediate arrest of Lee Harvey Oswald for the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, as Oswald had lived in the Soviet Union, recently been to Cuba, and could easily be associated in the public’s mind with Communism; and the announcement of Osama bin Laden as the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks within hours of the attacks themselves — bin Laden being easily demonized as an Islamic jihadist. Mass media regaled viewers endlessly with televised images of the burning towers, creating a climate of fear as the name Osama bin Laden and phrases like axis of evil were heard over and over, like mantras.
Language is indeed used — repeatedly — to bewitch the public’s intelligence and take all thought deemed legitimate in a desired direction.
A third and brilliant exemplar of an official narrative was falling into place even as I was putting the final version of this essay together: the idea that Russian hackers and other agents of the Russian government directed by Russia’s president Vladimir Putin were able to influence the outcome of the November 8, 2016 Electoral College victory of Donald Trump against Hillary Clinton, possibly having colluded with members of the Trump campaign, including delivering hacked John Podesta emails to Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks, badly damaging the already-troubled Clinton campaign. During the December days up to the actual Electoral College vote on December 19, this claim, originating within the intelligence community including the CIA, was repeated continually despite the absence of evidence it was true. We were clearly expected to accept the word of the CIA and media reportage on faith. This despite the CIA’s having “inaccurately” claimed, back in 2002, that Iraq’s Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and was able and willing to use them against Americans, leading to the most disastrous war since Vietnam — a war the U.S. started!
That this is not labeled a conspiracy theory is telling!
Another key sign of an official narrative is that its targeted audience (usually the general public) is expected to accept it on faith, which means simply not seeing or hearing what does not fit the narrative. Ignored in the case of the Kennedy assassination is the fact that a single bullet inflicting the documented damage, which included injuring Sen. John F. Connolly seated near Kennedy in the motorcade, would have violated the laws of physics: hence use of the phrase magic bullet, which should have been a dead giveaway that something wasn’t right. Also ignored is that with the vehicle in which Kennedy was riding being in motion, however slowly, and no injuries to either spouse seated next to them, the shooting was clearly the work of a trained professional, which Oswald was not.(2)
In the case of 9/11, surely it isn’t crazy to wonder how 19 Saudis were able to hijack four planes, presumably without trial runs of any sort, fly them (or force their hapless pilots to fly them as there was no documented evidence of their ability to fly them) for lengthy periods of time across multiple states, crash two of them into the Twin Towers, and fly a third into the Pentagon after executing a tight maneuver experienced pilots are on record as saying they couldn’t duplicate. Where, precisely, was the most expansive (and expensive) multilayered air defense system in the world that morning? This is only a smattering of what is left unexplained by the 9/11 official narrative. Also ignored are the claims of those escaping the Twin Towers to have heard explosions in the buildings not caused by burning jet fuel as they came from below, not above, or scientists claiming that the laws of physics preclude the specific kind of collapse that was witnessed not twice but three times that day: that is, there was also the mysterious collapse of the third tower, WTC-7 (ignored by the much-touted 9/11 Commission Report), which had not been struck by anything substantial.(3)
In the case of the supposed Russian hackers and agents (soon to include Sergey Kislyak, Russian ambassador to the U.S.!), it is reasonably clear that something unusual occurred to tilt the election in Trump’s favor at the eleventh hour. WikiLeaks had done one of their infamous data dumps just days before, and it contained some potentially damning information about Hillary Clinton. Wikileaks founder Julian Assange insisted that his source was not the Russians. One can believe him or not. Or perhaps one can believe, or not, the account that Seth Rich, a disgruntled Bernie Sanders supporter, was murdered because he was the leaker of the information intended to hurt Clinton. There is, of course, no “smoking gun” evidence proving this to be true, just as there is no “smoking gun” evidence linking anyone in Russia to the outcome of the 2016 election — evidence made available for public inspection, anyway. But it is interesting that despite this structural similarity between the two, the Seth Rich allegation has been repeatedly labeled a conspiracy theory by all major media.
(1) Cf. Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky, Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media (Pantheon, 1988, 2002).
(2) See James H. Fetzer, ed., Assassination Science: Experts Speak Out on the Death of JFK (Open Court, 1998). More recent work on the Kennedy assassination focuses not just on the hows but on the whys, and draws conclusions that should be considerably more disturbing to anyone who believes the U.S. is really a representative democracy (cf. the next section). Cf. also James W. Douglass, JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters (Touchstone, 2010) or David Talbot, The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America’s Secret Government (Harper, 2015).
(3) Before dismissing the allegations implied in this paragraph out of hand, readers ought to sit down with materials some of us have spent years with. A good place to begin is Jesse Richard, “You only believe the official 9/11 story because you don’t know the official 9/11 story,” http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?content=va&aid=26340 (accessed 2 Sept., 2011). Follow it up by actually reading works such as David Ray Griffin, The New Pearl Harbor (Olive Branch Press, 2004); Steven E. Jones, “Why indeed did the WTC buildings collapse?” http://www.physics.byu.edu/research/energy/htm7.html (accessed 23 December, 2005); Rowland Morgan and Ian Henshall, 9/11 Revealed (Avalon Press, 2005); James H. Fetzer, ed., The 9/11 Conspiracy: the Scamming of America (Open Court, 2007); or Judy Wood, Where Did the Towers Go? Evidence of Directed Free-Energy Technology on 9/11 (The New Investigation, 6th, 2010). All are perhaps worth reading in light of Michael C. Ruppert’s revealing Crossing the Rubicon: The Decline of the American Empire at the End of the Age of Oil (New Society Publishers, 2004). There are time-stamped videos, finally, of reporters announcing the collapse of the third World Trade Center tower, WTC-7, before it fell. Indeed, the building is visible in the background if you know which one it is: another dead giveaway to anyone paying attention that something is seriously amiss with the official narrative of what happened that day! Did someone miscount the number of time zones?
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