Monday, 9 April 2007

This is the Iran o'clock News from the BBC

MoD ban on troops selling stories

Iran 'enters new nuclear phase'

EU to seek new Iran nuclear talks

Iran, Iran, Ahmadinejad, Iran, Iran, Nuclear weapons, Iran, Iran, British sailors, Iran, Iran, uranium enrichment, Iran, Iran, Iran.....

OK, hands up who knows what's going on in the DRC? Hands up who even knows what DRC stands for? (Democratic Republic of Congo). Is anyone aware of the hundreds of thousands of deaths per year and the massive social damage being caused by the pursuit of Tantalum? No-one?

No, but we're all up to our ears in Iran. We even know how to pronounce Ahmadinejad. We're told that Iran's production of uranium is the worst evil facing the world today. What about all of the other stories around the world that aren't being covered? What about the fact that central Africa is being ravaged by factions fighting over mineral rights just so that we can have cheap mobile phones? Also, what's happening in Tibet? Indonesia? Somalia?

My point is that the newspapers and the oh-so-impartial BBC get you to focus on what THEY think you should be focussed on. THEY determine the agenda. Everyone is talking to their hairdresser and their taxi driver about Iran because the neo-cons in America WANT it to be the lead issue, and the mainstream media go along with it. This focus on whoever is nominated as the new 'bad guy' helps the U.S. and the U.K. to achieve their narrow and unjust objectives.

Did you read that passage in 1984 when the crowds in Trafalgar Square are told over loudspeakers who the new enemy is, and the crowds immediately start chanting new hate slogans? When I read that, I thought it was very unrealistic, but now I'm not so sure.

All it takes is a few words from Bush or Blair and all of a sudden, the sheep know what to bleat about. We don't hear about the 'Tantalum wars' in the DRC because that wouldn't be good for British and American business. That's never going to get on the front page until maybe 10 or 20 years time when the new Bob Geldorf equivalent is raising money for the poor black children of the Congo.

I think a good starting point would be for everyone to recognise that this is the way the media works. It doesn't lie to us exactly, but setting the agenda amounts to pretty much the same thing. Once we are savvy, we can push back on our leaders, ask them why such-and-such is the important issue, ask the uncomfortable questions, stop following them and stop thinking what we are told to think.

I'm not saying that the DRC is what we should be thinking about; I'm just using it as ONE example of many many stories that we never get to hear, that are equally, or perhaps even more important, than the supposed lead story of the day.

My advice: Don't watch the BBC News, don't read the Times or the Daily Mail. In fact, why not throw your newspaper on the compost heap, turn off your TV, and start thinking for yourself? You only have one life, one brain, one conciousness. Do you really want your one and only conciousness to be used as a conduit for other people's thoughts?

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