The Official Line
Check the news on the mass media and, with rare exceptions, you will be fed the official line. It will be served to you directly or as the presumption behind whatever story is being covered. Media that do not spout the official line are considered “alternative” at best and “subversive” at worst.
If you haven’t figured out the official line lately, it goes something like this: America is the greatest country on earth. This is a unique category: there’s no such thing as a second or third greatest country. Being the greatest means the following:
Americans have and do things better that other countries. If that’s not always so, we don’t want to know about it.
We are a peaceful country. We say this despite the fact that we lead the world in arms and in the number and size of foreign wars we have undertaken over our history.
We are a democratic country. We claim this despite the reality that our political system is a thoroughly corporatized profit center designed to benefit the richest one percent of the population and bamboozle the other 99 percent.
We are a free country. This we claim even though we have by far the world’s biggest prison population (2.3 million) and are all subject to surveillance and control in just about every aspect of our lives by an ever growing and increasingly militarized national security state.
We grant ourselves the prerogative to “lead” the other 95 percent of the world, whether the rest of the world agrees or not. Disobedience of our global writ can draw penalties ranging from sanction and subversion to full scale invasion.
Our sovereignty is inviolable. The sovereignty of other countries depends on their ability to prevent us from violating it. For instance, we can force down the presidential jet of the small country of Bolivia, but not that of a big country like Russia.
When countries we regard as adversaries do good things, it’s always for bad reasons. When we do bad things, it’s always for good reasons. For instance, when Venezuela provides free
eye surgery for millions of Latinos, it’s to gain propaganda points. When we destroy whole societies, it’s to fight terrorism.
If you’re a young idealist who gets a jobwithin the machinery of capitalism and/or the empire, you will soon discover that the official line is pure bunkum and reality much more fraught. If you tell others about your discovery, some will label you “anti-American” for doubting the official line. Others will mock you as a sucker for ever having bought it.