Monday, September 25, 2006

Hoodwinked Americans

Glenn Greenwald, writing for Salon, asks why it is that 31% of Americans still believe that Saddam Hussein was behind the September 11 attacks, even after President Bush has publically admitted that he had absolutely no connection at all with the attacks?

"Because they're stupid" is too pat an answer. Yes, many of them are just dumb, but even dumb people can follow the bouncing ball. The President has admitted that Saddam wasn't involved, why won't people listen?

(Not that he would admit making a mistake -- no, the story now is that nobody ever suggested Saddam was involved, no sir-e, Bush has no idea where people got that ridiculous idea. Maybe the terrorists suggested it.)

Still, even if almost one third of Americans believe this falsehood, things are much improved compared to September 2003 when 69% of the country was convinced that Saddam was behind the attacks.

What does it say about the potency of the Bush administration's propaganda abilities that this myth was believed by so many Americans in the first place, and that it still endures quite vibrantly? And is there any more potent evidence of the profound failure of the American media to fulfill its central function of informing the citizenry and exposing government falsehoods than the fact that America went to war while most of the country believed this fiction, and that almost one-third of Americans continue to believe it? Regardless of one's ideological orientation, shouldn't it be considered highly disturbing -- to put it mildly -- that such a large percentage of the electorate believes in rank fiction with regard to such critical matters?

The Bush administration can't take all the credit, or blame, for the endurance of this lie. There are deeper things at work. After all, it was just a few months ago that a poll showed that 30% of Americans couldn't remember what year the 9/11 attacks happened.

That's right. Just shy of five years after September 11 (the defining moment of the last half decade, the day "everything changed") and almost one third of Americans didn't know what year it happened. (It is too much to hope that it was the same one third that believe Saddam was the mastermind behind the attacks.)

6% gave an earlier year, 8% gave a later year, and 16% admitted that they had no idea whatsoever. An additional 5% couldn't even name the date and month correctly.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sorry mate, but the short answer is the correct one. It's not necessarily that these people are born stupid - although you seem, in concert with many other well-meaning but cloistered intellectuals, to credit Joe Average with more abstract-thinking ability than he actually possesses - but they're certainly brought up stupid. Sure, there are mushroom farms everywhere, but the USA has darker, better fertilised, more culturally-embedded ones than any other First World country. I may come from a nation where superstition, gossip and Chinese whispers form the basis of the cultural persona, but my country is a tiny one with no vast military arsenal to back up the voice of its idiots.