Tuesday, August 29, 2006

We understand what really matters

I had so very, very much hoped that our decade-long NATIONAL NIGHTMARE would finally, finally end--then suddenly all the charges were dropped in the JonBenet Ramsey case. Will our torment never end?!?

The death of any child is certainly tragic. But I've had a hard time understanding why the death of this child was so, so much more important than the deaths of thousands of kids killed by traffic in the US, or by Hurricane Katrina, or by US bombs dropped in Iraq and Lebanon, or whatever. The real tragedy is that our media won't ask questions like: "Why hasn't George Bush been impeached?" But they can tell us EVERYTHING about this child beauty contest winner.

Some commentators suggest that Americans are simply shallow, stupid, uncaring; and the media just gives us what we want. Others suggest that the media makes us shallow, stupid, and uncaring with their reporting on trivial issues instead of substantial examinations of politics, society, and culture.

I prefer to think that Americans are indeed smart. We understand that the US isn't a democracy (remember Florida 2000? Supreme Court? Huh?) Our opinion--informed or otherwise--simply doesn't matter to the direction of national policy. Polls consistently show Americans favor an end to the occupation of Iraq, favor more spending on helping poor people, favor more spending for education, oppose increases in defense spending, and so on. And these opinions simply don't matter and aren't represented in our government.

This is one of the central theses of Noam Chomsky's new book, Failed States. The US is a failed state. It's not a democracy. So, really, why should people pay attention to national policy. Better to pay attention to tabloids. What's Mel Gibson up to these days, anyway?


Post a Comment

<< Home