Deafening silence


The USA has just given its citizens a great big Christmas gift – that of another 44 billion USD for the defence of Ukraine (bringing the total so far to approx 100 billion USD). US citizens must be thrilled. Russia will be spanked by Patriot missiles – aye, Russia will be spanked, period, and that must be a great comfort to families who could not afford a Christmas tree this year either.

Europe is also spending a great deal – actually, I don’t know how much my country is spending on the destruction of Ukraine, because no news outlet is taking the trouble to inform us. What I do know is that Europe no longer receives gas from Russia, and that Europeans are therefore freezing. I am freezing, too, as I write. So we are also being spanked.

Yet, the silence is deafening, and I am reminded of a film title “The silence of the lambs”. We are the lambs, and nobody even dares mutter imprecations against NATO. Yet, does anybody really believe that NATO is defending human rights, Democracy and freedom of information?

Speaking of freedom of information, I visit a number of mainstream news outlets every day. RTVE.es NRK.no, El Pais, New York Times, le Monde, RUV.is, Klassekampen, Guardian… They all seem to be synchronised! Would you believe it? They all say the same thing. Let me tell you – and I’ve been a news junkie for years – it’s scary! It’s terrifying!

For years, too, Glenn Greenwald has been going on about dwindling freedom of speech in the USA, and as things turned out, he has had every reason to harp on the topic. What is less known to us in Europe – we have no Glenn Greenald here – is that we are almost certainly subject to the same regime. The synchronisation of mainstream European news outlets suggests that news to us is carefully filtered and censored. In my country, for instance, we have a whole and growing series of services (that the general public rarely hears about) designed to protect our national security. No doubt they do – protect our national security – but what else do they do, I wonder.

I don’t know, I only suspect. What I can see, however, is that mainstream media here have not discussed the so-called “Twitter Files”. They have merely portrayed Elon Musk’s dismissal of employees as the bizarre acts of a deranged man.

I do not often say “look to the USA”, but in the country with the world’s highest prison population, some brave investigative journalists are still holding the fort. Glenn Greenwald recently referred to TikTok as an example of government censorship:

Rather than ban TikTok from the U.S., the U.S. Security State is now doing exactly that which China does to U.S. tech companies: namely, requiring that, as a condition to maintaining access to the American market, TikTok must now censor content that undermines what these agencies view as American national security interests.

These moves by the U.S. Security State to commandeer censorship decisions on TikTok, accompanied by the hovering threat to ban TikTok entirely from the U.S., appear to be having the desired effect already. …

What TikTok did in response to US demands was to remove a Glenn Greenwald video clip, an

… indisputably true and rather benign review of how media outlets, including The Guardian, had previously depicted Zelensky as surrounded by corruption and hidden wealth. To be sure, the excerpt was critical of Zelensky, but there is absolutely nothing even factually contestable, let alone untrue, given that the whole point of the clip is to show how the media had spoken of Ukraine and Zelensky prior to the invasion as opposed to the fundamentally different tone that now drives their coverage.

Since not all of you have access to the quoted article, I shall quote a source that you will have access to: the Consortium News “compendium of evidence”, regarding events in Ukraine in 2014.

Consortium News is being “reviewed” by NewsGuard, a U.S. government-linked organization that is trying to enforce a narrative on Ukraine while seeking to discredit dissenting views. The organization …. calls “false” essential facts about Ukraine that have been suppressed in mainstream media: 1) that there was a U.S.-backed coup in 2014 and 2) that neo-Nazism is a significant force in Ukraine. Reporting crucial information left out of corporate media is Consortium News‘ essential mission.

But NewsGuard considers these facts to be “myths” and is demanding Consortium News “correct” these “errors.”

To make a long story very short, there are two lessons to be learnt from the two quoted articles.

1) the USA is determined to suppress information about its role in the war in Ukraine. One of the methods used is explained by CN. Another method is explained by Glenn Greenwald’s article quoted above.

2) The USA no longer even bothers to conceal the fact that the press is being monitored and heavily censored.

So heavily censored is the press and social media that even the obvious – the fact that the USA is waging a proxy war on Russia – is never mentioned otherwise than as an example of Russian propaganda.

You might agree with a well-informed friend of mine who maintains that in the battle between “good” and “evil” forces, even censorship is legit. I put to you, though, as I put to him, that Manichean Never-never-land stories are extremely dangerous, because they cloud our judgement, undermine our ability to assess our governments and basically paralyse the Democratic process. He responded: “But surely, wouldn’t you rather live in the US than in Russia or China.” I told him that I would prefer to live where I live, but given the choice between the USA and Russia, I would prefer Russia; I would never be rich enough to afford a decent health insurance in the USA.

So on this last day of this last horrible year, from freezing Europe on its way into a serious recession, I wish you luck in navigating through a miasma of NATO, corporate, and government falsehoods during the coming year.

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