"Marching in Lock Step, Once Again" should be the headline of an independent media's report on the right's discussion of Lebanon. Sadly, it won't be. Our media is too intimidated to do so.
It's sad for two reasons. The most obvious one is that an ill informed electorate is unable to really weigh the facts and come to good decisions - they simply don't have real information. The public finds itself forced into a position similar to the one Frist volunteered for during the Schiavo case: making a decision or a diagnosis in the complete absence of evidence. Assertions from the likes of Rick Santorum in recent weeks that WMD have been found in Iraq, despite having been completely debunked by the Bush/Rumsfeld Pentagon, are given undue credence and so almost 50% of the country now believes that Saddam had WMD's.
The second reason, and perhaps the more important one, is the lost opportunity for an independent media to show us a propaganda campaign in full swing - spinning, deceiving and distorting every step of the way.
The first means that they've succeed in tricking us once again, which is bad enough. The second means that we don't learn how they do it, so the odds of our catching them in their next batch of lies are greatly diminished.
As an example, one need only look to Lebanon, and more specifically the killing of 4 U.N. observers by the Israeli Defense Forces, to get a hint as to how the system works.
Step one for the right is to try to control the language. They object strenuously to the use of the word "killing." Despite the fact that a person from Austria, one from Canada, another from Finland, and one from China, all of whom worked for the U.N., died as a result of a series of bombs dropped on them by Israel does not mean that they were "killed." This is when phrases like "collateral damage" come in handy.
Another key part of the spin-cycle is to obliterate the idea that any real harm was done. Captain's Quarters writes "one might ask what the UNIFIL forces did during this time. Apparently, not a lot. They didn't act as a deterrent, nor did they do much to stop it." In fact UNIFIL forces were never meant to be a deterrent, and they were unarmed, utterly unable "to stop it." In fact, the definition of their mission was supported by the U.S.
The deception is subtle, but undeniable. Michelle Malkin quoted a writer who said that the presence of the UNIFIL team "makes mockery of the term "peacekeeping." But UNIFIL were "observers" not 'peacekeepers.' Protein Wisdom takes the lie a step further: "What is worth noting here is that Annan's desire to see international forces step in is part and parcel of his reign of impotence - and is yet another cosmetic attempt (sic) to both paper over the real problems in the middle east and prevent Israel from acting effectively in its own interests." In fact, the international forces that Annan wants to have step in now would be charged with an entirely different task than the UNIFIL team that was killed two days ago. Somehow, Mr. Goldstein neglects to make this distinction.
"When Kofi Annan was advised of the deaths of four UNIFIL soldiers in Lebanon as the result of Israeli fire, Annan immediately - immediately - announced that Israel had killed them deliberately." Here you have a great example of the third leg of their propaganda - blatant lies. Here, Sensing lied particularly well. All the evidence available indicates that it was hours after the deaths, hours in which Annan was informed of how often the UNIFIL people had asked Israel to stop bombing them, that Annan said that that the bombing was "apparently" deliberate. Annan used the word apparently, as in 'appeared' or 'seemed' to be deliberate. He did not announce that it was deliberate. And he did so only after he ascertained that the "U.N. had warned Israel with at least 10 separate phone calls during six hours." He issued no immediate statement.
Like Sensing, Captains Quarters also omitted the qualifying word "apparently", just as he distorted the conclusion reached by Canadian P.M. Harper. Haper said that he "thought" that the bombing had probably been a mistake, and that he 'doubted' that the attack was intentional. But the headline at Captain Ed's blog reads "Harper says UNIFIL Attack Not Deliberate." This is the kind of distortion that the right uses constantly - removing qualifiers, altering the degree of certainty that held when the statements were made.
Another of their favorite ploys is a way of making the issue seem ridiculous. They argue that no crime was committed, but even if it had been, it's totally justified, becuase the victim deserved it anyway. Malkins is great at this - she keeps on repeating how anti-Semitic the U.N. is. Blackfive takes it up a notch. "It shouldn't have been news to anyone that UN and the terrorists were partners."They [the U.N.] support, legitimize and then provide cover for evil worldwide." I mean why would you care if employees of such an organization were killed?
And of course, in all matters involving Israel at all times, play the anti-semite card and crank up emotions and outrage. John Podheretz said Annan was "an anti-semite who sucks up to Arab dictators and presides over and organization choking on its own moral filth." Atlas Shrugs called Annan a "Jew Hater" and "a liar and a murderer."
With all of this intentional static, it is hard to remember that Annan's comment was neither irrational or unfair. In time, we may learn that it was inaccurate, but it is not crazy. What the right wants of course to alter the reality of what happened. In fact the reality is pretty simple. Four unarmed UN observers are sitting in a long established, well-identified base. Hezbollah has set up shop quite close to them - just how close remains a bit unclear. Israel initiated repeated aerial and artillery attacks that were landing on or right next to the U.N. post. People from the U.N. repeatedly contacted Israel and asked them to stop. Each time they agreed to do so, but the assault continued. After hours of bombardment, Israel makes a direct hit and four U.N. employees are dead.
If it was not intentional, it at least displays a complete disregard for the lives of the U.N. workers.
An Irish soldier was involved in the communication. He was one who contacted Israel several times during the day, trying to get them to stop the bombing. He warned Israel that "you have to address this problem or lives may be lost." After the incident the Irish Foreign Minister declared "Evidence we have would suggest this was either an incredible accident or else was in some way directly targeted."
I know, I know - the Irish are anti-Semitic Jew Haters, just like the Finns and the Chinese.