2/23/2007

The dumbassification of America

By Mediagonebad

Resistance is futile, America. We have already been assimilated. Not by a foreign enemy or by random terrorists, but by our own military/industrial/media complex that drums thoughts into our heads through repetition, repetition, repetition…. In other words, through the systematic dumbing-down of America.

I don’t know who came up with the term dumbassification -- I first heard it from Chuck D of Public Enemy -- but the term seems to fit the passive response of an otherwise intelligent people who have been hoodwinked and pacified by an internal group of Americans who want unrestricted corporate domination over all aspects of American life. A corporate state where American citizens -- and, indeed, the entire world -- are subservient to this military/industrial/media complex.

The process of dumbassification begins right in our homes every time we turn on the television and are literally bombarded by commercial messages that chip away at our self-esteem by telling us we will be wallflowers without this or that personal hygiene product; that men will not be real men unless we drive this or that truck; that we will not have a love life without this or that erection medication; that our children will not be happy and content without the newest toy or gaming system. Buy, buy buy. Consume, consume, consume. Don’t think about the consequences. Don’t worry about global warming. Don’t ask under what labor conditions our products are manufactured in China and elsewhere. Just Buy! Don’t worry about genetic food. Just believe that Monsanto genetically engineered that corn to be good for you! Why make them test it and label it? Just trust them! Dumbassification!

In the schools, dumbassification is a process of social control that leads to the loss of our national identity and history. The great labor struggles, walkouts, and sit-down strikes leading to the movement for an 8-hour workday may get a page or two in a history textbook, but the meaning, the context, and the downright importance of these struggles to today‘s world are all but forgotten. Same thing is true with slavery. Ever since the first European colony was formed 400 years ago at Jamestown, Africans were kidnapped from their homeland and forced to work so that their white neo-colonial masters could make profit with cheap labor. They were given “Christian” names and robbed of their language and their identities. In order to control their behavior, they were beaten, whipped, raped, and hanged. There were white slaves as well, but they retained their given names, whereas blacks were listed on the manifest simply as “negro, negro, negro….” The term “nigger” -- the N-word -- was a derogatory word used to keep the workers down, to deny them of self-esteem and self-worth. Today, however, the term is used in the hip-hop generation almost as a term of endearment. “Wazzup, nigga?” is a term heard in high school hallways and seen in facebook postings everywhere, but what is wrong with using terms like brother, sister, friend, comrade or bro? What is wrong with using words that do not disrespect all those who died at the hands of masters and bosses? Dumbassification! The schools have helped dumb-down American citizens, who have forgotten their own national identity and history.

And, or course, in 2002, we were told over and over that we must go to war in Iraq for our own national security because Iraq had “weapons of mass destruction.” Through media repetition, people can be conditioned to believe anything. It’s like if one source tells you that you are growing a tail, you can simply dismiss it as an error. If two sources tell you that you have a tail, you might start to wonder about the concept. Then when three sources tell you that you have a tail, you are apt to turn around and look. This is exactly how we have become assimilated and it is why we are such pushovers when it comes to the constant media drumbeat for war. The corporate masters have taken the fight out of us by suppressing the spirit of the founding fathers who declared independence from British rule and later formulated a Constitution and Bill of Rights. Bush and Cheney tell us we are on a mission to spread democracy and to protect ourselves from terrorism. They tell us that, to do so, we must give up some of those rights and freedoms that all citizens should consider a birthright. And yet we silently comply while they abandon habeas corpus, eavesdrop on telephone conversations, read mail, and intercept the email of law abiding citizens. Dumbassification!

In spite of Bush and Cheney’s claims to the contrary, the Iraq war has been lost. L-O-S-T. There is no democratic government in Baghdad and there will not be one as long as foreign troops occupy Iraqi soil. The Bush administration -- and now the Obama administration -- cannot be trusted to end war, let alone hold unconditional regional peace talks with all parties and neighboring nations, including oil-rich Iran. They want war because the corporations they represent want war and reconstruction profits. And we let them! Dumbassification!

There is not even the pretense of democracy in Iraq today. The “blue finger” elections were nothing but a sham for the media to buy into. The Bush administration has brought militia heads to power, along with gangsters, murderers, looters and rapists of all sorts. There is no way to win this war because there is no internal process for democracy to grow. Iraqis will keep fighting and Americans will keep dying as long as our government insists on occupying Iraq. More troops will not help and will likely make matters even worse.

All Americans need to understand this. Bush claimed that our troops would stand down as Iraqis stood up. Well, they are standing up, and this is apparent each time atrocities are committed against Iraqi families, each time doors are kicked in and the men are either shot or taken to secret prisons. From the moment the tanks rolled into Baghdad and the military rushed in to secure the oil fields but did nothing to stop rampant looting of national treasures, the war was over and not winnable. And then when the pictures of abuse and torture at Abu Ghraib surfaced, any lingering respect among Iraqis for the Untied States evaporated. And the entire world, which once looked up to the United States as a civilized nation where human rights are highly regarded, saw that Abu Ghraib was not the actions of a few soldiers on the night shift, as the Bush administration contended, but was official U.S. policy regarding the treatment of prisoners and was authorized by the highest levels of government. The media spin machine sometimes refers to Abu Ghraib as “torture-lite” as if that makes forced nudity, sexual degradation, sleep depravation, stress positioning, waterboarding (simulated drowning), somehow more palatable and acceptable. We should be outraged and demand independent investigations to prosecute the government officials responsible for approving torture no matter how far up the chain of command they have to go. But we don’t. We would rather watch silly mind-numbing television “reality” shows and not think about it. Dumbassification!

Bush was a president who fancied himself as some great military leader, but his actions took the world back into the dark ages. Bush and Cheney have basically overthrown the Untied States, stacked the courts with their own judges, and rendered Congress ineffective as a balance of power. Now the Obama administration is quietly chipping away at more Constitutional rights. The National Defense Authorization Act, which Obama signed, allows the indefinite detention of American citizens without constitutional due process of law. Unless we become outraged and stop this process of dumbassification, we will find ourselves living in the Orwellian world of corporate fascism. No rights. No privacy. No guns. No independent media. And no hope.

What will it take to wake up the assimilated Americans? What will it take to get us to leave our television sets and occupy the National Mall or participate in a nationwide general strike? How do we overcome our passive response to a power-grabbing, corporate-controlled government beholden to the corporate dollar? By voting in staged elections financed by the richest 1%, which tries hard to limit the voting rights of the 99%? It is not in our nature or history to lie down like whipped dogs, yet that is what we are doing. Dumbassification!

1 comment:

  1. Jamie, what made life more difficult for LBJ when he sent military personnel into Southeast Asia than it is for The Regime when it not only continues to send people into Iraq, but threatens to send military personnel into Iran for no good reason?

    I sometimes say that the people in the streets brought the Vietnam War to an end, but I also sometimes forget that, by the time the people in the streets brought that war to an end, 58,000 Americans had died fighting it.

    However, Johnson never looked comfortable and self assured. I’m sure it was just a façade, but he was always somber when he spoke to the nation about Vietnam. Granted, he lied about the so called Gulf of Tonkin incident and kept lying about the war progress, but he at least put on a good act. He actually came across like a president who was doing something he didn’t want to be doing, but something that was necessary.

    Johnson’s lies and “dirty tricks” were subtle. Add to that the rhetoric of the leaders of The Soviet Union and dumbassification was almost understandable for part of the Vietnam war.

    There was no huge, traumatic incident, no “new Pearl Harbor” that allowed Johnson to demonize an entire ethnic group.

    Johnson subtly picked up where Joe McCarthy left off, scaring us with “creeping communism” in Southeast Asia. It was obvious that the USSR and China were helping out the North. The superpowers were fighting each other, albeit indirectly. At least Vietnam was perceived that way which is the reason it took so long for the American people to dedumbassify.

    The mysteries of 9/11 caused Americans to lose their minds. Dumbassification began immediately. The thought “Kill all Arabs!” was deafening. The plan to invade Iraq had been drawn up in 1999 and “Kill all Arabs!” was code for “It’s OK to invade Iraq now.”

    Oh, and when the protests got serious in the sixties, they got serious! They included physically taking over the offices of college deans and college presidents.

    And do we know why? Because the protestors were bullet-bait, they had a vested interest in the war. Dumbassification was preempted by fear and self preservation. A cold draft was blowing in from Washington.

    The Gulf of Tonkin was no 9/11 (of course, 9/11 was no 9/11 either, but dumbassification has blinded people to that fact as well).

    Dumbassification said to support the invasion of a nation because some Arabs live there, even though that nation had nothing to do with the onset of dumbassification on 9/11.

    Dumbassification said to believe one lie and, when that lie proved to be a lie, believe a second lie and, when that lie proved false, to keep believing lies until paying too much attention began to seriously interfere with far too many of those reality TV shows you speak of.

    Dumbassification keeps the viewers from realizing that the producers of the reality TV shows are using narcissistic people who want to be on camera instead of actors and are making the unpaid “staff” do things that give the viewers the idea that they’re watching the private lives of regular Joes, a peeping Tom’s dream – dumbassification. Outsourcing acting. Low overhead. American greed – the continuation.

    However, we have to keep in mind that dumbassification is working in conjunction with a lack of any vested interest, any fear of consequences. Dumbassification thrives on the apathy, doesn’t it?

    One answer to dumbassification would be to rev up that draft from Washington. Then see how fast we get out of Iraq!

    To friendship,
    Michael

    ReplyDelete