If you have not seen it already, I highly recommend a film that I recently saw for my class Peaceful Solutions: Alternatives to Violence. The film is called “War Made Easy”, and it addresses the way in which the media and the government manipulate the public during wartime. “War Made Easy” focuses on the build up to the war in Afghanistan and in Iraq, and also addresses the Vietnam War and World War II. The film initiates a series of questions that I think we should all be asking. Here is some food for thought:
Is our media doing its job in investigating and analyzing the actions of our political leaders during times of war?War is often justified as a means of spreading peace and democracy. How does dropping bombs and forcing our country’s political system constitute spreading these two notions?
Why is it that people who go against the grain of popular opinion are perceived as troublemakers and unpatriotic enemies when it is their propositions that should be considered with the most weight?
It is this third question that I would like to address because I think that our society does have a tendency to stereotype outspoken people with differing opinions as unpatriotic, suffocating voices that have every right to be heard. We do believe in freedom of speech, don’t we?
Take Phil Donahue for example. In the build up to the United States’ involvement in Iraq, he was one of the only figures in our media who adamantly questioned the U.S.’s motives for involvement in war and the information that the government was putting forward. His anti-war voice was shushed when his contract with a major news corporation was revoked three weeks before the commencement of our involvement in the war. In the very words of the network, they found him to be a “difficult public face in a time of war.” In a time when we should have been more skeptical of the information being presented to us, we silenced some of the only voices that would have been the most informative.
Another person to consider is Barbara Lee. Lee was the sole person to vote against congress authorizing President George W. Bush to use military force against Afghanistan in the direct aftermath of 9/11. Her justification was thoughtful and simple. In a speech to the House of Representatives, she expressed her fear, “I do not want this to spiral out of control.” She continued and in the most eloquent way explained, “We must not rush to judgment. Far too many innocent people have already died. Our country is in mourning. If we rush to launch a counter attack, we run too great a risk that women, children and other non-combatants will be caught in the crossfire.”
Most people have probably never heard of this California Congresswoman. Her speech was not highly publicized and her viewpoint reached very few American citizens.
In retrospect, it was these people’s opinions that would have been most valuable in understanding our country's involvement in war. And the media, like many of us, fell victim to war propaganda and failed to thoroughly investigate information that was presented.
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