Yesterday I opened a post about my views on mental illness and dissent in the USA.Today I look into how this connection was continually been made for us in TV programs.
The entertaining ‘terrorists’
Until 9/11, it was an imperative for the government, and the big financial interests it represents, to paint a picture of the USA as a happy nation, the spectator of a world in chaos, but not touched by it. The USA was above all that racket. We don’t have coup d’état in the USA, Kennedy’s assassination was the act of one and one man alone, no conspiracy was found there. It was a ‘common crime’. Neither did we have here racism a la South Africa.
Likewise, it was unwise to tag McVeigh as a ‘terrorist’; it would have messed with the idyllic vision of the US as a happy united people. There were NO TERRORISTS in the USA, land of the free; only crazy power-thirsty cultists, Nazis, Puerto Rican and Black separatists (meaning PRican liberation movement and Nation of Islam) fanatic sympathizers existed in our midst.
In the 1990s, TV shows like Geraldo, Ophra, Maury Povich and Jerry Springer helped paint the idea that these political groups and their views were laughable abnormalities, inconsequential and entertaining, not to be taken seriously. They could even be helped with therapy and kumbaya, as Ophra tried, because, after all, you have to be ‘crazy’ to be in one of these groups. Except that, what was crazy here was not the person but the political ideas of these people, the idea that the US government’s policies could be considered so oppressive by groups of people that they would choose to separate from it. (I’m not siding nor supporting any group here.); the idea that racism was coming only from the KKK and Black racists.
Political dissent in the USA was unofficially diagnosed FOR the public opinion through these programs as a crazy act, an irrational act. Officially it was diagnosed as ‘oppositional defiant behavior’ in the DSM bible. We were allowed to think that the root of these people’s problem was ‘social’: bad parents, poverty (usually the ‘white trash’ and ghetto members were the invitees), etc but never was the US politics and policies considered as factors. Are you crazy? Hell no! There was seldom serious discussions about these problems.
All these TV programs, my friend, represent the corporate ‘art of ideological propaganda’.
Then came 9/11, the game changer.
“Under current United States law, set forth in the USA PATRIOT Act, acts of domestic terrorism are those which: “(A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State; “against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives”.
Tomorrow I will discuss this new definition of ‘terrorism’ and compare it to the old one (in the earlier post for you to do the comparing on your own) and get into the scapegoating of mentally ill people as terrorist. It’s right there, in the highlighted part. Can you see it coming?