Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search

 


UQ Wire: I See Four Lights

Unanswered Questions: Thinking For Ourselves
Presented by… http://www.unansweredquestions.org/

I See Four Lights


By William Rivers Pitt
From: http://www.truthout.org/docs_02/10.17A.wrp.4.lights.htm
t r u t h o u t | Perspective

Wednesday, 16 October, 2002

There was a period of time when 'Star Trek - The Next Generation' was the best thing going on television. Between the character development, the social themes and the awesome reality of the Kingon, Worf, one could regularly tune in and spend an immensely satisfying hour in space.

One of the best 'The Next Generation' episodes is called 'Chain of Command.' A two-part cliffhanger, the story revolves around the abduction and torture of the captain of the Enterprise, Jean-Luc Picard, at the hands of an enemy commander named Gul Madred. Madred strips Picard naked, implants a device in his body that delivers agonizing pain at the push of a button, and over the course of many days attempts to wear Picard down through a disturbingly simple process of psychological warfare. Picard is seated in a chair with four bright lights shining in his face, and Madred attempts through painful coercion to make him say that there are, in fact, five lights. Every time he refuses to say there are five lights, he is drilled with pain. In essence, Picard is expected to deny the reality described by his own eyes, and surrender the will of his mind to the definition of reality offered by his captor.

In the end, Picard's will wins through the torture. He is rescued, and as he is led from the torture chamber - bloody, shivering, but unbowed - he turns back to Madred and husks, "There...are...four...lights!" Despite the agony, the deprivation, and the commanding voice of a controlling authority who demanded that a simple truth be subjugated, Picard never appeared to release the knowledge that his eyes were right. He refused, it seemed, to allow another to define his reality, even under torture. There were four lights.

This plot line is lifted directly from George Orwell's book, '1984.' The main character, Winston, is given a demonstration of how Doublethink works; O'Brien, his torturer, holds up four fingers before Winston's face, all the while increasing his agony, until Winston is compelled to say that he sees five fingers. The diabolical aspect of this is the incredible effectiveness of the coercion. Winston, at the end of the experience, actually does see five fingers before him.

Watching television news is not torture, nor is reading a local newspaper, at least not in the physical sense. No one has implanted any devices in our flesh that twist us in agony if we refuse to believe and parrot what we see and read. Yet we are being asked, every day, to say there are five lights when, in fact, there are four.

Occasional bursts of exuberance in the stock market, based mostly on the dirt-cheap prices of stocks formerly valued through the roof, do not change the fact that lies from corporate executives of Enron, Arthur Andersen, Halliburton and a host of other companies have rotted through the underpinnings of the economy. Those occasional bursts of exuberance do not change the fact that the Bush tax cut, which was supposedly safe because the aforementioned companies would shore up the budget with tax revenues taken from their profits, fired a gut shot into the economy because of the corporate lies regarding the inflated nature of said profits. Those occasional bursts of exuberance do not replace the stock-rooted retirement dreams of millions of Americans, who had the sweat of their brows stolen by those corporate executives. Those occasional bursts of exuberance do not change the umbilical connections between Enron, Halliburton and Arthur Andersen, and the Bush administration.

The news media, however, tells us there are five lights. The business reporters on CNBC and CNN still speak of "recovery from recession," despite the fact that the Dow Jones has lost some 3,000 points in the last two years, despite the fact that the federal government has dived into deficit spending, despite the fact that there are millions and millions of newly unemployed workers from sea to shining sea. According to the reporters, everything is sunshine and roses. The people on the street, the ones with no jobs and worthless stock options, know better. This reality is not reported. Stories describing the very real links between the Bush administration and the worst of the corporate robber barons have, simply, ceased to exist.

One of the main reasons the dismal truths of business and economy in present-day America go unreported is the fact that we have us a war coming on. CNN, MSNBC and Fox have crafted various permutations of a 'SHOWDOWN WITH IRAQ' graphic, coupled with suitably dramatic music. This is a boon to the media - stories of financial ruin and stock schemes that bilked investors of billions are complicated. Compared to grainy images of explosions, fluttering American flags, and stalwart American troops preparing to step into harm's way, the economic news is plain boring. People were changing the channel back in July and August because it was too painful, and because it was not sexy. Now, with the war graphics in full cry, they are back. CNN's viewership increased by 500% after September 11th, and you can bet the executives down in Atlanta noted that well. War is good for the media business.

There is a gulf between the reporting of economic realities and the truth felt by the American people. There is also a gulf between the stridently patriotic war talk proffered by the television news, and the feelings within the citizenry regarding this impending conflict. In fact, hundreds of thousands of Americans have taken to the streets in cities all across the nation. Bush arrived in Boston some weeks ago and was greeted with 500 protesters at one spot, and several thousand more at another. A recent anti-war rally in Chicago drew 3,000 protesters. An anti-war rally in Central Park drew between 20,000 and 30,000 people. Protests in Australia and London have drawn hundreds of thousands more. This pattern has been repeated over and over, and will reach a peak on October 26th, when a massive anti-war rally is planned in Washington, D.C.

Again, however, there are five lights. The thousands of protesters in Boston were reported to number "a couple dozen" by the local CBS affiliate. The thousands in Chicago were reduced in the reporting to a couple hundred people. The huge rally in Central park was reported nationally not at all. Hundreds of thousands of letters, phone calls and emails sent to Congressional representatives on the eve of the Iraq resolution vote received a similar blackout treatment. C-SPAN is planning to cover the October 26th rally, but it will be wildly out of character if the national media covers the event. An American unconnected with the vigorous and growing network of anti-Iraq war activism across the country would have no idea of the vast opposition being raised against the Bush administration in this matter. As far as the news media is concerned, that opposition does not exist.

The media may report otherwise, but the American people know something has gone terribly wrong. An economy that had been so robust only two short years ago has become a wasteland. A war is about to begin in Iraq that will set a precedent for pre-emptive violence and destabilize the planet, that will enflame the Middle East and guarantee retaliatory terrorism at home, that will kill tens of thousands of civilians along with many American soldiers. The potentially dire ramifications of these two looming disasters can not be quantified. This does not appear on the nightly news, but it is there, huge and raw and terrifying, all the same.

The end of the Star Trek episode found Picard sitting with the ship's counselor. His head was bowed. He admitted, in halting voice, that just before he was rescued, he could actually see five lights. The power of the lie had overmastered him.

I see four lights.

***********

William Rivers Pitt is a teacher from Boston, MA. He is the author of two books - "War On Iraq" (with Scott Ritter) available now from Context Books, and "The Greatest Sedition is Silence," available in April 2003 from Pluto Press.


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Ramzy Baroud: Gaza’s Resistance Will Not Be Crushed

On the 13th day of Israel’s so-called Operation Protective Edge, stories of entire families collectively pulverized, women and children keenly targeted by Israeli soldiers saturate the media. Until now, 430 Palestinians have been killed, mostly women and ... More>>

ALSO:

Ian Anderson: Rearranging The Deck Chairs On The Titanic? The Labour Party And MANA

Early in July this year, Labour Party leader David Cunliffe made headlines by apologising for being a man. Stoked by capitalist media sensation, Prime Minister John Key responded that “not all men” abuse women. More>>

Shobha Shukla: Break The Silos: Drug Use, HIV, HCV, TB, Laws And Funding

Viet Nam is one of the countries in the world that has made remarkable progress over the last decade in not only making harm reduction and HIV services available and accessible for people who use drugs but also reforming laws for supportive health ... More>>

ALSO:

Fiona Gordon: Illegal Wildlife Trading: The Global Response

At the closing session of the inaugural United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) in Nairobi last month, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said, “We need to act decisively to change humanity’s relationship with our planet.” More>>

Faisal Al-Asaad: Gaza: McCully’s Calls For Restraint On Both Sides Is Side-Taking Itself

Since June 12th, the world’s attention has been squarely focused on the events unfolding in the West Bank, Gaza and the occupied territories. The disappearance of three Israeli youths who were later found dead prompted a flurry of condemnations ... More>>

ALSO:

Tania Billingsley: Demand For Accountability On Sexual Assault

Since my assault I feel that people have been assuming that my idea of justice is to have Rizalman found guilty in a New Zealand court. While it is an important part of justice being done, my main reason for wanting this is not for my own sense of ... More>>

Leslie Bravery: Hold The Perpetrator To Account, Not The Victim!

In a 4 July 2014 statement to Scoop Independent News, on the violent deaths of four young people in the Israeli Occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, New Zealand's Foreign Minister Murray McCully made the following comments: 'The recent killing ... More>>

ALSO:

Santon Tekege: Investigative Report Into Oil Palm In Nabire Regency, Papua

Several companies’ plans to invest in the oil palm sector in Nabire have met with local opposition. People from the Yerisiam and Wate ethnic groups have staged several peaceful actions in Nabire against one of these companies, PT Nabire Baru1. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
TEDxAuckland
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news