HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT
Deciphering Truth in Modern Media
Media refers to the varied mediums that we use to communicate with each other. Newspapers, Internet, grafitti, and TV are all types of media. They have differing qualities - for example, the Internet and grafitti are both interactive media, while newspapers and television are not - but they all allow us to talk to each other.
Depending on what information is disseminated through any given media, and more importantly how we as people interpret and analyze what we read or watch, we may find our perspective broadened or limited as a result of our media encounter. The individual may be unleashed to new possibilities or restrained to orthodoxy, simply by reading or hearing a few words.
This is an extremely powerful concept, and one well understood by tyrants and free thinkers since the dawn of discourse. Philosophers, shamen and witch doctors could be considered the first incarnation of the media concept, since they were expected to communicate great truths, knowledge, and glimpses of the future to their society. This is interesting because in modern society, a 'medium' most often refers to a psychic or mystic who ostensibly acts as a bridge between dimensions - not exactly the most respected of professions. But in fact, anyone who disseminates information in any way can be called a medium.
Today in 2010, we inhabit a world that is changing faster and more thoroughly than at any point in known human history. Communicative and physical barriers are being deconstructed in all areas of knowledge, and the sphere of Media is one of the areas most affected. The Internet has grown to resemble an external Collective Unconscious that reflects all there is to know about the world and ourselves in one beautiful, grotesque organism - one that we can enter and navigate as both sovereign and participatory minds.
In this environment, caution, interest and patience are the best qualities you can hope to possess; narrow-mindedness and fervour will not help you distinguish fact from fiction, and inference from certainty.
The key to compiling and deciphering the crumbs of truth found in the daily meal of deceptive language is twofold: The reader must develop a knowledge base and analytic style that is different from the learning methods promoted in mainstream educational institutions.
This means Reading - as much as possible, from as many diverse sources as possible, and about as diverse an array of subjects as possible. This will begin the process of freeing your unlimited conceptual powers, and will make integrating new and uncomfortable truths into your reality more exciting than unpleasant.
Once you have a basic and working knowledge of language, geopolitical history, world events, sociology, economics, all levels of government (including shadow / covert / elemental), industry and technology, agriculture and international commerce - only then do you become truly equipped to effectively interpret and examine truth in modern media.
This text acts as a simple guide to the mechanics used to design media content, and the relationships that define the contemporary media landscape. Cultivating a rich knowledge base with which to interpret Reality is up to the reader.
In the hands of an expert, the subtle intricacies of language have the power to shape not only how we interpret information, but our emotional response to it as well.
Combined, these responses form a final impression upon us - one disguised as our own conclusion.
Let's look at two made-up headlines, both written in a style typical to mainstream journalism:
Cowardly attack leaves home destroyed, family dead
When Rashib Halla first heard the thunderous explosion, he suspected an earthquake; it seemed as if the whole world was shaking. But after running the two blocks from his apartment to his parents home to make sure they were all right, what he found was much worse. "They were all dead… The entire house was destroyed, with my mother, father, sister, and two brothers inside," he told XTV news. "I am the only one out of my whole family who is alive now." The explosion and resultant deaths have been attributed to a missile strike by occupation forces. Mr. Halla says that there would be no reason for his family home to be targeted. "Why? My family are peaceful people. We work. My father and brothers started a successful business. My sister, mother, what have they done? Now they are all gone, and for what?" Occupation forces in the area had no immediate comment.
Bunker assault a success
Several suspected terrorists were killed by coalition forces in a daring early-morning raid in Karbala, quashing fears that the insurgency has become increasingly adept at avoiding casualties. The operation began with a surgical strike on the target location by an Apache helicopter, which used a Defender missile to penetrate the thick concrete bunker. Immediately following the strike, a team of US marines performed a sweep-and-clear operation in the area, which led to the discovery of the bodies of 5 suspected insurgents. Asked how the Marines knew that these people were terrorists, Maj. Jim Buckley explained. "We had received solid information from local sources that there was a lot of activity in this particular area, a lot of 'chatter' as we say, and that led us to investigate deeper. It turns out there were weapons and supplies in the area, as well as sophisticated communications systems that could be used to trigger explosives or co-ordinate attacks on civilians or coalition forces. At that point we proceeded with the operation in order to neutralize the threat. " President Obama praised the ongoing efforts of the coalition forces to quell violence in Iraq. "It's a tough job, but someone's gotta do it. The coalition forces are working hard to keep ordinary Iraqis safe, and this operation is a good example of that."
Both of these articles examine the same event, from opposite perspectives - let's say a local Iraqi newspaper and FOX News, respectively. Both articles use language that serves the underlying bias of the reporter/organization/government.
So how can we determine what the Truth is?
First of all, both of these articles are similar to mainstream media content in that they are short, succinct, and you find no sourced details about the event whatsoever. No quotes from medical or NGO personnel, no statements from local authorities, not even witness accounts. Knowing this, it is already clear that both articles are intended to provide you a conclusion about the event, rather than to supply you the facts and allow you to come to your own conclusions. The article tricks you into believing you are thinking, when you are really just absorbing.
Secondly, you have to separate the actual facts from the inferences and descriptions.
After reading both articles, what do we know for sure?
- A building was destroyed
- Some people in it were killed
- It was destroyed with a missile from an Apache chopper
How do we know these things for sure? Because both stories, regardless of bias, report the destruction of the building and the deaths. The only reason we know that it was a missile from a chopper - since the Iraqi paper just attributed the explosion to a chopper, meaning 'it had the attributes of', which is an uncertain statement - is because the military admits that it was a missile from a helicopter.
So, now we know a few things for sure. The next step would be to take some relevant details and form a search query to find other perspectives on the event.
Type the date into a search engine and add "missile" and "Karbala".
Let's say we come across another article on the event, found on a blog. We click the link and come to this:
ZIONIST JEWS SPILL BLOOD THRU U.S. PROXY IN IRAQ
Once again, the satanic and…
Well, that's all we needed to see there. Back to search results. Even if there may be relevant facts contained in the article, those facts can most likely be found somewhere else that doesn't proudly use inflammatory language and is obviously heavily biased.
Note: You will find a ton of heavily anti-Israel and anti-Zionist material in your modern media travels. You will also find a ton of extremely pro-Israel/Zionist material. What you choose to do with this information is entirely up to you; I find much of it to be agenda-driven garbage. That being said, Israel is undoubtedly an apartheid state involved in the ethnic cleansing of Palestine through starvation, house demolition, withholding of resources, kidnapping, assassination, illegal detention of minors, etc. That and many other well-documented scandals (espionage, false flag terror, Dimona nuclear facility, UN defiance) unquestionably have much to do with why there is so much anti-Israel sentiment in the alternative media as opposed to, say, anti-Costa Rica sentiment.
Let's say we click on another link, also a blog, and we find this:
U.S. missile strike kills 5 in Karbala - no evidence of provocation
KARBALA - An Apache helicopter piloted by US Marines fired a missile into a home in Karbala early this morning, killing all occupants and destroying the building.
Shimak Hallal, his wife Sabri Hallal, and their three children were known in the neighborhood as a hardworking, loving family, according to neighbor Mahfouz, who did not want his last name used for fear of retaliation by coalition forces.
Dr. Al Al-Awan at the Karbala General Hospital confirmed the deaths of the Hillal family. "All members of the Hallal family were killed by trauma from the initial explosion of the projectile, and also as a result of crushing by debris." The lone surviving member of the Halla family is Rashib Halla, 17, who recently moved into his own apartment down the street and was not present during the strike. He would not respond to requests for comment.
Coalition forces spokesperson Maj. Jim Buckley has said that intelligence sources indicated that terrorist activity was occurring in the area, and that a weapons cache was also located near the area. Several local witnesses claim there were no weapons found by the military.
-Naseem Al-Abouad, Jazarel Arabia News
Out of the three examples, this one is by far the most informative. It also uses the most balanced language of the three, and is hands down the most credible account thus far (at first glance).
First of all, the article is sourced to a name and a regional news network where the event took place. This means we could do a quick search and find his details, where their office is located, we could even send him an email or call to confirm details if we wanted to.
However, this in and of itself - clear reporter sourcing, large 'reputable' organization - does not necessarily mean that the article is without bias or distortion. In fact, you will discover that mainstream corporate media stories and articles are often the most deceptive and biased of all. This is because of the structures of capital flows, political affiliations, and vested interests of the corporations that bring us the news, which we will examine in detail in chapter 2.
Let's look at what this article has brought us.
- A detailed reporting of the event by a regional source, and a credited reporter
- Balanced yet direct language in the headline and main body, emphasizing fact while providing the necessary context for the reader to interpret ("no evidence of provocation")
This context, rooted in fact, is different from a claim made, for example "Al Qaeda suspected". This is because the claim in this case has no basis in fact (there is no reason, no evidence, to suspect Al Qaeda of anything in this case) while the context tells the truth: there was no evidence of provocation of the attack.
- Some, admittedly not all, names of the family members killed
- Very importantly, confirmation of deaths and cause, issued by a credited medical authority at a recognized hospital
- Also importantly, the article references the official statement made by coalition forces about the event. This rightfully helps deflect any accusation of anti-coalition bias on the part of the reporter / organization that generated the article.
- Lastly, survivor Rashid is also mentioned, confirming the earlier local report and adding to the accuracy of this portrayal of the event.
Now that we've seen some basic examples, let's look at how language was used to shape the perception of these events by the writers. The best way is line by line.
From the first article, the 'local Iraqi paper':
When Rashib Halla first heard the thunderous explosion, he suspected an earthquake; it seemed as if the whole world was shaking. But after running the two blocks from his apartment to his parents home to make sure they were all right, what he found was much worse.
Right away, we can feel the dramatic intent. 'Thunderous explosion', 'Suspected an earthquake', the 'whole world shaking' - this piece reads like Hollywood. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing; some great writers employ drama very effectively without distorting the truths of a story. However, the best journalism strives for humane impartiality while providing some illustrative context, and this is a little over the top for a news article. But it is not inaccurate.
Overanalysis: You would have to confirm that he did in fact suspect an earthquake for the reporters description to be considered factually true, however it would be pointless because what he did or didn’t suspect is irrelevant to the essence of the story. Even if the writer added that detail as a creative liberty, a lie, it would not affect the truths of the article as it is simply creative narrative. Writing is full of half truths and distortions that must be navigated, and untruths of this nature are common in journalism.
The second sentence finishes with another dramatic tool, the cliffhanger: "…what he found was much worse." Scary! The dramatic intent continues unabated.
Keeping this in mind, we read on, this time a quote:
"All my family were dead…" I'll abbreviate here, as the first line is the important part of the analysis.
In an instant, the protagonist of the article has all of our sympathy as the reader. In fact, he already had our sympathy, as the result of his earlier tribulation with the suspected earthquake and the 'then… much worse' that he had to deal with.
We've been with this guy from word one. Now, his whole family is dead? You could elect this guy president right now, if the reader were voting.
Maybe not that drastic - but we are rooting for him subconsciously whether we know it or not, as a direct result of the language used to describe him and the event.
The article continues on with the quote, and it is a fairly long quote. It is the emotional outpouring of a man whose entire family has just been killed, and it is heartbreaking. It is even more emotionally jarring if it is seen as video as opposed to being read. Seeing another human being suffer is a striking image for us, and affects us deeply.
Cynically, skilled navigators and architects of media recognize this and seek to trap us with subtle or overt emotional cues - language or image that causes a powerful emotional reaction in the recipient. These are the landmines of the media landscape, and they can destroy any hope of objectivity or open-mindedness about a situation if they aren't defused with calm analysis.
This long quote is an intended emotional cue - it is designed to make you feel for this man, to relate to his pain and suffering. It appeals to our basest fears: loss of loved ones, loneliness, and death.
This is the power of language. Good creativity is on display here, and what makes it good is that it is not inaccurate, and it is not distorted. It is human speaking to human, captured in a charged net of words that effectively transmit the intended emotional message in print. The writer here knew that to get the emotional impact he wanted for the story, he had to let the story speak itself in it's own devastated language; his external descriptions could never do what two or three teary, tormented sentences of the lone survivor could.
For all it's subtle qualities, this piece still clearly displays a sense of bias, although one that tends to the side of the human and the humane, which I personally do not find distasteful in journalism. I would like to think that we are all human, and humane, in our better moments.
Now let's examine the second article - the 'FOX News' style article, line by line.
Several suspected terrorists were killed by coalition forces in a daring early-morning raid in Karbala, quashing fears that the insurgency has become increasingly adept at avoiding casualties.
This opening sentence is nothing short of brilliant in its design. In the span of one sentence, the writer has managed to convey a semblance of an entire story - beginning, middle, end - with a supporting narrative so subtle that it reads like something you could say to your wife at the breakfast table. And that is exactly what the writer intended.
The first line sets the stage:
Several suspected terrorists were killed by coalition forces…
Immediately, we hear that 'we are winning'. That is what Joe Citizen will take out of this article, if nothing else: That we killed some terrorists this morning.
It is important to note that when used with an emotional trigger-word like "terrorist", the revealing word "suspected" is discarded by the mind as irrelevant. This is because when a concept that requires analysis - 'suspected' has a lot of possibility in it - is paired with a threat - 'terrorist' - the human mind automatically prioritizes the information, and to the mental survival mode, only the threat matters.
Even a slight change in language - say, to 'suspected insurgent' - significantly increases the chances of the reader pausing a moment to think, to analyze what he has just read.
This is because "Insurgent" is a relatively new word to the common lexicon of ordinary citizens. People feel a little bit smart when they say it, usually without knowing it. It's also a 'cool' word - like 'surge' - and these kinds of words are used to sell unpopular ideas to the public i.e. the Taxpayers who are on the hook for it. This is why "Troop Surge" - those specific words, not 'escalation' or 'expansion' of the war - was pushed so hard by the powers that be in the media sphere. It sounds like the latest Xbox title - Troop Surge III. Unless it's shrouded in deception, people don't like to hear about escalation of already unpopular wars.
So when the average reader reads Terrorist, it overpowers Suspected and the dead have now been tried, convicted and hung by the jury of the popular mind.
Now for the rest of the sentence.
… forces in a daring early-morning raid in Karbala, quashing fears that the insurgency has become increasingly adept at avoiding casualties.
This is the middle and summation segments of the sentence, neatly encapsulating the series of events in an overwhelmingly biased portrayal.
It is important for the first sentence of an article of this nature to be so complex because research shows that most people only read the first few lines of any article, necessitating the Pyramid model of journalistic writing that is standard worldwide.
The writer quickly paints the military soldiers - trained killers - in a light that endears them to the reader, with one effective word: "Daring", which implies valour, honour, sacrifice, adventure, even secondary associations like handsomeness and strength. The intent is to bedazzle the reader both with the strong mental associations of the word, and also to provide the reader the sensation of 'being there', along for the ride as democracy unfolds at the hands of our daring soldiers. This trick is accomplished by the subtle insert of 'early morning' before the clearly defined and associated word 'raid'.
Had the article simply read ...in a daring raid, the reader may not have been completely sold on the portrayal, because there is a bit of contradiction there. We as people associate the word 'raid' with swat teams and other invasion forces; black combat uniforms, masks and guns. Even a citizen who loves the police will experience subconscious stress from these images and associations.
So, another powerful trigger was needed, but this one the opposite of a landmine - rather, a de-fuser of potential emotional reactions that could serve to unravel the desired narrative.
The descriptive 'early morning' disarms the stress associations by implying a sense of intimacy. Early mornings are spent with lovers, spouses and only the closest of friends. In this sense we are induced to a place of dreamy peace in the midst of combat. There are also subtle secondary associations to rebirth and the conquering of evil - the rising of the sun to start a new day, and to ward off the night - concepts that touch us to our primal core.
The sentence finishes with a definitive statement: … quashing fears that the insurgency has become increasingly adept at avoiding casualties.
This conclusion simply states that all doubts of coalition supremacy were and are unfounded, and that there is no debating the subject. This is opinion stated as fact.
In a final clue, it also hints at the interesting language they use to describe "insurgents" or "terrorists". Look at the words adept and avoiding. These are powerful little words, snappy and snake-like, respectively. They are meant to imply cunning, stealth, intelligence, of an animal or unrefined kind. You will notice that much of the language used to describe an insurgency - depending on the current portrayal deemed to be necessary by the issuing powers - reflects these concepts. Asymmetrical, improvised, tactical, complex - all words used to define the conflict, and all intended to portray the insurgency as what the powers that be need it to be: A tough bunch of buggers, who we cant really figure out, and almost admire, like you would a wily dog that keeps getting up after you kick it to the ground. They need the insurgency to be seen as constant, never an actual threat to victory, and grudgingly respected from the military point of view.
While the narrative will vary according to what role the insurgency is needed to play in geopolitics at the time - usually, coverage of it acts as distraction from other, more relevant news - this thematic description of insurgency is fairly predictable.
In this particular piece, the intent of the article is clear after reading only one sentence, as per design, and that is to portray the coalition forces as dominating over the insurgency.
Let's dig a little deeper.
The operation began with a surgical strike on the target location by an Apache helicopter, which used a Defender missile to penetrate the thick concrete bunker. Immediately following the strike, a team of US marines performed a sweep-and-clear operation in the area, which led to the discovery of the bodies of 5 suspected insurgents.
Notice the language used in the first line. The raid has become an operation, and it began with a surgical strike. The use of medical language is no accident. The word 'operation' implies a precise, professionally executed, and very necessary event. People undergo operations to be repaired, or healed, and this is what the word is meant to imply here as well: we are 'healing' the situation (truthfully, killing people). This concept is expanded upon with 'surgical', which carries the notion of precision and necessity further.
One of the most important effects the medical terminology has on the reader is to grant a kind of immunity to the military machine doing the killing. "Operations" go wrong - surgeries fail, and patients die. Do we blame the doctor when this happens? Usually, no - we trust doctors. We expect that they have our best interests at heart, they do their best in all situations, and sometimes they cannot save a life.
This language is used to psychologically condition us to both sympathize with and dismiss criticism of actions undertaken by the military.
It is worth noting that throughout history, authoritarian regimes have routinely referred to their opponents as a 'cancer' or 'sickness' from which the nation must heal itself. Naomi Klein details this perversion of language well in her book The Shock Doctrine.
Now comes a concept that may be a little more familiar to the average reader: the Advertising section.
…on the target location with an Apache helicopter, which used a Defender missile to…
The modern military machine is no longer the simple state-maintained, green-painted workhorse that we identified with throughout the 20th century. Now, the concepts of marketing, advertising and public relations affect all operational aspects of the military.
The military of today is the product of internal and external trade wars, market share wars, and propaganda wars as well as conventional conflict. The United States is far and away the world's biggest arms dealer, and like most corporate entities, it works hard to drum up sales for it's 'shareholders' - the private corps that work closely with Pentagon (DARPA) and DHS to create new technologies / products for the military to buy. After the military market has been saturated, these advanced technologies are then scaled down and repackaged for civilian consumption - Hummers, GPS, Tasers, Google Earth.
You can find good examples of overt corpo-military advertising and PR in publications like Jane's Defence, which regularly features full-page ads for companies like Lockheed-Martin and Raytheon, multibillion-dollar entities that make the bulk of their profit by selling technologically advanced weapons, aerospace and communications equipment to government clients - DOD, FBI, Air Force, etc. However this is not their only advertising route, nor is it the most effective.
For these manufacturers, there is no better advertisement than a demonstration of the product, in a context that excites the senses: War.
For example, remember Patriot missiles? Almost anyone over 25 does. Their use in the first Gulf War was massively publicized, in what was the first big 'roll-out' of new military hardware since the stealth bomber (which was also heavily used / advertised in the Gulf War).
In the current article, the new Patriot missile is the Defender missile - featuring an ironic name, like most of the real products have - and it was fired by the most widely known and feared / respected piece of military equipment the US has ever produced: the Apache helicopter.
These hidden ads operate the same way the example of "Troop Surge III" operates: It makes the products cool to the reader. Apache helicopters, as any 10 year old boy will tell you, are very cool. They are striking to look at, and they destroy our enemies, and they carry weapons with names like Hellfire rockets (that product name, admittedly, is not ironic).
Most grown men are equally as enthralled with cool helicopters that blow things up with missiles. But it is not only the imagery and our innate, male, interest in conflict (blame nature for that) that sells the product and the killing operation; the language is important too.
If the chopper were called a "Forward Reconnaissance Unit" and it fired "light capacity thermo-combustibles", three-quarters of the male audience would be skipping over the article completely. It sounds technical, bookish, boring and ultimately uninteresting to the average reader.
Conversely, when someone wants a reader to think something is boring and ignore it completely, this is the kind of obtuse language they can use to deflect interest.
For proof, simply look at the Tax Code, which isn't as boring as it seems - it details the process of taking a lot of your money. Or legislation like the Patriot Act, which uses both techniques - draw them in with the name ("Yeah, I'm a Patriot"), and then keep them away from the details by confronting them with an illegible body of text, written by creative lawyers.
So why is it important that these weapon systems be sold to the common male population that will never buy them? Because in fact, they are buying them - they are the taxpayers, and they fund the government who pays for the corporate development and production of the weapons.
The strange and perilous relationship between a government and it's people cannot be detailed with any significance in this short text. However, it is important to note that elements of government and private enterprise both despise and depend on the common population for their existence. The dynamics of this ever-changing relationship are on display in the media, the legislatures, the corporate boardrooms and the battlefields of our planet.
It is important to remember that while the linguistic architects do their best to manipulate our thoughts and opinions with their words, they also recognize their boundaries. The concepts and descriptions they put forward must be quantified and explained in a way that endears them to the reader without seeming too pandering or obvious. This can be seen in the following passage.
Immediately following the strike, a team of US marines performed a sweep-and-clear operation in the area, which led to the discovery of the bodies of 5 suspected insurgents. Asked how the Marines knew that these people were terrorists, Maj. Jim Buckley explained. "We had received solid information from local sources that there was a lot of activity in this particular area, a lot of 'chatter' as we say, and that led us to investigate deeper. It turns out there were weapons and supplies in the area, as well as sophisticated communications systems that could be used to trigger explosives or co-ordinate attacks on civilians or coalition forces. At that point we proceeded with the operation in order to neutralize the threat.
The roots of this passage reach back to techniques pioneered in a previous war: Vietnam.
By the time the war finally ended, millions of Vietnamese had perished, but the number that really stood out to most casual observers was 58 000: the number of US troops killed in action.
For the majority of it's 16 years, the Vietnam War was unpopular with the people of the United States. By the late 1960's, practically the entire student population, and much of the American middle class, were in active opposition to the war and by extension, the policies of the government.
It was during these heady times that the use of psychological propaganda against citizens through the news media became a significant part of US domestic policy. The idea was to figure out how to diffuse the threat of a mobilized, informed population without using lethal force, and also without having to change policy.
The government commissioned focus groups to study exactly what was causing the turmoil in their streets. Once they had dispensed with the obvious answers - the death of soldiers and innocents in Vietnam for no discernable purpose, discontent with government policy - they found some interesting clues.
They found that if the language used to describe the conflict were changed, so did the individual's perception of the conflict.
The first test of this inference was conducted publicly. For years, the army had been referring to offensive attacks against the NVA and sympathetic civilian populations as "Search and Destroy" missions. This was calling a rose a rose; the Army did in fact Search out the enemy, and once found, would do their best to Destroy them. It was simple language for a simple concept.
But as mentioned, things weren't so simple anymore.
The 'Search and Destroy' lexicon was likely brought into use by military staff who, recalling the days of WWII, assumed that the US population was interested in and overjoyed by the 'destruction of the Enemy'. In this sense, they were using advertising techniques, but in a clumsy way that didn’t serve their real interest, which was to maintain public support for the war. Once it became clear that the viewing and reading public were not at all impressed by the levelling of villages, the choice of words seemed ineffective for their goals, to say the least.
The military made a decision. Publicly, these missions were no longer to be called 'Search and Destroy', with all it's bloody connotations, but rather 'Sweep and Clear', a new term designed to change the perception of the event - from a fiery assault to the simple cleaning-up of a mess. This coat of gloss was to be applied at every opportunity.
While it's hard to gauge exactly how effective this wordplay was at the time, it doesn’t really matter, because the net effect has been monumental. These three words were the first steps taken down an unknown road - one that has led to the near-total distortion and sanitization of reality in the media today.
Near the end, the article allows for a brief appearance by the 'conscience' of the story - and an interesting technique is employed. Here, the narrative shifts to reflect not only the writer's perspective, it also cleverly uses language to assert the opinion of the reader and the nation at large at the same time. Through this technique the article can appear to be more balanced, more investigative, and less biased than it actually is.
Asked how the Marines knew…
Immediately in the sentence, an interrogative posture is adopted; this is meant to convey the impression of holding them to account for their actions, although the language in this case is very soft.
This is also where the clever perspective shift takes place. By saying Asked instead of When we asked, the writer positions himself together with the reader and the nation, making it seem like they are all asking together.
Think about it. It works because the article is no longer telling you what happened; at this point in the article, you become the narrator. See what I mean?
It's an illusion designed to placate our natural inclination of sympathy towards suffering - placed there to soothe your conscience. The reason it affects us so deeply to see another human being suffer is because we identify with that person; that could be us. Our natural, animalistic mind sees a creature that looks like us, it sounds like us, and so we can conceptualize what the suffering must be like.
The architects of the story know this. They also know that our inquisitive nature leads us to investigate the application of lethal force by our military, because our military is 'Us', an extension of ourselves. What they do, we as citizens stand behind.
Because of this, the situation must be 'managed' by the compliant media - it must be sold to us in a new light - described to us as necessary, just, and ultimately above reproach.
The concept of racism is used with devastating effect in modern media manipulation. The media use deceptive language and imagery to scrub away the humanity of the victims of our wars by portraying them as different from us: They are brown, they wear funny clothes, they chant and scream in strange languages. In the major western media, we very rarely see human interest stories about brutalized Iraqis or Afghans where they are portrayed as calm, rational, hardworking people.
Now that the writer has subverted our emotional defences by aligning himself with us, we are prepared to hear the scrubbed, neatly crafted, and factually hollow justification of the murder by a Marines representative.
We had received solid information from local sources that there was a lot of activity in this particular area, a lot of 'chatter' as we say, and that led us to investigate deeper. It turns out there were weapons and supplies in the area, as well as sophisticated communications systems that could be used to trigger explosives or co-ordinate attacks on civilians or coalition forces. At that point we proceeded with the operation in order to neutralize the threat.
Statements by military personnel remind me of the between-period interviews during a hockey game: No matter the day or whom they are talking to, they always say the exact same thing. In hockey, it's "we just gotta keep working hard, keep the puck in their end, keep up the momentum…" or some variation thereof.
The military is no different. Even the people they train to do PR and media relations are still military - trained killers. A soldier talking plainly can scare the hell out of you without ever meaning to.
So when it's time for the military to talk to the media - they are very careful about the language they use. They use reassuring terms like solid information, which have no actual meaning - what does solid mean? Does it mean that the information is over fifty percent right? Maybe it was right yesterday? Is it relative - is it 'more solid' than other information? When you analyze the statement, it falls apart. Without fact, without proof, there is only guessing. It's all about probabilities - a concept covered in the next book.
They use words that pique our interests like chatter - an interesting, curious word.
They use thorough and responsible concepts, like investigating deeper'
They talk about weapons and supplies like they aren't actually referring to kitchen knives and groceries…
Sophisticated communications systems... used to trigger attacks… Since cell phones are routinely used in the remote detonation of IED's, it follows that anyone with a cell phone can be designated an agent of the insurgency. Language defines Reality.
And if you think the illustrious and daring civilian/military/corporate command structure - most of whom share none of the dedication and integrity of our soldiers - wouldn't lie in the furtherance of their own interests - you have much to learn.
These are lies, where the truth hides in plain sight.