Sunday, June 15
They Just Don't Want to Know: Of Dissidents and Dissonance
Ben Tripp, Counterpunch, June 14, 2003

Like a full-scale papier-mache model of the Earth, the truth is so enormous that it is hard to even comprehend. And once you figure it out, the question becomes where to put it? Because it won't fit on the shelf in the living room.

I refer of course to the true reason why Americans are not more concerned at the patent absence of 'Weapons of Mass Destruction' in Iraq.

I spent, I confess, several weeks waiting for the thunderous uproar that would inevitably follow the equally inevitable discovery that Iraq had no biological agents, no foul chemicals, no missiles capable of circling the papier-mache globe and blowing up Daytona Beach, Florida (or similar). The discovery has been made. You want mustard gas in Iraq, you'd better start eating pastrami. Yet the American public doesn't care. There will be no consequences to the Bush Administration for the naked, baseless savagery it perpetrated upon Iraq's people.

Why not? The answer hit me like a full-scale papier-mache model of the Earth: Americans aren't upset about the Big Lie because they never believed it in the first place.
They just didn't want to know.[...]

America is a nation divided: on one side, there are those who take the "my country, right or wrong" approach.

On the other side (the outside) are the Americans who believe that something has gone horribly, horribly wrong. [...]

... They're just depressed and afraid. The Powers That Be call this mindset "moral relativism", which is another way of saying "who are you going to believe- me, or your own eyes?"
The correct answer, for all you relativists out there, is A) God said it, I believe it, that settles it.

This is the absolutist position, not only with respect to religion but also nationalism, brand loyalty, and musical tastes: hence the expression "alls I need is Jesus, Jersey, Jack and a Jukebox."
The problem with the absolutist approach to American affairs is that it does not allow for human nature- quite aside from being impossible, stupid, backwards, and rotten. [...]

We've turned into a collective special-interest bad guy: who can handle that kind of a downer?

America invaded another nation, unscrewed its head and took a giant dump down its neck--unprovoked.

Confronted with the singularly un-American nature of this exploit, our leaders responded by claiming we had to do it-- because this enemy nation was aiming a vast artillery of deadly weapons designed especially to kill blonde people at us.

I don't think all that many people really believed it, not really really. But they went along with it, because to confront the real reasons for such aimless aggression would be too horrible for their fragile worldviews and patriotic self-images to bear. [...]

When the 'WMD' bit turned out not to be true, the rationale switched to exporting American Democracy by force. Which is an oxymoron, ... ... a common symptom of cognitive dissonance.

You cannot force someone to be free, any more than you can teach them a lesson by killing them (note to self).

I don't think many Americans cared at that point; Bush said it, I believe it, that settles it.

... The beauty part of cognitive dissonance is the worse it gets, the more people throw up [their hands] and say "who cares?"
In this way such public works projects as genocide and empire-building can be accomplished, because people refuse to care. It's too damn demanding, too scary, and too damaging to that ever-threatened bird called Self Esteem. ...

... But this is the time to take a good long look at your mindset, before things get so awful you find yourself goose-stepping down the Reichsparteitag rather than face the facts. Are you in a state of cognitive dissonance? Does the evidence of your senses not jibe with what you've been told is The Way Things Are?
[... more]
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