November 15th, 2009 20:13 EST
Do Americans really want to be bothered with the facts?
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Of all the things Americans are hectored into taking to heart "patriotism, low taxes, Ayn Rand, trickle-down economics, etc "one thing remains conspicuous for its absence: ignorance.
It seems to me we must take our ignorance to heart or lose our democracy. With massive and avaricious help from Big Media we have come to prefer myth to fact, rumor to truth, simple-mindedness to intelligent inquiry. We have come to believe we know what we are talking about "hence demonstrators demanding the government stay out of Medicare.
Nothing can be accomplished in such an environment because it doesn`t allow compromise. Without compromise a democracy breaks in two and dictators step into the void, exactly what happened in Germany and Italy in the 1930s. Those countries devolved from reds and fascists shouting at each other to fascists shouting from balconies.
Al Qaeda is a pussycat compared to our own ignorance, to our preference for simplicitudes over creative dialogue. We are the enemy. Al Qaeda just gives us a shove now and then, and we are all too willing to go hurtling over the brink, which is how we landed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The men who gave us a shove are at large, making tapes in Waziristan. The men who were so willing to be shoved, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, have grown rich on their mistakes and their contempt for rational strategy. They took care of their cronies and their cronies are taking good care of them.
Another Sunday has passed without a single major media outlet picking up the ball CNN`s Nic Robertson and Paul Cruickshank so ably fielded last week when they reported that an an entirely new jahadist philosophy is emerging in the Muslim world, a philosphy that disdains Al Qaeda`s tactics. It was far and away the most significant story of the week, but even CNN buried it.
We swat at facts as if they were gnats. We spray ourselves with the repellent of ideology. And we go forth impervious to each other`s opinions. Our political system did not envision masses of the shouting deaf "it envisioned reasonable, concerned citizens listening to each other and trying to effect compromises.
To the extent that the communications industry encourages loudmouth ideological camps, as it does today, it undermines our society, and it does so for the same reason Wall Street brought down the world`s economy: reckless greed. It is simply cheaper to fill up space with smart-ass blowhards and sleazy know-nothings than it is to invest in real journalism, as CNN did with the Robertson-Cruickshank inquiry. Alas, to ignore as much as we do in favor of opinionated schlock you need an audience that doesn`t want to be bothered with the facts. Once you have that audience you essentially have the makings of an electorate that doesn`t want to be bothered with a democracy.
Djelloul (jeh-lool) Marbrook was born in 1934 in Algiers to a Bedouin father and an American painter. He grew up in Brooklyn, West Islip and Manhattan, New York, where he attended Dwight Preparatory School and Columbia. He then served in the U.S. Navy.
His book of poems, Far From Algiers, won the Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize from Kent State University in 2007 and was published in 2008. His story, Artists Hill, adapted from the second novel of an unpublished trilogy, won the Literal LattÃ© first prize in fiction in 2008. His poems have been published in The American Poetry Review, Barrow Street, poemeleon, The Same, and other journals. The pioneering e-book publisher, Online Originals (UK), published his novella, Alice MIller`s Room, in 1999.
He worked as a reporter for The Providence Journal and as an editor for The Elmira (NY) Star-Gazette, The Baltimore Sun, The Winston-Salem Journal & Sentinel and The Washington Star. Later he worked as executive editor of four small dailies in northeast Ohio and two medium-size dailies in northern New Jersey.