Fear of Reading: Blowhard versus ‘Bullhorn’
In the wake of the U.S.-engineered coup in Ukraine, the Western Press warns us solemnly and relentlessly that Vladimir Putin is Beelzebub himself, the leader of a vicious and backward Russia. Such deceit is reckless in the extreme since it puts the U.S. at odds with a nuclear power, one that is far from the weak nation that a condescending and insulting Obama sought to depict in his recent interview with The Economist, debunked here. Of course such lies are not new. In our own lifetimes they have been generated to justify US interventions in Korea, Iran, Guatamala, Cuba, Vietnam, Brazil, Chile, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and the list goes on.
What are we to do in the face of this avalanche of lies? Such deception becomes most intense when directed at the three paramount and enduring enemies in the eyes of the US imperial elite – China, Russia and Iran.
But all is not lost. We now have a plan to combat these falsehoods, thanks to Secretary of State John Kerry whom we in Massachusetts know all too well as a blundering, blustering, bellicose blowhard –and, lest we forget, a nauseating narcissist. The Blowhard recently warned us not to read the Russian outlet RT.com, which he decried as a "bullhorn" for Russian propaganda. I have often heard truth coming over bullhorns on street corner rallies, but I have yet to hear an iota of it from a blowhard – most especially this one.
This leads us to a modest proposal for one’s daily regimen, as bracing as an early morning run. Each day quickly peruse RT.com from Russia, China Daily from China and PressTV from Iran. Or at least look at the headlines – and see whether you want to read more.
As an example, let’s look at the main headlines on RT.com on a random day:
- Donetsk militia ready for ceasefire to prevent further humanitarian catastrophe
- Russian Navy ‘forces US submarine out’ of Arctic boundary waters – report
- Ukraine’s violent escalation: From Molotov cocktails to ballistic missiles
- ExxonMobil, Rosneft start joint Arctic drilling in defiance of sanctions
That did not take long even if you did not link to them. And any of those is quite interesting to a peace minded Western reader. Are they true? Read, compare to Western accounts and judge, dear reader. Read and judge – for yourself.
These outlets are an attempt to reach Westerners, especially Americans, and to provide facts we may not know of and interpretations not available to us. You may say, why should we substitute one set of lies for another? But, dear reader, does that not assume that the "other" is always deceiving us? And is that not in turn a subtle form of American "exceptionalism"? That is, the US may be no better than the "other" but it can never, ever be worse. The "other" is always as bad or worse. (This view is often found on the ultra-left, where it is disguised as a quest for "real, true democracy" or world socialism or world communism, etc. If the US is imperialist, then China must also be imperialist, for example; China cannot be better than the West.)
And if a major war breaks out because we did not lend an ear to these voices asking for out attention, would that not be a tragedy of enormous proportions?
Unfortunately not only is the Western intelligentsia reluctant to turn to other voices; but when they do, they keep it secret. They rarely quote those sources. Rather they will hunt high and low to find similar reports from Western media if they can be found. But there is a drawback to that strategy. Inevitably in these reports from the West, for example the BBC, Reuters etc, the news is embedded firmly in the matrix of the Western narrative, which among other things treats Western flaws as isolated instances which might need fixing but flaws elsewhere as evidence of a profoundly systemic disorder.
Western radicals, Left and Right, also fear for their credibility should they quote "the other." But if there is merit in what the outlets from the other side say, then part of the job of education is to bestow on these other outlets the respect and credibility they deserve. Failure to cite when citation is merited is a kind of lie in and of itself. It is a very subtle way of saying that the truth can only appear in Western media. In short it is a trap, a sure way to shut out elements of the truth, a dead end.
Let me tell you what this reader has found out about China Daily, RT.com and PressTV over the years.
China Daily. China Daily takes on a dual task. It seeks to provide a look at what daily life is like in China – so there is a lot of coverage of Pandas, scenery and Chinese beauties. But the paper also gives the facts on international issues, commercial and political, and the Chinese take on them, most especially those that involve both the US and China. You will also find discussions of the battle against corruption, pollution and inequality in China, principal concerns of the Chinese people. So it is a "warts and all" sort of presentation. And do not worry if a wart is missed; it will be reported in considerable detail in the NYT and NPR. In fact warts will even be concocted in those outlets where there are none, as for example "the massacre in Tiananmen Square of thousands or even tens of thousands, a fiction rebutted in detail here. I have found the news reporting in China Daily to be quite accurate over the years. One has to scroll down farther to get into opinion pieces, which give a good idea of China policy – "win-win," "peaceful rising" and the rest. (If you prefer to get to them more quickly and in concentrated form, then Peoples Daily might be your cup of tea.)
RT.com. RT.com adopts a different approach. It turns over more often than once a day and is focused on countering anti-Russian reporting coming from the West. Its news is quite accurate and it is quick to combat misinformation that comes out of the Pentagon or State Department. (Hence John Kerry’s peevishness over it.) It is much more combative, although in a defensive way, than China Daily. On the Ukraine no sooner does the US government put out its latest lie, than the Russian government rebuts it; and the rebuttal is presented in detail, clearly and with some dry wit in RT.com. (The weakness of RT.com is that it does not seek to depict daily life in Russia. That is important because part of demonization is to depict the official enemies as different from normal human beings. So in my opinion RT is only doing part of its job.)
PressTV. On to PressTV.com, the Iranian outlet, also reliable for the most part in its news coverage and often insightful about the struggle of the Palestinians against Israeli Apartheid. Here again some devotion to coverage of daily life in Iran would be welcome. This is crucial since the Iranians have the dual burden of being the paramount enemy of the US and also being Muslim.
The comments above take into account only the news reporting. On the opinion articles, China Daily is far and away the best, with high quality pieces coming from China or from China Daily reporters in the US RT.com has some good opinion pieces but also some weak ones. They can do better. The same for PressTV.
But do not take my word for it. Log on, look in and compare to the NYT, NPR, BBC etc. Then decide for yourself. What could possibly be more independent of mind, what more contrary to the herd instinct? And you can also have the satisfaction of defying that blustering blowhard, John Kerry, his boss and his minions.
John V. Walsh can be reached at John.Endwar@gmail.com . He writes for Antiwar.com, Unz Review, CounterPunch.com and DissidentVoice.org.