At this point, anyone who really wants to read the news online knows not to rely entirely on any of our own nation's network's sites (though to give credit where it's due -- if you're still interested in the debate over President Obama's place of birth and have some doubt whether Hawaii is actually a state or not, or need an update on the emotional impact to Britney Spears when she stubbed her big toe tripping delightedly down Rodeo Drive laden with shopping bags, we're the best.) We know that Fox News doesn't even remotely resemble real "news" and studies have shown that we don't get any smarter or more informed if we watch its constant stream of manic misinformation, but truth be told, viewers of the rest of our country's major networks didn't fare too well themselves when polled on current issues.
There is real news online from other parts of the world. Der Spiegel, The Guardian, and Al-Jazeera host just a few of the wonderful sites that offer real world news. Of course, we also have the wonderful internet newspaper that is The Huffington Post where we can find real, up-to-date news and commentary, and a variety of other alternative news sites, Truthout and Truthdig being just two examples.
I remember working in a German company in South Carolina for many years where young German engineering interns would come to work for months at a time. There was always a shocked adjustment period when, after reading our newspapers and watching our nightly news, they realized that Americans weren't actually getting the news. Shortly after the initial invasion of Iraq, I remember one new German friend looking at me and saying, "People here really have no idea what you're doing in Iraq or the rest of the world, do they?"
It's embarrassing, but true. We are propagandized but refuse to yank the wool off of our eyes. Unknowingly being lied to is one thing, but to see an entire nation being fed propaganda from a Styrofoam plate on a plastic McDonald's tray, and have them respond to the life-threatening fare by licking their lips and lining up for seconds is truly disheartening.
It reminds me of our war criminal bestselling author ex-President who, prior to the invasion of Iraq, would repeatedly play the role of magician. I so well remember those days when, standing before us in his top hat and black suit, he'd effortlessly slide a white-gloved hand into a lint-less pocket to pull out a dozen brightly colored ribbons. He'd clasp his hands together, swatches of cloth inside, spin on his heels three times quickly while saying the words "Iraq" and "9/11" over and over and -- Voila! -- he'd open his hands and out would come one long beautiful cloth! (Seriously, no matter how many times Bush said the words "Iraq" and "9/11" in the same sentence, there was no connection - yet, our news fed it to us and we swallowed it with a satisfied burp.)
We joyfully fill out Medicare applications then take to the streets carrying signs saying "Keep government hands off our health insurance". We have more people in this country without health care than the entire population of Spain and we fight against a plan to insure us all! We scream about taxes and gladly hand over tax cuts to the wealthiest among us... as they go smiling all the way to the banks (which, of course, they own). We proudly send our sons and daughters off to kill and be killed in lands that we couldn't find on a map, and whose people did absolutely nothing to warrant our attacks (see paragraph 4 which also applies to Afghanistan and Pakistan...)
If we had real news, we'd be informed. We'd have health care for everyone; we wouldn't give tax cuts to the top 2% wealthiest Americans when we have homeless and hungry in our streets and record numbers of foreclosures every day. We wouldn't be spending billions of dollars killing people, people just like us, in faraway lands. We wouldn't be using the torture that is solitary confinement on Bradley Manning, a young man who has yet to be convicted of a crime, or the thousands of other inmates in solitary confinement in Supermax prisons across this country.
If we had real news, we'd know that we're not always the good guy, (if you'll forgive the understatement).
And why did I start this rant? Because, in the process of preparing to bring Salee
(a young Iraqi girl whose legs were blown off in a US air strike) here for her third pair of legs, a friend was on the phone with an Iraqi woman from an international mail office in Baghdad regarding Salee and her father's passports. This incredibly helpful woman mentioned that it'd take Salee's father, Abu Ali, about two hours to get to her office by car. Our friend asked why, since Salee's town and the office aren't far away from each other. The woman replied simply, "Just pick up a paper!"
She told him that there were so many checkpoints now that even a short distance could take hours in travel time. She assumed we'd know that, but then again, most of the world probably does. (We, of course, have thoroughly digested the story that we've left Iraq and moved on to other things, important things like the results of Fox News' online poll as to whether we'd continue shopping at a store that wished people "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas.")
Thank you to WikiLeaks for exposing the real news. WikiLeaks has set the bar to "truth." It would be nice if someday, in the not too distant future, we could "Just pick up a paper" and in doing so, actually learn something.