Smoking Mirrors: How We Act So Surprised Over Events and Statements Made Not So Long Ago
So, this is what it comes down to...again. Just like goldfish, the public quickly forgets events and statements made years, weeks, days, minutes ago and reacts to political fallout with the same amazement as a child who doesn't want to have to throw away his favorite toy: Pretend it's new, and your parents won't make you toss it.
If the quagmire in Iraq seems too overwhelming a subject to ponder, why not break it down to brass tacks? First, let me veer off on a tangent to set the mood: We're all very aware of that indisputably necessary invention the Internet - seeing as how without it, you likely would not be reading this column - and the huge help it has provided for archived content aggregators such as LexisNexis, various encyclopedias and just about any print newspaper on this planet. Fascinatingly enough, Google.com recently instituted a feature that researches news articles as far back as 200 years, clearly an outstanding effort in the move to link us to history in a more immediate way. However, the benefit of that innovation goes beyond just seeing how newspapers looked and read in the "olden days"; it's a great tool for calling out public personae who conveniently "forget" what they said and/or did when confronted by the media for alleged mistakes.
The president and members of his administration graced national nightly news shows claiming they never said al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein were linked—nor did Hussein have anything to do with the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. However, a cursory keyword search on any search engine will take you to a plethora of legitimate news sites with transcripts that disprove the administration's current admissions. Sure, it wasn't explicitly stated, but there was enough allusion to an association between the two "hated Arabs" that it's clear what Bush and Co. wanted the American public to assume and eventually swallow as gospel. Although it would take less than five minutes for anyone to look up an article that proves this, it's likely that not many people will. But, the real question is "Why?"
This administration successfully has created a sort of mass hypnotic denial that is self-propelling and enigmatic. What's more interesting is that I've found people who think they're being pro-Bush actually disagreeing with what he and his cabinet members say because they are so quick to distrust their own eyes and ears in favor of a transitory statement from this country's leaders. Perhaps it's because of our own inherent inability to admit fault. Read (or "troll") the Yahoo! message boards and you'll find many pro-Bush people saying that al Qaeda and Hussein and al-whoever all sat down for kabobs while plotting to destroy America—and these message posters think they're defending the administration. Well, they are...kind of. You see, what these "trolls" forget (or just altogether ignore) is that Bush himself recently stated on national television that Hussein had no connection to 9/11. Well, he says that now although, just three years ago, he championed his reasons for going into Iraq with the Hussein/al Qaeda connection as a main cause. So, in essence, these goldfish simply have relinquished control of whatever mechanism they once had that made them think and react for themselves, and trust themselves. It's much easier simply to grab hold of whatever is the truth of the month and defend it until it's no longer popular, or until we transfer the same amount of confusion we have onto others who are too lazy to do a simple keyword search.
Written by Natalie Martin