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Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Saying It Ain't So 

This is an oversimplification, but for the eighty percent or whatever they are, the main thing is to divert them. To get them to watch National Football League. And to worry about "Mother With Child With Six Heads," or whatever you pick up on the supermarket stands and so on. Or look at astrology. Or get involved in fundamentalist stuff or something or other. Just get them away. Get them away from things that matter. And for that it's important to reduce their capacity to think.

Take, say, sports -- that's another crucial example of the indoctrination system, in my view. For one thing because it -- you know, it offers people something to pay attention to that's of no importance. That keeps them from worrying about -- keeps them from worrying about things that matter to their lives that they might have some idea of doing something about. And in fact it's striking to see the intelligence that's used by ordinary people in [discussions of] sports. I mean, you listen to radio stations where people call in -- they have the most exotic information and understanding about all kind of arcane issues. And the press undoubtedly does a lot with this.

You know, I remember in high school, already I was pretty old. I suddenly asked myself at one point, why do I care if my high school team wins the football game? I mean, I don't know anybody on the team, you know? I mean, they have nothing to do with me, I mean, why I am cheering for my team? It doesn't mean any -- it doesn't make sense. But the point is, it does make sense: it's a way of building up irrational attitudes of submission to authority, and group cohesion behind leadership elements -- in fact, it's training in irrational jingoism. That's also a feature of competitive sports. I think if you look closely at these things, I think, typically, they do have functions, and that's why energy is devoted to supporting them and creating a basis for them and advertisers are willing to pay for them and so on.

-- Noam Chomsky in Manufacturing Consent:
Noam Chomsky and the Media

Courtesy of our stalwart colleagues at Cursor: "Rafael Palmeiro is a friend," President Bush told Knight-Ridder after Palmeiro tested positive for steroid use. "He's the kind of person that's going to stand up in front of the klieg lights [or in this case, Congress -- S.] and say he didn't use steroids, and I believe him. Still do."

But then, as Dave Zirin of CounterPunch reminds us, Mr. Bush has a long history of willfully ignoring the obvious:
If we are now to accept Canseco's book [Juiced] as holy writ, we should also remember that his Texas Rangers team had an owner named George W. Bush who Canseco describes as "most certainly knowing" that the players were on the juice. This went wildly underreported when the book was released, largely because Canseco's credibility was in constant question. Now that Canseco has morphed into Honest Abe, we should start asking whether Bush should receive the next congressional subpoena about steroids in sports. We should ask what Bush actually knows and when did he know it. We should press Palmeiro on what his friend in the owner's box, the former cheerleader from Yale, did and did not allow. We should take these Politics of Distraction, which Bush hoisted into our lives and drop the whole stinking, steaming, anabolic load on his front door.

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