[sixties-l] Fwd. M.Steel, "Watch Out! America's Unleashing its Depleted Imagination"

From: Ted Morgan (epm2@lehigh.edu)
Date: 01/11/01

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                    Published on Thursday, January 11, 2001 in the
    Independent / UK
                    Watch out! America's Unleashing Its Depleted
                    by Mark Steel
                  2001 Independent Digital (UK) Ltd.
                    The trick with propaganda is to make it look neutral and
    scientific. At school we were once
                    shown a film about nuclear power in which a chirpy
    narrator chuckled that radiation is "all
                    around us ^ in the air, on televisions. Everywhere". I
    can't remember exactly, but I think
                    there followed the voice of an old woman saying "but I
    heard it might be dangerous" and the
                    narrator replying "huh huh, you know, even the bomb
    dropped on Hiroshima contained less
                    radiation than the average tin of shoe polish".
                    That way, propaganda can be one of those things, like
    police corruption, that is often
                    assumed to have been dreadful 20 years ago but doesn't
    happen any more. So we can
                    shake our heads at the way black people used to be
    portrayed in Hollywood, when they
                    were only allowed to be maids with lines like "Oh there
    you go again Miss Sophie, offering
                    us freedom an' equality an' all. Why, us simple but
    cheerful negro folk ain't got time to go
                    a-votin' and a-ridin' in streetcars, we's too busy
    cookin' and playin' the trumpet".
                    But today's Hollywood is just as ideological, as America
    pretends it's always been fanatical
                    about civil rights. So in The Patriot, set in the
    American War of Independence, and even in
                    Spielberg's Amistad, white America is liberal and lovely
    and appalled that discrimination
                    could take place. Which makes you wonder who organised
    all that slavery. There must have
                    been one un-enlightened plantation owner, before the FBI
    arrested him and placed him on a
                    race-awareness course.
                    We can laugh at the Cold War mania of The Green Berets
    or Rocky pummelling a Russian.
                    But Hollywood has just released a film called Thirteen
    Days, about the 1962 Cuban missile
                    crisis, described by critics as "145 minutes of Kennedy
    hero-worship" and "hideously
                    inaccurate." One of the reasons is that Fidel Castro
    isn't mentioned at all.
                    This is a new twist to Hollywood propaganda. No longer
    is the opposition evil and cowardly;
                    it doesn't exist. In the remake of The Great Escape, the
    Steve McQueen character will
                    announce his plan for a tunnel, and the others will say:
    "Well, seeing there are no Germans,
                    we could just walk out the door."
                    Which is a shame, because a film about America's real
    behaviour during the crisis would
                    make fine entertainment. Their attitude could be
    summarised by the CIA file that stated
                    "Che Guevara is fairly intellectual for a Latino".
    Unlike Americans, of course, who are all
                    geniuses like Ronald Reagan and George W Bush and would
    never believe in anything
                    unintellectual such as creationism or astrology or WWF
                    The head of Cuban state security documented 612 plots by
    the Americans against Castro,
                    including exploding sea-shells, powder to make his beard
    fall out and giving him a present of
                    a poisoned diving suit. Which makes you wonder whether
    American foreign policy was
                    directed by the wily coyote, under the impression that
    Castro was the road runner.
                    All this, including the farcical invasion of the Bay of
    Pigs, took place with Kennedy's
                    blessing. Then, during the "13 days" of the crisis, the
    British ambassador, David Ormsby
                    Gore, went for dinner with the Kennedys, later saying:
    "Jackie felt that the President needed
                    a relaxed evening, so talk of Cuba or missiles was
                    So as the world tottered on the verge of annihilation,
    he couldn't discuss the matter because
                    his wife had said: "All I've heard from you is Cuba Cuba
    Cuba all week long. Well you're not
                    spoiling dinner with your silly missiles. Men,
                    And while America went berserk about Russian missiles
    aimed at American cities, they
                    had missiles in Italy and Turkey aimed at Russian
    cities. Although these could only
                    produce American fallout which, as we know from the
    information films is no more harmful
                    than a spring onion. But none of that will be portrayed
    in the new film. Instead we'll probably
                    see Khrushchev helping Kennedy to search for the
    missiles, which have been sent to Cuba
                    by a typhoon manufactured in an underground cave by
    Saddam Hussein, who is heroically
                    captured by Martin Luther King.
                    Now, supposedly, we live in a new world, without evil
    empires, requiring a new post-Cold
                    War propaganda. We're supposed to believe the West rules
    by friendliness.
                    Up to now this has been the American and British way of
    dealing with the worries about
                    depleted uranium. We would never land anything that was
    dangerous on a place we were
                    trying to protect. There's probably a training film
    warning soldiers that, if they get any on
                    their hands, they ought to give them a jolly good wipe
    with a J-Cloth before handling
                    vegetables. Perhaps they show a film of George Robertson
    proving how safe it is by feeding
                    a depleted-uranium burger to his daughter.
                    But just as before, they knew all along they were
    bluffing. For example, I don't suppose that,
                    when Tony Blair felt something land on his back, he
    thought: "I do hope that's only depleted
                    uranium and not a bloomin' tomato, as those things can
    be an absolute swine to wash out."

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