The International Struggle Against the Fake News of the U.S. Empire: Remarks at the National Writers Union
The Mueller Report’s conclusion cannot reverse the damage that has been done to left journalism and activism by the fake news witch hunt.
“Social media and Silicon Valley monopolies changed their algorithms to suppress any content that challenged the many myths of American exceptionalism.”
The following remarks were given at the National Writer’s Union April 9thevent “What’s Going on in Venezuela.”
Fake news is the creature of a desperate ruling class that no longer has any tolerance for truth. Ever since Trump was used as a “Pied Piper” to aid Hillary Clinton’s failed presidential campaign effort, the Democratic Party and its allies in the corporate media and U.S. intelligence apparatus have lamented the dangers of “fake news” in an effort rid the internet of any deviations from their official narrative. The story goes that Russia helped Trump win the White House by giving WikiLeaks incriminating DNC emails which irreparably harmed the Clinton campaign. And just as WikiLeaks and Russia have been criminalized by lies that implicate them in colluding to tell the truth, we writers and journalists on the left have been criminalized as “dupes” of Russia. The Mueller Report’s conclusion that the Trump-Russia story was a farce from the beginning cannot reverse the damage that has been done to left journalism and activism by the fake news witch hunt.
“So-called ‘Alt-right forces’ were equated with so-called ‘Alt-left forces’—a euphemism for left of the Democratic Party.”
Left journalists and activists were first targeted by a shady online organization called “PropOrNot,” which was covered by the CIA and Jeff Bezos’ Washington Postshortly after the November 2016 election. This anonymous website labeled Black Agenda Report and other left websites as agents of the Kremlin. The U.S. intelligence apparatus released report after report that blamed Russia Today (RT) and Russian media generally for creating divisions in the U.S., mainly through their coverage of Black Lives Matter and Occupy Wall Street protests. So-called “Alt-right forces” were equated with so-called “Alt-left forces”—a euphemism for left of the Democratic Party. RT, Sputnik, and others were then forced to register as agents of a foreign government. Social media and Silicon Valley monopolies changed their algorithms to suppress any content that challenged the many myths of American exceptionalism. The NATO-owned Atlantic Council and neocon-sponsored NewsGuard corporation got in on the mix and is working to ensure that the war on “fake news” eventually reaches every single channel of electronic communication possible, including the software of the computers that we purchase.
Black Agenda Report has felt the consequences of the U.S. Empire’s so-called war on “fake news.” So have outlets that express solidarity with Venezuela such as Telesur and Venezuelanalysis.Each have repeatedly seen their Facebook and social media accounts removed. Over 2,000 social media accounts sympathetic to Venezuela’s Bolivarian government were removed in February. Our struggle against “fake news” is thus international in scope and fundamentally different than the one being waged by our enemies in the ruling elite.
“Over 2,000 social media accounts sympathetic to Venezuela’s Bolivarian government were removed in February.”
This struggle must answer the calls to action being sounded by the most urgent questions of our period. The U.S. establishment has identified the struggle to defend the self-determination of peoples and nations around the world as the most dangerous question of all. Venezuela has been subject to ruthless bipartisan lies to vilify the Bolivarian project. Washington and its corporate media servants have portrayed the Venezuelan people as starved subjects of a ruthless Third World dictator who wields absolute power over them. We have heard this before. When Republican Senator Marco Rubio jovially posted on Twitter an image of the maimed corpse of Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi, he revealed the main objective of the U.S. for Venezuela: to overthrow its democratically-elected government in the same manner as Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, and countless other nations which have been subject to U.S. imperial terrorism. When we discuss Venezuela, our first call to action is to unearth the lies that give ideological cover to the war mongers in the White House and corporate media.
Thanks to the Black Alliance for Peace, the U.S. Peace Council, and journalistic outlets such as the Grayzone Project, many of the lies being disseminated about Venezuela have been debunked through direct acts of solidarity with the people of Venezuela. We must now deal with the source of the lies. My co-authored book American Exceptionalism and American Innocence, attempts to do this in written word. Roberto Sirvent and I posit that the ideology of American exceptionalism, or the notion that the U.S. is a force for good in the world, has rendered the American empire innocent or even non-existent in the eyes of many “Americans.” This has been a centuries long process characterized by class warfare between the oligarchs in control of the United States and the poor and oppressed terrorized by the American imperial project. The ideology of American exceptionalism subsumes this struggle under the banner of a “chosen,” civilized (white), and bipartisan national project which possesses no shame in rewriting history in its image.
“The ideology of American exceptionalism has rendered the American empire innocent or even non-existent in the eyes of many ‘Americans.’”
American exceptionalism has us believe not only that Venezuela is a corrupt dictatorship in need of U.S. imperial medicine but also that the U.S. saved the world in World War II rather than kill hundreds of thousands in Dresden and lay nuclear waste to two Japanese cities as acts of intimidation toward the Soviet Union. It has us believe that the dozens upon dozens of nations that the U.S. has overthrown since the end of World War II have been better off for it. In the book, we compare the atrocious human rights record of Saudi Arabia with the stellar record of Cuba to demonstrate that the U.S. is truly exceptional in propping up terrorist regimes and waging war against those nations that dare to fight for the needs of the people rather than the thirst for profit.
The United States’ racist and capitalist empire is desperately trying to preserve American exceptionalism as a disciplinary ideology. In 2016, Donald Trump barked that he wanted to “Make America Great” while Democratic Party elites such as Hillary Clinton shrieked that “America” was already great. Both parties have praised the 30 million dollars-plus spent per hour on the U.S. military as an example of the ‘humanitarian” presence that the U.S. possesses around the word. The millions of Black American lives that have been destroyed by mass incarceration or the half of the U.S. population living on less than $30,000 per year are mere afterthoughts. Such deplorable conditions remind us that the U.S. was built on the most ruthless forms of hypocrisy. We should continue to write about this hypocrisy and fight it head on. Our duty to the people of Venezuela and indeed the people of the world is being restrained by the pervasiveness of fake news in the form of American exceptionalism. Luckily, the resolve and resistance of the Venezuelan people serves as a guide toward developing our own capacity to take down the empire from within its headquarters.
Danny Haiphong is an activist and journalist in the New York City area. He and Roberto Sirvent are co-authors of the forthcoming book entitled American Exceptionalism and American Innocence: A People’s History of Fake News- From the Revolutionary War to the War on Terror (Skyhorse Publishing, Release Date: April 2nd, 2019 ).He can be reached at [email protected]
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