So tell me. Who is the prime minister of Britain? What did Koizumi just do to his cabinet? Do you even know what country he’s from? What was the reelected chancellor of Germany’s stance in his recent political campaign? What resolution did the U.N. Security Council pass in late September? Which country stopped the shipment of five million dollars of uranium 155 miles from Iraqi borders? Can you even point out the location of Baghdad on a world map? Where is Arafat’s headquarters located? Do you even know who Arafat is? What 39-year old Asian businessman took control of North Korea’s recently opened “special economic zone?” Why is Milosevic being tried at The Hague? Do you know what these things, these people, and these events, have to do with the United States? More specifically, do you know how they might affect you?
It is no surprise that many Americans cannot answer these questions. In general, most of us aren’t interested in what happens in countries on the other side of the globe. We feel apathetic even to domestic events occurring in states other than our own. But that is the problem – the American public does not recognize the most basic knowledge about the current events of the world due to lack of interest. The average adult perhaps only realizes that bin Laden and al Qaeda are hiding somewhere inside or outside Afghanistan and that Saddam Hussein may have a stockpile of weapons of mass destruction hidden somewhere in Iraq. But this is about as far as their familiarity with foreign affairs extends – they may not even be able to point out Baghdad on a map or what territory Desert Storm covered. They probably cannot even identify the events that occurred at Tora Bora...
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...lling our gigantic walk-in closets with more dresses from Gucci than there are days in a year than we are with North Korea’s militarization of its economy. We want to watch action movies all day long, eat Ben and Jerry’s ice cream right out of the half-gallon bucket, drive fancy BMW sports cars, booze up on Smirnoff Ice, shoot up more heroin, pay thousands for prostitutes, gamble fortunes away at the MGM Grand in Vegas, and enjoy all the pleasures of life. We care more for that than anything else in the world.
And our government responds to that.
The media bows to our wishes.
And we grow ever more apathetic, ignoring the world around us.
Epstein, Edward J. News From Nowhere: Television and the News, Vintage, New York NY. 1973, pp. 16; Pearson, David. “The Media and Government Deception.” Propaganda Review. Spring 1989, pp. 6-11.
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