In the pursuit of national interests abroad, much of white America has been programmed to view policies that aid and abet this process as essential to its survival, regardless of the consequences such policies might have for their (mostly non-white) victims. Such a view, carefully crafted by government propaganda with corporate media complicity, can in large measure be explained and comprehended within the internal logic and assumptions inherent in a cultic creed of white supremacy. Adjunct and mostly fraudulent clichés and phrases such as free trade, human rights and democracy are appended to racist policies to lend an aura of "universal" legitimacy to what in essence amount to little more than universal deception. Notions of supremacy constructed on the quicksand of fantasy and virtual reality, survive only because of the unprecedented, brute military and economic power that prop them. The oft-repeated assertion that America has now become the sole and unchallenged global superpower deliberately omits one crucial caveat: the validity of this claim exclusively applies to white America. The color of unchallenged global power is thus distinctly white and it is in this context that White America is discussed here. Any feeling of "belonging" to that power among non-white Americans will therefore remain emphatically illusory. Real power belongs to those who wield it; delusions of it amount to no more than a palliative for the marginalized.

The creation of virtual reality and its ruthless, unrelenting campaign to substitute the virtual for the real has profound and frightening implications for our daily existence, more than we might be willing to recognize. One correspondent remarked in the immediate run up to the current Gulf war, "I must have just awakened from an Orwellian nightmare, where lies pass as truth and war is now peace". The daily information spins have come to constitute, for a great many consumers of corporate news and commentaries, a critical mass of knowledge that shapes their perspectives on reality. Such manufactured perspectives of reality form the basis for action and therefore must be sustained to enable white America to pursue its reckless and criminal agenda. To thrive, racist and supremacist ideology must keep its core constituency among the white middle class. But others unwittingly get intellectually sucked into the abyss of what James Baldwin termed "willful ignorance". A world view with these origins, as has been made evident time and again, is ill equipped to confront issues systemically and can only defend itself using well-worn mantras. In the context of war, an information onslaught first primes consumers to assimilate recycled clichés, soon to be followed by accepting actions based on them. This has the desired effect of formulating the basis, framework and direction for superficial and frivolous discourses on invented, virtual issues.

The real intended effect is to define a favored point of departure and framework for what will largely be fraudulent discussion and debate. A net effect is to seal and foreclose any meaningful debate or discussion on the political purpose or origins outside prescribed frameworks and limits. A case in point: the term weapons of mass destruction (WMD). The meaning of this term, as has been foisted on the consumer, is made to look self-evident. In the absence of counter clichés (and an equally powerful media to promote them), the term WMD for now has come to assume a unique, if bizarre, meaning in the popular imagination and vocabulary: weapons exclusively owned by Iraq. So a gullible public becomes accessory to the propagation of a mix of half-truths and outright lies. Once taken in by the public, a determined corporate media onslaught ferociously disseminates the cliché and in its wake, the disinformation campaign is quickly followed by "opinion polls", whose outcome would never really be in doubt.

The innocuous blanket term "discrimination" has become a semantic substitute for white racism, in fact an attempt at adulterating and effectively dissipating racism's essence and all its implications. Such dilution is achieved by globalizing the term to enlist many other groups - gays and lesbians, women and the elderly, the sick and drug addicts, immigrants and children etc., so that the monstrous reality of white-on-black racism becomes cheerfully buried or obscured, providing a convenient escape from any serious engagement between culprit and victim. White racism against African-Americans is a phenomenon that is unambiguous and unique, a universally understood experience that has characterized and defined the asymmetric and repressive relationship between two major protagonists of the American narrative. Its histories and stories, from its crude and horrific beginnings of slavery, to the more subtle modern manifestations of white racism are peculiar to the African American experience. To invent overlaps between groups of such disparity is to bury history and weaken the case against indicting a cruel, inhuman and yet still extant, ideology.

The ploy, then, of attenuating this unique history is to melt victims of white racism with other aggrieved groups, often engendering unlikely alliances between groups with little to nothing in common. The creation of an enlarged minority, which had hitherto not existed, facilitates legislations that efficiently and effectively prepare the ground for easy and convenient denials on the uniqueness of the African-American experience and its attendant past and present traumas. What in effect is a white cultural phenomenon of reinforcement of lies, self-appeasement and denial, becomes institutionalized and utilized as strategy for orchestrating public thought and opinion. It is the popularizing of these ploys, with the complicity of the corporate media, the educational system and the unwitting collusion of the so-called black conservatives, which robs discussions on affirmative action and reparations of any serious meaning.

So one can go on as to how the US government has always shifted from one layer of lies to the next, in fact having an unchallenged monopoly on defining terms and boundaries of discourse. Witness the unlikely and indeed unproven link between the "war on terror" with Iraq. The implications for this are obvious - "ours" (i.e. the white American) is the only credible version of reality, regardless of what the rest of mankind thinks. What lends manufactured realities their persistence is the enormous power that creates and propagates them. The daunting challenge in countering them is to construct a critical mass of intellectual resources that educate black and minority consumers of alternative visions of reality, lest they remain in permanent intellectual enslavement, rendering them marginal, if ineffective, in a participatory democracy.

To live in a virtual world may seem frivolous and perfectly harmless, if those living within it were to be left to their own devices. Its necessary lies become institutionalized, however, into truths and paradigms. These institutions have provided white racism with a worldview that historically translated into gruesome results for those it has targeted, chief among them Native Americans and African Americans. No matter that this world of fantasy was replete with contradictions and perverted logic. You could be a perfectly pious Christian while owning human beings and raking in profits in the commerce of human cargo. Indeed, you sought, and found Biblical justification for doing so, just as your apartheid buddies were later to do in South Africa. Your white church assured you that there was a niche in heaven set aside for believing slavers. It was also possible to craft a secular constitution that declared the equality of all human beings amidst practices that ran completely counter to these proclaimed ideals. It would require centuries for the untenable lie to finally dissipate. In your capitulation, you seek escape by claiming that you the master are also the liberator. You have thus assigned yourself a triple role of devil, creator and unmaker. For it is power that has enabled you to assume clearly irreconcilable positions and power makes your perverted logic seem quite natural to you.

It may appear that we are laboring over the obvious. Indeed we are. In doing so, we employ a necessary reminder of the formidable nature of the adversary that the modern non-white world is up against. The power of White supremacy has demonstrated time and again its capacity to create and abet tyranny abroad when it suited its needs. When their usefulness expired, it made perfect sense to demonize tyrants and proclaim the urgency of saving the world from their horrors. According to racist logic, lies can be transformed into truths abroad by sheer military force or economic strangulation or both. At home, a public gullible to the propaganda onslaught is all that would be required. After all, it is their interest that the Administration seeks to defend. To accomplish this is no mean task, and must require that a concerted campaign of disinformation precede the evil deeds that will follow. Lies would normally resist their transformation into truths by any rational means. So long as a constituency of like-minded racists can be molded and maintained - and that has rarely been a problem - racist policies will continue to thrive and war would continue to be rationalized as a legitimate tool of American foreign policy.

Yet another term of convenience that successive U.S. administrations have used ad nauseum, as a propaganda tool is "the international community". The number and type of countries that belong to this fictitious club fluctuates wildly. This imaginary community can comprise three or so countries as in the case of the U.N. General Assembly's rejection of American sanctions against Cuba a few years ago. At that time, the U.S. had only the support of Israel and Uzbekistan. That the overwhelming numbers of citizens of the world oppose the current military campaign against Iraq, has not dissuaded the U.S. from abandoning the hypocrisy of resorting to the "international community" in a desperate search for justification of its criminal acts. Instead, a handful of nations, have been bribed, coerced or threatened into joining what in effect has come to be known as a coalition of the wanting. Not surprisingly then, even the British public was split down the middle as to who constituted a greater threat to world peace, George Bush or Saddam Hussein. This is no trivial matter considering that Britain passed on the imperial baton to the United States.

It should be abundantly clear then, that the task of creating alternative epistemologies and information on a global level could be daunting. What have become globalized are in fact White America's interests, culture and finance and further impoverishment of the poor. In the information age, the right to know should indeed be acknowledged as an inalienable human right. Self-knowledge by way of language is unique to our species. To monopolize information and distort it to serve White America is to deny humanity of a fundamental right and is tantamount to information and intellectual terrorism. By extension, governments that practice and/or endorse outright deception and distortion of information for self-serving purposes and robbing human beings of their basic right to know must be held to account in the court of civilized opinion.

To deprive generations of Americans of credible information and worldview may seem cozy, even necessary for those on the side of White power and the obvious beneficiaries of it. Their ignorance and its attendant bliss provide a perfect charade for the continuation of domination and hegemony that is now being consolidated globally. It also supplies a facile, clean exit out of the burden of guilt of the unprecedented crimes committed against non-White victims. Not until the coming of the likes of Elijah Muhammad, Malcolm X and others did African American self-consciousness assume a powerful enough posture to pose a serious challenge to White lies masquerading as impeccable sources of knowledge and wisdom ostensibly designed to save both racist and victim from themselves. These great African Americans quickly saw through the transparency of the Great White Lie and the urgency of alerting their fellow African Americans to the dangers that it posed for their struggle for self-assertion. That struggle is far from over and faces new threats from yet fresher waves of fraudulent White clichés that threaten to frustrate and blunt its progress.

It is one thing to commit genocide by physical violence, and White America is not without its share of guilt on this question and one that still awaits history's indictment. But once dead, the victims are buried, monuments to their horrors constructed and the task in their wake and aftermath remains to ensure the criminals are brought to justice and the pressure of civilized outrage guarantee that it is not repeated. To commit intellectual genocide is however, quite another matter. It is to commit the gruesome act of repetitive, cyclical killing of the intellectual faculties of an individual, his single greatest resource, through the entire course of his or her life. This is tantamount to creating generations of uncritical, dysfunctional humans that are easily manipulated by greedy information mongers and harbingers of criminal racist policies. Such a strategy must be seen for what it is and a war on informational terror must be undertaken to free peoples of their greatest adversary, manufactured ignorance. Without freedom from orchestrated ignorance, democracy will be no more than one more White lie. Real democracy is not virtual democracy and, it must be asserted, is not a domain of the ignorant.

The prompt recourse to censorship by the U.S government and the white corporate media was evident when Al Jazeera came to the forefront of reporting issues related to Al-Qaeda. Blatant censorship was being rationalized under the guise of "national security". The real and unstated reason, was that a global information monopoly held by White America was finally being challenged by some non-White news organization that had no business telling its own story that threatened to puncture White America's disinformation structures, its hitherto unchallenged and exclusive domain. There are lessons to be learnt from this experience for Black America's struggle for social and informational justice. For African Americans and other ethnic minorities have too often been victims of information terrorism as a preamble to other forms of terrorism.

Were we to have global African American non-white, independent newsgathering and disseminating organizations with equivalent reach to those of White America, we would have the benefit of alternative sources of information. The public would be spared the wisdom of a clique of White "experts" and "think tanks" on all issues imaginable. Perspectives offered by alternative non-White sources of information would serve as a much needed counter to the current monopolies that are party to promoting the virtual realities that with self-censorship measures are designed to promote subliminal images of White supremacy across the globe.

Dr. Kweli Nzito is an Assistant Professor and Scientist at the University of Miami.

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Issue Number 35
March 27, 2003

Other commentaries in this issue:

Cover Story
Onward Embedded Soldiers - The corporate media’s deputized war coverage

The Issues
Baraka: "Condoleezza’s a Skeezza"... Affirmative action hangs in the balance... The inevitable clash with Iran

Guest Commentator
Are Black People Pulling Their Anti-War Weight by Donna J. Warren

Guest POET
Operation Putrid Smell By Rodney D. Coates, Ph.D.



Commentaries in Issue 34 March 20, 2003:

Cover Story
They have reached too far
Bush’s road leads to ruin - for himself and his Pirates

3 Guest Commentators
3 Faces of Shock, Awe and Death
1 - Jimmy Mack, When Are You Comin' Back? - The real price of war - By Jorge Mariscal
2 - Colin Powell: A hawk with smooth talons - By Paul Rockwell
3 - Nos Morituri Te Salutamus: Salute of Iraqi Citizens to the Coalition of the Willing - Submitted by Roldan Tomasz Suárez

The Issues
Cynthia McKinney on patriotism... Conyers studying impeachment... Marching for action, affirmatively

Frederick Douglass denounces Bush... Dream Black ticket for '04... Phony, funny Black "fronts"... BC a hit in UK, Greece

You can read any past issue of The Black Commentator in its entirety by going to the Past Issues page.