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