November 13, 2009

Fort Hood-wink?

Cognitive dissonance is a psychological phenomenon which refers to the discomfort felt at a discrepancy between what you already know or believe, and new information or interpretations.

Here we go again-- another mass murder committed by lone gunmen against 'innocent people.' ('Again,' referring to Columbine, Virginia Tech, Oklahoma federal building, etc.). The media seem to love these incidents, and respond almost as by formula: horrified headlines, then hand-wringing questions of Why? and Why us? Then they bring in the talking heads to explain the gory details of what happened, and more experts to opine on the 'why' questions. And then they dig out (and dare we suggest, fabricate or embellish) stories on the 'heroes.' Yes, America loves its heroes, and there are always heroes to be discovered in every human tragedy-- the teacher who made a brave choice that saved some students; the policeman who ignored danger to 'take down' the attacker; you've read all about them, or watched their stirring bio-sketches on all the major TV channels. You have to feel sorry for these people who were 'just doing their job,' then thrust into the media glare as sacrificial heroes to parade for their 15 minutes before an America reeling in shock and grasping for comfort. That's a key part of the formula you have to comprehend: implant the dominant themes in the public consciousness while it is malleable and highly suggestible from the psychological imbalance generated by trauma.

Unfortunately, the media's well-honed formula does not include any really useful, insightful analysis that would provide long-term benefits for society. Those benefits would include preventing incidents of 'unexpected, murderous rage' from happening again, by healing the disaffected individuals before they explode. Instead, the focus immediately goes to 'increasing security' to prevent the next murderers from completing their rampages. In other words, the solution is always sought in band-aids, never in going to the root of the issue, which would entail too serious introspection on the part of society. The public has been conditioned to be incapable of dealing with nuanced analysis. The emphasis on increased security is no accident; it is a deliberate move by those in authority to grab powers that were previously restrained by the laws of the land.

Take the latest example, the Islamic psychiatrist working at Ft. Hood. At first glance (even second) it appears like a straightforward case of another 'wacko who snapped,' and took out his rage against those close at hand. Indeed, the same news agencies carried another story of a shooting in Florida that followed this classic formula. But-- for the patient news watcher who didn't jump to the pre-programmed conclusions desired by the mainstream media, the picture soon started to resemble the now-familiar news-management that surrounded the 9-11 and other major 'attack' stories. What do I mean? It's the rapid accumulation of 'facts' or speculated facts that just don't make sense. That phase is quickly followed by the mysterious disappearance of certain of those factoids into the black hole of journalism, never to be seen again... at least not in the mainstream media. The first stories from Ft. Hood explicitly mentioned at least 'three gunmen,' one of them shot and presumed dead (at the time), and two others still either at large or being detained. Since Hasan was shot and hospitalized, who are these other two persons? Why were they taken into custody? And what is being done with them? Then we hear that in the midst of a military base, Hasan, with no combat experience, was able to shoot 42 people, killing 12 of them, using one or more hand-guns! We are told that he got off some amazing number of gun-shots before being finally brought down by bullets fired by (what's this?) a civilian police-woman. Later, we learn that Hasan just happened to be a graduate of Virginia Tech-- yes, that V-Tech. The one where the Korean student 'snapped' and killed 32 people on a psychotic rampage in 2007. Hmmm.

Of course, there's more. How about the 'interesting link' that has been reported in the 'MSM' between Hasan and the 911 terror plot? It's a tenuous link at best; but it doesn't even have to be true. It just has to be alleged, and the effect is the same. Similarly, early, repeated allegations that he had applied to avoid deployment to the combat zone are now found not to be substantiated. On his behavior that day, a witness at the convenience store Hasan frequented stated that he appeared completely normal. Then he 'snaps' and fires at innocent by-standers. Folks, that smells of classic post-hypnotic suggestion, or programmed response. It will be very fascinating to see if Hasan somehow survives the wounds and is able to testify... or whether he 'succumbs to his injuries' and we never hear what he might have said.

Even accepting the chaotic mainstream narrative at face value, there are troubling issues. Since the shooter had an Arabic name, the press took the easy route and jumped on his distress at being deployed to Afghanistan or Iraq where US troops are fighting Arab/Muslim 'insurgents.' Now, I don't doubt that Major Hasan was indeed distressed at being sent to assist the army to fight against people who share his culture &/or beliefs. What the media fail to deal with is the big question of whether this anguish hits on a valid irregularity of US foreign affairs. Why, in fact, is the US military in Afghanistan? What is the latest pretext for sending the troops to that far-off country that, by no stretch of imagination, poses any threat to the US? Why are Afghan and now Pakistani civilians being killed regularly by 'NATO' forces in the pursuit of the once-friend-now-enemy Taleban, and the CIA-invented 'Al-Queda?' Is the US presence based on the same kind of fabricated lies that were invoked to justify their invasion of the sovereign nation of Iraq... and to subsequently destroy the country in the interests of subduing the resistance?

These are the kinds of questions that must have echoed in the mind of Hasan while he conducted his duties on a Texas military base-- and that could have driven him over the edge if he was notified of deployment overseas. Of course, these are precisely the kind of questions that the media avoid like the simple truth. As good servants of the ruling elite, the media know better than to dig for real answers. So it was with the Columbine incident. The media obsessed about superficial matters, but few, if any, dared to question a society that revels in violence as entertainment, beamed to us 24/7 by eager, profit-driven media corporations. That could have been... 'er, embarrassing, shall we say. No, the media have become hostile to any implied criticism of the mind- and soul-numbing pop culture they so flagrantly flaunt and promote. Instead, the media have become the shapers of public perception, the ultimate propaganda machine as envisioned by Edward Bernays, the 20th century 'god-father' of modern 'public relations' and advertising. The truth is that we are living in the Matrix that defines our consensus reality. It is not a physical matrix of hardware pods, but a more subtle, virtual matrix of media-generated illusion. And it is just as vicious and subversive and totalitarian as anything imagined by Orwell, Huxley, or the Wachowski brothers. The Ft. Hood incident bears all the hallmarks of another, false-flag diversion; one that comes along just when Obama had to consider whether to send more troops to Afghanistan. Now-- if only Hasan had been of Iranian descent... Oh well, you can’t make every detail perfect when staging a phony disaster for political purposes. Stay tuned; and stay alert!

November 7, 2009

Dogmatic Certitude

How many of you readers have found yourselves among a group of people who 'belong' to some religion or another, and just observed and listened to their chatter? If the people are true believers-- of whatever they call their faith-- they will exhibit certain traits that are held in common by all such cults, whether big or small. That uniformity in behavior, and often structure, can be puzzling to the objective and unfamiliar observer.

Probably the most striking characteristic that true believers manifest is that they are completely comfortable with the certainty that their religion has all the answers.
It doesn't matter what question of existence that you place before them; they unhesitatingly respond with the 'correct and only correct answer.' They alone, of all schools of thought, have the answer; all other responses are, therefore, incorrect or lacking in some way. After one has been thru this kind of situation a few times with different religious groups-- including some that appear completely different-- one can find it almost hilarious. At least it demonstrates some deeper truth about human nature and the perversity of human belief.

To give an example of what I'm talking about, let me state that I was raised as a Roman Catholic, getting the full treatment of catechism classes, the sacraments, priestly sermons, Latin masses, and so on. In those days, the RC Church had all the answers; they were found in the Church literature, or were handed down to the laity from the big guy, the Pope, via his hierarchy of clergy. Somehow (God be praised) I escaped the clutches of this General Motors of the religious world. However, I was still a prisoner of the notion of 'church,' and ended up in the camp of the Seventh Day Adventist organization. Now, here's a group that sets itself as a kind of religious insurgency against the RC Church, and has all the scriptures to back them up. Well, guess what? After almost ten years as a member of this group, I found that they are really much closer in general morphology to their designated adversary than they'd ever want to admit! Yes, it's true. Take away the ceremonial paraphernalia of the Catholics, and there are remarkable similarities in the attitudes of the clergy and of the parishioners... 'er, members.

By the grace of God, again I broke free of the benign shackles of Adventism. This time, tho, I was older and wiser; and twice-burned, I was not about to make the same mistake again. It finally dawned on me that a relationship with the Supreme Creator has nothing to do with huddling around with people who have developed a common dogma concerning the supposed nature of this unknowable Being. Far from it; these organizations inevitably become convenient vessels of the great enemy of souls, Satan, in his relentless and venomous campaign to destroy humanity. That, alas, is a consequence of fallen human nature. So I finally took responsibility for my own religious outlook, my own beliefs, and my own relationship with God. And, curiously, I found the answers and guidelines necessary in the same scriptures as do those big, organized things called churches.

But the phenomenon of 'religious isomorphism' is not restricted to Christianity. No, not at all. Over the years of open-minded pursuit of faith, I have fellowshipped with groups of various religious persuasions, including Moslems, Bahai's, and Hindus. Sure enough; each group is totally convinced that their system has all the answers. Some of them are fairly pushy in explaining their elaborate beliefs on all aspects of human existence-- from the creation of the universe, to the nature and fate of mankind, and everything in between... they all have all the answers. Of course, there's one small problem that the outsider like myself immediately realizes-- these groups often differ vastly in the details of the answers that they supply, yet they are all convinced that they alone are correct!

Well, 'duh!' They just can't all be correct. You can point this unsettling fact out to the adherents of any one of the myriad of sects... and it will have no effect on their thinking. No, they remain resolute in their certitude. God is clearly a Catholic for the Catholics, a Muslim for the Muslims, a million manifestations for the Hindus, Jehovah for the Witnesses, and so it goes. Once someone makes that commitment to a creed, he or she is highly reluctant to exercise any kind of free thinking-- what would their religious peers think? What about all the time and sacrifices they made to obtain this ‘final truth?’ They cannot even seem to exercise any imagination! They have to inhabit a fully determined world, where their group has all the answers, and no further thinking is necessary. Can thinking be so painful? Is life without all the answers so unbearable?

It stuck me that religions must attract the kind of personality that cannot cope with shades of gray, with uncertainty, with any doubts about the nature of existence and the universe. By the way; I hope the perceptive and unbiased reader can notice clearly that in this regard, even atheists who vigorously defend evolution and attack God, are themselves behaving exactly like the religious zealots I have described above! They are just as certain that they have all the answers-- at least the answers they need-- as the annoying religionists. I say to all these insecure personalities, 'What's so hard about admitting that there are many things about the cosmos that we just don't understand, and perhaps will never understand?' So what? We don't have to have 'all the answers' in order to live fulfilling lives, to make scientific progress. Why does every intentional group have to insist that they are 'right' and everyone else 'wrong?'

Well, I'm quite sure that each one of the religious sects can supply me with definitive answers to my rhetorical questions... But curse them all; I don't want their pre-packaged, black-and-white, rote responses! Probably each group has a little truth; but none has a patent on truth. And none is willing to admit it. Sadly, the whole world suffers because of their refusal to admit incomplete truth, and because of such restrictive views of reality. With their monocular outlook on world events, each group is doomed to miss things that other groups could teach them. The whole race is the poorer for this problem of the dogged certitude of human belief.