No God Higher Than Truth – by Richard Neville
The final months of 2008 will be remembered as a time when the multiple threats facing the planet interlocked like a thousand Roman legions and stormed the bastions of capitalism. First we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin – but who will take responsibility? This morning I lay on the south end of Bondi Beach admiring the taut bronzed Gods and Goddesses hurling themselves into the ocean, oblivious to lifeguard warnings of “dangerous currents”, as the Australian currency sank. Politicians tear out their hair and “Our economy is sound. The fundamentals are in place” says George W. with his customary shifty body language. Few are convinced, many are fearful. America keeps printing money, un-backed by gold. The Green Left is confused. “We always said casino capitalism would crash, but now we don’t have a plan”. That’s not entirely true. It’s just that we can’t remember the plan.
The towers of Babel are blasting away at our brains. Unbidden, Fox News arrives on my screen in a cascade of You Tube links. Suddenly I am watching a “debate”. The moderator displays a cover of Newsweek depicting a close-up image of Sara Palin and suggests it’s a dirty trick. A Republican panelist is beside herself with rage, likening the image to a crime against humanity. The problem? Palin’s photo is un-retouched!
Our age is defined by reality TV, where reality is out of bounds. Following its August air strikes on a village in Afghanistan, the US military dismissed reports from Afghan lawmakers and the UN that 90 civilians had been killed (including 60 children). Its own “investigation”, put the civilian death toll at five. When images of the dead started to surface, this estimate was revised to “30 Afghan civilians”. Asked to account for this discrepancy, Pentagon spinner Bryan Whitman replied, “Sometimes the truth can change”. The elasticity of truth is a long held military doctrine. It has seeped into all levels of leadership – business, politics, religion. While George Bush was assuring the world that “The United States does not torture”, he was secretly providing the CIA with “legal” authority to torture.
This week the perversion of truth by the State was vividly brought home to viewers of a new TV series, The First Australians, which reveals new and astonishing information about the treatment of aborigines by the British colonizers. While some were kind and respectful, the overall attitude was brutal. We stole their land, massacred objectors and pickled their heads. Then we hid it from history. Up until The First Australians hit our screens, hardly any non-aboriginal citizen would have been aware of the serial crimes committed in our name. The truth doesn’t change. It gets buried for a while, even mutilated, until it emerges into the sun in all its glory, sweeping away the bullshit. Thank you, to the makers of the First Australians.