Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Behind the Image Curtain : by Abu Khaleel

Iraqi Letters: "Behind the Image Curtain" by Abu Khaleel.

For decades, people were so fond of Churchill's "Iron Curtain" description of the Soviet Union and its allies. There was a great deal of truth in that description. In the Soviet Union, as in all totalitarian systems, iron curtains were possible. When that Union collapsed, the curtain was hurriedly demolished.

In America, and in other democracies, iron curtains are not possible. Because of the vision and decency of those who originally designed the political system in America (perhaps even because of the nature of America itself) darkness and iron curtains are simply not possible. They are incompatible with the very concept of the system.

However, in America there is another curtain that is more difficult to demolish... because it is not 'solid'.

Imagine a huge room full of light and noise, called the United States of America.
People in that room are free to come and go as they please. They are free to talk, to listen, to say yes or no. But they are not totally free to know.

The room is surrounded by huge, white velvet curtains. On those curtains are projected images of what goes on in America and in the rest of the world; a lively, noisy, entertaining world of images.

There are numerous screens projecting on those curtains. The numerous larger ones are all owned by only a few big corporations, and consequently follow the bidding of a handful of individuals. These screens project images of the real world and of reality that does not always reflect that reality truthfully. The images pass through a number of selective filters.

There are many other, smaller screens, but few people bother to watch them. They strain the eye, are usually full of unpleasant images and are generally thought to be less reliable.

There also numerous holes in those curtains. Anybody in America is absolutely free to have a peek at the real world through those holes. But not more than 10% of adult Americans actually do: scholars, academics, the inquisitive and the discontented. Some of those choose to or are paid to retain the filters they are accustomed to when having a look. For the bulk of the population, those holes are not even visible from the living room couch.

People are also free to come and go across those curtains. Few people bother. Some of those who do, take little projections of the screens they are used to with them.

Those who venture out without their little screens or filters and have a good look at the real world, come back in disgust and start yelling like madmen... but no one listens to madmen in that bustling room. They, as well as the people on the other side of that image curtain... remain unheard.

I sometimes find myself looking at some of the misery caused by American policies in the world and wondering: are Americans so evil to be so insensitive to the harm their country has done and is doing to innocent people? The answer is a definite no!

They simply cannot see the real world from behind that image curtain.

Modern day politicians in America have naturally taken to that wonderful system. Politics in America has now become mostly not about substance and view... but about 'image'. This is probably why actors have been doing so well in politics.

The internet, an American invention, is bringing some change. It has introduced a few more holes in that curtain. But we have a long way to go. Most are still too small for people sitting on those couches. We will have to wait for those velvet curtains to have enough holes in them, to become more like lace curtains... for the other side to be seen from the couch.

It is only then that America and the rest of the world will live in the same world... hopefully in peace.

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