by Salina Khan (News & Analysis, Crescent International Vol. 42, No. 2, Jumada' al-Ula', 1434)
Incessant propaganda to sugar-coat US crimes is not only used in the US but also in victim societies where media outlets are recruited and financed to do America’s dirty work.
“Are those drones?!” my 11-year-old daughter asked gasping as a formation of fighter jets flicked on giant screens while the US national anthem played before a girls college basketball game we attended earlier this year.
Whether it is through sporting events, politics, news or even entertainment (like NBC’s reality show “Stars Earn Stripes”), we are constantly being bombarded by pro-war propaganda, paving the way for continued American imperialistic military engagements around the world (of late: Afghanistan, Chad, Iraq, Jordan, Libya, Mali, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan, Turkey, Uganda and Yemen).
Recent news that such psychological indoctrination is getting cranked up a few decibels indicates more of the same is in the pipeline. According to the latest US Army field manual released publicly in January, public relations (which has always been a part of the military) will now be front and center. New “Inform and Influence Activities” have been added to traditional war responsibilities to keep not only troops and Americans aware of what is going on but also to brainwash foreign audiences into supporting US military exploits (like the ever expanding War on Terror) in their own lands by working through fifth columnists.
Already, the military-industrial-complex has co-opted mass media — one of the most powerful tools used to manipulate the masses — throughout Muslim lands. Two glaring examples are Western puppet Qatar’s al-Jazeera (former al-Jazeera Germany correspondent Aktham Suliman, “We at al-Jazeera were always proud to say, ‘We’re financed by Qatar, but the state never interferes with our reporting.’ Now we suddenly find ourselves in a situation in which our reporting is precisely aligned with Qatari foreign policy”), and Pakistan’s Geo News, which was launched with the help of former US Navy officer David Hazinski of Intelligent Media Consultants.
Indeed, more journalists are being prepared to continue this work. USAID Pakistan and National Geographic Society last fall sponsored a “photo camp” for 15 young aspiring journalists from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan, which is, ironically, the target of most US drone strikes in the region. “This USAID-funded photo camp is yet another expression of the United States’ commitment to ensuring that the citizens of Pakistan are well informed about the events and policies that affect their daily lives,” according to Jock Conly, USAID Mission Director.
Muslims as well as all others struggling to free themselves from imperialist rule must protect themselves from manipulation by tuning out its instruments of indoctrination.
As the noble Qur’an says, “O you who have made a firm commitment to Allah, if a fasiq [an iniquitous person] comes to you with information, you should verify it lest you hurt people unwittingly and afterwards be filled with remorse for what you have done” (49:06).
A study of Islamic history reveals how destructive false propaganda can be in society, especially when it comes from the mouth of “Muslims.” Mu‘awiyah, who vehemently opposed the rule of the fourth Khalifah, Imam ‘Ali, spread so many lies about him from the pulpits that when the latter was martyred in a masjid, some people asked, “What was ‘Ali doing in a masjid?” (even today imperialist/Zionist influence over masjids can be heard loud and clear when imams laud US military operations in Libya and pray for Western-backed rebels in Syria).
To win the war of words, Muslims must take the lead in countering the lies with truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. “Ultimately, all media is propaganda, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing as long as the propaganda corresponds with the truth,” says Roshan Muhammad Salih, former head of news in London for Tehran-based PressTV. After PressTV was foced off the air in Europe, America and the Muslim East in February, by having its shared satellite link terminated, Iran announced it would launch three of its own telecom satellites in the next five years.
In America, Imam Abdul Alim Musa of Masjid Al-Islam in Washington, DC is doing his part by heading the Islamic Institute of Counter Zionist American Psychological Warfare and urging people to promote truth, peace and justice by calling others to the way of Allah (swt), performing righteous deeds and cultivating friendship with fellow Americans. “We do not call you to any kind of physical or military confrontation in America,” Imam Musa says. “We only ask that you stand up for justice and fair play.”
In fact, even one person can make a difference in the battle for truth. While Mu‘awiyah succeeded in spreading lies about Imam ‘Ali, when his son Yazid tried to do the same against ‘Ali’s son Husayn (who gave his life fighting against the oppression of Yazid), Zainab, daughter of ‘Ali, single-handedly countered the lies by exposing the truth. This has been passed down and inspired people of conscience in successive generations.
Zainab said to the oppressors, “O you deceivers! … You have done that which could tear down the skies, split open the earth, and make the mountains vanish… Indeed you have perpetrated the ugliest, the most grievous and gruesome deed!”