“Knowledge is power.“
“All the news that’s fit to print.“
New York Times motto
In his 1985 television series The Day the Universe Changed, James Burke presents 10 stories of how scientific knowledge and culture combined to change our world.
Each begins with an advancement that begins to redefine our worldview-our “universe”-and then through a chain of events leads to a major innovation, like modern medicine, the production assembly line or evolutionary theory.
If Burke were writing his series today, he would doubtless devote at least one chapter to the Internet. Not since television, has the synthesis of technological innovation and culture so thoroughly redefined reality for so many people.
The Internet was actually around when Burke was making his series–It’s genesis can be traced as far back as 1957 when the U.S. government created the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) within the Department of Defence in response to Sputnik-but our universe didn’t start to change until 1990.
That was the year CERN, the Geneva-based European Centre for Nuclear Research, began to prototype the new WorldWideWeb, which was then launched three years later. Today, an estimated 150 million people around the world log-on every day to create an autonomous electronic community.
In its democratizing power, the Internet is as subversive of authority as movable type was in the mid-15th century. As Burke showed, the spread of printing allowed the common people not only to read and think for themselves, but also to write and disseminate their own ideas. The threat to the gatekeepers of political and moral dogmata was obvious.
As books and ideas began to proliferate, temporal and ecclesiastical powers moved to suppress ideas that challenged their authority. For example, among the “dangerous literature” on the Roman Inquisition’s 1559 Index of Forbidden Books were unauthorized Bibles, vernacular Bibles, unauthorized New Testaments, and anything written by Martin Luther.
The censors ultimately lost, of course, but the war against reason and free expression will always find futile ground among religious and political zealots who want to ban “dangerous” books from schools and libraries. From 1990 to 1992, the 50 most challenged books included The Catcher in the Rye, The Color Purple and Tom Sawyer.
Those who advocate censorship would have us believe it’s for our own good, because dangerous writing is immoral or politically incorrect. In truth, censorship is selfish and cowardly. Among the most cowardly and selfish true believers are Christian and Jewish zionists.
Until the web put the Internet into the hands of the masses, mainstream media toed a broadly unchallenged pro-Israeli line. Arab and Muslim voices were rare and insufficiently organized to pose a credible threat. Thus, Israeli spokesmen, including those in the U.S. media and government, controlled what kind of news the public received-“All the news that’s fit to skew,” you might say.
Take the Oslo Accords. When Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat signed the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government on Sept. 13, 1993, it was hailed as the beginning of a long-sought after peace agreement. As expected, news coverage played up the image of Israeli generosity, and put the onus on the Arafat to make concessions.
During this time of Palestinian/Israeli “amity,” nobody made an issue of the fact that Israel had acknowledged more than once that it must withdraw from all Occupied Territories, per mandatory United Nations Security Council Resolution 242.
Moreover, from September 1993 to July 2000, the number of illegal colonies in the Occupied Territories more than doubled, as did the population of colonists (100,000 to 220,000)–so much for Israeli honesty and fair bargaining.
Israeli duplicity hit a wall at Camp David in 2000 when Arafat, despite intense pressure, refused to sign a dishonourable agreement. Official propaganda contends that he rejected an offer of 90 percent of the Occupied Territories, and is therefore uniquely responsible for the failure of the talks.
Thanks to the web, anyone who wants to refute this lie can do so with a few clicks of a mouse. One site, complete with maps (www.stanford.edu/~ilanah/The%20Oslo.htm), shows Arafat was expected to agree to a total of five Bantustan-like enclaves, and cede to Israel effective control over all water, roads, borders and security, as well as East Jerusalem. Rejection was Arafat’s only option.
The end of this charade came in February 2001 when Ariel Sharon became Israel’s prime minister and showed the true face of zionist policy. Not coincidentally, Bush dutifully uses the official lie to demonize Arafat and deny him a place in the current negotiations.
Propaganda is only effective in a closed environment, but because of the web, that is no longer true. For example, Israel claims it never committed a massacre in April 2002 in Jenin, but at www.nauseamanifesto.com/jenin, anyone can see the photos of the death and destruction.
The new web-based universe has rendered U.S./zionist “truth” obsolete, but its gatekeepers will not accept obsolescence graciously. In 1999, officials of the U. S. Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation intimidated an independent filmmaker and his website provider into removing a controversial film from the Internet. The American Civil Liberties Union is fighting the government’s action based on an Appeal Court ruling that the Internet is entitled to full First Amendment protection.
ACLU lawyer J.C. Salyer said: “The government cannot directly order the censorship of a controversial website, nor can it use intimidation to suppress controversial speech on a website, as was done in this case” (emphasis added).
Yet that is precisely what the Pentagon’s planned Total Information Awareness program could allow the state to do. Ostensibly an anti-terror surveillance system, its potential for abuse is enormous. Renaming it “Terrorism Information Awareness” for cosmetic reasons doesn’t change a thing.
In a perverse irony, the TIA is being developed by the same agency that started the Internet. The good news is that this Holy Office of intimidation can be stopped.
Mr. Greg Felton is a Canadian writer on the Middle East, and the author of an upcoming book on Osama bin Laden. His “Mind over Media” column appears every month in the Greater Vancouver Arabic/English newspaper al Shorouq. He can be reached at