You Are Being Lied To
Russ Kick, editor
By now, most literate or even semiliterate citizens of the United States and elsewhere know the system doesn't work for them; it works for heads of state and giant multinational corporations. But since the mainstream media tends to rest squarely in the side pocket of these groups, one has to make a full-time job of proving the dominant paradigm wrong. That's where the counterculture Web portal Disinformation (www.disinfo.com) comes in, all ready and set to sell whoever will listen the not-so-surprising revelation that You Are Being Lied To, about a great many things.
Some of the essays in this collection--penned by such intelligentsia celebrities as Noam Chomsky, Jim Hogshire, and Thomas Lyttle--occasionally contradict each other and trumpet the sizable egos of their authors. But they also pose a healthy challenge to the reader's perception of the outside world. At their best, they strike a mighty blow against the ignorance fostered by the dominant culture.
The collection excels with its political-science and media critiques. Chomsky sets the tone for many of the essays with a brief outline of his theories on mainstream media. Subsequent exposés such as Michael Parenti's "The Media and Their Atrocities" follow Chomsky's tactics for deconstructing popularly reported news items--in this case, the Kosovo crisis--almost to the letter. Such formulaic writing made this reader thankful for Sidney Schanberg's "The War Secrets Senator John McCain Hides," an excellent piece of investigative reporting that shows how the federal government, and McCain, have more information about POWs and MIAs than has been shown to their families.
Other sections of this book, such as the one about religion, "Holy Rolling," don't work as well, thanks in part to shorter and less-complete condensations of their topics. In such segments, the collection loses its coherency and, at the awkward moments where the essayists take the time to plug their books (presumably available on the Disinformation site), its legitimacy.
But this should not dissuade readers from taking in the message of hope delivered by Jim Hogshire, who in "Poppycock" transforms the prohibition of the opium poppy into a profound metaphor for foolish, utterly brutal tyranny. (Hogshire speaks of the efficacy of a single shot of morphine and determines that "the power to relieve pain is greater than the power to inflict pain.") Nor does it weaken Howard Zinn's "Columbus and Western Civilization," which brilliantly analyzes why children are taught to see Christopher Columbus' brutal colonization of the Americas as heroic. As difficult as it may be to arrive at the truth, all of these authors believe it can still set us free. And from there we can draw our own conclusions.