Two years ago I was a neocon. I supported Bush’s war on Iraq and I called everyone who didn’t a liberal Kool-aid drinker. I voted for Bush in 2000 and I listened to Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and just about any right-winger on the radio that I could get a four-word talking point from to use against liberals. I would say things such as “liberals won’t defend America,” “shut up and sing,” “freedom is on the march,” and “you’re a great American.” I supported the war at first because I bought into the lies and propaganda.
I no longer do. I’m a recovering neocon.
The fact is, the neocon movement is a lot like a cult. I don’t remember how I got so involved and the details are hazy on how I got out. I just woke up one day and said “WTF!” and then ran outside to rip the “bring it on” sticker off of my car bumper. What pulled me in to the neocon cult however was a combination of American nationalism and group mentality. It was a time when questioning the government’s response to Iraq divided you between being with your country and government at a time of need, or against them. I wanted to be with them.
So this cult took me in and I watched Fox News, I bought Factor Gear and I was brainwashed into common reflexes for liberals and dissenters. When I heard dissent in the media over Iraq I’d call it liberal bias. If someone presented me any website that mentioned a “war for oil” or the phrase “illegal war” I would blow the site off as conspiracy hogwash. When someone would talk ill of the President and his march to war, I would call them a liberal and anti-American. When someone would say that Saddam was not a threat after I was done calling them part of the liberal “hate America” crowd, I would launch into a diatribe that Saddam was Hitler-like and hell bent on world domination. If someone persisted I would take out my wild card:
“Saddam believes he’s the reincarnation of King Nebuchadnezzar, and he’s harboring Al Queda!”
I couldn’t believe these liberals. I was outraged. The audacity of them to question our President during a time of war! I listened to similar sentiments on right wing radio while driving to work to reinforce my belief.
Little did I know at the time, but I was an important part of the neocon movement. I was but a tiny wheel in the machine of neoconservatism, but the survival of the neocon agenda depends on millions of us tiny wheels, or it cannot go anywhere. Most of all the neocon agenda depends on a much bigger wheel, the media. For the neocon machine to roll, the big wheel of the media must pull the millions of tiny wheels without the tiny wheels knowing they are being pulled.
This is a difficult trick that requires the media to be an active participant in government deception. To imply that they do so knowingly would be too conspiratorial, and it would be too grand an operation to be plausible. In truth, the mainstream media doesn’t believe they are participating in lies.
During the build-up to the war they were being pulled without knowing it, by the engine of the U. S. government. This swarm of nationalism begat a pro-American media, a complacent media, a lapdog media and a corporate media that to this day will not inform the American public.
When the Bush Administration was found to be creating fake news propaganda for public consumption the media did not inform the public. When the Bush administration marched towards pre-emptive war with Iraq the media was a lapdog instead of a watchdog. When the Bush administration described the assault on the Iraqi public as Shock and Awe, the media used that phrase to scroll alongside the words “War on Terror” without questioning if the assault on Iraq had anything to do with terrorism. When the Bush Administration tore into the U. S. Constitution with the Patriot Act, causing the illegal imprisonment of American citizens while denying them counsel, the media acted more like a timid cocker spaniel than an aggressive Doberman pincher, and failed to defend a sacred American document. When the UK’s Downing Street memo implicated the Bush Administration as being hell bent on a pre-emptive invasion on Iraq before even going to the UN, the American media was silent and once again failed to inform the public.
But the tiny wheels still want to call the media liberal. The tiny wheels still want to say the media isn’t reporting the good things happening in Iraq. Most of all the tiny wheels do not know about the big wheel that’s pulling them. But now I do. That’s why I am an ex-neocon and I am in recovery. It’s more clear to me now than ever that the most American thing one can do is speak out against the actions of their country because it means you love your country.
And in the end it doesn’t matter if we are liberals or conservatives because all that matters is that we are on the side of the U.S. Constitution and of international law. Both of which have been thrown into the toilet by this administration. At least the Qur’an has company.
May 26, 2005
Drew O’Neill [send him mail] graduated from Cal State Northridge and works at an internet marketing company in San Diego, California