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Published in the 1-15 Aug 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

McMedia – hyping of minds

By Shakeel Syed

My youngest daughter at the age of two could not recognize her alphabets but would cheerfully alert us with an exciting shout when we drive pass McDonalds. My amazement for her skills continued, until I read a piece by Thomas Friedman[1] who quoted "Martin Indyk, the Ambassador to Israel, who was called upon to open the first McDonald's in Jerusalem. McDonald's gave him a colorful baseball hat to wear, with the golden arches on it, so he would be properly attired as he ate the ceremonial first Big Mac in Jerusalem -- with Israel Television filming every bite for the evening news. At that moment, an Israeli teen-ager walked up to him, carrying his own McDonald's hat, which he handed to Ambassador Indyk with a pen and asked: "Are you the Ambassador? Can I have your autograph?" Somewhat sheepishly, Ambassador Indyk replied: "Sure. I've never been asked for my autograph before." 

As the Ambassador prepared to sign his name, the Israeli teen-ager said to him, "Wow, what's it like to be the ambassador from McDonald's, going around the world opening McDonald's restaurants everywhere?" 

Ambassador Indyk looked at the Israeli youth and said, "No, no. I'm the American Ambassador -- not the ambassador from McDonald's!" Ambassador Indyk described what happened next: "I said to him, 'Does this mean you don't want my autograph?' And the kid said, 'No, I don't want your autograph,' and he took his hat back and walked away." 

McDonaldization has gone above and beyond McDonalds. It has now become a refined art that attempts to simply deceive and con people in almost every facet of life, especially media. Media creates an environment for their patron’s to achieve their pervert desires and goals, at any expense. If we judge the last three years, then the award of Public Relations will undoubtedly merit for the highest of our country’s Public Servants and to one of his most loyal slaves from the plantation state of Georgia, also known as CNN. 

A look at CNN's recent "top-news" section tells us of yet another attempt to McDonaldize the public. 

  • May 25[2] – Al Qaeda has more than 18,000 potential terrorists, and its ranks are growing because of the conflict in Iraq … (Who got the contract for this interesting census?)

  • May 26[3] - Intelligence from multiple sources indicates that al Qaeda intends to attack the United States in the coming months, according to U.S. officials. U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft and FBI Director Robert Mueller … Beyond this intelligence, al Qaeda's own public statements suggest that it's almost ready to attack the United States. Just after New Year's, al Qaeda announced openly that preparations for an attack on the United States were 70 percent complete … (Where is our ‘reformed & integrated’ intelligence community. Perhaps they will wake up after the alleged al Qaeda reaches 100% & to write Patriot-III)

  • May 28[4] - The indictment, returned in April, accuses Abu Hamza of raising money for and steering volunteers toward al Qaeda and Afghanistan's Taliban militia, the country's onetime rulers, from October 1999 to early 2000. (Where have the CIA, DOJ, DHS, MI5 been since 1999-2000?)

  • May 29, 30 – Memorial Day Weekend of mourning … (CNN knows better when not to stoke!)

  • May 31[5] - A residential complex in Khobar where hostages -- perhaps about 50 -- have been held by gunmen since Saturday … Saudi officials said the attackers were on a list of wanted militants, many of whom had been linked to al Qaeda … (Who owned the attackers list and for how long? The US trained (Vinnell Corp & others) Saudi military/intelligence could not even catch the attackers)

  • June 1[6] - Jose Padilla (a Muslim convert of Hispanic origins) -- the American citizen held in a U.S. military prison without charges since his arrest two years ago -- admitted to training at al Qaeda camps and to having dealings with al Qaeda members, according to documents declassified by the U.S. government Tuesday (Refer Chaplain James Yee[7] [a Muslim convert of Chinese descent] and Brandon Mayfield[8] [a Muslim convert of Euro-American descent]. Is this a pure coincidence or Patriot Acts in action)

  • June 2[9] - Two propane-delivery trucks were found Wednesday after being stolen from a gas company over the weekend, a theft that raised fears of what could happen if terrorists got hold of the explosive fuel ... (Remember the last time when CNN educated us about Gas trucks & Anthrax … the Nation is yet to know who stole the trucks then and who sent the Anthrax laced letters to media and Congress among many others – and our reformed and integrated intelligence community is yet to found even one culprit)

  • June 3[10] - The FBI has received "credible" reports that suggest some of the seven terror suspects highlighted by the bureau last week have been seen overseas, a key official said Thursday … Attorney General John Ashcroft described the seven individuals as being associated with al Qaeda … "They all are sought in connection with the possible terrorist threats in the United States; they all pose a clear and present danger to America," (Who saw them and where and why were the terrorists not arrested when seen … Remember also that we were told that Saddam Hussain posed a clear and present danger to America[11])

  • June 4[12] - U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Friday he thinks al Qaeda may step up attacks in Iraq in the next few weeks ... Referring to anti-U.S. sentiment in the aftermath of the release of photos of prisoner treatment at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, Rumsfeld said there is "a focused, precise, directed campaign against the United States in the media in parts of the world that is unhelpful to us." He added, "We'll survive." (We sure hope Mr. Rummy will not survive just as George Tenet[13] & James Pavitt[14]) Another report adds some chutzpah to the hype "Relatives of passengers and crew aboard the four airliners hijacked on September 11, 2001, heard tapes Friday of calls under a full non-disclosure"[15] ... (Reminder, Reminder, Reminder Nine Eleven)

  • June 5, 6 – NBA Finals Begin (No issue competes with NBA Finals)

  • June 7[16] - Purported al Qaeda militants in Saudi Arabia warned in a written statement Monday that they plan attacks on U.S. and other Western airlines and other means of transportation … & … The federal government has approved a test that promises to make it easier and faster for local agencies to determine if a person is infected with anthrax[17] ... (Hype escalation begins. Al Qaeda and Anthrax verbage blend is ideally lethal!)

  • June 8[18] - This summer's travel season is expected to be the busiest in years, but with warnings of a possible terror attack inside the United States, security concerns will also be high ... (Paranoia and Fear Games by the McMedia)

And so it is, an ongoing hype-ops campaign! Noam Chomsky[19] writes, the mass media serve as a system for communicating messages and symbols to the general populace. It is their function to amuse, entertain, and inform, and to inculcate individuals with the values, beliefs, and codes of behavior that will integrate them into the institutional structures of the larger society. In a world of concentrated wealth and major conflicts of class interest, to fulfill this role requires systematic propaganda."

The drums of al Qaeda are becoming louder every day. The stage is being set for McMedia consumers. No one should be surprised if another nine eleven is repeated before the eleventh month of this calendar year!

Who knows who does what to whom, when and where but our highest Public Servant and their biggest mouthpiece(s) will continue creating an environment that fosters fear and more fear. Such a situation could only further their interests in garnering people's support through sheer propaganda. One has to wonder if without propaganda the invasions, to the extent that they are carried out in Afghanistan and Iraq, could have been justified.

Let us not get McDonaldized. At least one can hope for an autograph, unlike the esteemed (rejected) Martin Indyk, the US Ambassador to Israel at one time!
Shakeel Syed, a freelance writer on socio-political issues, lives in California.


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