As the first born of 5 children, I had the unenviable position of being the guinea pig in many parental experiments conducted in search of what worked and what didn’t. That was fine for messed up haircuts and whatnot, but there were a few items I would have preferred not taken place, one of which was my parents’ desire to maintain childhood attachments to fairy tales by hiding the ugly truth from me. Suffice it to say these revolved around Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy.
Being an inquisitive first child, I naturally had many questions concerning these fairy tale characters, where they lived, what they looked like and so on. The older I became, the more the logistics of their various operations added up to be problematic. “How could it be possible,” I would theorize from time to time with my mother, “for this man to carry presents for all the children in the world in a sleigh the size of our family car? And what about the time factor? Not enough time. And let’s not forget about his size; There was no way for this fat man and all those presents to fit in such a small opening like a chimney, not too mention all the dirt and soot he would gather. And what about the soot he would track through the house? Wouldn’t we see it if he had been here?”
My parents would trade nervous glances at each other, praying that the other 4 didn’t hear what was going on. When all else failed, they would say they were busy and that I should go play.
This went on until I was 12 years old. I was held captive by my trust for them, and therefore would grudgingly go along with their assurances, even though everything in me indicated that it couldn’t be so. After a while, I had to stop bringing it up at school, since by then it seemed everyone but me had embraced the ugly truth. To this day, I will duck into some place to hide if I spot one of my former classmates in public, and pray that if I ever do have the misfortune of running into one of them without chance of escaping, that somehow they have forgotten about the kid in their class that believed in fairy tales until the age of 12. My instinct is to be sullen with my parents over this, but I can’t. I’m sure they would do it differently now. Unfortunately, the innocent always suffer because of the mistakes of others, and as a result, my kids have had to pay the price for my parents’ mistakes by my insistance on explaining to each of them at the age of 2 months that there was no Santa Claus.
It seems that many of us never grew out of this tendency. And while I am sure that people my age don’t believe in Santa Claus, they will believe in fairy tales, particularly when these fairy tales are supported by the media and a government they consider friendly to their political ideals. And although there is nothing new about this tendency, it is safe to say that it is worse today than in previous times. For the most part, people worry more about what they put into their bodies than what is put into their minds.
In return for the peace and comfort created by the fairy tale, most Americans today have bargained away their ability for critical thought, even when common sense should dictate that there is something more going on then what is being touted. And it doesn’t matter which side is in power. When Clinton was in office, the liberals believed that the Branch Davidians were molesting children and possessed chemical weapons. The same liberals protesting the war now under Bush supported the same exact actions taken by Clinton in the bombing of Iraq, Afghanistan, the Sudan, and Kosovo. And, true to form, the Conservatives a few years ago protested against those same actions performed by Clinton that are being undertaken by their man in office today.
The latest situation couldn’t be more tailor-made to exemplify this tendency, even if they included Santa Claus into the equation. After September 11, the American people, so shocked at the enormity of the events, were willing to believe anything that was put in front of them without question or skepticism, while missing the importance of key pieces of information that did, although only briefly, make it into the news. When Attorney General John Ashcroft held up a passport “found” in the rubble of the World Trade Center that supposedly belonged to one of the hijackers (a paper document that we are supposed to believe survived the blaze caused by all that jet fuel) no one considered the possibility that it was a forgery. When Fox News reported that several Israeli intelligence agents were being held in connection to the attack, backed up by Senator Graham’s statement that a foreign government was involved in this horrific crime, no one considered the possibility that the US’s only “ally” in the Middle-East could have had any connection to the mass murders that took place that day. And when it was revealed that half of those “hijackers” reported to have been on the planes that crashed that day were alive and well in other parts of the world, no one considered these implications with regard to the fairy tale du jour, if they even noticed it at all.
When tiny snippets of information made their way into the mainstream that the anthrax contained in the letters sent to various places around the country was cooked up in a US weapons lab, everyone simply assumed that an Arab had stolen it, and never considered the alternative. When Colin Powell paraded evidence of Iraq’s “chemical weapons capability” in front of the United Nations to justify the war, (photos that were lifted from some kid’s college paper as well as from Jane’s Intelligence Review magazine) no one questioned the possibility that all the reasons the administration were giving were part of some pathetic little fairy tale designed to convince the American people of the propriety of their support.
And now that the war in Iraq has begun its mop-up stage without any weapons of mass destruction found, nor any link between Saddam Hussein, Al Qaeda, and the events of September 11, you would think that the supporters of the war would take stock of what was alleged by those opposing the war, start scratching their heads and say to themselves, “Hey, maybe it was all about oil in the first place. Maybe the Israelis were complicit in it, and used their influence in the White House through their agents such as Wolfowitz, Perle, Feith, Abrams, and others who are big-time supporters of Israel, and who stood to gain a lot from it.”
But the believers in the fairy tale aren’t saying this to themselves, and they probably won’t. Like some kid that has just caught his mother in the act of putting money under his pillow, and finding out in the process the horrible truth that the Tooth Fairy doesn’t exist, he continues in his delusion with, “okay, maybe there is no Tooth Fairy, but I know that there is a Santa Claus and an Easter Bunny. There is, there is, there just has to be!”
No, sickeningly, what they are doing now is swallowing the next lie in order to assuage their consciences and hide their complicity in the 30 Days War caused by their gullibility in believing the first fairy tale. The sanitized news coverage showing brave and dedicated American soldiers battling a dangerous, evil megalomaniac has exculpated and possibly even justified the unwillingness of the deluded to consider important evidence regarding the events leading up to this aggression. So, in order to make things easy and simple, they believe that the Iraqis see us as liberators. They believe that there were hundreds of people gathered in the square that day toppling Saddam’s statue. They believe that there was nothing the US could do to prevent the destruction of the art and history museums. They believe that those bombs that landed on civilian homes, as well as those that made their way into Syria and Iran were accidental. All the things that should be screaming out to them for skepticism are pushed into some closet within their intellects, where they are kept silent and un–perturbing. Even when the reasons for the war went from terrorism to weapons of mass destruction to liberation, they never thought that they were being duped the way that a crooked contractor comes up with excuse after excuse as to why he can’t come today to fix your home improvement problem, despite the fact that you gave him a big down payment to get started. The really sad thing is, there are some who still believe that the whole thing was about weapons of mass destruction, even though that fairy tale was abandoned weeks ago by our own government.
Now that the war dance has begun for Syria, no one will consider anything amiss when our government, (aided by Israeli intelligence, of course) “discovers” that Syria, followed by Iran, Saudi Arabia, etc, etc, etc, is harboring large numbers of chemical weapons, Al Qaeda, “Nookuler” Bombs, Bigfoot, The Loch Ness Monster, Elvis, JFK’s assassins, the extraterrestrials spotted in Area 51, or whatever high media-intensity reason needs to be concocted in order to work up the masses. And sadly, when some terrible act takes place to justify going to war-a bomb going off or something that causes large numbers of deaths to Americans, no one will see the suspicious hand of interested parties, other than those designated to be so by our fairy tale masters.
When considering childhood fairy tales, I am reminded of Charlie Brown and the way he was always manipulated into trusting Lucy whenever she promised to hold the football still for him to kick. Each time, against his better judgment, he trusted her, and wound up flat on his back, looking like a fool. The current disgusting display of gullibility on the part of the American people is no different, although much harder to stomach, considering all the suffering that has occurred and will occur.
The words often quoted that “There are none so blind as those who will not see,” are illustrative of human nature, not only in that we were programmed to be a rational, inquisitive, skeptical animal that needs proof before committing to an idea, but as well, because of an act of the will we are sometimes blinded to the obvious truth, in spite of overwhelming evidence and plain common sense. It is therefore important that we consider the fact that the deception wrought over a people would only be possible with the cooperation of their collective will. People choose not to see what is unpleasant, particularly when it threatens the comfort created and maintained by their fairy tales. And unfortunately, given human nature, these words were not only illustrative, but prophetic, in that we are probably doomed to suffer from this condition, as well as all the havoc and inhumanity that it wreaks, until the end of time.
Mark Glenn is an American and former high school teacher turned writer / commentator. He contributed above article to Media Monitors Network (MMN).