All The News That’s Fit to Print... in the United States of Amnesia

Three Examples in Just Two Days of How the New York Times—Yes, the New York Times—Trains You to Be Ignorant, Arrogant and Chauvinist

December 25, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper |


The New York Times is relied upon by many progressive and thinking people for a more or less accurate rendition of what’s going on in the world. It is recognized as the “newspaper of record”—the more or less objective rendering of the most significant events in the world.

To be clear, the New York Times—unlike, say, Fox News—does not generally invent outrageous lies and then claim that they are true (though they did do quite a bit of damage by independently perpetuating the outright lie that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction—a lie which justified George W. Bush’s disastrous war against Iraq). And right now they are generally under attack from Trump for reporting some things accurately. Yet by what they choose to include, what they choose to highlight, and what they choose to conceal they do in fact train their readers in an errant methodology and an upside-down view of the world, as shown in the following examples:

Horror in Guatemala Where the Main Perpetrator Is Never Mentioned

Daniele Volpe’s article in the December 22 New York Times, “Decades After Civil War, A Dignified Interment,” describes a small portion of the crimes committed against Guatemala’s indigenous population. She writes “During the [civil] war, 70 to 90 percent of the villages in this area were destroyed, and 60 percent of the population was displaced, forced to flee and seek refuge in the neighboring mountains, according to a United Nations truth commission. The United Nations investigation estimated that around 7,000 of the Ixil, a Maya group, were killed.” She goes on to say, “The so-called scorched-earth policy against the Ixil intensified under Gen. Efraín Ríos Montt, who took control of the government in March 1982. The army massacred entire villages, razing buildings and destroying livestock.” 

In this entire article, the words “United States” do not appear. Volpe does not mention the whole ugly history of the U.S. in Guatemala, going back now over a century. You can start that history with the land grab by United Fruit in 1906; by the 1930s, the United Fruit Company was the largest landowner in Guatemala. The role of the U.S. picked up in particular after the election of Jacobo Árbenz in 1954. Árbenz began taking back land from United Fruit and giving it to landless peasants. So the CIA engineered a coup to overthrow the Árbenz government, installing Colonel Carlos Castillos Armas, who was trained at the U.S. Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth. Thousands of people were arrested and many tortured, and the land was returned to United Fruit.

By the late 1960s, more than 1,000 U.S. Special Forces were operating in the highlands of Guatemala, training Guatemalan military and operating alongside them. A guerrilla insurgency against the reactionary governments arose. More slaughter followed, but by the early 1980s, with all of Central America in upheaval, the U.S. backed Efraín Ríos Montt’s rise to power through a military coup. Ríos Montt stepped up the genocide against the indigenous people with U.S. support. Even after the genocide in Guatemala was becoming known internationally, U.S. President Reagan called Ríos Montt: “a man of great personal integrity and commitment. (See “American Crime Case #95: Reagan’s Butcher Carries Out Genocide in Guatemala”) 

Estimates are that more than 150,000 people have been murdered by successive Guatemalan governments who were receiving military, financial, and diplomatic backing from the U.S. But in the New York Times article this ugly and horrific history is totally erased and covered up. The real cause of the problem—U.S. domination and horrific genocidal repression through proxies—is not just covered over, it is never mentioned. The reader is left to “tsk tsk” and led to conclude how sad it is that “the people down there have never really learned how to be civilized”... as they peel a banana over their breakfast cereal, and turn the page to a Christmas ad selling expensive jewelry.

Environmental Catastrophe in Indonesia That Has No Culprit

The same day, the New York Times front page contained a heartrending and maddening article, “An Ultimatum for Jakarta: Redevelop or Drown.” This article describes the ways in which climate change has interacted with breakneck, unplanned development to not just doom the city of Jakarta down the road, but to fairly immediately throw the fates of 30 million people onto the scales. Corruption in the government is indicated. Yet there is no mention of the U.S. role in violently installing the violent, corrupt, neocolonial lackey regimes that have ruled Indonesia for over 50 years on behalf of their (mainly U.S.) imperialist overlords, beginning with a 1965 coup that was orchestrated and directly aided by the CIA. This coup overthrew one government, totally crushed the Communist Party of Indonesia, and murdered anywhere from half a million to one million people in the process. No mention is made of the ways in which the regimes brought to power by that coup opened the floodgates to imperialist investment of all kinds and inserted Indonesia into the world market in ways that have environmentally despoiled the nation.

Again, the readers are being left—and being led—to shake their heads at the insane policies “over there” that are leading to environmental catastrophe.

Nothing in these articles is a lie or “fake news.” Yet the truth is nevertheless being hidden, because the real relationships and causes are being hidden. 

But then turn a day earlier, to see how you are being trained to view the history within these borders. Look at the dean of the New York Times columnists, Thomas Friedman, and see if you will join us in saying:

Dear Thomas Friedman: Go Fuck Yourself

From Thomas Friedman’s December 20 column in the New York Times, “How Trump Made Putin’s Christmas”: “First, we’ve always educated our citizens up to and beyond whatever the main technology of the day was—when it was the cotton gin, which meant universal primary education.”

No, dear Thomas, the cotton gin—which was operated by the slaves themselves—meant the massive expansion of slavery. It meant 3.2 million people enslaved in the U.S. by 1850. It meant slaves subject to the “whipping machine”—for the main way productivity was increased was through whipping enslaved human beings every night if they did not meet their assigned quotas. Quotas which were constantly raised. (See The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism, by Edward Baptist.)

Universal primary education?!? In actual fact, state laws forbade slaves from learning how to read. Any slave who dared defy that law was subject to murder or mutilation.

Leave aside all the other intellectual crimes of Thomas Friedman (for instance, supporting the war against Iraq, continually shilling for and whitewashing Zionism, globalization, etc.). What kind of gaping white supremacist mindset can allow the writing of such garbage? What kind of society is it when the liberals—yes, the liberals—can take someone who has proven himself either an ignoramus or amoral and make him among the most prominent of their pundits?

A society that is as bankrupt intellectually as it is morally.



Volunteers Needed... for and Revolution

Send us your comments.

If you like this article, subscribe, donate to and sustain Revolution newspaper.