Attorney General Holder’s recent attempt to characterize Osama bin Laden as Charles Manson is an attempt to characterize anyone who disagrees with official US foreign policy as insane. If you’re against the war in Afghanistan, then you must be a lunatic, also. The purpose? Fear mongering–the oldest political manipulation in the book. Keeping us fearful of a person labelled as an irrational Muslim is expected to deflect criticism of the Obama administration’s foreign policies in the Middle East and Central Asia.
However Osama bin Laden may be characterized, he isn’t insane. He has presented intelligible, articulate arguments for his positions regarding US foreign policy. We’re not compelled to agree with bin Laden, but if we acknowledge that the man has articulated his views in an intelligible fashion, then we are compelled to think, and to analyze, and to engage in a discussion about the nature of both US foreign policy and how others outside the US perceive the actions of the US government. What Obama wants is a totalitarian social context wherein anyone who challenges his policies is deemed dangerous and irrational. This isn’t democracy by rational discourse, but an attempt to control the American public through hysteria.
Obama wants free reign to engage in war without domestic, public discourse on the legitimacy of his foreign policy. The comments from Holder are effective only to the degree that we are intimidated by illegitimate fear-mongering, and by rampant racism toward anyone whose skin color is slightly dark and by association with the “dangerous” terms Arab and Muslim.
The fact that an African-American attorney general would utilize arguments founded on racism and fear-mongering tells us something about the American political system. That concentrated power structures are self-serving is axiomatic. That people are capable of offering articulate but bogus arguments for the most horrendous inhumane acts is also well-documented. That cultural institutions embedded within systems of concentrated power demand obedience is easily demonstrable.
Holder is a place-holder, performing as an apparatchik, subservient to the interests of empire.
What is missing is a free press that is not owned and controlled by the wealthy few. Government officials can mouth nonsense within a context of impunity provided and protected by a subservient press. As long as the press in the US is owned and controlled by corporations, the press will function as institutions intent on providing services to the wealthy and powerful who own the mass media outlets. The function of any human institution is a product guided by the self-interest of those who own it.
I do think the crucial element missing is a free press to challenge nonsense and lies that spew forth from power centers–whether government or private–without anyone permitted to ask obvious questions and reveal blatant, devious manipulations of what constitutes the substance of public information.