Yesterday’s analysis of the diversification of emojis and the relationship of such frivolity to self-censorship finds an interesting continuance in today’s critique of the Lincoln Project’s most recent exercise in propaganda. On Friday, the sixteenth of April, the Lincoln Project released a video in which footage of Brian Sicknick’s much-publicized funeral is juxtaposed against the printed names of seven American politicians– Josh Hawley, Ted Cruz, Rick Scott, Kevin McCarthy, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert, and Matt Gaetz—with the concluding message stating simply that they “did this”. In other words, the Lincoln Project believes that these individuals are responsible, directly or indirectly, for the death of Sicknick.
The death of Brian Sicknick continues to stupefy the few of us who have sought to understand it for the past three months. The United States Capitol Police have declared only that Sicknick was “injured while physically engaging with protesters” during the riot of January 6th before he finally “succumbed to his injuries” and died. On the basis of this nebulous information, the New York Times created the myth that a protester (who had apparently seen the film Irreversible one too many times) brutally beat Sicknick to death with it. No one has ever identified this homicidal hooligan, but then again, the details don’t really matter: as long as we believe that Sicknick died in valiant defense of American democracy, we can remember him as one of history’s finest patriots.
The manipulative strategy is similar, perhaps even identically so, to that which was executed in the aftermath of 9/11. We are witnessing another effort to compel our patriotism, which is to say: our allegiance to the official narrative. The official narrative of 9/11, which stated that poorly-dressed peasants in foreign countries detested Americans for their “freedoms”, was assembled to justify an authoritarian reimagining of government. The official narrative of the Capitol riot, which makes a murky statement about the sanctity of “American democracy”, has been pieced together for the same reason. We will remind ourselves to investigate the supposed qualitative decline of this type of propaganda in the future.
As the Overwritten audience may already be aware, I have made a commitment to read NBC News as often as possible while the Biden Administration is in power. My purpose is to understand how this particular media apparatus differs from CNN, which I examined extensively in the Trumpish Age. More specifically, I am interested in its propagandistic function: how, exactly, is it attempting to manipulate and misinform its readers? After three months of research, I am most impressed by the abundance of identitarian agitprop produced by this network. Certainly, the other mainstream outlets engage in plenty of race-baiting and pseudo-feminist virtue-signaling, but NBC News has entire divisions of its website dedicated to creating such inflammatory content on a daily basis. For example, there is a section of the website titled NBC Out, which covers controversy pertaining to LGBT issues. If you want to become angry about anti-LGBT legislation or sentiment, then all you have to do is turn to the appropriate subpage on NBC News and you can be outraged all day long.
Predictably, there is also a space titled NBC BLK, which addresses controversy pertaining to black Americans. On Thursday, the fifteenth of April, this subpage published an article written by Cynthia Silva, who alleges that the “majority of emoji users want more inclusive representation”. It appears that the Adobe corporation conducted a survey of “seven thousand global emoji users” and discovered that fifty-four percent of users “felt their identity was not reflected in the current library of emojis”. This is undoubtedly true, but in a sense unintended by the participants of this survey, because emojis do not “reflect identity”. Emojis are actually the antithesis of identity: they are computer-generated icons developed en masse by corporate programmers who want to make their useless product more addicting and simultaneously more appealing to the masses. The notion that one should seek identity, culture, or anything of value in something as frivolous as an emoji is patently absurd.
So, too, is the article that Silva has written. She writes with a deeply unbecoming absence of self-awareness, perpetually unaware of how silly the subject matter is. When reading a ridiculous piece such as hers, our instinct is to compare it to something one might find in the Onion or Babylon Bee, and it is telling that this comparison has become a cliché in the postmodern world. The mass media is passing off so much laughable material on a daily basis that it very frequently resembles a parody. In this regard, one cannot say that the mass media has really become fundamentally worse in the past six years, as it was always ridiculous enough to inspire satires like the Onion and Babylon Bee. If anything has changed, then it is the seriousness with which the media insists upon itself and its intolerance for well-deserved mockery.
The imperialists are concluding an ambitiously successful week, as it has been our displeasure to report for Overwritten. Less than forty-eight hours after the Secretary of Defense formally declared the Pentagon’s eternal commitment to Israeli apartheid, the Biden Administration announced that the American occupation of Afghanistan will continue for another five months, at least. In delaying this exodus, which has been desired by all sensible parties for nearly two decades now, the Biden Administration has confirmed that which we have been saying for more than a year: the American Empire will never withdraw its military force from Afghanistan, even if it must continue to devise increasingly laughable excuses for sustainment.
Kevin Liptak, a writer for CNN, could probably accuse us of disseminating misinformation. Surely we have read his article of this morning, in which he declared that “the deadline Biden has set is absolute, with no potential for extension based on worsening conditions on the ground”. Indeed, we did. In fact, we read even further into the article, including the point at which he acknowledged that “some U.S. troops will remain to protect American diplomats” and that “American diplomatic and humanitarian efforts would continue in Afghanistan”. Impressively, he concludes from these heterogenous messages that it is “unequivocal that two decades after it began, the Afghanistan War is ending”.
You will notice Liptak’s choice of euphemism. Adopting a familiarly patriotic lens, he describes this interminable conflict as “the Afghanistan War”, much as jingoistic historians have referred to something known as “the Gulf War”, whereas we prefer “the American invasion and occupation of Afghanistan”, “the first American invasion and occupation of Iraq”, “the second American invasion and occupation of Iraq”, and so on and so forth. Behold the epic neuroticism of military propaganda: our evasive language pervades both our beastly lust for war and our moralistic desire to end it. What is the enterprising imperialist to do on singular occasions such as today, when the latter inclination is being satisfied?
Five months have passed since Joe Biden, then merely the president-elect, announced his intended nomination of erstwhile Army General Lloyd Austin as the next Secretary of Defense—which, in the coy, euphemistic jargon of the American Empire, really means the Secretary of War. The mass media coverage of his planned appointment focused entirely on the supposedly historical element thereof, as Austin would be, and has since become, the first African-American to assume nominal control of the Pentagon; the implication being, as it was with many of Biden’s selections of staff, that categorical representation is virtuous. No prominent journalist, however, was interested in his political ideology, a subject on which there appeared to be no published information.
Our conclusion at Overwritten.org, stated in December of last year, was that this absolute absence of documentation was precisely the point: Biden selected Austin because the public knew nothing about his political positions, specifically his penchant for warfare. We didn’t have a concatenation of damning quotations in which Austin rationalized the Empire’s increasingly suicidal militaristic misadventures, so we hadn’t any evidence of his hawkish sensibilities—although his directorship of Raytheon was an awfully unsubtle indication. Today, however, we have that proof, for Austin has finally visited the State of Israel and declared, to no unexpected effect, the Empire’s “enduring and ironclad” loyalty to the Israeli government.
Let us clarify: this public disclosure was of no unexpected effect unto us, for we have recognized the elemental corruption of the Biden Administration since a time before its inception. Alas, there are still millions of people who believe in the possibility of influencing its members, of “moving” them “left”, whatever these terms are supposed to mean. We have long understood that Austin was a sedulous adherent to the doctrine of American imperialism because we knew that Biden would never have entrusted him with the powers possessed by the Secretary of Defense unless he had proven his fidelity thereto. Clearly, this had been Biden’s criterion in selecting Antony Blinken as Secretary of State, with the only difference being that Blinken’s penchant for imperialist carnage was well-documented—or, at least, publicly documented.
We ignore the story of Deshaun Watson at our own peril. It is difficult to convince self-described “investigative journalists” to take any interest in professional sports, even when there is relevance to the subjects of institutional corruption and propaganda. I have learned this the hard way, as none of my writings or videos on the theme of sports as a means of social control attracted any serious interest, and I have similarly limited expectations for this piece, its clear journalistic implications notwithstanding. Nevertheless, we will continue to provide the Overwritten audience with content worth of their attention, even if it falls on deaf ears and blind eyes.
On Saturday, the tenth of April, Defector Media reported that the Houston Chronicle terminated a writer named Aaron Wilson for his commentary on Deshaun Watson. For those outside the know, Mr. Watson is the starting quarterback for the Houston Texans, one of the thirty-two teams in the National Football League. After signing a massive contract with the Texans in September of last year, Watson became increasingly critical of the organization and eventually demanded a trade to another, presumably more competent, team. However, that demand has been thwarted by a series of twenty-odd lawsuits filed by masseuses who allege that Watson sexually assaulted them.
Though the mass media supported Watson almost unilaterally in his negotiations with the Texans, the same informative apparatus universally presumed his guilt as soon as the masseuses filed their complaints. Seemingly, Aaron Wilson was the sole exception: on the nineteenth of March, Wilson participated in an interview for Boston’s largest sports radio network, wherein he questioned the masseuses’ motivation and criticized their attorney, Tony Buzbee. The Houston Chronicle seemed to suspend him shortly thereafter, but his termination became public knowledge only last week. In an internal email obtained by Defector Media, Reid Laymance, the Chronicle’s sports editor, warned his staff with the following language: