Playboy Japanese Edition, Dec 2001, Page 32

Issue Talk by Thomas Pynchon

Most of The News Is Propaganda
There Might Be No Bin Laden Ever Existed.

“Right now, New Yorkers constantly talk about whether they have already visited the WTC attack sites or not. Some went to see the ruins and others have not seen them yet. It is the trendy topic of the time. I think that it will take some time before I feel like visiting the site myself. Since the attacks, I stopped taking subways. That’s the biggest change in my everyday life. I used to go everywhere riding the subways, but now I never take subways because I’m afraid of chemical weapons. There is a precedent of the sarin attacks in Tokyo and the causalities from the biological weapon called anthrax are spreading. I will not surprised if chemical weapons are used against us anytime soon. CNN is the media that reports on the terrorist attacks all the time. Since most of the Americans watch CNN, it is safe to say that all the news that ordinary people get is the same. But, the real danger is that people believe what they see on CNN is the news. For TV stations, a time like this offers the best opportunity to show us their originality. However, the anchorpersons on the TV just read the tele-prompter in a monotone voice, or repeat the sentences that are continuously fed from the earpieces hidden from us. They look like they are talking just to fill the empty airtime. There is an adjective, “affectless”. The way those anchorpersons report is the best described as “affectless”. It doesn’t have a human touch and there is no power of emotion in their reporting. I don’t like it. When I listen to them carefully, there is not much news. Most are propaganda. The terrorist attacks have changed the New York Times most. I used to wake up one hour early to buy the paper, but now it is not worth reading sitting down. I can go through all the pages of the paper before I sit down. There is little useful news in the Times. Most are propaganda. Although the news that there are antibiotics other than Cipro for treating anthrax infection is a little useful, useful news like that is becoming rare. The New York Times was usually the most reliable media for checking what happened in 20-30 years ago, but no more. Today, the Guardian of England is the most reliable newspaper that is read by the intellectuals of today. People read it on the Internet. I think the information from the White House also contains a lot of propaganda. The problem is the ordinary citizen cannot distinguish the news from the propaganda. Contrary to our belief, there is quite reliable news from Israel. In a time of war, information warfare is rather important and even those respected newspapers cannot be trusted. The founder of the Daily Mail, which was published 100 years ago in London said “News is something somebody wants to suppress. Everything else is propaganda.” The information that the reporters can obtain easily is likely to be propaganda even when it comes from the White House. Bin Laden should be considered as a symbol. America always looks for an enemy. The country cannot feel O.K. without it. It has labeled Bin Laden as the bad guy who commanded the terrorist attacks from behind the scenes, only because we couldn’t feel O.K. unless we made him. But I think Bin Laden is just somebody’s rodeo clown. My thought has been always a little paranoid. But it is not only I who thinks like that. NSA is supposed to watch Bin Laden, but I think we are going to see a new layer after a layer like onionskins. I cannot help thinking it was not he alone responsible for the attacks. I have an impression that Bin Laden is just a front man. I wonder honestly if those photos of Bin Laden on TV and newspapers are the his real face. Right after the terrorist attacks, I remembered someone said “Come on, you want bin Laden? We’ll give you 20 of him.” Even if America kills a Bin Laden, there will be 19 more Bin Ladens. Even there is only one Bin Laden, there are many who want to succeed him. If you look at the matter from a different angle, Bin Laden should be considered as a symbol rather than as a human. It might be that no Bin Laden ever existed. I read this while I was surfing on the Internet. The most suitable punishment for Bin Laden is to perform a sex-change operation on him after catching him alive and taking him to a hospital. Then, we return him back to Afghanistan and make him understand how they abuse women there. We should not forget that many of Bin Laden’s brothers were once the business partners of George Bush jr. in oil ventures. The doctor who always stood by Bin Laden was a member of the group who killed Sadat. There might be others who ran away from Egypt after the assassination in Afghanistan. People often mention that one of the reasons why they hate America is because she is rich. I can understand this well. When I see wealthy people, I feel anger instinctively from the bottom of my heart. It is natural for them to feel a hatred for wealthy America, as Afghanistan is the poorest country in the world. They just cannot help from hating her. It is not going to solve all the problems even if America stops supporting Israel. However, from the Arab perspective, Israel is the origin of all the wrongs. Finally, if I want to invest in stock aggressively now, I am going to invest in the tobacco industry. After the attacks, those who had quit smoking in the past has begun smoking tobacco again.”

(Interview and Text by Motokazu Ohno)

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© Otto Sell – Monday, June 26, 2003


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