Covid-19 and Our Changing World: Silence Yourself

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Picture courtesy of Pixabay.com

With the coronavirus hysteria infecting nearly everyone in the Western Hemisphere, people are just about ready to sacrifice their own kids just feel safe. That was a joke obviously, although from what I’ve seen on the news and social media at times, it wouldn’t be hard to believe. In the Middle East; in places like Yemen, where for the past five years residents have been dealing with catastrophic famine, war and a host of deadly illnesses including now Covid-19 and a devastated healthcare system to boot, courtesy of U.S. ally Saudia Arabia, they would be shocked in disbelief over the panic mode the “civilized world” has put themselves in.

Yes, people are getting sick and even dying. Yes, their is massive unemployment. And yes, their are food shortages when it comes to certain things (or so they say). This doesn’t even compare to the blown up towns, wrecked healthcare system, neighborhoods turned into war zones and starvation occurring in Yemen largely thanks to our support to the Saudis. And yet, Americans and Europeans alike are willing to come together to allow the governments and corporations to take away their rights just so they can feel safe which by the way, would be just that. Feeling safe and actually being safe are two totally different things. The people of the early twentieth century didn’t feel the need to sacrifice their freedom because of something as serious as the Spanish influenza, so why are we?

The answer isn’t all that complicated. We live in a digital society where we are constantly being spoon fed information and opinions. It was one thing with T.V. where people stayed glued to 24 hour news networks like CNN or FOX business. But now its even worse. We carry our news wherever we go in our phones. We constantly get updates from Apple news or whoever throughout the day. We can log onto Facebook, Twitter or Instagram whenever we want, wherever we want and expose ourselves to news post, videos and other peoples opinions.

It’s been said that the internet has given us access to great amounts of information. This is true, you can look up almost anything. Check sources. Look at archives. However, its had more of the opposite effect. People seemed to have become more closed-minded and less likely to divert from what they usually read. This is largely due to social media platforms. Users join or follow groups that appeal to their ideology and then constantly get injected with that information. It’s fair to say they become programmed to only expose themselves to those particular sources that coincide with their ideology. And when they do go off the reservation it’s usually only temperorary especially if that information contradicts the kind that their accustom to. They can’t stay away from their usual norm.

Instead of opening up new doors its locked people in their own manfufactured ideologies not allowing any room for new ideas, information and opinions. Only a small portion of us that have not allowed to be trapped in our own beliefs have truly benefitted from the vast access of information that the digital world provides.

Because of this mental isolation that has trapped a large percentage of society people have become even more easily manipulated. They basically do and agree with whatever their favorite politician/celebrity/athlete says. That’s why so many of them are used in things like videos telling everyone to stay home or to start other trends, to get the masses to think and do certain things.

Thanks to this kind of manipulation combined with constant injection of exaggerated fear of the virus people are just about ready to give up all their rights. Their has been an ongoing trend to censor so-called “misinformation” and “fake news” about Covid-19. So, which fake news are they going to be censoring. The one about CBS using hospital footage from Italy and saying its in New York. Or ABC saying a young adult died from the virus when he was really alive. Or how about the constant back and fourth of whether or not wearing a mask will help protect you from the virus. First they said it doesn’t help and not to buy masks. Now, their saying that they do work and everyone needs to wear one.

No, none of the mainstream media will be censored for spewing false nonsense. It will fall on the independent people. Those that aren’t subject to multibillion dollar corporations and the military-industrial complex. Now, don’t get me wrong their are a lot of people putting bad info out there. However, the corporate media has proven that they are no different and on top of that have more influence than some idiot online. Remember this is an industry that sold us the Iraq War and Vietnam. But it would seem that convincing the American people to go into a war that has nothing to do with avenging the lives lost in 9/11 and getting our soldiers killed while devastating Iraq under false pretense is okay. But doing critical thinking and investigating different aspects of the pandemic is qualification to be silenced. If anyone should be censored its the corporate media that has had a long history of giving out false information.

But before everyone gets all excited and foaming at the mouth over silencing those that are harming the public its important to know what kind of entities will be deeming what news is reliable or unreliable. Newsguard, has been lobbying for the past couple of years to have its news ranking website automatically installed in the computer systems of all public libraries, schools, universities etc., and is at the forefront of internet policing. The purpose of Newsguard is to judge which news websites are credible and which aren’t by using a color-coded system(green, yellow and red). This way the reader that comes across the article will be able to tell if the information is legit or not.

This may seem like a good idea at first glance, having an official site to decipher “fake news,” but when we take a look at some of the individuals who make up the foundation of Newsguard, we start to see a clear conflict of interest. Louis G. Crovitz; the co-CEO of the group, has held multiple positions at Dow Jones including vice president and also the Wall Street Journal in which he was the publsiher.

Crovitz has also associated himself with some of the most right-wing neocons in the country. This would include being a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, being editor or contributor to books published by the American Enterprise Insittue(AEI) and the Heritage Foundation. The AEI is an influential neoconservative think tank promoting right-wing pro-war propaganda. Both AEI and the Heritage Foundation were some of the main groups pushing for the U.S. to go into Iraq and AEI was associated with the Project for A New American Century which a few years prior to 9/11 called for a “new Pearl Harbor” in order to gain support to expand the military into the Middle East and other places. Some of AEI’s scholars and fellows have included Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, and John Bolton.

Some of the advisors of Newsguard include Tom Ridge, who was the first secretary of Homeland Security under George W. Bush. Also, Ret. General Michael Hayden, a former CIA and NSA director and principal at the Chertoff Group which is a security consultacy which advises both corporate and government clients on security matters. And Condoleezza Rice’s former speech writer Elise Jordan.

One of the main investors of Newguard is the Publicis Groupe, one of the largest global communications groups in the world. Oorvis; one of Publicis’ subsidiaries, has encountered scrutiny recently for the expliotation of U.S. Veterans at the behest of the Saudi Arabian government. Not to mention receiving $6 million for helping the Saudis whitewash its human rights record and the genocide they’re commiting in Yemen. In 2018, some of Publicis’ clients included Eli Lily, Merck, Pfizer, Bayer/Monsanto, Starbucks, Proctor & Gamble, McDonalds, Kraft Heinz, Burger King and even the governments of Australia and Saudi Arabia.

Another major investor in Newguard is the Blue Haven Initiative which is the venture capital fund for the Pritzker family, a wealthy and influential clan out of Chicago. Penny Pritzker at one point created the Superior Bank of Chicago which focused on sub-prime lending to minorities. Eventually, the government would charge that Superior paid out hundreds of millions of dividends to the Pritzker family among others while the bank was broke. The Pritzker’s are also owners of the Hyatt Hotel chain and were the second largest financial backers to Hilary Clintons campaign in 2016. One of the Pritzkers is currently serving as governor of Illinois.

Another top investor is Thomas Glocer, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and on the boards of pharmaceutical behemouth Merck & Co., Morgan Stanley and former CEO of Reuters.

Newsguard has teamed up with Microsoft within the past year to market the company’s app to schools and libraries. These tech companies use ephumisms like “defending democracy” “empower voters” and “high-quality information” to convince people to except Newsguard and the idea of regualtion and censorship. Microsoft had added Newsguard as a built-in feature of Microsoft Edge, its browser for iOS and Androids. Newsguards main initiative is to sell the idea to social media and tech giants that their ratings system is a good idea to install. To emphasize this, a Gallup poll more than a year ago came out with a survey that stated that 89% of social media users and 83% overall want social media sites and others to install Newsguard into their newsfeed and search engines. However, its important to note that the Gallup poll was funded by both Newsguard and one of their investors the Knight Foundation.

It may seem like censoring content to protect users from “hate speech” and “misinformation” is a good idea. But when we look behind the curtain and see the kind of people that will be deciding what’s considered accurate and not accurate a conclusion can be made that fighting misinformation and offensive content are just excuses to silence those that speak out or expose the wrongdoing of governments and corporations. It’s a little surreal that the call for censorship is coming from people on the left given the fact that its the left that’s historically fought for free speech, anti-war and civil rights.

Although people on the right would also like to see others with alternate views censored, particularly, people against Donald Trump, the loudest voices are coming from the left. Their under the impression that “misinformation” regarding Covid-19 and the call to open up the economy is harmful and must be silenced. They unwitttingly put their faith in entities they no nothing about to protect them from words and ideas that their favorite media outlet says they should be offended by. They claim to need protection against right-wing rhetoric but yet allow a right-wing neoconservative organization i.e. Newsguard, rate which websites are reliable. We are definitely living in strange times.

As has been illustrated already; Newsguard, is stacked with the most warmongering, right-wing, neoconservatives, that’s basically a reenactment of the post-9/11 Bush regime. And yet the so-called leftist; who aren’t really leftist because regurgitating rhetoric from phony progressive media giants isn’t progressivism, are the loudest voices when it comes to censorship. They have no idea that the people that are doing the censoring are rightwing extremist. Most of the CNN and MSNBC followers have probably never even heard of Newsguard let alone the type of people that are running it. Newsguard has already targeted anti-war websites giving them low ratings for accuracy while prompting up major corporate outlets like CNN and the Washington Post. Both outlets, who are not only big promoters of war but also have been caught in the past reporting false or exaggerated news. But I’m sure it doesn’t have anything to do with Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos giving $30 million to Business Insider where Newsguard co-CEO Louis Crovitz happens to be a member of the board. Nothing to see here folks!

Their is clearly a conflict of interest regarding Newsguard and their sincerity when it come to protecting people from fake news. The assumption can be made that given Newsguards inhabitants, creatures of neocon war lovers and corporate tycoons, Newsguards main purpose is not to protect Americans from harmful Covid-19 misinformation but to protect the military-insudtrial complex and corporate giants while silencing those that dare cross them.

Remember this, it doesn’t matter what words offend you its never an excuse to silence someone. If you don’t like what someone has to say, ignore them, spend less time on social media and more time in reality. Thanks to Apps and phones and tech companies people are able to drown themselves in other peoples opinions and viewpoints all day everyday. A little time away from the digital world will do everyone a lot of good. Instead of fighting for tech companies to censor and regulate others, limit the amount of time you spend on their websites. Stop giving so much of your life to them. People don’t realize how Hiltlarian it is to call for the silencing of others because they think a little bit differently.

As far as combating “fake news” I’ll again point out that the ones that want to do the censoring aren’t that reliable themselves. They’ll put out whatever narratives that’s going to get them what they want. Practically, every major media outlet called for the War with Iraq under the lie that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. How come the New York Times, CNN or FOX didn’t get censored after convincing the American people that sending our troops to die for a lie which also deterred us from getting restitution for 9/11, one of the most horrific attacks on our country. And how come with all this talk of “misinformation” is it that Donald Trump, who tweets the most false and idiotic things is still aloud to have a platform on Twitter. Maybe because Twitter gets a lot of members and attention due to the fact that people on both sides of the political spectrum can’t wait to see what stupid and outrageous things he says next. Yet, anti-war and critics of corporate corruption are getting thrown in with right-wing conspiracy theorist as “misinformation.” People need to use a little common sense and some critical thinking so they don’t get played by these wolves in sheep’s clothing.

Bibliography:

Alan Macleod, “US Role in Destabilizing Yemen and Somalia Could Spark Famine of Biblical Proportions,” MintPress News, April 22, 2020.

Jai-Leen James, “Coronavirus NJ: ABC NY anchor Bill Ritter mistakenly reports COVID-19 patient dead,” Asbury Park Press, April 23, 2020.

Keith J. Kelly, “NewsGuard busts websites sharing fake coronavirus information,” New York Post, March 24, 2020.

Lee Brown, “CBS admits to using footage from Italy in NYC coronavirus report,” New York Post, April 1, 2020.

Whitney Webb, “How a NeoCon-Backed “Fact Checker” Plans to Wage War on Independent Media,” MintPress News, January 9, 2019.

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