You don’t hear the phrase “roving bands of Negro youths” in the news anymore. Not that anyone misses that particular phrase, but at one time it was a staple of crime reporting. But things change. Open a newspaper from the early 1940’s and you might see an advertisement for the Boeing Aircraft Company with a picture of a warplane and the caption “Boeing is bad news… for Japs!” That was a real advertisement. You would also find regular news stories denouncing “Krauts,” “Heinies,” “Slants,” and “Yellow Devils.” You’d be pretty hard pressed to find a newspaper today that would accept an ad for, say, Apache Attack Helicopters that said “Apache is bad news… for camel jockeys!” Even in wartime we’re a little bit more socially evolved than to print that stuff anymore. 

But before we pat ourselves on the back for restraining our racist impulses, let’s remember that none of that crap was ever acceptable in the first place, no matter how widespread or accepted it was, or against what nation you were fighting a war. Accepted does not mean the same thing as acceptable. For millennia, slavery was accepted. In the more recent past, Nehru suits, Tom Jones shirts, tie-dyed T-shirts and bell bottom trousers were accepted items of apparel. Those of us old enough to have survived those harrowing times now wonder just what the hell we were thinking. So you have to constantly watch yourself so you don’t slip back into bad habits like slavery and looking silly. Anyone who ever watches a movie about the French royal court from the 1700’s with their wigs, cosmetics, clown costumes and rapacious oppression ceases to wonder why the French people rose as one to chop their fool heads off.

News reporting was never all that revealing in the first place, with as much left out as is revealed. It makes you wonder what, if any, are the thought processes involved. Like when Bernie Madoff ripped off all those wealthy people by promising them heroin dealer-like profits on their investments, almost no one questioned why anyone would invest big money with a guy like that. They called him greedy and he sure was, but he wouldn’t have made a nickel if his investors weren’t greedy dicks themselves. People with big dough know exactly what the maximum rate of return on their money is, the legal one, anyway. News reports also overlooked the fact that most of us have to restrain ourselves from dancing with glee when we hear about greedy billionaires going broke. Welcome to the club, Chauncey!

The news is full of odd things. Consider that you hear a lot about “mounting death tolls” on the news when it comes to natural disasters. The only exception was the recent Australian wild fires where the death toll kept getting lower, and you figured that if the fires burned long enough, new human life would have been created spontaneously. It had to have something to do with Australia being on the opposite side of the world, but did any of the reporters catch that? No, no they did not. Sometimes it’s the obvious things that are overlooked.

Like in the Iraq war. When things started going bad, all we heard about is how successful the surge was, the “surge” being an escalation of military violence, completely ignoring the fact that there would have been no need for a surge of any sort if we had not attacked that country for no reason at all, wrecked the place, killed a whole bunch of people, disbanded their army and hung their leader. You think there would be a whole lot of “insurgents” and “militants” here in America if that had happened to us? Without a doubt, and most likely the nation who conquered us would respond with a surge of their own, and thus create a whole lot more militants and insurgents, maybe even calling them “roving bands of Great Satans” and “Crusadists.”

And what consists of news is something you have to question, too. Why is it reported as news when movie stars go nuts? We’re the ones who gave them 20 million bucks to make lousy movies and elevated them to Roman Emperor status, so why is it a shock when they lose touch with reality and start beating their nannies and personal assistants with items of furniture? We’re just lucky they don’t start ordering people to be drawn and quartered. And why are we shocked when rap stars beat each other up? Hell, their record sales go up when they shoot somebody! Sending them to jail for a year or so only convinces them that their phony “gangsta” persona was a good idea. Haven’t these reporters ever met any real gangsters? They’re about as lovable as rabid wolves at mealtime and would kill you in a flash if you had something they wanted. 

And yet you don’t see real gangsters getting media coverage for who they are sleeping with, what they wear and what they have to say. Why not? Maybe “Vinny The Neck” and “Fat Jamal” have interesting love lives and eye-catching wardrobes. They might even have keen observations on the human condition, things like “When in doubt, whack somebody,” “It’s only yours if I can’t take it away from you” or “When a sit-down doesn’t do the trick, there’s always a drive by.” That would at least be honest reporting. And just maybe some ambitious reporter can get to the bottom of that whole weather reporting scandal, where TV talking heads act puzzled about blizzards in the Winter and floods in the Spring. Were these weather people hatched fully grown with no education or experience? Just where are these clone farms and why are they producing human TV robots? Towards what end? Oh, wait, that would be to distract people from what’s really going on. Okay. Riddle solved.

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