Just as a fear-soaked yet uneventful Fourth of July weekend came to an end in the United States, it was reported out of the impoverished and war-torn country of Yemen on Monday that a series of airstrikes by Saudi Arabia—which is receiving ongoing military intelligence and logistical support from the U.S.—had killed one hundred or more innocent people, including men, women, and children.
According to reports, at least 45 people were killed and another 50 wounded after Saudi Arabia warplanes bombed a market in Lanj province near the southern port city of Aden.
"I came right after the explosion and saw dozens of dead strewn about and a sea of blood, while the wounded were being evacuated to nearby hospitals," resident Abu-Ali al-Azibi told the Associated Press. "[There was] blood from people mixed with that of the sheep and other livestock at the market."
Meanwhile, the Houthi-run Saba news agency said 54 people had been killed in a series of raids in the Amran province, north of the capital Sanaa, including 40 who had been shopping at a market in an area called Lower Joub in the Eyal Yazeed district.
The United Nations as well as international aid and human rights groups are warning that the ongoing military assault on Yemen is rapidly pushing one of the most impoverished nations in the world from "urgent humanitarian crisis" towards all-out "famine."
At the same time, critics of Saudi Arabia's bombing campaign are also pointing out the enormous level of U.S. hypocrisy: fear-mongering over "non-existent" threats of terrorism on its shores, while actively turning a blind eye towards the kind of terrorism that its own military is supporting in places like Yemen.
Not only does Saudi Arabia remain the closest U.S. ally among the Arab nations in the Middle East, it is also—by far—the largest purchaser of U.S. weapons and military supplies.
Ahead of the holiday weekend in the U.S., consumers of mainstream news were treated to a series of splashy warnings that indicated Islamic State (ISIS) or Al-Qaeda-affiliated attacks might target civilians, despite what turned out to be "no credible information" that these warnings had any basis in fact. As Trevor Timm, executive director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, wrote Tuesday:
If you turned on US cable news at any point last week, you might have thought this July 4 holiday would be our last weekend on earth – the supposed terrorist masterminds in Isis and their alleged vast sleeper cell army were going to descend upon America like the aliens in Independence Day and destroy us all.
CNN has led the pack in whipping Americans into a panic over the Isis threat, running story after story with government officials and terrorism industry money-makers hyping the threat, played against the backdrop of scary b-roll of terrorist training camps. Former CIA deputy director Mike Morell ominously told CBS last week that “I wouldn’t be surprised if we weren’t sitting here a week from today talking about an attack over the weekend in the United States.” MSNBC and Fox joined in too, using graphics and maps right out of Stephen Colbert’s satirical “Doom Bunker,” suggesting World War III was just on the verge of reaching America’s shores.
Nothing happened, of course. But it was an abject lesson in how irrational government fear-mongering still controls our public discourse, even when there wasn’t a shred of hard evidence for any sort of attack, only a feeling that one might happen.
With this in mind, journalist Glenn Greenwald argues that the juxtaposition of last week's fear-mongering and "melodramatic warnings" against the actual killing of scores of civilians in Yemen on Monday makes for a powerful lesson in the way Americans are systematically fed propaganda when it comes to what has euphemistically become known as the "war on terror"—the nearly 15-year-long military campaign against a tactic.
While violent attacks that actually never take place in the U.S. receive days of dramatic coverage on outlets like CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News, the bombing of real innocent people at the hands of a military receiving direct U.S. support, observes Greenwald, are typically ignored. "This media imbalance," he writes, "is a vital propaganda tool."
Throughout mainstream media's coverage of Monday's bombing in the Fayoush District of Lanj Province, Greenwald notes,
it is rarely mentioned in Western media reports that the U.S. is providing very substantial support to this “Saudi-led” war in Yemen, now in its fifth month, which has repeatedly, recklessly killed Yemeni civilians.
Because these deaths of innocents are at the hands of the U.S. government and its despotic allies, it is very predictable how they will be covered in the U.S. None of the victims will be profiled in American media; it’ll be very surprising if any of their names are even mentioned. No major American television outlet will interview their grieving families. Americans will never learn about their extinguished life aspirations, or the children turned into orphans, or the parents who will now bury their infants. There will be no #FayoushStrong Twitter hashtags trending in the U.S. It’ll be like it never happened: blissful ignorance.
While media critics point out how the fear-based coverage surrounding "terror warnings" in the U.S. is itself absurd, Greenwald's broader message is the sinister role this pattern of media behavior has had in terms of prolonging the "war on terror," as well as its associated destruction around the world.
"This is how the American self-perception as perpetual victim of terrorism, but never its perpetrator, is sustained," he writes. "It’s also what fuels the belief that 'They' are propagandized but 'We' aren’t."
And while the deaths of all the people killed in U.S.-backed bombings in Yemen on Monday "will be concealed from the American public," he continues, "people in that part of the world will hear much about them: just as Americans heard almost nothing about the Al Jazeera journalist imprisoned for years in Guantanamo with no charges, Sami al-Hajj, while he was a cause celebre in the Muslim world, leading Americans to believe that only the Bad Countries, but never Us, imprison journalists."
Greenwald concludes, "From this latest Yemen bombing and so many like it, the resulting differences in worldviews and perspectives isn’t be because 'they' are propagandized, but because 'we' are."