Sunday January 5, 2020
Over the last 48 hours I’ve been splitting my free time between (A) learning as much as I possibly can about the US assassination of top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani and (B) arguing with people online who are uncritically swallowing US government claims about why that assassination was necessary. I always engage such political debates because they’re a valuable source of information on what propaganda narratives people are buying into, and therefore which propaganda narratives need to be addressed.
What has been made abundantly clear from this particular engagement is that those who have bought into the Trump administration’s completely unsubstantiated claims about Soleimani are sincerely unaware that they have unquestioningly bought into unsubstantiated US government narratives. People tend to get their information from tightly insulated echo chambers, and if you inhabit an echo chamber that supports the current president all you’ll get is a bunch of officials, pundits and reporters saying in a confident-sounding tone of voice that Soleimani needed to be taken out. Since they’re surrounded by chatter affirming that Soleimani had attacked America and/or posed an imminent threat in the near future, they assume that chatter must be based on some actual facts in evidence.
It is not.
When I speak out online against Trump’s act of war on Iran and interact one-on-one with those who object to what I’m saying, the disparity between what they think they know and what they actually know gets very quickly highlighted. Simply by my challenging people to prove the claims that they are making about Soleimani planning to attack Americans, attacking a US embassy, directing a strike that allegedly killed a mysteriously unnamed US contractor in Iraq, killing hundreds of US soldiers in Iraq, that he’s a “terrorist”, etc, they quickly realize that they have literally no evidence for their claims beyond the unsubstantiated assertions of US government officials and people who unquestioningly repeated those assertions.