America’s Mindless Clamor

America has become a land of institutionalized noise whether the clamor of a crowded restaurant or the more dangerous shout fests of TV “news” both intruding on the ability to think and communicate coherently, writes Lawrence Davidson.

By Lawrence Davidson

Many of you must have experienced something like this: you and a companion go into a restaurant and, over a good meal, would like to carry on a fruitful conversation – perhaps on the virtues of the agreement that President Barack Obama and his international partners have finally reached with Iran. However, you quickly realize that such a conversation is impossible.

The conversation is not impossible because your companion is a member of the Republican-controlled Congress, nor is it impossible because, like so many people, he or she doesn’t know one factual thing about Iran. No. It is impossible because neither you nor your companion can hear each other.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, left, interviewed Samuel Wurzelbacher (aka "Joe the Plumber") on his Fox News Channel program in 2009.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, left, interviewed Samuel Wurzelbacher (aka “Joe the Plumber”) on his Fox News Channel program in 2009.


The restaurant’s decibel level is in the 90s, which replicates the noise intensity of an active construction site. Indeed, the environment is so noisy that even shouting is futile. It would seem that more and more of our “stylish” eating establishments have melded cacophony with cuisine.

Noise is an old problem. It started to seriously invade Western culture with the Industrial Revolution of the Eighteenth Century. The women and children who worked in the early textile factories had to develop a form of sign language to communicate over the racket made by the machines. It wasn’t until 1972 that the U.S. government began to regulate workplace din as a health hazard. Before that, one can assume that millions of citizens went through their adult life made partially deaf by the modernity’s accelerating hum.

Despite the realization that high levels of noise can hurt you, restaurants somehow escaped regulation, and some of them now present a hazard to customers and staff alike. However, this fact fails to move many owners and managers of otherwise presentable eating establishments. They insist that deafening noise is stylish – even fun – maybe like a rock concert.

Noise in the “News”

It is not only high levels of restaurant chatter that can be harmful. In other public spaces as diverse as airports, doctors’ offices and gyms the environment is dominated by television screens broadcasting, among other things, “news” programs, which manage to interfere with the average citizen’s ability to think clearly.

This brings us back to that hypothetical conversation mentioned above – the one on the nuclear deal with Iran. Those TV “news” programs filling the public airwaves are now regurgitating a version of deafening nonsense about this important subject – which only goes to show that noise comes in many forms.

Take for instance “news” noise coming from Republican Party leaders. Here are a few examples:

,Sen. Mark Kirk, a Republican from Illinois who has declared that the nuclear accord “condemns the next generation to cleaning up a nuclear war in the Persian Gulf.” He explains that “tens of thousands of people in the Middle East are gonna lose their lives because of this decision by Barack Hussein Obama.”

,Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a Republican presidential candidate, declares, “This is not diplomacy, this is appeasement.”

, Sen. Lindsey Graham, another presidential candidate, insists that “it’s akin to declaring war on Sunni Arabs and Israel by the P5+1 because it ensures their primary antagonist Iran will become a nuclear power and allows them to rearm conventionally.”

,Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a Christian Fundamentalist and another Republican presidential candidate, says, “Shame on the Obama administration for agreeing to a deal that empowers an evil Iranian regime to carry out its threat to ‘wipe Israel off the map’ and bring death to America.”

All of this is coming to the public repetitively through varied media. And all of it is noisy nonsense. How do these Republican notables know their assertions are true? After all, they contradict the positions of most of the world’s professional intelligence experts, including those working for the U.S. government and, it turns out, many of their Israeli counterparts.

The Republicans who shout that the Obama administration was “fleeced” and “bamboozled” by the Iranians are reading from a script which looks like a Machiavellian set-piece designed to attack the President no matter what he does. The authors just plug in the issue (be it health care, immigration or Iran’s nuclear energy program) and start shouting.

The U.S. Zionists, of course, use a script written in Israel. Acting just like agents of that country, they are bound to shout what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shouts. For instance, “the concessions agreement Iran is about to receive paves the way for it to arm itself with nukes.”

Either way, the resulting noise leads away from – and not toward – reality. Thus, the complaints that Obama has simply surrendered to the Iranians is the exact opposite of the truth. Iran has agreed to significant reductions in its nuclear program as well as the most intrusive inspections regime ever imposed on any nation’s nuclear energy program.

Noise in its many manifestations deafens more than one’s ears. It deafens one’s mind. And that is its purpose, as used by both restaurant managers and politicians.

On the one hand, restaurateurs believe they know what it takes to have fun at the dinner table – it takes the merging of all diners into a cloud of near-mindless chatter. Thus, it doesn’t matter if the chatter has any recognizable content, for it merely serves as a vehicle for entering a crowd-focused experience.

The chatter makes you one with everyone else in the restaurant. And, I guess, that is why many people come back for more. The food, no doubt, is secondary.

On the other hand, the politicians also invite you into a crowd experience, but one of a more dangerous kind. The noise in the “news” is not diffused chatter but a loud and sustained message. It is, more often than not, a form of propaganda – the same storyline repeated over and over again until it fills the public airwaves and from there comes to dominate the thought waves of the ignorant.

No doubt about it, the world is getting noisier every day – a fact which might encourage the independent minded to eat more meals at home and turn off the television. That way you get fewer calories and more clarity of mind in one quiet package.

Lawrence Davidson is a history professor at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. He is the author of Foreign Policy Inc.: Privatizing America’s National Interest; America’s Palestine: Popular and Official Perceptions from Balfour to Israeli Statehood; and Islamic Fundamentalism.

10 comments for “America’s Mindless Clamor

  1. Abe
    August 5, 2015 at 11:28

    America’s odious history of breaching deals means nothing is written in stone. Three weeks after agreement in Vienna, Iran’s ambassador to the IAEA filed a complaint stating Washington already breached it.

    He noted comments by White House press secretary Josh Earnest last month, saying:

    “The military option would remain on the table, but the fact is, that military option would be enhanced because we’d been spending the intervening number of years gathering significantly more detail about Iran’s nuclear program.”

    Tehran’s complaint calls Earnest’s threat a “material breach of the commitments just undertaken.” It explains Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPA) terms don’t give Washington a back door way to get intelligence on Iran through the IAEA.

    “Recalling the past instances, in which highly confidential information provided by the Islamic Republic of Iran to the Agency inspectors had been leaked, posing a grave threat to the national security of Iran…it is absolutely essential and imperative for the Agency to take immediate and urgent action to reject such flagrant abuses,” the complaint states.

    Ahead of the Iran deal, Obama “reaffirmed (his) ironclad commitment to the security of our Gulf partners,” meaning more weapons for Saudi Arabia and other regional rogue states already heavily armed and dangerous.

    More for Israel is planned – increasing the chance for conflict. Former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Eric Edelman urged Senate Armed Services Committee members to increase America’s Middle East military footprint – despite its overwhelming belligerent presence.

    Irresponsible anti-Iranian propaganda convinced most Americans to oppose what they should overwhelming support.

    Propaganda Works: New Polls Show Most Americans Oppose Iran Nuclear Deal
    By Stephen Lendman

  2. Abe
    August 4, 2015 at 22:43

    both organizations [The American Israel Public Affairs Committee and and the AIPAC-founded Washington Institute for Near East Policy], like Netanyahu, are clearly frustrated, not only by their having failed to get Washington to bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities, but that an agreement has been made with the Islamic Republic that would preclude a US attack on Iran well into the future.

    This explains the daily barrage of thinly disguised Israeli propaganda missives, packaged as scholarly op-eds that targeted the Iran negotiations while they were taking place and the ones that followed their successful completion.

    On July 15, the very day the agreement was announced, five different “experts,” or WINEP fellows, succeeded in placing their op-eds in leading mainstream publications, all of which contained their “reasoned” doubts about the wisdom of the Iran accord.

    Think of them as the picadors of the political bull ring and now they have less than 60 days, to come up with the final deadly cuts to kill the agreement.

    That led it back to a proven formula; set up a “bipartisan commission.”

    Leading Bibi’s Army in the War for Washington
    By Jeffrey Blankfort

  3. Mortimer
    August 4, 2015 at 08:45

    >>>>Who are our traitors and who is our worst enemy?<<<<

  4. Aman
    August 1, 2015 at 11:17

    What could be better than the noise of hearing one’s self talk louder than everyone else? In keeping with the spirit of distraction the most ignorantly self-centered and arrogant people avoid confronting the truth through sports and entertainment — like Hillary and Barack Obama watching bombs fall on Gadhafi’s head — all for the sake of Israel — “We came, we saw and he died — sieg heil..!

    And hasn’t it all worked out so well for those who break off the President’s interview to fill us in on Justin Beaver?

    So it was, just as we were beginning to look at the evidence and see the possibility that nine eleven was an inside job while the dancing Israelis were quietly let go…

    Who are our traitors and who is our worst enemy?

    What a shame for the world and anyone who cares, the real conspiracy is to keep you from recognizing the truth.

  5. John B
    July 31, 2015 at 20:52

    This is an interesting connection not often made. I have fought four cases of nuisance noise all the way to the Supreme Court, including one now before the court, and found not only absolutely no concern among judges for someone else’s suffering, but no judicial concern for civil rights whatsoever. In one case, a federal judge who herself demanded that the government spend heavily to stop the noise of birds outside her courthouse office window, later denied that a county needs to provide equal protection in enforcing for citizens the very clear and ancient nuisance laws against noise at night, regardless of copious evidence and admissions. Like the wealthy, judges don’t need rights, they have deals and money and corrupt connections that work perfectly well, so why don’t you?

    The arguments in corrupt legal cases are also noise: non sequiturs, equivocations, false statements of fact and law, false quotations, false citations of irrelevant cases. This is considered a product, not an error, because it is what judges want to cut and paste into judgments to suit their prejudices: enough excuses to fool the rare reader of a judgment that there must have been sufficient reason. But there never is: it is noise in the service of corruption.

    For the same reason, the noise of propaganda banishes reason and demands attention, causing those of weak reasoning powers to accept what the insistent “expert” demands.

  6. Lynne Gillooly
    July 31, 2015 at 20:42

    Goebbels had a 3 step recipe to control “a people anywhere at any time”. The big industries incorporated this recipe back in the 80’s . Once they repealed the Fairness Doctrine in 1986 the door was open
    1. Always have an enemy (Obama, Iran, Gays, Illegal immigrants, Muslims etc etc )

    2. Always be the UBER Patriot (talk radio, Fox, Tea Party Patriots constantly waving the flag makes anyone who disagrees with them Un patriotic)

    3. Always have the means to saturate the public with your message and be able to repeat and repeat and repeat that message until it becomes the “truth” (see talk radio, Fox, think tanks, media consolidation)

    There is also a blueprint they have followed written by Justice Powell. Very interesting read. google the Powell memo.

    • Mortimer
      August 8, 2015 at 08:47

      >>>>3. Always have the means to saturate the public with your message and be able to repeat and repeat and repeat that message until it becomes the “truth<<<<

      During his State of the Union address in 2002, President Bush discussed his vision for the war on terrorism and mentioned "an axis of evil."

      The President's State of the Union Address
      By: George W. Bush
      Date: January 29, 2002

      EXCERPTS {lies-lies-lies-blah,blah,blah – planting seeds of war, fears, impending doom and looming years & years of MILITARISM}

      January 29, 2002 . . . Our cause is just, and it continues. Our discoveries in Afghanistan confirmed our worst fears, and showed us the true scope of the task ahead. We have seen the depth of our enemies' hatred in videos, where they laugh about the loss of innocent life. And the depth of their hatred is equaled by the madness of the destruction they design. We have found diagrams of American nuclear power plants and public water facilities, detailed instructions for making chemical weapons, surveillance maps of American cities, and thorough descriptions of landmarks in America and throughout the world.

      What we have found in Afghanistan confirms that, far from ending there, our war against terror is only beginning. Most of the 19 men who hijacked planes on September the 11th LIE were trained in Afghanistan's camps, and so were tens of thousands of others. Thousands of dangerous killers, schooled in the methods of murder, often supported by outlaw regimes, are now spread throughout the world like ticking time bombs, set to go off without warning.

      Our nation will continue to be steadfast and patient and persistent in the pursuit of two great objectives. First, we will shut down terrorist camps, disrupt terrorist plans, and bring terrorists to justice. And, second, we must prevent the terrorists and regimes who seek chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons from threatening the United States and the world. (Applause.)

      Our war on terror is well begun, but it is only begun. This campaign may not be finished on our watch, yet it must be and it will be waged on our watch.

      We can't stop short. If we stop now, leaving terror camps intact and terror states unchecked, our sense of security would be false and temporary. History has called America and our allies to action, and it is both our responsibility and our privilege to fight freedom's fight. (Applause.)

      read the complete PROPAGANDA FEST…

  7. Bruce D
    July 31, 2015 at 16:48

    Please note that restauranteurs may be deliberately increasing the noise levels at their establishments to increase profits, per this rather shocking NY Times article:

  8. Andoheb
    July 31, 2015 at 14:35

    Did not Nazi propaganda minister Goebbels say that if a big lie is repeated often enough, people will believe it

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