America's manufactured amnesia puts everyone in peril

The U.S. has forgotten its horrific past, so now it and other countries are reliving it.

By Frank Joyce
April 16, 2017 11:29PM (UTC)
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The Vietnam War should never be forgotten, especially now. (AP/Jose Luis Magana)

This article originally appeared on AlterNet.

With credit to Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman for their long ago description of how the media/education system manufactures consent, this article is about one of its critical components: manufactured amnesia. Simply put,  the media treats everything it deems newsworthy as a discrete event that is taking place for the first time ever. So,  for example,  the white male supremacist presidency of Donald Trump is presented as something brand new in US history. Sigh.

The manufacture of amnesia—never connecting the present to anything unpleasant in the past—is completely bi-partisan. MSNBC does it just as much as Fox News. Ditto for the New York Times and the Washington Times.


Especially galling is the profoundly hypocritical coverage of the recent use of chemical weapons by the government of Syria. Not one mainstream story or opinion piece has made any mention whatsoever of the blanket spraying of chemical Agent Orange throughout Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia by the US military in the 1960’s and 70’s.

To this day there are babies being born in all three countries with birth defects from the ongoing consequences of the vast use of this Dow Chemical and Monsanto manufactured toxin. Vietnam era US military veterans exposed to Agent Orange also suffer from its lasting effects.

Do a search for Agent Orange at Google News. You will find recent stories about complaints from poisoned US vets over their treatment by the Veterans Administration.  But you will not find even one story about Agent Orange in the context of the use of chemical weapons by the government of Syria.  Nor can you find references to Napalm,  another chemical weapon used extensively by the US military.


Had they the capability, would the Vietnamese have been justified in bombing the Dow Agent Orange plant in Midland, Michigan? If they had, would it have made the US stop using it?

To learn more about Agent Orange, other Vietnam era US war atrocities and what you can do about them visit:

Frank Joyce is a lifelong Detroit based writer and activist.  He is co-editor with Karin Aguilar-San Juan of The People Make The Peace—Lessons From The Vietnam Antiwar Movement.

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Agent Orange Amnesia Donald Trump Dow Chemical Edward Herman Noam Chomsky Vietnam