CBC Newspeak
by Kim Petersen

January 3, 2004

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The year 2004 has just been ushered in and nothing has really changed. The resistance in Iraq continues and the news still reads the same. Well, not quite. The first sentence of a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) online news article reads: “Anti-U.S. fighters shot down a helicopter near Fallujah, Iraq, on Friday, killing one American soldier and wounding another.”


“Anti-U.S. fighters.” What kind of biased nonsense is this? What kind of deranged thought processes could have skewered the language of the news in such a biased fashion?


It is as if we have entered a sci-fi la-la land. The logical assumption is that if country A invades country B and if country B fights back then it is anti-country A. Resistance now means anti-attacking country. It brings new meaning to the sci-fi refrain: “Resistance is futile.” The TV series “Star Trek: The Next Generation” presented viewers with the ultimate enemy: the intergalactic empire of the Borg. The Borg made known matter-of-factly the fate to befall the crew of the Starship Enterprise:


"This is the Borg Collective. Prepare to be assimilated. We will add your biological and technological distinctions to our own. You will adapt to service us. Resistance is futile."


A slight substitution and the words would ring eerily true for the assimilation of Iraq:


"This is the US Empire. Prepare to be assimilated. We will add your natural resources and wealth to our own. You will adapt to service us. Resistance is futile."


Imagine terming the resistance against the Nazis during WWII as anti-German fighters.


If fighting for one’s country makes it anti another country then what does invading a country adduced to have been no threat make the invader? Surely the US aggressors must be considered anti-Iraq fighters and worse by the same reasoning. Yet the CBC doesn’t refer to the US fighters in this way. The same article refers to the occupation forces as “U.S. soldiers,” “military,” “U.S. troops,” and “U.S. forces.” The CBC does acknowledge that this is a “U.S.-led occupation” but the entire news report creates the illusion that the US is defending its homeland. The Iraqi “insurgents” are otherwise referred to as the “enemy” in their own country. The entire slant is in sympathy with the aggressor. No mention is made of Iraqi casualties.


CBC reporting skirts addressing the Iraqi fighters as resistance.


The Canadian Filter


The CBC does enjoy greater journalistic leeway than its counterparts in the US corporate media but that is precisely because the stories that upset US elites don’t disturb the elite agenda in Canada. News concerning the US is likelier to pass through the filters of the media in Canada whereas if the news was inimical to Canadian corporate interests then it would likelier be squashed or marginalized. Since the US is Canada’s major trading partner, it stands to reason that where little is to be gained from opposing US policy, the Canadian media will maintain a low-key profile on the story.


Katherine Gun


A case in point is the non-reporting of the case of Katherine Gun, a young woman working in British intelligence, who was later singled out as the person responsible for revealing a US-UK “dirty tricks” surveillance plot on recalcitrant UN Security Council members. The celebrated physicist and humanist Albert Einstein once said, “Never do anything against conscience even if the state demands it.” Ms. Gun obeyed her conscience and leaked information on the US and UK governments' eavesdropping on the UN missions. In the end the US attempt to coerce enough countries to vote for a resolution approving an aggression on Iraq failed.


Media analyst Norman Solomon asks why the story of Gun remains uncovered in the corporate US media.  The same question is valid in Canada.


A Google search on Katherine Gun and Canada turns up zilch for Canada’s corporate media as well. Emails sent to several Canadian newspapers a while back have so far gone unanswered.




The case of Cuba is an example of Canada pursuing a course counter to US policy. Why? It suits the Canadian corporate agenda. Canadian businesses reap profits from the minimized competition in Cuba.


US-Israel vs. Palestine


Israel is a minor player in the Canadian trade but it is close to the heart of US foreign policy. Canada has mouthed the position of the international community but has hypocritically pursued good relations with Israel despite its iniquitous treatment of Arabs and its occupation of Arab land.


The other day while listening to the CBC Radio I heard the on-air personality refer to the “separation fence” in Occupied Palestine.


CBC did explore superficially the definitional considerations in “Behind The Wall: An in-depth look at Israel's security fence”:


On any given day in the occupied territories and Israel, hundreds of bulldozers are at work. They're building what some believe is the largest project in Israel's history - a separation barrier. It's also been called an apartheid wall and a security fence. Whatever its name, the barrier is raising controversy.


Of course the barrier is controversial itself, but when media such as the CBC begin to bleat in Newspeak then it becomes mind-numbing farce. The same article admits, “To the west, there's an eight-metre high concrete wall. To the east, north and south, barbed wire fences. Beyond that there are trenches, patrol routes and another fence.”


Now what kind of fence is eight meters high with trenches?


Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary (1979) offers:


fence 1 archaic: a means of protection: DEFENSE  2 a barrier intended to prevent escape or intrusion or to mark a boundary; esp: such a barrier made of posts and wire or boards


wall 6: something resembling a wall (as in appearance or effect); esp: something that acts as a barrier or defense


Well, this is not a fence made of post, wire, or boards and there is no reason to use terms already labeled as archaic in 1979. So left is something resembling a wall and supposedly functioning as a defense. This is the only dictionary meaning of the word that corresponds to the reality of the behemoth built deep inside Occupied Palestine.


CBC erodes further its credibility as an impartial reporter of the news when it asks: “Should Israel continue to build its security fence in the West Bank? Is the barrier necessary to protect Israeli citizens?”


This blatantly panders to the Zionist line that it is the victim. There is no denying that Palestinians mount suicide attacks on the occupier and inflict carnage on numerous Israeli civilians. Anti-racism activist Tim Wise, however, presents a different spin from the CBC:


Of course, Israel itself is a suicide culture, though they left this part out of my Hebrew School classes. What else could one call a nation erected amidst folks who don't want you there, whose land you had to steal, if not a land rooted in a death wish? We may not blow ourselves up, but we sure as hell have come up with a creative way to put our individual and collective lives in danger -- become usurpers of other people's stuff: always a sure way to make people hate you.


The CBC twist on the atrocities of today is not surprising.  George Orwell once declared, “In our time political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible.’


Kim Petersen lives in Nova Scotia and is a regular contributor to Dissident Voice newsletter. He can be reached at: kimpetersen@gyxi.dk

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