Monday, September 2, 2013

We eat propaganda every day

Before I left my country to work and therefore live in a far away land, I used to watch television. TV is where I took my first steps in learning about politics and being interested in it. So even though some stuff pleased me and some other stuff displeased me, I rather trusted what the journalists were saying and I would have considered crazy anybody who told me I was eating lies all day long without even realizing it.

So when I arrived in Thailand, I loved my country. I couldn't have explained exactly why, since I knew jack about it, having always sucked at history and geography. But France is the country of the human being rights and whatever, so it had to be pretty damn good, right? Actually no. France has some serious issues in its past and present, like colonization (we haven't totally come around that subject yet) and the infamous French prisons which have an occupation rate of around 120%, rats, insects... When my girlfriend at the time pointed me to these negative issues it was like a punch in my stomach and let's be clear: I couldn't face the truth. Being shown the ugly truth about your country by a stranger, what's more: a stranger you love... it takes a few days to sink in.

I later experienced the same sort of painful feelings through debates and learning to admit publicly "I was wrong" (when I was). But that's not the topic of the day. What matters is that this sort of truth never surfaced in the French media. So I was ignorant and that was in part because the media of my country keeps people in the dark. Hiding the truth is not really what we expect from our media. But what if I told you that our media, YOUR MEDIA, is even more wicked than this? That it's even evil to the point of fabricating lies and selling you heroes who are in fact villains? What if God was dead and the Devil had taken its place (I'm talking figuratively), would you want the media to tell you the truth, or would you want them to lie to you and pretend that the red guy with horns and a pointy tail is God?

Mother Teresa was evil! 

Before reading further how I desecrate that evil witch whom most people believe was good, take 30 seconds for trying to remember what good deeds earned her such a good reputation and a Nobel peace prize.

No, really! Take 30 seconds all by yourself to try and remember! This article can wait.































Now that you're done, let me read your mind! Either you can't remember or you think she was taking care of some kind of hospital for the dying and helped the poor people.

Mother Teresa was part of an order of nuns who was welcoming poor and sick people into a home for the dying. These sick people were ordered to lay in bed or sit but it was forbidden to them to move around. Their friends and families were NOT allowed to visit. Ever! They were suffering but the nuns were not nurses so the nuns were not giving them any sort of treatment. Not even painkillers. The beds were not actually beds. Aroup Chatterjee, author of "Mother Teresa: the final verdict" describes them as some kind of hammocks.

Mother Teresa had a fascination for suffering. This fascination derived from a fundamentalist endeavor to proselytize and her perception was that suffering was bringing people closer to Jesus. We can at least agree on that: when people are desperate, they will often try to find refuge and solace in the belief in a religion... because the idea that their suffering is only a result of a harsh unforgiving and unfair world is not a pleasant idea. So, if Teresa had a kink for suffering, that was her thing and we must not judge other people's choices that they make for themselves. The only problem is: she made this choice for the dying as well. After she became famous in the media and her organization received a lot of money, she willingly decided that the people suffering should continue to suffer because it was bringing them closer to Jesus. Instead, she used the money to open more homes for the dying in many places in order to expand her proselytizing enterprise. The money was used just for expanding her religion and even though she had plenty of money she did not use it to alleviate the suffering of people. When someone advertises that they need money to take care of the poor and they don't use it to help the poor, it's called a scam! That's right! Teresa was a scam-artist.

Teresa liked the company of the rich and powerful. She told lies in their favor and she indulged in hypocrisy just to accommodate them. And she accepted their money, even when she knew perfectly that the money she was taking had in fact been stolen from the poor. Everybody knows about Haiti since the 2010 earthquake. Well, Haiti has been dirt poor for a long time, and the Duvalier family (dictators from 1957 to 1986) certainly contributed to the poverty by stealing land from farmers and organizing the system on bribery and corruption. When Mother Teresa visited Duvalier, taking his money that had been stolen from the poor was not enough and she decided to add insult to injury by declaring that Duvalier loved the poor and that the poor loved Duvalier. That's ballsy! Another ballsy action was taking $1.25 million of donation money from Charles Keating who had created a fraudulent Ponzi scheme resulting in 23,000 people losing their life's savings (sorry, people! you just gonna have to keep working till you die!). Would you expect Mother Teresa to then return the money? Nope! She claimed the money was already spent (sorry, people! and I won't ask my friend the pope to reach in his deep pockets to reimburse you) and she sent a letter asking for clemency in defense of Charles Keating to the judge who was prosecuting him for fraud. It must be noted also that Teresa's order of nuns is the only association in India that doesn't publish publicly its treasury information and that amounts (considered "significant" by Aroup Chatterjee) of its treasury were kept in the banks of The Vatican.

In several countries, her fundamentalist religious views brought her to lobby politicians against the right to legal divorce and against the right to abortion. At the same time, she was hypocritically praising Lady Diana for moving on from her failed marriage with Prince Charles.

Mother Teresa was against the honest pursuit of truth because it was erosive to people's faith. The more people know about the world, the more they are able to argue with what they've been taught. And Teresa preferred ignorant Christians than knowledgeable people able to agree or disagree with her religion. The nuns belonging to her order were forbidden to read from any secular book or newspaper. The emphasis was on nuns becoming obedient rather than educated. She discouraged the nuns from seeking medical training to help the dying, and even from helping the sick when they requested help at the wrong moment of the day. She also organized the punishment of nuns by transferring them away from their friends.

If you've read everything so far, congratulations! I'll spare you some of the less relevant criticisms. You're free to have a look at Wikipedia to check if what I say is correct... but since it is one of my sources for writing this article, there shouldn't be too much difference between what I say and what you'll find there. Another excellent source is Christopher Hitchens' documentary Hell's Angel (duration: 24 minutes). My 3rd and last source for this article is Penn & Teller: Bullshit episode entitled "Holier than thou" (duration: 30 minutes).

So... Mother Teresa is not exactly the person you thought she was, huh?


While I dedicated the majority of this article to exposing the ugly reality of Mother Teresa's personality and actions, that was just an illustration and not the point I wanted to make.

The point I wanted to make is that obtaining accurate information is not easy and I hope I have demonstrated clearly how far from the truth we can be sometimes. As I discussed in the article The Bayart Scale, Internet made it easier though, to look for information, contradictory opinions, and assess the reality of the world by comparing several sources. The Internet is fantastic because it holds knowledge that can dispel widespread lies. Snopes and Wikipedia for instance should be your primary destinations to check if some outrageous ideas or stories might actually be true. You eat propaganda, and so do I. But if we're aware of it, we'll be more critical in assessing the information we receive.

When your country is involved in an International situation and disagrees with people or foreign governments, you might want to read foreign newspapers to obtain a less biased point of view. Because when a journalist from your country publishes an article that exposes the lies of your politicians, the newspaper's boss will receive phone calls from people in power and will be told that his newspaper won't be offered any more interviews and that his journalists won't be allowed in future press conferences, thus leading to sales decreases. Foreign journalists on the other hand, they just couldn't care less.

Also, with regards to our cultural heroes, the late Howard Zinn said we can and should say the truth, get rid of our former undeserving heroes, and promote other more deserving people as figures to look up to.

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