George Graham

A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Brainwash

I have lived in the United States for more than three decades, and I am still brought up short by the obvious gaps in American education.

Or are they really gaps? Sometimes I wonder whether the bizarre perceptions that surprise me are deliberately spread by missionaries of disinformation – whether students are being brainwashed to create a more easily manipulated public.

I’m not just talking about crazies like Dinesh D’Souza, not just a college graduate but a college president, who insists that – because Barack Obama had a “philandering, inebriated African socialist” father – the President  is bent on the destruction of America and the enslavement of Americans. Or Newt Gingrich, who is supposed to be the brains of the Republican Party (God help them), and who has been babbling mindlessly about the president’s supposed Kenyan anti-colonialism.

The contamination is much broader than that.

Consider the widespread xenophobic rage stirred up by the illegal immigration issue. And the misinformed rants against Islam engendered by plans to build a Muslim community center near Ground Zero. And the anti-science, anti-enlightenment diatribes of religious conservatives.

And the misinformation phenomenon is not restricted to hot-button issues in the news. It’s endemic.

There was a guest pundit on TV recently talking about “American exceptionalism,” for example. And he declared with a straight face that America is “the last great hope of mankind.”

And one of the local candidates for Congress – a Republican naturally – is seriously proposing that America get out of the United Nations.

Yesss!!! Let’s hear it for the good ol’ US of A. Americans don’t need the world. The world needs them. And if you don’t agree, buddy, you’re walking on their “fighting side.”

Who feeds them that stuff?

Don’t they have access to the Internet? Can’t they see that in nearly every category by which a society can be judged, America is far down the list? And if it’s the military they’re bragging about, they might be in for a shock. Despite the fact that America spends as much of its total wealth on arms as the rest of the world combined, its military resources have been drained by two long and expensive wars.

Am I the only one who can see this? Obviously, the politicians and pundits can’t. If you were able to tune out the nonsense about Christine O’Donnell’s dalliance with witchcraft and the wails of the rich about being overtaxed, you might have come across a news item today that points to the scary possibility of a confrontation with China.

Not North Korea. Not Iran. No, the big dog itself.

According to the Associated Press, China is at odds with Japan over detention of the captain of a Chinese boat that collided with two Japanese coastguard ships near some disputed islands. And guess who is getting involved? America.

Here’s an excerpt from the AP report:

Washington has criticized Chinese claims to swathes of the South China Sea, where Taiwan and several ASEAN members including Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines also assert sovereignty.

China says it has sovereignty over the seas, home to valuable fishing grounds and largely unexploited oil and natural gas fields.

It reacted with anger in July when the United States brought up the issue at a regional meeting, further souring ties between Beijing and Washington already under strain from spats over the value of the Chinese currency, Tibet and Taiwan.

While there have been no military clashes in the seas for years, China and some of the other claimants have been building up their military presence in the region.

I have no idea who has a legitimate claim to those islands, and I realize that Japan is one of America’s closest allies. But considering that China is America’s number one creditor and considering China has a huge fighting force that’s doing nothing stressful at the moment (photo above), and considering that America has its hands full with Iraq and Afghanistan and some amorphous thing named Terror, you would think Washington, whoever he or she is, might want to think twice before entering the fray.

To me, this is clearly a case for the United Nations.

But not to a lot of Americans. They want to get out of the UN and kick the world’s behind without interference from anyone. Hey, they’re “exceptional,” after all!

Whatever that means.

About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for