A few political operatives of the Right have spent millions of donated money to appear as a "mass movement" of outraged Right-thinking Americans. In reality, there are pitifully few of them, but they have enough support from the Bush/Rovian/Nixonesque political establishment to oil their machines.
The logistics are easy: Take $10 million dollars, hire a web consultant and fancy P.R. firm, reserve a few snappy, misleading domain names, and post your "truth-as-fact" in as many places as it takes to scatter the opposition.
If you're lucky, you might get to rewrite history your way. If not, well, a quick change of identity using what I call cybercamo; and who will know the difference?
Button up, I say. We're coming. And we know exactly Who's Who!
Take, for example, John Kerry's presidential candidacy and the efforts of the Not-So-Swift-Vets For Truth" (NSSV) to discredit Kerry's legitimate Vietnam service record and participation in Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW). Through the formation of PACs, 527s and multiple websites with names like wintersoldier.com, (pure cybercamo; it's also the name of a powerful VVAW action now being re-released nationwide on film), the NSSV won a great victory, the Presidency, but left many Americans disheartened and distressed.
Truth is not found in a slogan, or an icon; nor is it found in the coffers or the words of the politically powerful. It is found in the hearts, minds and experience of those who sacrifice to get the word out despite a dazzling glitter of half-truths, distortions, character assassinations and outright lies.
As organizations like the NSSV spin webs of deceit to sustain their personal and political (and largely financial) interests, we little folks and progressive types (like VVAW) sail our modest cybersled computers right alongside them, but with a completely different mission: We refuse to have our history rewritten.
You see, even a child of the forties like me recognizes the potential of the Internet to grassroots' organizing. Thanks to Bill Gates, it no longer takes millions to raise consciousness. Getting the word out by website/email costs as little as $11.95 per month. When the war in Iraq came along, for example, we were no longer stifled by the cost of paper and postage. We reassessed our positions, reframed our arguments in the spirit of George Lakoff, and rejoined the ranks that had sagged after the sorry results of the November elections.
In the spring of 2005, we rallied our resources to participate in an historical open debate with the NSSV at the 5th Triennial Vietnam Symposium at Texas Tech University (TTU) in Lubbock. As expected, the NSSV employed the same self-serving tactics, tricks and smokescreens they used under various names in the Nixon era. Our panel, consisting of early VVAW leaders, artists and authors, countered the way we always have: with the truth.
The TTU debates demonstrate that while cybercamo may work online for the NSSV, even with a $10 million dollar bankroll left over from anti-Kerry/VVAW campaign, it is hard to fool a live audience. Not only were the NSSV's attempts to rewrite history exposed in Texas by their words and actions, the unedited TTU videos are available online for everyone, history included, to judge for themselves.
The Inspiration of TTU
After Lubbock, some of us took positive action, forming VetSpeak.com, vowing to speak truth to power whenever the NSSVs or the like-minded attempted to publicly minimize and rewrite the sacrifices and contributions that VVAW (and other progressive organizations) make to America.
The NSSVs, however, realizing the serious credibility problem with Swift Boat Veterans For Truth, morphed into other liberal- or benign-looking identities (Google Scott Swett for a list) using, you guessed it, cybercamo. By repeating their messages in many forums, under many names, and using all the tricks that money can buy, the technique allows them to appear larger and more accepted than they are.
A strange and wonderful irony is that the more the NSSV attempts to destroy the image of VVAW, the more they actually enhance and reinforce it. (See Vietnam Veterans Legacy Foundation.) There are many examples that highlight the basic philosophical differences between veterans organizations like VVAW (powered by objective truth) and the NSSVs (funded by Big Money). At the very best, these vets are uninformed, automaton, self-proclaimed patriots. At the very worst, they are the paid henchmen of the Bush Administration, motivated by personal and political gain, to rewrite a history that was never theirs to rewrite.
Button up, I say. We're coming. And we've always known exactly Who's Who!