We wanted to believe the lies about weapons of mass destruction in the clutches of Saddam Hussein. It was an automatic attitude response. Thirteen months previous to the UN’s investigation into Hussein’s stash, the United States was attacked. We were all injured, all dazed and all prone to that disposition of belief that establishes attitude.
When President George W. Bush on March 19th, 2003, announced Operation Iraqi Freedom, we were ready to be complicit in a lie that to date has resulted in four thousand four hundred eighty four American casualties, not to mention the hundreds of thousands of vets and their families who are the walking wounded of this lie.
Not too long ago mothers who killed their children banked on the automatic attitude response. There was a time when we’d automatically sympathize with a mother in panic in front of television cameras pleading for the safe return of her child, but since the exploitation of that automatic attitude, we’ve become more suspicious. Rightfully.
We arrive at any lie with our bags packed, a frame of reference that’s the product of cultural conditioning. Strong content cultures use repetition to entrench messages and values, saturating us to the point that we’re no longer questioning, giving the lie power.
This leads to hidden presumptions, beliefs that are so ingrained as fact that we do not believe they need to be proven. Ethnocentrism is the other effect of this cultural conditioning. Hear the patriotic rhetoric enough, and post 9/11 was wall to wall with this, and somehow it’s become a little easier to believe in Iraq’s amassing weapons of mass destruction.
Big, sophisticated lies powerful enough to justify war work because we are complicit in believing them. Remove your value from the lie and the automatic attitude response is disarmed, your cultural conditioning is retarded in its evaluation and you’re left to discern the truth instead of being subjected to the lie.
This works for smaller daily lies, too.