Say this tongue twister quickly:
How much wood
could a wood chuck chuck
if a woodchuck
As much wood
as a woodchuck could chuck
if a woodchuck
That tongue twister doesn’t do any damage, not even to the tongue.
“Another type of twister, a tornado,” says Wikipedia “is a violent, dangerous, rotating column of air that is in contact with both the surface of the earth and a cumulonimbus cloud.”
If you follow news from America, you’ll see frequent reports of swirling cones of air turned violent across the country, especially in the mid-west.
Sometimes twisters or tornados are called cyclones, but none of the people who have witnessed their houses picked up into the cones much care what they’re called.
In the first stanza of THE SECOND COMING, Irish poet W. B. Yeats described another type of twister:
“Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.”
The “widening gyre” offers another vision of the twister. Thus, not only is nature at times violent and destructive, but people falling into the conical pattern through anarchy.
Finally, those who twist the truth or distort facts–politicians, propagandists, snake-oil salesmen and major media outlets—are expert twisters.
MSNBC yields to its liberal supporters, often critical of Fox and almost always opposed to Fox’s political positions. If Fox News twists news and commentary to right wing politics, liberal media twist reporting to the left.
Politicians who gridlock parliamentary or congressional bodies serve special interests that support them financially. In short, they’re bought by twisters who pay politicians to be twisters for a cause.
Outright propagandists like Abe Foxman, National Director of the Anti-Defamation League; David Harris, Executive Director of the American Jewish Committee; and Norman Podhoretz, Editor-at-Large , Commentary magazine consistently use the print media to attack anyone critical of Israel.
The technique used involves twisted argument aimed at anyone who fails to tow the line of their organization, including writers who attack those who fail to accept any political medicine they prescribe.
This ploy works mainly because readers don’t take the time to dig into both sides of arguments and can’t distinguish fact from twisted fiction.
In a rant against the New York Times for an editorial slightly critical of Benjamin Netanyahu, David Harris complained that Netanyahu had been the newspaper’s “favourite whipping boy for the editorial writers…”
Master twister Harris tried to defend Netanyahu while demeaning the Times editor for his criticism of the prime minister.
The editorial actually expressed concern for Israel, but Harris completely ignored that while refusing to accept any criticism for anything Israeli. To Harris’s (and other’s) twisted thinking, Israel can do nothing wrong.
Then there are the underhanded tactics used by AIPAC, whose current president is Lee Rosenberg. AIPAC functions as an organization dedicated to influencing media, students and elected officials in America.
Nureddin Sabir, Editor of Redress, Information and Analysis, upon his return from Libya, commented on the challenge now facing Libyans as they embark on a path of freedom from a single Gaddafi prescribed opinion:
Libyans “will have to get used to the art of persuasion. They will have to learn that theirs is not the only opinion worth listening to and that nobody, whether Islamist or liberal, holds a monopoly over the truth.”
That’s something people everywhere should learn. The only way out of the morass of opinionated special interests is to become exposed to opposing interests. Learn to see how twisters work to deceive.
* Paul J. Balles is a retired American university professor and freelance writer who has lived in the Middle East for many years. He’s a weekly Op-Ed columnist for the Gulf Daily News. Dr. Balles is also Editorial Consultant for Red House Marketing and a regular contributor to Bahrain This Month.