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WTO: The Real Culprit

Dear Adriene,

Bravo to you for your insightful and discerning article in the last issue concerning mainstream media's portrayal of the WTO. I find it frightening to watch the media use its control over information to manipulate society. For example, corporate media has given a whole new meaning to the acronym "WTO." No longer do we think of the physical entity when we hear, read, or say WTO. Instead, the WTO now means the "Battle of Seattle"-- four days of chaos, riots, and a war zone. The mainstream media has successfully diverted the public from concerning itself with the true dilemma at hand: the WTO itself.

Downtown Seattle became a war zone between protesters and police when it should have been a place of contention between protesters and the WTO. It wasn't supposed to turn into a battle at all, but since it did, then it at least should have been a battle between the protesters and the WTO. However, since it mutated into war between the police and protesters, why and how the attention was diverted from the fundamental issue itself needs to be examined. Right from the start, the public's attention withdrew from the WTO to the war zone, and thanks to corporate media, we still haven't recovered and refocused our attention on the original issue--the WTO as an entity hungry for more power, control, and money.

Fundamental questions have been missing from the headlines. What is it about the WTO that drew 50,000 people together and forced the police to use violence against us for trying to interrupt this group's meeting? Is it not somehow bizarre that we--the protesters, the police, and the mayor--had to go to such extremes to allow this group to meet? Strange how the original reasons for the protest, the WTO's power, authority, and control over us, are so clouded over that we have become detached from the issues we have with them.

The subject matter of nearly all "post-WTO" articles is to find the culprit of the chaos; in turn, the public also becomes obsessed with blame. Depending on the day or the journalist, sometimes the culprit is the police, other times the mayor; the next day the protesters are to blame, and then the anarchists. But I have yet to witness mainstream blame the WTO.

After weeks of media coverage, I find it schizophrenic that "a strong majority" of Seattle residents "believe the conference was a credit to the city and its importance as a trade leader," as stated in an article in the December 19th issue of The Seattle Times. This indicates that a majority of Seattle residents view the WTO as a positive entity, having a beneficial influence on humanity and the planet. The article further reported that again, by "strong majority," the residents of Seattle sanctioned police to use "tear gas and bullets" to allow the conferences to continue.

How can it be possible that after weeks of newspaper articles, weeks of (supposed) political discussion, hundreds of arrests, and 50,000 people taking to the streets, that residents view the WTO as a positive entity? After reading this article, it became clear that the majority of the Seattle public does not really know what the WTO actually does--thanks to corporate media.

There was a battle brewing in Seattle long before the WTO arrived, and it was the WTO itself that set the aggressive tone in the first place--not the police, the mayor, the anarchists, or the protesters. From the beginning, government, police, and, as we have found out, a "strong majority" of Seattle residents simply assumed that the protesters were the ones that must be held under control, stopped, and stifled, using whatever means necessary. In reality, the WTO needed to be stopped. Mainstream media continuously reproaches Schell for his naiveté; they say that the FBI, the secret service, and the protesters themselves, who registered their demonstrations beforehand, gave him ample warning. Therein lies more schizophrenia; it is a simple given that Schell was "warned" about the protesters. It is the WTO's power and authority that the greater public needs to be warned about by corporate media

With all attention focused on the police and Schell, corporate media paved the WTO's path to an easy way out of the chaos it evoked. The entity quietly sat on the sidelines without direct confrontation while everyone simply accepted this as normal, and the WTO probably even had the last laugh because it was so easy for them to steer clear of the mess. The "Battle of Seattle" was all about them, yet they were not even involved in it. The riots, violence, and war between the protesters and police are side affects of the actual disease--the WTO. Yet all attention has only been focused on these side affects.


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