Friday, February 28, 2014

The Wrong Kind of Cynicism

And, vexingly for Eric, on the rare occasions he’s convinced a journalist that the CIA murdered his father, the revelation has not been greeted with horror. One writer declined Eric’s invitation to attend his press conference saying, ‘We know the CIA kills people. That’s old news.’
In fact, Eric told me, this would be the first time anyone had ever publicly charged the CIA with murdering an American citizen.
‘People have been so brainwashed by fiction,’ said Eric as we drove to the local Kinko’s to pick up the press releases for the conference, ‘so brainwashed by the Tom Clancy thing, they think, “We know this stuff. We know the CIA does this.” Actually, we know nothing of this. There’s no case of this, and all this fictional stuff is like an immunization against reality. It makes people think they know things that they don’t know and it enables them to have a kind of superficial quasi-sophistication and cynicism which is just a thin layer beyond which they’re not cynical at all.’
- Jon Ronson, The Men Who Stare at Goats (2004)

The story of Eric's father, Frank Olson, and why he may have been murdered, can be found here, as well as in Ronson's book.