History may not repeat itself, but it sure does echo – often loudly. That’s the theme of Tom Engelhardt’s new article, “Tomorrow’s News Today: Writing History Before It Happens.” Tom comes up with nine headlines that we’ve seen before, and that (sadly) we’re likely to see again — and again. Here, shortened, are his nine “future” headlines:
- U.S. airstrike obliterates foreign wedding party.
- U.S. government surveillance is far more intrusive than previously reported.
- Patriotic whistleblower charged with espionage.
- Extremist groups exploit unrest caused by U.S. military strikes.
- Supposed U.S. ally snubs Presidential summit/meeting.
- Young American with Islamic sympathies caught planning terrorism in FBI sting operation.
- “Lone Wolf” homegrown terrorist kills innocents; says he was inspired by ISIS.
- Toddler kills mother in gun accident.
- President says U.S. is both exceptional and indispensable.
You can read all of Tom’s article here. Perhaps the most sobering aspect of his article is how readily predictable (and repetitive) such headlines are. Toddlers shooting parents and siblings? Sadly predictable due to the proliferation of guns and lack of safety measures. Whistleblowers charged with espionage? The next Snowden or Manning should be ready to be so charged, even when (especially when) their motives are focused on informing ordinary Americans of what their government is up to.
Inspired by Tom’s article, I came up with seven grim “future” headlines of my own. I challenge our readers to come up with a few as well. Just add them to the “Comments” section below.
This is not simply a whimsical or cynical exercise: it’s a reminder of how narrow our country’s narrative appears to be, both now and in the immediate future. Details change, a name here, a country there, but the headlines remain the same. We need to act to change these headlines.
My seven “future” headlines
- U.S.-trained army [in Iraq, Afghanistan, whereverstan] collapses, abandoning heavy weapons and ammo stocks to rebel forces.
- Deep-sea oil drilling platform [in Gulf of Mexico, Arctic Circle, insert environmentally sensitive area] malfunctions, triggering major spill and environmental disaster.
- U.S. President starts new war without Congressional declaration of war.
- After declaring “mission accomplished” [in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, insert almost any Middle Eastern/African Country] and withdrawing U.S. troops, President [Bush, Obama, Bush/Clinton] orders troops to return as war is rekindled.
- U.S. loses huge weapons cache [in Iraq, Afghanistan, whereverstan]; sends more weapons as replacements.
- Lawbreaking major bank/corporation “too big to jail”; pays fine and admits no wrongdoing.
- Pentagon weapon system, 10 years behind schedule and $100 billion over budget, fully funded by Congress.
Always in motion the future, as Yoda said. Let’s hope that a change for the better is not something that’s limited to “Star Wars” movies.