Sunday, September 24, 2006


So here's the reality. Media's still not regained their interest in Iraq. Protests? Not covered. Activism? Not covered. Abeer? Not covered. Ehren Watada's Article 32 hearing? Not covered. Ricky Clousing got a day's worth of coverage from independent media and then quickly receeded like all other Iraq related stories. Since that day, he's been charged with desertion. You've heard about that in the mainstream. When it comes to independent media, he and his lawyer apparently have no phones.

What's it going to take to put Iraq front and center? What's it going to take to bring the troops home and end the war?

What it's always taken: People. Forget the media that failed you (independent, this summer). Forget about some 'brave voice' showing up with a microphone. They're either not interested or too busy.

What it's going to take is you. You bring the world home to your friends and family. You be the media. Figure out a way to do that. Two creative community members brought the war to school on Friday in 'spontaneous' actions. (And while administrators are attempting to figure out the hows, we'll leave it at that. One student tells the story in Polly's Brew today.)

Saturday, we all met with a group of high school students (actually 34 high school students, one was a middle school student) to hear what it was like on their campuses, to hear the things they wanted to do and to brainstorm with them.

They know they have to be the ones doing it. They grasp no principal's going to help, no PTA, no media and, sadly, no Congress. What little that has been done came about as a result of people speaking out.

Maybe you feel talked out? (If so, are you in independent media and when did you first starting feeling talked out? We'll guess June of this year.) Well tough.

What are we supposed to tell you? "Take a break"?

Six weeks of a break was what independent media took and the peace movement can't take many more breaks. Not when the American people have turned against the war and now is the time when real strides to end the war could be taking place, could be felt across the land.

You can bring the war home (or to school). In the current issue of Interview, Ethan Hawke and a reporter weigh in about "apathy." Oh, people are so apethetic, the two philosophers tell us. Hawke goes on about how he wished he'd lived through the earlier times (60s), wished it most of his life, and now he does.

How lucky for you and what are you doing with that opportunity? Not real much.

Some people may feel removed from the war due to the simple fact that there is so little coverage of it. For instance, we've hit the 2700 mark on American troop fatalities. Did you even know it was approaching? Did you know that we passed the 2600 mark in August?

The coverage isn't there. By all means, gripe about that fact. But grasp that we hit the four year mark for this illegal war in March and there's not one program, mainstream or independent, that makes Iraq the focus. There's no "America Held Hostage" booming voice from Ted Koppel.
Now maybe if Pacifica hadn't cancelled their peace program, we could get some Iraq coverage there. But where on the peace network is Iraq? Why, all these years later, can no one create even a half-hour, once a week show covering Iraq?

We don't know. But we know that means you need to cover it. You need to talk about it. (We're doing it on our end as well.) You need to inject it into conversations, you need to share the events of the day.

You are the media. Not anyone else. You're now the audience and the broadcaster and that's a lot to put on your shoulders but that's reality.

Reality isn't hawking your wares across the country and telling mainstream reporters (who write fawning pieces about you) that independent media proved it makes a difference with their reporting on Camp Casey. Less fawning might require reporters to ask, "And how often did you visit Camp Casey this summer?" (Answer: zero.) We have no idea what's happened. We read the e-mails you send, we have no idea what happened to that program. But, at this point, if we were in a department store and saw The Amy Goodman Wok (the "alternative" to the George Foreman Grill), we honestly wouldn't be surprised.

There was a time when independent media wanted to talk about Iraq. It didn't have its own show, but you could hear about it or read about it. Now that's pretty much gone. There are exceptions (and the e-mails show you identify the same exceptions we do). Ehren Watada had an Article 32 hearing. Francis A. Boyle, Ann Wright and Denis Halliday testified. Where was independent media?

An Article 32 hearing might be something new to some people. So maybe a law program could walk them through that? Forget it. Just like a woman's program could interrupt a guest starting to discuss the 14-year-old Abeer (she only got to 14-year-old) and change the topic. (Abeer's name was never mentioned.)

Now is not the time for independent media to space out on the war, but that's exactly what has happened since June. World Can't Wait is calling for a day of mass resistance on October 5th. The peace organizations? You've been able to count on them. CODEPINK, United for Peace & Justice, Not In Our Name, Gold Star Families for Peace, Military Families Speak Out, Vetrans for Peace, A.N.S.W.ER. and more have done their part. Cindy Sheehan did her part and then some. Though largely ignored by indepedent media, her actions did make a difference this summer.

Your actions can too. And here's the best part: You can act without sending anyone thirty or more bucks. You don't have to get on an easy-checks plan. You don't have to have a credit card. You don't have to interrupt yourself to tell everyone what a wonderful job you've done while you hit them up for money. You don't have to do your own pledge drive.

Now you won't get a CD or book or bumper stick or wok (we're sure it's coming) but you will get the satisfaction of knowing you're doing your part to end the war. You will get the satisfaction of realizing that even when ALL forms media fail you, you keep going. And, most importantly, your actions will help end the war. It won't happen overnight.

In fact, thanks to independent media's taking the summer off and still ignoring Iraq, you could argue that the nation missed a defining summer. But they blew it, not you. That's their guilt, that's their shame. Let 'em have it, they've earned it. You just start broadcasting in your own circles.
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