Sunday, January 21, 2007

Editorial: On the useless who know better

On Saturday in the US, there were 22 deaths of US troops announced (that includes the 13 who died in a helicopter, it's been confirmed that they were all troops). Not quite the cakewalk but it never was.
The illegal war is going to hit the four-year mark (in March) and the number of people dying in Iraq will only continue to soar. US troops need to leave.
Now someone gave Katha Pollitt the impression (or maybe she just grabbed it -- wrongly like when she declares no one is "spiritual," they are religious) that the peace movement has stated that, when US troops leave, love will bloom in Iraq, IEDs will turn to flowers, mortars to ice cream and there's bound to be a love-in there.
Maybe it's not fair to blame her for being so off the mark -- she may get her impressions from The Nation. No one in this community has ever claimed it won't be a messy, bloody period when US troops withdraw. We have maintained (and we're far from alone on this) that US forces fuel the resistance, feed the violence and are part of the problem.
Let's speak slow for the Pollitts. No one likes to be occupied. (Maybe we should number to make it easier for nonreaders to follow?) That's any country. An occupation fuels violence. That's true of all occupations. Just having foreign troops patrolling your country makes you angry.
Now when you realize how many innocent Iraqis have been killed at checkpoints, when you grasp how humiliating the dead of night house raids (conducted by US forces) have been, when you know that one section of your country (the heavily fortified Green Zone in Baghdad) has all the basic utilities working reliably while you deal with electricity being off for more hours than its on, while you make do with non-potable water, resentment breeds.
When you look around you and don't see with your own eye any reconstruction but you do see efforts to control your country's industries, you get angry.
When your sister, brother, parent, friend dies, you get angry.
If that's confusing to any Pollitt out there, these are the reasons some oppose the escalation. Now maybe if you take a whole year off from Iraq, maybe if you've got time to whine at how mean CODEPINK is for bird dogging Hillary Clinton but that big heart of yours that can find sympathy for Hillary Clinton turns to stone when the issue the rape and murder of 14-year-old Abeer, maybe then you right write a nasty little slam that's not only beneath you but calls your entire work into question.
But in the real world, where people pay attention, where they vote in their own states and not in Connecticut because, though they live in New York, they just have to get Joe Lieberman out of office, in that real world, people follow the war. And they've learned to do so without lefty columnists who let whole years pass without ever addressing Iraq while writing for political outlets.
And The Real World Left (comoing soon to MTV) grasps fully that (a) US troops fuel the resentment, breed the hostility and (b) that, no, it won't be "Peace In The Valley" (the Carole King song) when US troops leave.
The Real World Left grasps that all deaths matter, not just the show death of a tyrant. The Real World Left understands that anyone who can't cover war resisters isn't really all that left to begin with and anyone wasting everyone's time, year after year, with a printed article on what to donate during the holidays in an issue that subscribers receive on or right after New Year's Eve really isn't doing anything to help anyone.
The Real World Left wants to end the war. It's not surprising Pollitt doesn't know about them or know what they think -- the magazine she writes for refuses to cover them.
Well that's not quite true. They did slam CODEPINK. In fact Pollitt did that. And Liza Featherstone became the first Nation writer to write about a demonstration in her little slam at the movement. And of course Peter Rothberg got his thong in a wad when CODEPINK dared to speak out at the event co-sponsored by The Nation (though they didn't reveal that when Rothberg was slamming CODEPINK). Rothberg's thong was so far up his ass that he couldn't even name CODEPINK in his lecture on manners. (Someone should give him a lecture on Grown Men Who Sport Peter Pan Haircuts.)
When you think about Pollitt's column on the bird dogging of Hillary and how CODEPINK should find a male to bird dog, remember that Pollitt's not written one word in 2006 or 2007 about how women have pretty much disappeared from the pages of her own magazine. Currently, they're at publishing one female contributor for every 4 males. If Pollitt wants to worry about whether or not women are being treated fairly, she can start by looking at her own magazine's sorry record of publishing women.
We actually like Pollitt. And even her writing in 2006 would have been fine . . . if this were 1996 and not 2006 when the nation has two declared wars ongoing and Bully Boy's trigger happy to start more. But though we like Pollitt, we're not her mommy, we're not her daddy. We're not going to pat her on the head, coo and hand her a cookie because she's doing perfectly acceptable work for 1996. We're calling everyone on their shit now.
We don't have time to play. A lot of the professional left does. They bore you with one thing after another. They can't cover CODEPINK except to trash them. CODEPINK's accomplishments for 2006 are quite clear. What did The Nation accomplish other than bleeding subscribers?
We're not in the mood for it. We're not in the mood for Barbara Ehrenreich's repeating falsehoods she read in The New York Times to question the mission of GreenStone Media. We wouldn't be in the mood on a good day but we're especially not in the mood when Ehrenreich's under some mistaken impression that she did something amazing in 2006. What? That so cute piece on Hurricane Katrina that made your teeth ache? Ehrenreich, what have you done that was serious in print in 2006? In print, don't bring up your long overdue haircut.
What you have been in the pages of The Progressive during 2006 is useless. And we don't have the time for it.
We don't have time for Nation staff that's flat out rude to women in radio appearences, treating them as if they're stupid for (a) pointing out that the oil law in Iraq will matter and will effect people or (b) pointing out that there is no center-left to the James Baker Circle Jerk.
In 2006, we didn't just see the usual cast of useless rejects. We saw some of the finest voices waste their own time and ours. Maybe they couldn't shut up about Judith Miller while staying silent on Dexter Filkins and Michael Gordon. Maybe they were the crowd (it's a huge one) who couldn't even mention Abeer. Or maybe they were among the many rushing to turn off the lights in the hopes that war resisters wouldn't know they were home.
We know the dying continues in Iraq. We know the only Middle East peace plan the Bully Boy's had is "DESTROY!" We know that peace is a feminist issue.
But maybe that's an issue for women to cover and little girls prefer to scribble "Don't you be mean to Hillary!" notes?
We know there's a female in charge of The Nation and we know this is at a time when women are disappearing from the pages of the magazine. We know the "arts"/critic section in the lastest issue to pop up in our mailboxes features four pieces -- all by men. Apparently women can't even handle the arts now. We know it's disgusting.
It's not just Iraq, it's a whole lot of things and independent media needs to stop kidding themselves that they do an amazing job. In 2006, they did a shit poor job. It's not as though they ignored Iraq to offer strong coverage on another topic. We know Pollitt wrote a column to note the passing of The Ego Of Us All but didn't find the time to write about Coretta Scott King.
When you've already instructed the NAACP that they shouldn't worry about media images, maybe you need to back that questionable claim up by proving that a White person like youself can cover people of color. (And to be frank, the column making that questionable claim read grossly uninformed at best and racist at worst.)
Independent media's been babied, burped and put to bed for far too long. It's time they went beyond baby steps. The country is involved in two wars, this "Hmm, what will I write about today? Democratic Party suggestions or a list? I know! I'll combine it into a list of Democratic Party suggestions!" isn't cutting it.
So to the Pollitts and Ehrenreichs, we're not surprised that AlterPunk's a joke. He will die one. But when strong voices who know better slack for a year, we are shocked.
How many deaths will it take to wake up independent media as a whole?
How many years of illegal war?
The war's not ending because you chose to ignore it.

And Ehren Watada will be court-martialed on February 5th. Yeah, we're grasping, we're really grasping, the true focus of independent media: White, male, elected official.
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