Sunday, March 18, 2007

Things you should catch if you missed them

There were two radio programs last week that we hope you caught. If you missed them, and you are able to listen online, you can still catch them.

First up, Friday on KPFA's Making Contact, Aaron Glantz gave an overview of the court-martial of Ehren Watada last month which ended in the mistrial. Glantz was in Tacoma to cover that for KPFA, Free Speech Radio News,, and IPS. If you followed his live broadcast coverage, you know his voice was starting to give the second night of the court-martial and that by the third day (Wednesday), he was hoarse beyond belief. But he kept reporting and he's one of a very small number of reporters who can tell you what happened and how. Watada is, of course, the first commissioned officer to refuse to deploy to Iraq publicly (in June of 2006) and the first to be court-martialed for that (February 2007).

Second, prepare to be shocked by last week's CounterSpin (or this week's if it airs later in your area). Why? They address Sudan. If you didn't catch it yet, we can already hear your moan, "Oh my God! You've drank the Kool-Aid! You're going to join the 'Bring the Troops Home and Send them to Darfur' Carrie Nations Brigade!" Not so fast. We can understand that concern. Outside of Bonnie Faulkner, we're not aware of anyone who's attempted to explore the issue. We are aware that independent media has provided a megaphone to the same Carrie Nations who run the op-ed mill that the mainstream media can't get enough of.

But Peter Hart's not sitting down with a Carrie Nation, he's speaking to Mahmood Mandani about his recent piece in The London Review of Books. We think you'll enjoy the interview for the most part? For the most part? There seems to be an effort to suggest that Darfur has gotten less attention than Iraq (by Hart) which we find laughable -- the five of us who left NY in part to get away from the Carrie Nations, find that laughable.

As Mandani notes in his essay:

The most powerful mobilisation in New York City is in relation to Darfur, not Iraq. One would expect the reverse, for no other reason than that most New Yorkers are American citizens and so should feel directly responsible for the violence in occupied Iraq. But Iraq is a messy place in the American imagination, a place with messy politics. Americans worry about what their government should do in Iraq. Should it withdraw? What would happen if it did? In contrast, there is nothing messy about Darfur. It is a place without history and without politics; simply a site where perpetrators clearly identifiable as 'Arabs' confront victims clearly identifiable as 'Africans'.
A full-page advertisement has appeared several times a week in the New York Times calling for intervention in Darfur now. It wants the intervening forces to be placed under 'a chain of command allowing necessary and timely military action without approval from distant political or civilian personnel'. That intervention in Darfur should not be subject to 'political or civilian' considerations and that the intervening forces should have the right to shoot -- to kill -- without permission from distant places: these are said to be 'humanitarian' demands. In the same vein, a New Republic editorial on Darfur has called for 'force as a first-resort response'. What makes the situation even more puzzling is that some of those who are calling for an end to intervention in Iraq are demanding an intervention in Darfur; as the slogan goes, 'Out of Iraq and into Darfur.'

Yeah, that's what we've seen as well. Nicky K is mentioned in the interview because, when not buying prostitutes in his own version of Elite Snake Moan, he can't shut up about Darfur. We'd argue that the paper of little to no record has ran far fewer advocacy pieces on Iraq that could pass for 'left.' It's also a regular topic in that paper, in many papers. You've got George Clooney and the Christian Right as figureheads for the movement. You've got psuedo academics bringing up the Carrie Nations brigade. Even relocated out of NY, we can't escape the nonsense. Amy Goodman's not interviewed Keith Harmon Snow on the topic but she has interviewed the 2nd Lt. of the Carrie Nations Brigade and allowed him to push for his questionable claims as fact. We regularly turn off The Morning Show when this topic is even mentioned -- and that's often at least once a week. The Nation magazine's own Carol Brady (not to be confused with the Cindy Brady of the Faux Left) has put out how many action alerts on Darfur?

It's saddened us to see the same independent media that questioned the Iraq war before it started, the same independent media that's done their best to stop the lies that could likely lead to a war with Iran, accept the nonsense. (And did we mention The Progressive?)

Hart and Mandani note that the Congo is a crisis that's not getting much attention. It certainly isn't. And at some point, you'd think people would ponder that. We enjoyed the interview and we think you will as well; however, as people glad to be far from the crazy, modern day Carrie Nations, let's be clear that even now, we have to work to avoid them in print and over the airwaves.

Peter Hart also deserves credit (C.I. noted this at The Common Ills in real time) for, a few weeks back, noting that the "What is wrong with Americans! Why don't they know how many Iraqis have died!" crowd missed the important point that if they don't know something, it may go directly to what they are or are not being informed of. That was true of the false link between 9-11 and Iraq and it was true of the issue of Americans being able to tell you how many Iraqis had died. He was a lone voice making that point and, sadly, it didn't get picked up by others after he had the strength to break from the pack.

So congratulations to CounterSpin for, again, breaking from the pack. As community member Pru has repeatedly noted, in England, they can have serious conversations about Darfur but what she sees from the American press (big and small) is a cartoon version of the issue. This isn't the first piece The London Review of Books has run addressing the realities of Darfur. We're also remembering Jonathan Steele's strong column in The Guardian of London. (And we're sure Pru could provide us with a long reading list of other articles and broadcasts.) But in this country, it's been Bonnie Faulkner (Guns and Butter) and only her in terms of the media (that we're aware of -- if you know someone else, please e-mail us and we'll note it here).

Enjoy the interview but don't get your hopes up that we'll have a realistic conversation -- as noted earlier, Peter Hart called out the media for failing to inform the American people about Iraqi deaths and that call didn't get picked up and amplified by others.

If you listen to the full half-hour of CounterSpin, you'll also be treated to an interview with Karen Greenberg where she discusses the rules and regulations the US military attempts to impose upon those who visit (humanitarian workers, journalists, etc.) Guantanamo. Pay close to attention to when she discusses how the US military insists that they be called "detainees" and not "prisoners." Almost two years ago, C.I. stopped using "detainee" and started using "prisoners" (noting that "detainee" made it sound like they'd been stopped while coming through customs, not as though they'd been imprisoned for years). Elaine echoed that and, in this community, they've led on that and are the reason that we all use "prisoners." But why is the press using "detainees"? Especially since that's the demanded choice of the US military? It seems to us that anyone who listens to that interview should immediately begin calling the prisoners "prisoners" because that's what they are and "detainee" sugar coats it and lulls Americans into thinking it's not that bad, they're "detainees" after all, not "prisoners."
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