Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Other Censorship (done by The Nation)

War resisters stand up and The Nation's sits down. On the job.


Though The Nation appears unaware, a list of war resisters includes, but is not limited to, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Jared Hood and James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Augstin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Joshua Key, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Care, Kyle Huwer, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty-one US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.

Of that long (and incomplete) list, only Camilo Mejia and Aidan Delgado are quoted in The Nation's overly praised "The Other War: Iraq Vets Bear Witness" by Chris Hedges and Laila Al-Arian (July 30, 2007 issue). Neither are identified as "war resisters" -- though Mejia's "desertion" is noted if not the fact that the military had exceeded the legal limits of his contract (Mejia was not a US citizen) and could not have his service extended (for that reason). That decision actually involved a US Senator (Ben Nelson) so it's surprising that the Congress worshipping magazine elected not to note that fact.

In the article's listing of what organizations they contacted to find people to speak with, you will find Iraq Veterans Against the War, as well a centrist and a pro-war group. You will not, however, find War Resisters Support Campaign. A decision was made early on to exclude that organization and to exclude and misrepresent war resisters.

C.I. outlined many of the problems with the article last week in "And the war drags on . . ." One of the most obvious problems to those knowing nothing but what's on the page should be this: "We heard a few reports, in one case corroborated by photographs, that some soldiers had so lost their moral compass that they'd mocked or desecrated Iraqi corpses. One photo, among dozens turned over to The Nation during the investigation, shows an American soldier acting as if he is about to eat the spilled brains of a dead Iraqi man with his brown plastic Army-issue spoon." So where are the pictures?

We aren't doubting their existence. We know they exist. But why isn't The Nation running them? They are news and The Nation is supposedly in the business of journalism. Not all that long ago, the magazine was (yet again) patting themselves on the back for their reporting on the planned invasion of Cuba back in the '60s. They're brave, they are independent -- that's the way the line coming out of the magazine runs. So where are the pictures?

Taste isn't an issue for the ads. They were happy to run an ad that offended many and refused to apologize for it. So, since they are journalists, why didn't they run the pictures. There's a lot of complaining (rightly) about how the Pentagon has limited the coverage of the illegal war -- from the entire embedding process, to banning photographs of coffins arriving at Dover, to vetting copy prior to publication (Judith Miller wasn't the only one who agreed to that process), and much more. So how does a supposed independent, supposed journalistic organization get away with censoring reality?

That's what they do when they refuse to provide the pictures. Do they think America's sensibilities can't handle the photographs? If so, how does that make them a damn bit different than the Pentagon?

It doesn't.

And they can no longer demand free and full coverage of Iraq in one of their high minded editorials because they have documentary proof which they refused to run. News outlets are not supposed to be in the business of sheltering the public. These activities took place (we don't question them because we're already aware of them). That they took place makes them news. The magazine was happy to include that one paragraph but they're not willing to print the photos?

Do they feel Nation readers are too sensitive for this world?

The article's a joke (for what's not included and for who got excluded) but the reality is the minute they acknowledged that they had photos of abuses and elected not to run them, they left the world of journalism. They became Aaron Brown, Dan Rather and the countless others who justified limiting America's view of the illegal war, sheltering them for their own good.

Who needs a Net Nanny when you've got The Nation?

Hell, who needs Fox "News" when you've got The Nation playing censor?

The most censored topic of 2006 remains the most censored of 2007: war resisters. The Nation repeatedly refuses to their stories. In the case of Iraq war resister Ehren Watada (a sidebar to a January 8/15 article which we've just read), they reduce it to "resister" and we'll assume The Nation is so f**king stupid on the topic that's how this made it into print. We'd heard how bad it was. We'd heard sections of it. Reading it now, we grasp that they screwed up Watada's story in a sidebar. When did Watada start researching the illegal war (and why)? If you've paid attention to other outlets, you know the order of events. The Nation screws up the order, restructures it to fit their own narrative?, and that makes their sidebar even more pathetic and shameful. Of course, no one can fact check at the magazine when they don't even know the basics about the growing movement of resistance within the military.

Those standing up deserve coverage. It's becoming obvious they'll never get it from The Nation. They will, however, be rendered invisible (as Abeer is in the overly praised article) or have their story be screwed up if they're lucky enough to get a sidebar after they are called a "coward" in the main article.

For those who missed it, right before our announced July 4th feature was to run, The Nation decided to contact this site via The Common Ills and this almighty, amazing article was stressed in the e-mail as the end-all-be-all. They've apparently fooled a great many people -- most of whom, we're guessing, never read the full article. If The New York Times had run this article, they would have been called out. The Nation gets a pass.

That the pass includes censoring images of the illegal war may be the second saddest thing (we rank the continued ignoring of war resisters as the worst). It is supposed to be, in some way, a part of the journalistic community. If The New York Times had announced in an article that they had photos of abuses, all the media critics would have pounced on the paper's refusal to run them. The Nation? It gets yet another pass.
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