Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Peace Resister pretends to be about peace


The Peace Resister Katrina vanden Heuvel appears bound and determined to provide non-stop howlers during her reign as editor and publisher of The Nation. Last week, "The Peace Primary" provided non-stop laughter within The Nation magazine (and Institute) as well as outside. In the post, KvH insisted, "I've cared deeply about issues of peace and security" which had all the sincerity of Pinochet insisting he was against torture.

vanden Heuvel grasped that mere words weren't enough considering her reputation so she offered up examples. Well example. In her entire lifetime, she could only think of one example that demonstrated how "deeply" she cares about peace.

"As a journalist," she "lived in and wrote about Russia during the Gorbachev years". What?

That only provided howls of laughter from outside the magazine, especially among those who knew vanden Heuvel before she started college. Spellbound by tales of the USSR her spy daddy told her, vanen Heuvel usually used the "USSR" (which is what it was) and only used "Russia" when it was prefaced with "mother". In her college years, she was fond of referring to the USSR as her true home. Please note, Katrina vanden Heuvel is not a communist. C.I. insists this be noted: Katrina vanden Heuvel is not a communist. None of us, including C.I., feel there's anything "wrong" or "shameful" about being a communist. But we don't engage in Red baiting and we're not attempting to label KvH as such (especially when she is not). What she was then was a prolonged adolescent. Some get hung up on horses. Katrina vanden Heuvel, like the lead character in Breaking Away, got hung up on a foreign country.

She was planning to live in Russia (then the USSR) long before Gorbachev came to power. It had nothing to do with an interest in peace, it had to do with a deep love for the country. An enchantment, one might say, or a fixation.

Someone who spent the bulk of their teen years insisting she would live in the then-USSR really shouldn't get away with claiming her later stay had anything to do with peace. It's a romantic embrace of another country that she's often felt (for a number of reasons -- none of which was an embrace, to repeat of communism). It had nothing to do with peace. But when you have no real record of peace activities, you apparently get creative with your resume.

As we have repeatedly documented, Katrina vanden Heuvel's arrival of publisher of the magazine coincides with the magazine turning its back on war resisters. You can refer, most recently, to "The Nation ignores war resisters even as it publishes the child of one," "the nation magazine ignores war resisters while publishing the child of one," "The Nation refuses to cover war resisters while publishing the child of one," "The Nation ignores war resisters even while publishing the child of one," "The Nation ignores war resisters while publishing the child of one,""The Nation refuses to cover war resisters while publishing the child of one," "The Nation refuses to cover war resisters while publishing the child of one," "The Nation ignores war resisters while publishing the child of one," and "The Nation ignores war resisters even while publishing the child of one."

The kibbosh on war resisters coverage comes from vanden Heuvel and is why none of the articles written about Ehren Watada in 2006 appeared in the print edition of The Nation. It's why the first time his name was mentioned in the magazine (2007), it was to call him a coward.

It's why the magazine has consistently refused to cover the peace movement. It's why Carl Webb, noted in the print edition, is presented just as someone concerned about New Orleans and the fact that he's a war resister who went public long before his name appeared in The Nation falls by the way side. It's why Camilo Mejia, in the overly praised July article, is identified as a "deserter" (a gross simplification) and not a "war resister."

But it's too much for some to grasp which is why, Ava notes, a woman in Brooklyn identifying herself as a "big fan" of The Common Ills dropped an e-mail on Saturday to C.I. Ava describes the e-mail as "reading like it came from one of Katrina's coffee fetchers -- and I've responded to many of them, I know how they write." The woman in Brooklyn, the "big fan," wanted to know why The Nation was criticized so much by The Common Ills. Huh?

For a "big fan," the woman was short on facts. C.I. largely avoids The Nation. John Nichols gets highlighted via Common Dreams. Several David Corn pieces will not be noted ("even when they are strong, very strong") at The Common Ills unless they appear elsewhere. C.I. doesn't even read the magazine now and if something's noted at The Common Ills or here (and C.I. works on the piece here), it's usually because complaints about the piece are coming from community members and friends at The Nation itself. The woman in Brooklyn pretended not to grasp the pattern at The Nation. He -- Ava says it's most likely a "he" and she recognizes the exact coffee fetcher from the magazine based on a previous e-mail signed by him and written in a similar style -- also didn't grasp -- "big fan" that he claims to be -- that The Common Ills is not a "blog". A point made hundreds of times at The Common Ills (and explained) but apparently too much for a coffee fetcher to grasp. ("They never grasp it," explains Ava.)

So to reply to the woman (who may be a man), we will note that not only did Nation correspondent Ian Williams place his article on war resistance ("Hell No, They Won't Go!") with Larry Flynt (the link goes to OpEd News) but Katrina vanden Heuvel once again made it a point to ignore war resistance last week, to obscure reality in order to continue her silence.

"The Peace Primary" (laughable also for presenting her "family" as a sports obsessed one) is about vanden Heuvel serving on Ploughshares' committee to select worthy peace organizations. Yes, it is laughable. We'll assume she again bought her seat at the table. She claims to have "spent hours poring over the material of 25 or so groups" and yet can't accurately represent the 12 finalists she writes about. (That includes Genocide International Network which has one purpose today -- declared by the organization itself -- but KvH missed that as well.)

She opens with American Friends Service Committee and writes (this is in full) of them " The twelve finalists include: * American Friends Service Committee with Iraqis, military families, veterans, and peace supporters in the US to highlight the human and economic costs of war." We'll assume the verb in that sentence is missing due to computer problems (we often lose words here as well -- spell check on another feature resulted in "amp" being inserted for full sentences) so we'll ignore the fact that it's missing. But what we can't ignore is her continued silence on war resisters which, for the record, is not a silence that the Quakers practice. American Friends Service Committee started because? Of conscientious objectors. They continue that work today. It takes a real Peace Resister to write about American Friends Service Committee and not note that reality.

Among their many articles on war resisters in recent years has been "What Happened to Vietnam Era War Resisters?" which was especially necessary after Gerald Ford's death led to huge mountains of revisions including crediting him for what Jimmy Carter did (the paper, by Harold Jordan, notes of the Ford non-effort, " The program was widely regarded as a failure, even by people who administered it.) American Friends Service Committee does not just support COs. "AFSC SUPPORTS THE ACT OF CONSCIENCE OF LT. EHREN WATADA" is a statement of support for Iraq war resister Watada. (Watada refused to deploy to Iraq because he believes it is an illegal war. He is not a CO because he is not against war itself.) It's a statement of support The Nation has never offered.

Katrina vanden Heuvel has never offered any support for Watada at her blog (Editor's Cut). She's offered no support for any war resister. She has found time to sing the praises of American Idol so, apparently, when something really matters to her, when she considers it really important, she can find the 'courage' to weigh in.

She has made it clear, through action and word, that war resisters do not matter to her. Ploughshares embarrassed themselves by including her on the panel (a sentiment shared by two people who served on the panel with her, one of which declared, "It's like asking Henry Kissinger to award a peace prize.")

She is The Peace Resister. And her coffee fetchers, under their own names or assumed names, can attempt to obscure that but people have caught on (within the magazine and outside of it).

A dopey column doesn't change reality. The only thing that will change the perception of her is for The Nation to start covering war resistance.

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