“We no longer have a free press. We have a brainwashing machine stuck on spin.”
In case you missed it, there was a front page story two weeks ago that most newspapers -- like our own “liberal” San Francisco Chronicle -- treated as a no-page story. While those of us in the Bay Area were offered a front page analysis of Tiger Woods’ injury and the latest doings of penguins at he zoo, a former commanding general in Iraq accused the Bush Administration of war crimes.
You didn’t hear about it? Well, obviously you weren’t supposed to. In the preface to a report prepared by Physicians for Human Rights, Maj. General Antonio Taguba (USA-Ret.), who led the U.S. Army's investigation into the Abu Ghraib detainee abuse scandal, wrote: "After years of disclosures by government investigations, media accounts, and reports from human rights organizations, there is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes. The only question is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account."
So, let’s see. An American general accuses the Commander-in-Chief of committing war crimes, and it doesn’t even make the news. The last time an American general accused the President of committing war crimes was ... uh ... never. In other words, something truly new happens, and it’s not even “news.” Our so-called “free press” is free to report freely on any story it likes, provided it doesn’t rock the ship of state. I’ve said it before, but it -- sadly -- bears repeating. The main difference between the corporate media and Pravda is that the Soviet citizens knew they were being lied to.
So if we’re wondering why impeachment and war crimes have gotten no traction, well ... welcome to Not-See America, where the press makes it easier and easier for Americans to “not see” what should be all too obvious. Fortunately, as the “up-wising” continues, Americans across the political spectrum are waking up and wising up. Unfortunately, they are finding their voices intentionally silenced by a media monopoly that does more than “cover” the most important stories of our day -- it smothers them to death. I guess that’s what they mean by “blanket coverage.”
However, there is one way to break the story of the most dangerous and toxic regime in American history through the “soundless barrier.” It can be done without demonstrations (one of the lessons the powers in power learned in the Vietnam War is to pay no attention to them), petitions, civil disobedience, fasting, etc. It is using the two weapons we the people still have in our arsenal -- the marketplace and the meeting place.
Writes Suzanne O’Keeffe in the Huffington Post, “With the exception of the valiant Democracy Now and C-Span ... there is a desert of coverage about a meticulously researched case that surely ranks at the very top of the scale for ‘change.’ Bugliosi said last night that he'd been told it was now #12 on the NY Times Bestsellers List.”
That’s where we come in.
The job of the 70-100 million Americans who are hip to the neocon con is to make sure that Vincent Bugliosi’s new book replaces his old one as the best-selling true crime book of all time, or at least our time. What if during the ten day period between Independence Day and Bastille Day, we the American people storm the gates of the marketplace and buy copies of this book both on Amazon.com and at book stores? And then we read the book, and discuss it on the outernet, with family, friends and neighbors. Imagine if we were all familiar with the evidence, and the implications. It would no longer matter what the mainstream media did or did not report. We the people would become the story.
Here is a simple plan for the next ten days:
1. Buy or order your copy or copies of this book now. (I’m getting one at Barnes & Nobles, and ordering another via Amazon, and I’m doing it today.) In fact, buy two and give one to someone who promises to read it.
2. If you’re part of an activist political organization, or even a professional or spiritual one, consider asking your constituency to do the same. Paul Hawken estimates there are at the very least some 100,000 such organizations. As for the objection that this book is “political,” I would suggest it is much, much bigger than politics, and is about the most pivotal moral issue of our time. Dare to make people uncomfortable. (There is a sad joke from the Holocaust era where two Jews are standing in front of a Nazi firing squad. One shouts out to the S.S. officer, “You rotten bastard, you will burn in hell!” Whereupon, his companion next to him says, “Shhh! Don’t make trouble.”) Enough said.
3. Call the news editor at your local paper -- call, don’t write -- and politely yet firmly request that he or she cover the story of Bugliosi’s book, the story of Gen. Taguba’s history-making charges, or this other story about the George Bush War Crimes Conference that will convene this September at the Massachusetts School of law in Andover. Remind them of the responsibility of the press, and ask them what they will tell their grandchildren when they are asked what role they played during America’s darkest days. To get the ball rolling, for those folks in the San Francisco area, the World and National News editor is Brad Brown, and his direct line is (415) 777-7074. I suggest we make these calls right after this July 4th weekend. Again ... polite yet firm.
4. Contact your favorite radio hosts on Air America (they may already be covering it), and NPR, who like the Democratic Party has responded to the Bush Administration playing hard ball by playing hardly-have-balls. Speaking of media, the one mainstream magazine that has continuously spoken out against the Bush regime -- long before it was as safe as it is now -- is Vanity Fair. If you need to see an example of what is innocuously called “water boarding” (sounds like something you do in gentle surf), here is Vanity Fair’s Christopher Hitchens (who has been a vociferous supporter of the so-called War on Terror) being water-boarded. It may be helpful in putting torture “in the face” of those who have the luxury of turning away from it.
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