Thursday, October 25, 2007

Media Accountability and Project Censored

"A popular Government without popular information or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy or perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance, and a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power knowledge gives." James Madison

"The will of the people is the only legitimate foundation of any government, and to protect its free expression should be our first object." Thomas Jefferson

This weekend, Project Censored hosts the Second Annual Media Accountability conference at Sonoma State University in Northern California focuses on Media Censorship and the erosion of Civil Liberties. Project Censored, founded by Dr. Carl Jensen and in its 31st year now, is a major watchdog research group that looks for bias and censorship in mainstream media concerning key issues. This year's show, celebrating the newly released Censored 2008 and the top 25 stories of the past year, led by sociologist Dr. Peter Phillips, has yet another series of timely, serious, and important stories that most in the American public have never heard about, and if they have, they haven't heard all there is to be known about the stories. This year's conference presenters include Thom Hartmann, Frank Morales, Jeremy Scahill, Odette Wilkens, Robert Parry, Fariba Nawa, and many more (even yours truly, moderating a panel on "Terrorism and New Legal Realities").

Hope to see you all there, or to feel you there in spirit, to fight for press freedom and open government while defeating the scourge of corporatist propaganda that fills the nations airwaves and publications.

"No government ought to be without censors & where the press is free, no one ever will." Thomas Jefferson, letter to George Washington, September 9, 1792

Vox Populi

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Howling at Windmills: Ginsberg, Censorship, and Overcoming the Cowardice of the Now

More from Myth America...

Allen Ginsberg's Howl

So why are we as a culture still debating censorship and indecency about a fifty year old poem that merely stated the obvious and was declared by the courts as not obscene?

It's another trip down memory hole lane. Propaganda comes in many forms. The best form is omission. Forbid certain works, forbid certain ideas, and in turn, legitmize dissent by reframing it. And marginalize it simultaneously. Otherwise, it's seek and destroy. Why is Howl so radical today? We live in a media saturated landscape that celebrates its own profiteering from sexism, heterosexism, violence, imperialism, greed, and narcisism. Telling the truth in times of universal deceit can (apparently) be a revolutionary act (as Orwell once stated). We're decades on, and this poem is still too relevant as cultural critique.

Ginsberg doesn't just leave it to Beaver? You mean there was a life outside the bourgeois establisment? Shocking! Real? Visceral? Couldn't be! That's why fifty years later it still can't be heard openly without fear. Perhaps a bit too close to the bone for too many. Try the links and see for yourself...what are we ready for? Why the FCC threat to cultural expression but not corporatist conglomeration and media ownership? It's too obvious...just listen at the first link above.

"America I've given you all and now I'm nothing."

"I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked, dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix, angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night, who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat up smoking in the supernatural darkness of cold-water flatsfloating across the tops of cities contemplating jazz, who bared their brains to Heaven under the El and saw Mohammedan angels staggering on tene- ment roofsilluminated, who passed through universities with radiant cool eyes hallucinating Arkansas and Blake-light tragedy among thescholars of war, who were expelled from the academies for crazy & publishing obscene odes on the windows of the skull, who cowered in unshaven rooms in underwear, burn- ing their money in wastebaskets and listening to the Terror through the wall..."

Terror, indeed. As today, we're listening to a War on Terror through walls of media manipulation and the best minds of this generation are being destroyed by the cult of celebrity, celebration of mediocrity, and the angry, fruitless search of an endless fix for anything real.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Myth America: The War, 9/11, and the Propaganda of Historical Grand Narratives

Historical documentarian Ken Burns PBS show, The War, is a wonder of myth making, certainly from the start, which is a good place to start. See a few notes below on the perpetuation of war myths and the questionable timing of dragging out the “Good War “ for the present “terror” war's failures, and more failures, and even from a different view, failures still. Perhaps all wars are failures to another extent. Former British parliament member and longtime activist, Tony Benn, once said it best, "All war represents a failure of diplomacy." And certainly a failure of hope, decency, and the imagination. Not for Burns. He specializes in the Good War. It's his bag. And he's a liberal. Moving on...

In terms of the film documentary medium as grand narrative historiography (it's on the TV, it must be true, and on PBS no less)...Journalists Christopher Hayes and Sean Gonsalves have challenged Burns on perpetuation of myths and falsehoods to a degree...



More on the WWII myths

Very worthwhile points to consider in light of the present. However, there still stands a big elephant in the historical room. No talk of the Pearl Harbor myth...and Sean Gonsalves did not return either of my letters of inquiry...that's even too close to the bone for him, I guess...he'll go so far demythologizing, then stop. I'm not sure how that's possible.

Why is Pearl Harbor important? Because it’s a myth...the myth of America, defender of truth, democracy, justice, a nation that only enters war if attacked/provoked, exceptional and triumphant in all things, living manifest destiny. America believes its own exceptionalist mythology. After 9/11, the links to Pearl Harbor were ubiquitous. A powerful myth, indeed. But...Irony Alert- Pearl Harbor was known about and allowed to happen to get into war with Germany (in addition obviously to Japan). But, yes, you read that correctly. And Germany had nothing to do with Pearl Harbor. And Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. Connecting any dots yet? Why is Osama not on the FBI's Most Wanted List for 9/11? They said they don't have hard evidence to convict him and the early videos of "confessions" have been exposed as frauds...which is obvious since the FBI won't use them as evidence!

At any rate, to stay on point here...

Links of interest...not always a big fan of Lew Rockwell, but this is a good book review on some of the aforementioned myths on his libertarian site...

Libertarian critique of WWII myths

And this well-documented page on the Pearl Harbor, Mother of all Conspiracies...there's that word!


That word "conspiracies," of course.

Conspiracy Reality

For more on understanding the power of rhetoric see JFK & Gangster Government-- Michael Parenti's classic speech on a democratic people's need to confront "conspiracies” here...

Parenti on Conspiracy Culture

Also, there's historian and author Bob Stinnett's interview on his work Day of Deceit. Stinnett's FOIA request uncovered myths of the Pearl Harbor sneak attack while at the Independent Institute. Stinnett wasn't the first to do so. The Army actually concluded much the same in 1944. So, why do Hayes and Gonsalves not include this research, if even historiographically, if even to suggest the idea that the historical myths of exceptionalism and Pearl Harbor are not in synch with all of the facts? Isn't that what journalists are supposed to do?

These people don't even look at the Old Pearl Harbor, let alone the possibility of a New Pearl Harbor in 9/11, like the Project For the New American Century pined for in 2000- with their Rebuilding America's Defenses document. I'm not talking about "conspiracies" or conclusions here, but rather how sloppy, or intentionally selective research, furthers myths and falsehoods about the past, thus enabling them into the present. These WWII myth makers and myth breakers do not look at the generationally defining historical event that got America into The War- Pearl Harbor- like many in the present don't look at how we got into the current two illegal wars- 9/11. We owe it to ourselves to do better and face the possibility of continued deception perpetrated against the public. We need more transparency and more daring journalists. Those that call for such things and real investigations about 9/11 are not all just “conspiracists” but seekers of knowledge and explanation unattached to outcomes. To ask is not to conclude prematurely or posit alternative, unproven notions into some Lacanian hole at Ground Zero. Those that hurl unsound theories without evidence are merely repeating the same patterns of obfuscation laid out by the government itself. Further, to notice inconvenient facts, propagandistic trends, and patterns of official lies is not to create them. Shooting the messenger doesn't refute the potential efficacy of the message that questions the grand narrative. Conspiracy doesn't only exist in the mind of the paranoid. We should recall...

"Sometimes paranoia's just having all the facts" author, William S. Burroughs

Our resident journalists have also studiously ignored Prof. David Ray Griffin's connection with The New Pearl Harbor and it's roots as propagandistic terminology outlined in the architects of the terror war, aka (and as mentioned above), the PNAC and their year 2000 "Rebuilding America's Defenses" publication about post cold war global strategies. Again, more dots, but little connecting...this at least deserves some public hearing and debate one would hope.

In temporary conclusion-- A Memo to PBS...their Kenny boy pans and Burns history along with the present by peddling the old myths of "The Good War." Burns show isn't a total wash, but it does little to challenge the narrative of exceptionalism and jingoism. Truth is, war is the ultimate human failure. We need to remember that while we look at this so-called war on terror in the present and how we got here. 9/11 is a good place to start.