A free press is necessary for transparency in government, but with the Bush administration, transparency and free press is a thing of the past. Very early on in this administration, and perhaps stretching back even to the Clinton administration, the media was given the signal that if they didn’t go with the program of the people in political power access would be restricted and or denied and any attempt at circumventing political authority would be met with dire consequences.
The message given to members of the press from all over the world was their role was reduced to echoing what they were told by politicians on both sides of the aisle. Since we no longer really have a credible opposition party, that meant the message would be the same no matter who uttered it, with the exception of a few, like the Ron Pauls, Ralph Naders, and others considered nominal and thus easy to ignore. The message was driven home even more with the advent of the “war on terror” where reporters had to be embedded for their own safety, in order to report on the war and ‘propel the propaganda’. Failure to do so meant in a war theater death at the hands of US as well as enemy forces. Al-Jazeerah, reporters Reuters cameramen were mowed down by the US war machine, either killed and captured.
So it should come as no surprise to anyone that some members of the media, those not “embedded” with the powers that be would be harassed, intimidated and arrested during the Republican Convention in St. Paul. Amy Goodman’s arrest is the most chilling. Goodman was arrested in St. Paul, and her arrest was caught on tape. She was later released but the producers who work with her were charged with felony counts while covering the convention as producers for Goodman’s show which airs on DemocracyNow! Their program is a pretty stable alternative media source, which I consider vital for the free press here in the US. It is neither seditious nor a mouthpiece for one party or the other…just people presenting a view which is rarely seen in corporate media. Her arrest and the subsequent description of it are in the video below.
This should come as no surprise. The government has been steadily encroaching on the rights of citizens and institutions for some time in it’s lead up to the “war on terror”. Everyone in the grand scheme of this war and everything we hold dear is expendable by those fighting the war, and members of the press are no exception. However, it’s good to see the descent into the abyss of fascism chronicled for future generations in order for them to understand how it happened.
One of the successes of the neocons has been the demonization of Islam and Muslims here in the U.S. They have encouraged neighbors to look suspiciously on one another and asked for and received from the government the usurpation of rights that Americans once took for granted but which they are willingly forfeiting. They’ve been able to get away with this because of the image they presented to the public of a menacing Islam and its adherents hell-bent on destroying the American fabric. No doubt there are some with this rather misguided notion, but Islam in America has been a relatively peaceful phenomenon that has sought to get along with its neighbors, participate in civic and political matters and work within the very system which has been used by some who seek to destroy it. (Just ask Sami al-Arian.)
Leaving the big cities behind, and looking westward, I found this very nice article about a Muslim community in New Mexico carrying on in the same tradition of Islam in America as has always been. I especially liked this line from the article, which I think shows the spirit of multiculturalism at its best.
So, every weekend is a merry-go-round of the faithful on the blocks around Barcelona and Cordova streets. There, among a veritable religious enclave, sits a Jewish temple, a Methodist church, a building for a Unitarian Universalist congregation, and now the TaHa Mosque, among others.
Which probably means it isn’t. Reading comments Senator Joe Biden made me laugh. As long as he has been in Congress, he should know better than to think Bush can be held accountable for his lawlessness in office, AFTER he leaves office! C’mon Joe…that was your job as senator while Bush was in office, to impeach him. What’s going to happen is Bush will surround himself in every presidential prerogative he can before he leaves office which will make it absolutely impossible for the judicial branch of government to lay a hand on him and Biden knows this. In fact, even the language he uses to indicate this will happen is full of loopholes, which leads me to think that an Obama administration will be politics as usual. Shame on you Joe for political grandstanding! There are far more substantive issues to deal with them playing to a crowd with false promises!