Monday, October 23, 2006

Ruth's Report

Ruth: Attempting a report again. Saturday's was lost due to some technical problem. The Third Estate Sunday Review wrote about Kyle Snyder on Sunday and that was one of the topics I covered in the lost report. I enjoyed their editorial and Mike Howell's Vancouver Courier report on Kyle Snyder which features a photo of Mr. Snyder with a guitar. Mr. Howell recounted Mr. Snyder's experiences in Iraq and what led him to decide to leave the military in April of 2005. What I wondered was what would happen if, in one week, all the people who self-checked out of the U.S. military turned themselves in?

How would the system handle that? Would they be able to? I thought of the old Woody Allen joke, from Love & Death and delivered by Diane Keaton, of how if everyone "If everyone went to the same restaurant on the same night and ordered blintzes, there'd be chaos."

For the record, I am not advocating that. I say that not out of fear of an overwhelmed military justice system. I say that because I firmly believe that if you think a war is illegal then it is your duty to stand up to it and if that means self-check out, then so be it.

I think we have seen more bravery from those who have left the military on their own than we have seen in six years from the current administration.

But to stay with that thought for a moment more, what would it mean to coverage? Would there be more or would there be less?

Regardless of the hypothetical, Kyle Snyder announced return comes at a time when we have seen some very disappointing coverage of war resisters from independent media. This was one of the key stories of the summer as various people went public or, in some case, went even more public. Court-martials and Article 32 hearings began and ended as most of us were left to wonder where was independent media?

Maybe they failed to grasp what was going on? If that were the case, they have had plenty of time to process it and I will be very curious to see how they do or do not cover Mr. Snyder?

Community member Greg noted Stephen Philion's interview with professor, author and Vietnam vet Jerry Lembcke in CounterPunch. In the interview, the two men discuss the Vietnam spitting myth that took hold despite reality. They also address how a slogan was used to tap down on dissent in this war and Professor Lembcke offers a criticism about some anti-war rallies that, my opinion, also applies to independent media coverage. I would boil that down to watering down your message to play safe. The sort of option that one might use if they wanted to cover Iraq but were more comfortable hiding behind what, for instances, generals say as opposed to what the people say.

I can remember Vietnam and I cannot imagine any of my fellow activists buying into the line of "Let's hide behind the generals." But today that seems to be much more common as people hide in some sort of search of 'respectability' and 'reasoned.' There will never be anything 'respectable' or 'reasoned' about the illegal war and making the assumption that because military brass is critical of the orders coming out of the White House should not translate to, "Listen to us, we will bring all the troops home." That was not reality during Vietnam and it is not reality today.

But, after awhile, you have to wonder what is or passes for reality today? Sir! No Sir! has to be the most watched film in my family. We pass the DVD of the documentary back and forth, we have watched it together countless times. In the film, Professor Lembcke also addresses the myth of the spitting. He also speaks of how, at the time, the myth would not take hold because people knew what was going on. They knew, for instance, that among those protesting the war were vets and how you could read about that in Life and countless other periodicals as well as see it on your television set.

Today that is not the case. I can pick up an independent publication and read about everything except the peace movement. If someone, anyone, offers a critique and they are not a part of the movement, I can watch as independent media gloms on them. Sadly, that includes James Baker whose recent coverage should be clipped by Mr. Baker and put into a scrapbook because I am sure he has never received so many valentines in one year. But those protesting the war, the fact that it is illegal and immoral, they don't receive valentines, they really do not recieve coverage.

I share Rob and Kara's enthusiasm for Christian Hill's "Activists are a diverse group" and I share their regrest that the article, an important one, comes via a mainstream newspaper, The Olympian, and not one of our independent periodicals. As a grandmother of very active, very vocal teenagers and young adults opposed to the war, I find it amazing that so many columns are written by people willing to show off their own ignorance as they attack today's youth for not being active when, if you ask me, the ones not being active is independnent media which acts not as a leader in covering the illegal war but as outlets fearful of not toeing the line.

In my last posted report, I specifically critized Democracy Now! so one topic I touched on in the lost report was the interview Amy Goodman did last week with Staughton Lynd which is the type of coverage we should be seeing much more of. From where I sit, in my golden years, I do not see young people refusing to participate or shirking their responsibilities to stop the war. I cannot same the same about most of the independent media, print version, which seems to think telling us what lie was told on TV or acting as the same sort of mouthpiece for 'officials' as the mainstream media does is more important than addressing the war and covering the peace movement. Though not as old as me, I am sure they are old enough to know better.