Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Ruth's Report

Ruth: C.I. gave both Isaiah and myself the weekend off due to the non-stop problems with the Blogger/Blogspot program. Tonight, all I am doing is handing out candy to trick-or-treaters and later some members of my family will be coming over so I thought this might be a good time for a report.

I wanted to again write about Kyle Snyder, the war resister who self-checked out of the U.S. military in April of 2005. If you read this site today, Courage to Resist, CBS' website or listened to The KPFA Evening News tonight, you know that Mr. Snyder turned himself in today at Fort Knox.

As a long term subscriber of The Nation, one of the few publications that is in my late husband's name which I have continued the subscription on, I do not visit the website very often. I have the print copy headed to my mailbox, so why bother?

But I did today and I counted sixty-five story links before I stopped counting. Not one was to a story on Kyle Snyder. I checked out the "real time blog" of the magazine, The Notion, and saw that there were five entries today. The number of posts on Al Gore? One. The number of posts on Bill Moyers for president? One. The number of posts on Osama bin Laden? One. The number of posts on moral depravity? One. The number of posts on virginity? One. The number of posts on Kyle Snyder?


Let me repeat that, zero posts on Kyle Snyder. While deadlines and resources may explain, although not excuse, the lack of coverage to war resisters within the military, they do not explain why the magazine's blog cannot cover the issue.

Bill Moyers for president? Why not me?

It makes about as much sense and we are around the same age. (Mr. Moyers is a wee bit older than I am.) But if you have not already overdosed on nonsensical coverage of elections, The Notion will happily assist you with the final dose as they 'elect' to write, on October 31, 2006, about who should run in 2008 for president.

Mr. Moyers is a fine journalist. He was also part of LBJ's administration. "Hey-hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?" I remember that chant and I am sure many members of my generation do as well. Despite that, there was time to make him the subject of 'fantasy football,' as my grandson Jayson called it, today but there was not time to note reality?

What, I wondered, might our wise sages at The Progressive be talking about? The Progressive is second in circulation to The Nation. While the latter is a weekly, The Progressive is a monthly and has a much smaller staff. I was not expecting anything new to be up but Matthew Rothschild, the editor, had posted today. His topic was Bully Boy campaigning.

Maybe the news about Mr. Snyder did not come out soon enough today? I checked with C.I. and was told, "As soon as I woke up and checked with the service, I had about six messages from friends about Snyder. The story we linked to at four this morning [Pacific Time] had been up for several hours. The time stamp on a forwarded e-mail from Courage to Resist was 12:08 am Central."

Clearly, the story was out there for anyone who wanted to write about it. But war resistance, within the military or outside of it, remains the least covered story by our independent print media. As a subscriber to The Nation, I always assume that something my granddaughter Tracey saw online will be in the print issue. For instance, The Nation actually did have two stories on Ehren Watada. Neither made it to my mail box because they are "web only." The Nation mentioned war resister Carl Webb in an article on Hurricane Katrina's after effects; however, they did not note that he was a war resister in the article. I have not seen the documentary Sir! No Sir! reviewed in the arts section. In fact, to read the print version only, you might not even know there was a peace movement in this country, an active peace movement attempting to stop the war right now.

While one can easily note that Naomi Klein has done all the heavy lifting on the topic of Iraq and that Ms. Klein has been on a leave of absence finishing a book on the topic, the fact remains that, unlike The Progressive, The Nation has a full staff. Is there no one who can cover the peace movement?

An article entitled "The Torture Election" is the subject of some ridicule. That is partly due to the fact that it is authored by The Nation's designated peace columnist who has had nothing to say on the peace movement since . . . Well, has he covered the peace movement once during this illegal war? I am not remembering it all.

I have not read the article, I am waiting for that issue to arrive in the mail. I did hear the author on RadioNation with Laura Flanders Saturday night. I did wonder what a Michael Ratner or Michael Smith, attorneys and hosts of WBAI's Law and Disorder, might say about the topic? I cannot speak for Mr. Ratner or Mr. Smith but I do know that both gentlemen have been very vocal on their program about the fact that Democrats have gone along in Congress handing the Bully Boy one blank check after another. The idea that a crop of wishy-washy candidates, with only a few standouts is somehow, should they win control of the House and/or Senate, will deliver us from the reign of terror is laughable.

The Democrats may have been the wallflowers at the prom for the last six years, but they attended, they drank the punch and they dreamed of being asked to dance.

Let us not pretend that they staged an alternative prom or put the time to better use.

Let us also not pretend that the independent print medium knows how to address Iraq because it is obvious that they either do not or they have decided that they will not. Either conclusion is very sad. Since Hurricane Katrina hit, The Nation has done three cover stories on that topic. Number of cover stories on Iraq during the same period? Two. One of which was the so-called "General's Revolt."

Since Ehren Watada is the only war resister that the magazine has shown any interest in this year, one may reasonably conclude that it is a class issue, that the magazine is not interested in the average soldier resisting, but they are interested when an officer resists.

"Military Officers Speak Out Against A Failed War" is the subheading on the cover to the so-called revolt of the generals of the October 16, 2006 issue. Which leaves me wondering where the cover story is for those who have been speaking out against the war since it began and, in some cases, speaking out against it before it started?

I also have to wonder whether it is possible for The Nation to speak out against the war in their own voice as opposed to hiding behind officers?

Since the illegal war began, I have seen no indication that they could. A brave stand is apparently stating that you will not endorse any candidate who does not speak out against the war. That does not mean, judging by recent issues, that they will not be covered in the text equivalent of pastries. It just means they will not get an editorial saying, "We endorse ___ for Congress."

It is past time that the magazine attempted to address the issue of the war without hiding behind officers, or any of the things the mainstream media hides behind, and it is past time that the magazine stop telling their readers that the "ballot box" is where they have their power.

Possibly many on staff at the magazine are not old enough to remember Vietnam? Maybe some were not yet born? As someone who lived through that era and began protesting as a college student and ended protesting as a mother of several children, I am not fool enough to buy the garbage that my vote is going to end the war.

What ended the war was mobilization. What ended the war was the people saying no.

Congress did not lead it. Neither LBJ nor Tricky Dick led on it. Had it been left up to either the Congress or the executive branch, as usual the Supreme Court elected to sit out the war by not ruling on anything that might have ended it, we might still be in Vietnam today making the world 'safe' from communism which, for those who have forgotten or never knew, was the lie we were told then. The lie today is WMD and 9-11.

I often see The Progressive as a one-person job, if anyone is wondering why I am being much less critical of them. Mr. Rothschild, who was interviewed Monday by Andrea Lewis on KPFA's The Morning Show, often has multiple bylines in each issue, he is usually the only one posting more than once a week at the website which I do visit because I allowed my subscription to The Progressive to lapse some time ago.

It is also true that The Nation has a record high circulation number and that it wants to be an opinion leader. Whose opinions? It is really not serving the readers or the people currently. The election coverage may be serving the Democratic Party and if that is the masters the magazine aims to please, they should stop calling themselves independent media.

But while they attempt to figure out themselves and their audiences, I will not kid and pretend that they are doing a good job with regards to the illegal war. I will not, as Medea Benjamin did when interviewed by Andrea Lewis, look to the current state of the peace movement, which is growing by leaps and bounds, and attempt to point out problems without pointing out that the biggest problem has been, and remains, our independent media which has demonstrated no interest in covering it.

I can remember the days of the draft. I can remember the phrase "Your number is up." I knew many young men who did not want to serve in that illegal war, some of whom did, some of who did not. We may not have an official draft today, the backdoor draft makes that debatable, but we also do not have the strong and promising econmy that we had when I was a young woman entering college. Then it was a given that you would do better than your parents economcially speaking. That is not true today. When so many young people have no path to advancement without the illusions promised by the military, the draft did not go away it just became more insidious.

I can remember several nights spent talking with male friends who had to go before their draft boards. I remember one who was clever enough to smoke menthols the entire night, in front of a window unit air conditioner on full blast, to screw up his respiratory system enough not to pass his physical. I can remember some who "dropped out," as the phrase went then. My husband and I had two very close friends who went to Canada. With college and then medical school, and then children, my husband was never in danger of having his number called, if anyone is wondering.

For everyone who had to make a choice, regardless of what the choice was, it was difficult. It pains me that today the U.S. government has started another illegal war. It saddens me that our indepenent media cannot act as a leader against the war because it seems far too busy and far too vested in who will win an election. Right now, that is the November election. When that election is over, if the recent past is to serve as an example, it will be time to get onboard the Hype Train for the 2008 election.

At what point will the war be dealt with? Kyle Snyder made a very difficult decision when he walked away from the war machine and went to Canada. He made another very difficult decision when he decided to come back to the United States and to continue to be a war resister.
His stand is not honored with silence and forgive me if, at my age, I am not in the mood to smile and be silent while our independent media continues to ignore the very real issues effecting our country today while they provide cover to politicians who will not end this war.

I am angry. As Laura Nyro once sang, "I'm mad at my country." After Vietnam, my generation said never again to illegal wars. Now many of us shake our heads and wonder not just how another illegal war was started but also how it has been allowed to drag on for almost four years now.

The Nation wants to be a leader; however, it is not providing leadership on this war.

I enjoyed the food issue this summer but did think, "Okay, we can get an issue devoted to food but we still cannot get an issue devoted to Iraq?" Possibly were Gourmet magazine to focus on the war, The Nation might?

If anyone thinks the coverage coming from the magazine on the war has been good enough or even almost adequate, I would argue they did not live through Vietnam. The people seem to be in 1969 or 1970 right now. The magazine appears to be in 1956.

If you want to be a leader, you have to lead. The magazine is not leading. I say that even though I can picture C.I. cringing, though I am sure I will not hear about it, and even though my granddaughter Tracey's hero is Katrina vanden Heuvel.

Those of us who lived through the Vietnam era know what it took to stop that illegal war. While others may be fooled by the coverage today, those of us old enough to know better should not be.