Sunday, January 27, 2008

Ruth's Report

Kat here. Once again Ruth was drafted into helping out at The Third Estate Sunday Review. That was last minute and she planned to do a report here. There are major technical problems at Third right now but I can pull Ruth's comments from the roundtable and create a report of sorts so Ruth's not feeling, "I missed another week!" (Which, seriously, she was worried about).
Click here for her last report at this site and note she's been participating at Third every weekend since.

Here's the public radio discussion from the roundtable that will go up shortly at Third.

Actually, I should probably note who's participating in the below first:

Participating are The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Ty, Ava and Jim,
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz,
Ruth of Ruth's Report,
and Wally of The Daily Jot.

That's everyone. I'm rushing to get this up and still have to tag. Some listed above will not be in the excerpt below. But I'm calling this "Ruth's Report" and I don't think you'll disagree when you read it.

Jim: Right. Meant that we wanted everyone who participated last time, plus Jess, to participate. That means no report from Ruth at The Common Ills again because we've pulled her in on this. Ruth?

Ruth: Well, I was considering writing about the election coverage on radio over the week.

Rebecca: Ruth, either at her her home or at mine, is following the bulk of the Pacifica stations and NPR. If you want to know what they're covering or not covering, ask Ruth.

Jim: Okay, Ruth, I'm asking. What was last week like?

Ruth: Embarrassing. From station to station, program to program, it was a wealth of wasted time. There were two exceptions that need noting. First up was
Morning Review Wednesday with Gabriel Gutierrez which airs at 10:00 a.m. EST, my time zone, on KPFK. What was impressive about Wednesday's show? Too much to list. But among the strong points were the hosts were not vested in a campaign. They called out everyone. They had a set standard that applied to all and, anyone who has tried to follow coverage knows, that is not often the case. They also made a point to inform and were not coming off like one of those annoying public service annoucements badgering someone into voting. They accepted that their audience was informed and aware which is a starting point other programs might try utilizing. The other program I give high marks to is WBAI's Joy of Resistance which airs at 11:00 a.m. Thursdays.That program provided real news. Think about all the nonsense we heard when Hillary Clinton's eyes misted over in New Hampshire. When did they mist over? You never heard that. The women discussed it and noted that it took place when Senator Clinton was discussing the rollbacks on rights in this country and the need for someone who would stand up to that.

Cedric: I saw that when Ruth wrote about it and I remembered all the trashing Hillary got. I remembered Jess Jackson Jr. grandstanding and lying that she cried -- just "cried" is a lie -- about her appearance. I thought that was a really important point and think it's very telling that all this time later, this was the first I was hearing about it. I've wasted how many hours on Democracy Now!?

Ruth: There were so many lies told about that moment and think about how much time it took up on Democracy Now! and so many other programs. But who informed you of the reality?
WBAI and KPFK have online archives. Programs do not remain archived forever so if you would like to catch those broadcasts, you will need to do so quickly.

Jim: Ruth wrote about the broadcasts in "
Morning Review Wednesday with Gabriel Gutierrez" and " Joy of Resistance (WBAI)." Ty had a question about another program Ruth heard.

Ty: I did. And I heard it as well, so obviously, we're talking about KPFA. That was pure embarrassment. On the part of the guests, on the part of the host. I couldn't believe that nonsense like that made it to air.

Ruth: I know what you are referring to. I am not really sure what to say here.

Ty: You wrote about it in "
Bambi Love" and I'm respecting your decision there not to name the guests, the host or the program. But why don't you talk about it in terms of the basics.

Ruth: In Jena, White supremistis held a small rally, I believe approximately fifty people. It's appalling, it's offensive. Had that been the comments or the gist of them, I would have been nodding. But instead it was a long the lines of they, the racists, had done something illegal.

Ty: I heard the broadcast and that is what was being argued. KPFA is supposed to be the original free speech radio. Anyone on that station should damn well know that free speech can be offensive and those participating in that march or rally were offensive. But their actions, as appalling as they are, are protected by free speech and are not illegal. That KPFA issued no correction and that the host just went along with the guest's false claims were appalling.

Rebecca: C.I. once argued that those actions were illegal.

Ty: I'm shocked.

C.I.: Rebecca's setting me up.

Rebecca: I am. It was a class excercise and the professor assigned you the position you'd have to argue.

C.I.: It was a Nazi group carrying Swastizkas that were the issue. I was assigned the role of a Jewish activist, this was a poli sci class, not a law class, and we were supposed to be appearing before a local city council that was deciding whether or not to grant a parade/march permit. I didn't go to the law. The laws are obviously on the side of free speech, though that was more true back then, and I instead cited a Jewish proverb about how when even the laws of humankind are closed, the gates of heaven are open to tears. That's what I based my plea on to the students playing the city council.Ty: What position were you assigned, Rebecca?

Rebecca: None. I wasn't in the class. I just tagged along because there was a hot guy in the class and I was attempting to land him. Which, for the record, I did.

Elaine: Always. But the points that Ruth and Ty are making are valid. It is offensive when the KKK or similar groups march. It's offensive and it disgusts me. But it is also free speech. What I find interesting is that KPFA was fine with presenting a 'this should be illegal' argument on that but, had the issue been the violent pornography of women, they would have immediately gone to 'free speech'.Betty: That's a really good point. Visuals of violence against women are still more likely to find pro-free speech arguments among the left while racism will be called out. In both cases, they are disgusting but legal. However, their being legal does not mean you bring a pornographer on to your program, as Amy Goodman did, and make nice with them. You especially don't provide a pass to him when you are publishing in his magazine. And to be clear for those late to the party, I'm referring to violent images, not merely nude photos.

Ty: Just to repeat, I was shocked to hear that nonsense on KPFA. I kept waiting for the host to point out, yes, it is offensive, yes, we all are against it, but it is legal.

Cedric: Well we should probably note why it is legal. Free speech is supposed to be an open market, a public sphere, where all ideas can compete. When you start saying, "I don't like that so it can't participate," you're limiting free speech. As an African-American, I obviously don't 'like' racists parading through a town. But when you curtail one group because you don't like them, you're going to curtail another one. And at what point do you find yourself in the minority? I always do, due to my race. And certainly after what went down in NYC during the RNC convention in 2004, you don't want to be arguing that free speech is illegal. I wanted to get Ruth's take on Grace Lee Boggs who appeared on Democracy Now! last week to sing the praises of Bambi.Ruth: That was very sad. Very, very sad. She is a movement activist and there she was arguing that there was no difference between Senators Clinton and Obama but she was supporting Senator Obama because of the fact that "youths" were supporting him.

Cedric: Uneducated and uninformed youths. Again, we don't have free speech. If we had free speech, Amy Goodman wouldn't be doing another sit down presidential endorsement of a candidate where it was yet again Bambi. But we can't have a real discussion about Bambi in our 'independent' media. And I'm a big fan of Grace Lee Boggs and her late husband Jimmy. I link to their peace center at my site. But that was such an embarrassment. If there's a duty older activists have, it is to tell the truth. Not to say, "Well there's a craze around Bambi so I'll go with Bambi." A craze always passes. And when it does, there is disappointment. Our elders are supposed to provide wisdom. I felt Grace Lee Boggs was tossing in the towel, by her own statements, and, instead of attempting to inform, saying, "I'll ride the wave."

Ruth: I would agree with every word you said. As I said, it was very sad to hear that.

Cedric: I also saw it as a mark-down on Malcom X's worth. Did anyone else feel that way?

Mike: I did. She talked about how she and her husband were supporters of Malcom X and in his camp and not the MLK camp but due to, hold on, I'm looking it up. She says that "like many Black Power activists in the ’60s, I tended to think of King as somewhat naive with his advocacy of nonviolence. And it took me a lot of time to be -- I identified with Malcolm much more, as many of us did in the movement in the North. And it took the rebellions of the ’60s, the late ’60s, and the crime and violence that began to erupt in our cities following -- particularly in Detroit -- following the rebellions for me to ask, you know, is it possible that there is something in King's message that we have to internalize in order to rebuild our cities, to redefine our cities, to re-spirit our cities? And it was in really beginning to face the problems of a de-industrialized Detroit and a crime-ridden and a violence-ridden Detroit, that Detroit -- that King began to mean more to me, as I began to work with young people and see how much they needed to have what he called self-transforming and environment-transforming programs that they could engage in and begin to be of use and to serve, as I began to understand the alienation of young people in our cities and the alienation that King understood, that he grasped as he tried to understand both the Vietnam War and the rebellions, the urban rebellions."

Betty: To take nothing away from MLK, who I consider a hero for all, Boggs' reading leaves out the very real COINTELPRO programs and seems to accept the fact that violence in inner cities was a result of natural forces within them when the reality is that they were targeted by outside forces, government forces, and certainly Fred Hampton didn't request the FBI to come in an assassinate him. I find her reading puzzeling and distrubing. I'm in MLK's camp more than Malcom's, with no disrespect intended to Malcom, but I find the leaps of 'logic' she's making offensive, ignorant of history and, honestly, racially offensive.

Cedric: Which I would agree with. You've got the industries leaving the inner cities. That's certainly nothing to do with power that African-Americans had. You've got the government spying on and attacking Black Power movements. That's nothing the African-Americans asked for. Her reading was insulting. To then argue from Bambi after that really left me offended. She's provided an argument based on illusions and then she goes on to sell the illusion of Bambi.

Rebecca: The best moment, and one where Goodman flinches, is when Goodman asks about Paul Roebson, whether she knew him, and Grace Lee Boggs replies, "No, I did not. I did not know Paul Robeson. As a matter fact, I was in a Trotskyite group, and we had all sorts of misgivings about Communists. And I have some sense of his importance, particularly since I moved to Detroit and began living in the black community. But in the rarified atmosphere of New York among New York radicals, one had a tendency to, you know, disregard or underestimate what was going on in people who were pro-Communist or friendly with the fellow travelers of the Communist Party."

Full rush transcript goes up at Third shortly. I didn't run a spell check and they haven't on the roundtable (probably won't due to the length). It's a "rush transcript." Everybody chill. And this is counting as a "Ruth's Report." She's a busy woman with children and grandchildren.