Monday, November 29, 2004

pinions of buddy don: unpleasunt facks

face the facks: we dont lack bad news. even ifn the bad news is jes whut we need to make the rite deecishun, folks jes dont lack to git bad news.

thays minny eggzamples of this problem, my own daddy bein a purrfeckly sad one. he wuz a verr stoick feller, dint lack to go to no docters nor git speshul treetment nor nuthin lack that. whenever he cum back frum worl war two, witch he wuz a marine corps raider n saw lots of his brothers fall, he went up into the cumberland moutains n dint cum out fer weeks, jes a'livin on the land in the ruffest of circumstantses.

twernt on a counta his hatin bad news that he dint go to the docters much. twuz on a counta how he bleeved most ailments folks cumplains about is thangs thats only in yer hed. he figgerd sum of the medicin docters give ye ackshly duz more harm than good. so he hated to go n wood git thru mos innythang by jes tuffin it out. he dint stay home frum wurk much even when he had a cold or flu or even when he wuz a'runnin a fever.

he passed on in 1996, dyin of renal failure only the reel problem wuz sumthin that had dun started a long time befor that. he had been havin sum pains n sum nausea, but he kep it hid frum mama longs he could. by the time she gut him to see the docters, twuz a lil too late. he had dun had cancer of his gall bladder, witch they could take that out all rite, but problem wuz how it had dun spread to his pancreas, n thay aint much them docters kin do fer that.

twuz sum reel bad news to here n by the time we had dun herd it, twuz too late to do nuthin fer im but try to make his death as easy as possibull. twuznt to be easy, tho. n thats all on a counta hot havin the facks he needed in time.

we gut us a simlar situwayshun a'gone on in our cuntry. we dont lack to read bad news nor watch in on tv n sints thonly thang we really seem to keer bout is profit n sints profit deepends on ratins, thay aint no profit in reportin the bad news. knowin he had cancer two years befor he died wooda been very upsettin, but ifn he hadda knowd bout it, he mite could have dun lived thru till he gut well agin.

in our cuntry, we are havin the same kinda problem. we dont wonta here no bad news frum iraq. corse, we dont have no censorship here, lease not by the gummint add mittin to cuntrollin the news, but do we need it ifn our news organizayshuns is willin to censor thar ownself? reminds me of a remark made by a feller name of walter hale hamilton. he sed sumthin back in the 1930s that is scary to read today:
This private control and formal independence from the government is the genius of the current media system. Clearly, it is superior to, and more refined than, the flawed Goebbels model as an engine of social control. As Meiklejohn’s mentor, Walter Hale Hamilton, put it in the 1930s: "Business succeeds rather better than the state in imposing restraints upon individuals, because its imperatives are disguised as choices." So it is, in the past decade, that the number of working journalists has been cut, that the foreign bureaus of U.S. media firms have been shut down, that the content of the media has been shaded to suit the needs of the owners, the advertisers, and the business community in general. Had these things occurred as the result of government edicts, it would have been regarded as a gross violation of the First Amendment, perhaps precipitating the worst constitutional crisis since the U.S. Civil War. Watergate, by comparison, would have looked like a day at the beach.
michael massing has a articull on this verr topick in the december 16 issue of the new york review of books. ye orta read it fer yer ownself, only ye wood half to buy a copy since it aint online. but tiz wurth the $4.50 ye wood half to spend jes fer that one articull on a counta how he eggsplains all the news we aint a'gittin frum over thar. ifn we wuz a'gittin it, we woodnt feel so comfy bout the war. the articull is long, so ye orta read the hole thang, but heres a cuple of the points he makes. fer one thang, he shows bout the self-censorship of the press:
Another reason why news organizations don't write about such matters is suggested in the recenly released DVD version of Michael Moore's movie Fahrenheit 9/11. It contains as an added feature an interview with Urban Hamid, a Swedish journalist who in late 2003 accompanied an American platoon on a raid in Samarra. Hamid's experience was similar to Nir Rosen's, with the difference that he caught it on tape. In it, we see soldiers using an armored personnel carrier to break down the gates of a house. We see the soldiers rush in with their rifles pointed ahead, and terrified women rushing out. An elderly man on crutches is rousted up and a plastic bag is placed over his head. The soldiers go through the family documents, trying to determine if this man is connected with the insurgency, but because they don't speak Arabic they can't really tell. Nonetheless, they take him to a detention center, where he joins dozens of others, their heads all sheathed in plastic. Celebrating the arrests, the soldiers take pictures of one another with their "trophies." One soldier admits that he's surprised they didn't find more weapons. "The sad thing for these guys is that we'll probably let them go because their names don't match up," he says.

In the interview, Hamid says he asked many Iraqis if they'd heard of things like this, and they all told him "of course." "It's preposterous," he says, "to think there is any way you win somebody's hearts and minds by imposing such a criminal and horrible policy." Hamie says that he tried to sell his tape to the "Swedish media" but got no response. He then approached the "American media," with the same result. "It's obvious," he says, "that the mainstream media exercise some kind of self-censorship in which people know that this is a hot potato and don't touch it, because you're going to get burned."
of corse, sum of the censorin is dun with hep frum the gummint. heres the bit bout Nir Rosen that mr massing mentchuns in the quote:
One journalist who has seen this firsthand is Nir Rosen. A twenty-seven-year-old American freelance reporter, Rosen speaks Arabic (a rare skill among Western reporters in Iraq), has a dark complexion (allowing him to mix more easily with Iraqis), and prefers when in Iraq to hang out with locals rather than with other journalists. (In the late spring, he managed to get inside Falluja at a time when it was a death trap for Western reporters; he described his chilling findings in the July 5 issue of The New Yorker.) Seeing Iraq from the perspective of the Iraqis, Rosen got a glimpse of how persistently and routinely American actions alienated them. "People have to wait three hours in a traffic jam because a US army convoy is going by," he notes. "Guns are pointed at you wherever you go. People are constantly shouting at you. Concrete walls are everywhere. Violence is everywhere."

In October 2003, Rosen spent two weeks embedded with a US Army unit near the Syrian border. In sweeps through neighborhoods, he said, the Americans used Israeli-style tactics—making mass arrests in the hope that one or two of those scooped up will have something useful for them. "They'll hold them for ten hours in a truck without food or water," he told me. "And 90 percent of them are innocent." Writing of his experience in Reason magazine, Rosen described how a unit he accompanied on a raid broke down the door of a house of a man they suspected of dealin in arms. When the man, named Ayoub, did not immediately respond to their orders, they shot him with nonlethal bullets. "The floor of the house was covered with his blood," Rosen wrote. "He was dragged into a room and interrogated forcefully as his family was pushed back against their garden's fence."

Ayoub's frail mother, he continued, pleaded with the interrogating soldier to spare her son's life, protesting his innocence:
He pushed her to the grass along with Ayoub's four girls and two boys, all small, and his wife. They squatted barefoot, creaming, their eyes wide open in terror, clutching one another as soldiers emerged with bags full of documents, photo albums and two compact discs with Saddam Hussein and his cronies on the cover. These CDs, called The Crimes of Saddam, are common on every Iraqi street and, as their title suggests, they were not made by Saddam supporters. But the soldiers couldn't read Arabic and saw only the picture of Saddam, which was proof enough of guilt. Ayoub was brought out and pushed on to the truck.
After holding Ayoub for several hours in a detention center, the soldiers determined that he was innocent, and they later let him go.

Rosen believes that such encounters are common. The American soldiers he saw "treat everybody as the enemy," he said, adding that they can be very abusive and violent. "If you're a boy and see soldiers beating the shit out of your father, how can you not hate the Americans?" He added: "Why doesn't anybody write about this in The New York Times or The Washington Post? The AP always has people embedded—why don't they write about it?"

One reason, he suggests, is that embedded journalists who write negatively about the US military find themselves "blacklisted." It happened to Rosen: a series of stories he wrote for Asia Times about his experience while embedded elicited an angry letter from the commander and the public affairs officer of the unit he accompanied, and he has not bee allowed to beocme embedded since. Other correspondents told me of similar experiences.
ye probly dun red bout how kevin sites has been threatend on a counta doin his job whenever he wuz a'carryin the camera that wuz runnin when that marine in falluja shot the injured insurgent. folks ack lack he is part of the enemy? he wuz shootin with a camera, not a gun, but thar blamin him (btw, i caint judge that thar marine on a counta i coulda been so made to whar i wooda dun the same thang he dun, witch that dont make it rite, but im jes sayin tiz a verr hard thang to figger on a counta how them marines had dun run into booby-trapped bodies befor they gut thar). ye mite even thank tiz the librul media trine to brang down them publicans ifn ye ever see these kinda thangs on tv. but ye aint lackly too since thays no profit in it.

long time after daddy had dun died n been buried out on edgemont road, i ast a docter i knew whuther he mite coulda been saved ifn he had known the truth bout whut he had. feller tole me he woodnt lie to me n that ifn daddy dun had cancer in his pancreas, he wood mos lackly have sufferd horribull thangs n then died bout the same time. but ifn they had discoverd it, they mite coulda saved him befor the cancer had spread. thays a lotta wooda, shoulda, coulda talk ye here after sumbidy is ded. ye caint tell fer sartin, but knowin the awful truth mite coulda hepped him. we wont never know now since he dint git it n died.

i hope we git better results frum not knowin the truth bout whut is bein dun in our name over in iraq.

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