Wednesday, July 27, 2011


"But the We-Love-The-Troops-But-Not-The-Wars branding hasn’t stuck."

Remember all those protests when President Bush was in office? How they were popular, tens of thousands of people shouting about how the Iraqis should be forced to suffer horrors under Hussein and that the repeatedly broken cease-fire should be maintained until the sanctions just crumbled with time. Well, that's not what they said they wanted, but its what their efforts would have resulted in, with success.

The legacy media loved to cover these protests, and I can't help but repeat a story I saw unfold right in front of my eyes. The "anti war" protests were in full swing and a bunch of people in my town decided to have a rally in support of the troops, with flags and so on. Over a hundred people showed up at the capitol steps and we smiled and cheered. Across the street a dozen or so raggedy old hippies showed up with carefully printed signs from International A.N.S.W.E.R. and the press showed up in their vans.

We thought "neat, maybe someone will finally pay attention to the support of the war on terror." Oh no. They turned their cameras on the tiny group of "anti-war" guys, totally ignored the troop support rally, then drove away. This was never about the war for the legacy media, it was about how they could undermine the president's vast popularity and get the hated Republican out of power.

The protests started to disappear around 2006 when Democrats took control of congress, and have all but vanished from the press now that a Democrat is president. Over and over people like me noted that most of this was about getting rid of a Republican president, not war. That these "anti-war" protests had little to do with actual war, and the press coverage everything to do with removing a president that was shockingly of the wrong party and actually seemed to believe in God. Once the GOP was getting out of power, well why have the protests, and why cover them?

The protests are still happening, by the way. They aren't as big, but they're regularly occurring. Since 2009, 1400 Americans have been arrested for tresspassing, civil unrest, and violence in anti-war protests. The press just isn't paying them any attention. At Neiman Watchdog, John Hanrahan complains that the legacy media isn't doing its job:
Antiwar activists repeatedly stage dramatic acts of civil disobedience in the United States but are almost entirely ignored by mainstream print and broadcast news organizations. During the Vietnam era, press coverage of the fighting and opposition to it at home helped turn public opinion against the war. This time around lack of homefront coverage may be helping keep military involvement continue on and on.

In the past two years, protests of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, killer drones, torture, nuclear weapons and other war-related issues have been carried out at nuclear weapons silos and production facilities, military bases, unmanned drone facilities, major defense contractors’ headquarters and offices, the Nevada Nuclear Test site, nuclear weapons design laboratories, military recruiting centers, the U.S. Capitol, the White House, federal buildings in various states, the U.S.
Strategic Air Command, and numerous other war-oriented sites across the country.
As Daniel Berrigan, now 90 and living in a Jesuit friary in New York City, observed in the summer of 2010 in an interview with author Deena Guzder for her recently-published book, Divine Rebels: "There's resistance all the time today, but there's no media. The media is a total sellout. You're not going to know the earth is shaking if nobody reports it, but there are still plenty of people who are trying to read the Gospel and act as if it were true."
My complaint is that the legacy media is doing its job inconsistently and unjustly, by choosing stories not based on their impact or significance, but on who they help or hurt in power. Covering these protests like before means making Democrats look bad, and that's simply not on the agenda.

Hanrahan's position is obvious here: US military bad, all war must stop; he doesn't say a single word in criticism or opposition to the horrors the Taliban is unleashing daily on the people of Afghanistan, just the handful of scattered people who've suffered tragically from the war.

Like many in the "anti-war" movement I have no doubt their concerns are sincere and heart felt, but are ignorant and naive. They seem to honestly think everything will be OK if only we got rid of our military. And they seem unwilling to consider the evil that we're fighting against, only the evil they perceive in our military.

But the protests are still going on. They're small and have more or less spliced into the no-nukes people who've always been around, but they are happening. The size is smaller because the real no-war guys aren't being joined by the "whee its a party" guys and the "anarchy now!" guys and the biggest constituency, the "Republicans must be driven out of power" guys. So they are more modest in size, but still going on.

And like I noted above, the size wasn't the deciding factor for media coverage of Bush-era protests. They're still happening, sometimes bigger than those rallies. The legacy media just doesn't want to pay them any mind.

1 comment:

NavyOne said...

Hi Chris,

Link to your blog here: