by Philip Greenspan
(Swans - April 10, 2006) If a charismatic firebrand emerged on the scene as a presidential contender with an attractive new party, swept his entire party slate, Senate and House, to victory on Election Day, he would still be stymied, provided, of course, that our public servants fulfilled their obligations, which they sure as hell are not doing now. The checks and balances of the Constitution prevent a hasty wholesale seizure of governmental authority and power. Two-thirds of the upper legislative branch and the entire judicial system are holdovers. Two years must elapse before another third of the Senate is up for election. Within that time the glow of the firebrand would probably have dimmed and another legislative sweep would be unlikely. As to the judiciary, judges do not retire too readily. Before a majority, five judges, gets picked for the Supreme Court and the Senate must approve each one, many years pass.
No charismatic firebrand arose during US history. However, the trauma of 9/11 combined with the languor of the nominal opposition party and the judiciary has produced an improbable outcome: effective control of the country by one man. A dummy -- manipulated by ruthless and unprincipled advisors who respect no laws -- now rules the country, commands the military, and scares the hell out of the rest of the world.
Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence, the third president of the United States, and a philosopher of liberty, democracy, and government had many things to say and write about the importance and the influence of a truthful news media. With the checks and balances no longer functioning, Tom might have thought a fourth branch of government, the news media, would restore what was lost. Today the major media can no longer be considered an honest dispenser of important news -- it never was, but was definitely better than it is now. Rather than a dependable check on government it has become its accomplice and purveyor of its propaganda.
But the media's failure to function responsibly does not refute Tom's premise. I believe he was right when he claimed, "Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government. Whenever things get so far wrong as to attract their notice, they may be relied on to set them to rights." The major media have not merely failed but have deliberately sabotaged the people's right to know.
Intelligent people have always been aware of the deficiencies of the major media and have prudently sought reliable information from books, the alternate media, documentary films, and recently from the Internet. I have relied on each of those sources for many years. I search out books and documentary films by competent and honorable authors and producers on subjects that have aroused my interest; I subscribe to a few favorite periodicals; and I visit certain Websites regularly.
My trust in a Website prompted me to advise it of what I considered a significant transgression by a prominent organization. My trust was vindicated by their competent reporting of what I disclosed. The Website was Swans.com; and that incident led to my joining their team of correspondents. As I write, I realize how remiss I have been in not supporting Swans financially. As soon as I finish this session at the computer I will draw a check and send it to Swans. If you're a regular Swans reader and like what you've been getting, why not do likewise?
Unfortunately, most of the public does not know how or is too busy or too lazy to get hold of trustworthy news. To the rescue come the activists, people who not only protest the wrongs that exist but enlighten the uninformed and unconcerned. The antiwar group that I belong to distributes pertinent news items to passing motorists and pedestrians at its weekly vigils. We write letters to the editor of the local newspapers. Many groups schedule lectures, discussions, films in libraries or other public buildings, and publicize them.
I am one of those activists who seeks to inform the uninformed. I purchase films, schedule them at libraries and other public locations, and publicize them on posters, through listservs and by word of mouth. While I have been satisfied with each scheduled event, I always hoped for a more sizeable turnout.
Most people get their news on television. It's easy. They don't have to travel to a lecture, theatre, etc., and watching TV is easier than reading a newspaper, a magazine, or a book. I was therefore excited when, in browsing the Internet, I discovered that several excellent films were available at a nominal cost and had been approved for showing on citizen access television. I promptly contacted Fred Shepherd, the chap who gave me the lowdown on how I could program those films on a local cable channel.
Fred got very angry and took on this task when he realized that even public broadcasting stations refused to show highly regarded but controversial films. Quite likely it's pressure from influential and wealthy contributors who censor what the public has a right to and should be seeing.
Rather than reluctantly accepting this wrongful situation, Fred set up a far better film series than what PBS turned down, eleven films that portray the plight of the Palestinians. He secured permission for their showing on public access television from the producers. Such well known and highly regarded films as "Peace, Propaganda and the Promised Land," "Palestine Is Still the Issue," "The Loss of Liberty," and "Hijacking Catastrophe" are included. (More details are available at www.palkqed.com.)
Here is a golden opportunity to bring these films to a large audience! Viewers can see them in the comfort of their home on their favorite medium. With a good publicity campaign it is possible to corral a substantial number of viewers.
Every Sunday morning over the next eight weeks, I scheduled five of Fred's films, as well as five films of a local producer, on a local channel. Each film will be shown on two consecutive Sundays. To bolster the audience I will publicize the showings throughout the listening area.
What I did was easy; with a little effort anyone can do it. Fred has laid the groundwork and will assist anyone who is willing to try. Give him a call at (415) 459-8738, or send him an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Become an activist. Get the truth out to the public who are too lazy, busy, or tired to do it themselves. You'll be amazed how much satisfaction you will get from accomplishing a task like this.
YES, please, heed Philip Greenspan's words.our work financially. We need help so that more people may read him and other alernative authors. And where else can you find Philip's unique voice but on Swans?