Passing the Baton
By David Chandler
Franco approached me recently and asked if I would be interested
in taking over the "Left in America" column. He has been
writing the column since the mid 1990's and is ready to move on
to other things. I was interested. I have plenty I would like to
write about, but with a full-time
job and other long-term projects underway, I was not in a position
to commit to weekly deadlines.
Instead, I talked with a few like-minded friends
and we have decided to undertake this project as a group effort.
We have decided to call our group the "Progressive Writers'
Bloc". (Actually, working together we hope to avoid
writers' block!) We intend to critique each other's articles before
submitting them, so we expect to turn in a quality product. We have
even put up a web site where we will be posting all of our articles,
supplemented with links to background information. It's a bare bones
site at the moment, but even now it has a list of sources of online
news and commentary that would definitely enrich your reading. Bookmark
it at www.progressivewritersbloc.com.
One of the reasons I want to do this column is because
the quality of news available in the "mainstream media"
has plummeted in the last few decades. The media has been bought
up and consolidated into the hands of a tiny group of corporate
owners. Some (like Fox)
have an overt
right-wing agenda. The others merely have a corporate
agenda. Their readership (or listenership) is their product.
Their advertisers are their true market. In order to serve compliant
consumers to their advertisers they avoid issues and opinions they
judge to be unpopular. There are other
sources of news available, but you have to know where to find
them. We will be bringing alternative
sources to your attention.
The media fail
to provide critical counterbalance to the government because they
are afraid of appearing unpatriotic. No matter that true patriotism
demands a vigilant press
that is too subtle for many of their
readers, so they don't risk it. What we hear instead is the official
spin from every channel on the dial, when we hear actual news
at all. More often than not we get the most lurid infotainment available
six-month blocks. Who needs translators for the code words O.J.,
Princes Di, Monica, or Elian?
We are about to witness another such media frenzy centering on Michael
Jackson, while the
real news goes unreported.
There is real danger in not knowing what is going
on in the world. We all want to see the US as a fair and just country,
but to many outside our borders we
are seen as the biggest bully on the block. We know our government
caters to the interests
of big corporations, who also happen to be big
political donors. Domestically, this equates to enhancing the
obscene profits of top corporate
executives at the expense
of workers. In foreign policy this means supporting
tyrannical governments in the name of cheap labor and political
"stability" regardless of how brutal these governments
are to their own people. (We
were Saddam's biggest backer through the worst of his misdeeds.
We only turned on him when he got in our way.) We have the biggest
slice of the world's pie and we intend to keep it, at everyone else's
terrorism! The reason we
are being transformed into a police state is not because terrorism
is inevitable, but because as long as we conduct business as usual
terrorism is inevitable, and we
intend to continue business as usual.
We hope to provide a column that will stimulate
your thinking and raise your consciousness. Follow the links in
the online version of this article at ProgressiveWritersBloc.com.