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A chill wind blows, the gasbags now huff

Some people opposed to the war no doubt have been afraid to speak up. But this "a chill wind is blowing" stuff is so much self-serving hot air. It puffs up the self-regard of those who do speak up -- Look at me, I'm braving this "climate of oppression" -- and excuses those who decide to stay silent.
A chill wind blows, the gasbags now huff
DAVID REINHARD, The Oregonian, 04/27/03

The late historian Richard Hofstadter once wrote a learned tome titled "The Paranoid Style in American Politics." If only the old boy were around today.

Americans now live in a "climate of fear," don't you know. Worse, we're "an entire nation gripped by fear." The children of Adams and Jefferson are afraid to speak against the Iraq war or the Patriot Act. Powerful forces are "stifling dissent on a national scale," and "a chill wind is blowing in this nation."

We know all this, of course, because columnists and TV commentators say so in pieces denouncing the war, the Patriot Act, the Bush administration or corporate America. Celebrities say so in their denunciations of corporate-controlled media on nationally televised appearances and in media interviews. And speakers and participants say so at the antiwar demonstrations that have filled our cities.

"A chill wind is blowing in this land," actor-activist Tim Robbins has told us. "A message is being sent through the White House and its allies in talk radio . . . If you oppose this administration, there can and will be ramifications."

Having returned from an all-American family reunion somewhere beyond Hollywood, Robbins said, "The most frightening thing about the weekend was the amount of times we were thanked for speaking out against the war because that individual speaking thought it unsafe to do so in their own community in their own life."

Of course, Robbins said this at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., and a public-relations firm quickly flashed his words across the nation faster than a chill wind in January.

"I don't ever remember being in a climate where people were so afraid to even have a conversation about some of these issues," fretted Robbins' partner, Susan Sarandon -- in a news conference to hawk a TV movie.

Only in dissent-stifled America.

Were government agents rounding up antiwar activists or censoring their latest pronouncements? No. Nothing so chilling. What's got the wind-chill-factor folks so heated up is that other Americans -- radio talk-show hosts and other opinion-meisters, as well as consumers -- are taking exception to their antiwar arguments. Many aren't buying their antiwar arguments or the entertainment wares that made their political views noteworthy in the first place.

Michael Moore was booed at the Academy Awards -- amid a standing ovation as he picked up an Oscar! Former fans smash and boycott Dixie Chicks albums after one Chick told an English audience they were ashamed of being from the same state as George W. Bush! Robbins and Sarandon were (temporarily) disinvited to a baseball shindig! Madonna felt moved not to release an anti-Bush, antiwar video!

This is evidence of some dark night descending over the land? Humbug.

Bruce Springsteen calls the Dixie Chicks boycott "un-American." But why is it "un-American" for some folks to take their views as seriously as our star-activists take theirs? Is some Americans' "freedom of expression" less worthy than others'? The right to speak is not the right to speak without consequence. It's not the right to define your listener's proper reaction. If our celebs think otherwise, they're more spoiled than we've imagined.

Some people opposed to the war no doubt have been afraid to speak up. But this "a chill wind is blowing" stuff is so much self-serving hot air. It puffs up the self-regard of those who do speak up -- Look at me, I'm braving this "climate of oppression" -- and excuses those who decide to stay silent.

The fact is it's always easier to say nothing when you know the crowd will likely reject your arguments and may even argue back. This is hardly new, much less confined to the antiwar left. Try holding traditional views on homosexuality or abortion in certain quarters or not embracing the entire diversity canon. The liberal orthodoxy became so intimidating -- oppressive? -- that it even took a name: They call it political correctness.

If Robbins is really worried about efforts to punish people for speaking up, he might start defending Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Rick Santorum.

Bundle up if you do, Tim. David Reinhard is an associate editor.

homepage: homepage: http://www.oregonlive.com/news/oregonian/david_reinhard/index.ssf?/base/editorial/1051358800110790.xml

(Wh)oregonian Drivel 27.Apr.2003 12:18

reporter

You know, if we wanted to read this kind of disinformation, we could read the Oregonian ourselves. What benefit is it to re-post that shit here?

Speaking of hot air 27.Apr.2003 12:24

PHH

Gen-u-wine BS.

David Reinhard Says Heil 27.Apr.2003 12:50

Oregonian

"Why of course the people don't want war ... But after all it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship ... Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger." Hermann Goering, Nazi leader, at the Nuremberg Trials after World War II
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I think it's about time to reconsider cloning Hitler. His views were arguably more moderate than that of the current US fascist regime, he could string more than one sentence together without sounding like a buffoon, and he was far more honest about his objectives.

Since Reinhard demonstrates so effectively, his betrayal and contempt for his fellow citizens, his colleagues, and the proclaimed legal foundations of the United States, he is an excellent candidate for propoganda minister.
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"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public."

~Theodore Roosevelt, 1918
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It's Not Just Protesters Anymore
When Police Attack Journalists
by WILL POTTER
April 19, 2003

 http://www.counterpunch.org/potter04192003.html

I have reported on mass protests where police attacked protestors, but I tended to accept- and even wrote in some articles- statements by police that protestors provoked this violence. The crowd got out of control, I thought. Surely, someone threw rocks, threw punches, or did something to instigate these assaults. The police would not attack people for no reason.

After witnessing, and feeling, attacks by multiple baton-wielding officers during the permitted anti-war march in the capital on April 12, I realized I have made a mistake. As a reporter, I have mistakenly placed the burden of proof on the protestors, rather than the police. And now, as I see coverage of the protest where I was beaten, I see other journalists doing the same.

A local news station showed video footage of an officer beating a restrained protestor. So D.C. Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey assigned the officer to "desk duty." He said, "I'm not just going to hang this guy out to dry just because someone made an allegation."

Media reports of the attacks have towed this line. When journalists state "protestors and police clashed," and "protestors scuffle with police," it leads the public to believe that the protestors brought it upon themselves. If unofficial sources (protestors) say they were beaten, they are making allegations. If official sources (police) say it was an "appropriate response," we often treat it as fact.

I attended the march as a freelance journalist, and was beaten by police with batons while I was wearing my Congressional press pass. These attacks were not just "allegations."

Here's what happened at one point on the march: Near the intersection of 9th and G Streets police buzzed the crowd on motorcycles, hitting one protestor. A scuffle ensued, about 40 feet in front of me. Police pepper sprayed some protestors, and then went after everyone in the intersection.

Because of the national uproar over last year's controversial mass arrests of World Bank-IMF protestors in Pershing Park and lawsuits now pending- police say they have reevaluated their policy on such arrests. True to their word, they didn't go into the crowd arresting innocent people. Instead, they beat them.

The melee worked its way back to me, as I tried to walk my bicycle toward the sidewalk. Without warning I was struck on my back by a police officer with a baton, who then started yelling, "Clear the streets."

At least five officers used batons to push the crowd toward the sidewalk and against another group of officers. We were caught between two lines of cops swinging batons. When the crowd pushed me against one officer I told him, "I'm not assaulting you, I'm not trying to touch you, I'm being trampled, please help."

He looked me in the eyes, almost like he was sorry, and said, "I know." I fell from the pressure of panicked people trying to flee. Others collapsed on top of me. I couldn't breathe, and yelled for help. An officer behind me pulled at my neck and throat, tearing my shirt, yelling, "Get up." I couldn't, I told him, because I was being trampled.

When I managed to stand and take a few steps, a police officer struck me twice with his baton, held horizontally in both hands. I flew back onto the mass of flailing people. "Clear the street," he yelled. "Back up."

The pile slowly unraveled and I went for my bike. The same officer who hit me moments before now intentionally stomped on the rear portion of the bike as he yelled, "MOVE!"

I surveyed the damage to my bike, and my body, and asked officers for badge numbers. They pretended they didn't hear me. Some turned and walked away. Even those that I knew were not directly involved remained silent: they acted like a gang, covering for each other. One turned around, pushed me with his baton, and yelled, "Get the hell out of here!"

For white, upper-middle class reporters like me, it may come as a shock that police can do these things, and get away with it. I would like to believe that freedom of speech is protected in our country, and that the police exist to protect such freedoms. I hope that, unlike me, other journalists do not need to endure attacks by police to begin reporting critically on police conduct. We have a civic responsibility to stop accepting police statements and start holding these people accountable.

Will Potter is a reporter for the Chronicle of Higher Education. In his spare time he independently covers politics and social movements. He has written for the Chicago Tribune, the Dallas Morning News and the Texas Observer. He can be reached at:  will.potter@lycos.co.uk
David Reinhard Says Heil
David Reinhard Says Heil

First Amendment course 27.Apr.2003 15:56

Postman

Pay attention, boys and girls. These entertainers can say whatever they want. If they make some political statement, you as a consumer can respond any way you want. Those responses boil down to the following 5 choices:

1) "I don't care. Your opinion means nothing to me."
2) "I agree with you. End of discussion."
3) "I disagree with you. End of discussion."
4) "I agree with you so strongly that I will double and triple my support for your work."
5) "I disagree with you so strongly that I will never buy your record or watch your movies ever again."

Additional note: None of these entertainers have been dipped in acid baths, and none have had their tongues cut out.

Class dismissed. Homework assignment: Read the First Amendment.

Thanks for the 5 Options, but... 27.Apr.2003 17:07

Consume This

...some folks don't consider their primary identity to be that of a consumer. Additionally, although the journalist listed in the comment above the Postman's was not dipped in acid or de-tounged, he was subject to being physically and verbally abused by the very people who's duty it is to prevent that from happening.

lifestyles of the unknown and detained 27.Apr.2003 17:25

I. Protest

I would be much more worried about what is happening to people you've never even heard of under the Patriot Act and other nonsense, than what happens to dissenting people who are in the spotlight where we can see them.

I would also be worried what is happening to the families of people who are serving over there. When your first instinct is to protect the safety of your own flesh and blood from whomever it may be, and what you end up doing is clapping and cheering because they're in the line of fire, chances are very good that you were made afraid - very afraid - that if you expressed what comes only natural, you'd be branded cowardly, un-American, unpatriotic, and etc.

I'm not so worried what happens to celebrities; I'd be much more worried about what is already happening to ordinary people.

Oregonian is a Corporate Media Mouthpiece 27.Apr.2003 19:52

Oakland Police Dept.

Dave "Seig Heil" Reinhard is a typical apologist for the increasing police state that his America is. Notice how he and other media shills focus on superficial examples involving Big-Name Celebrities such as the Dixie Chicks and Tom Robbins, all the while ignoring the more brutal acts of repression that are happening to the antiwar movement at the Grassroots level. For example, the Oakland Pig Department attacking antiwar protestors at an Oakland Port in mid-April.

See the above picture for an example of how dissent gets treated in America.
Oregonian is a Corporate Media Mouthpiece
Oregonian is a Corporate Media Mouthpiece

question for MikeTroll-- 28.Apr.2003 21:47

curious

"not EVERYBODY is out to get you, fer crying out loud."

--hmmm . . .

do *you* think *we* think that?

if *not* true, JUST WHO IS "out to get us, fer crying out loud"??