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Speaking Truth to Power

Upcoming elections, hypocrisy/contradictions of Air America Radio, futility of voting in national elections, Noam Chomsky.
Speaking Truth to Power Why is Noam Chomsky's voice so rarely heard on so-called liberal or progressive radio? This is a rhetorical question because I believe I know the answer. I believe that because of Chomsky's honesty & his unwillingness to sugar coat the facts, he gets to the heart of the matter and this undermines the dog & pony show that Air America radio, in particular, uses to fill out its talk radio format. In similar fashion to that bulldog of a journalist, I.F. Stone, Chomsky reads the world's major papers, journals, etc. searching for the facts behind the news headlines. This dedication or diligence enables him to make the deeper connections between what is claimed by our so-called leaders & the realities disguised & distorted in a sea of propaganda that we are drowning in. I am also reminded of another honorable journalist by the name of George Seldes, who was born in 1890 and lived to 1970. He met & interviewed many of the most "notorious bastards" the twentieth century knew e.g. Lenin, Mussolini, etc. And a book he wrote in 1953, says it all, Tell the Truth and Run. In other words, if you dare to speak the truth, you'd better be prepared to take a lot of heat i.e. criticism, sometimes vicious attacks on one's character, etc., become ostracized from your own society, or become effectively marginalized, as Chomsky is in America. It never ceases to amaze me how few of my fellow Americans even know of Chomsky. He's a world-renown scholar, tireless lecturer, & prolific writer as well as professor at M.I.T. for over 50 years who "revolutionized" the field of linguistics in the 1960s. And not to brag, but I have been to Europe nine times so far and I've been to many of Europe's capitals and whenever I find a bookstore with a small section of books in English, Chomsky's books make up the majority of them. I have even met so-called liberals here in the U.S., who weren't familiar with Chomsky. Of course, I can understand why the "conservatives" hate Chomsky i.e. he tears down their idiotic arguments easily & succinctly, but those radio pundits on Air America radio, have no honest excuse for not discussing & debating this man's work. By the way, I think it was a very poor choice of words to call this radio station "Air America," because that was the name of the C.I.A.'s operation in the Golden Triangle of South Eastern Asia where they smuggled heroin in U.S. aircraft. Not very good PR in my opinion? Americans, especially the ranting & raving rightwing nutcases on the radio & television love to regularly remind us that we are the freest country on earth but this is hogwash. To cite just a few examples of how limited our free speech is, consider what happens to a teacher in our public schools who dares to speak truth to power. Jerry Farber wrote a book called The Student as Nigger and for reading some of it to his students in Los Angeles, he was fired. Or what about so-called public, political rallies these days? I was flabbergasted when I learned that before you could attend one of Dubya's (George W. Bush) political rallies, you had to sign what amounted to a loyalty oath. And as for "mainstream media," I'll just reiterate what Chomsky & others have argued with rigorous detail, facts, & footnotes i.e. the overwhelming majority of America's mass media is owned by a handful of corporations whose boards are made up of interlocking corporate interests. To illustrate the concentration of media ownership, hence power and influence over our lives, here's what Viacom owns (and this was a few years back): Paramount Studios, United Cinemas International, Blockbuster, 180 U.S. radio stations, Infinity Outdoor---the largest advertising agency in the world, CBS Network with over 200 affiliate television stations, MTV which reaches 342 million households globally, and Nickelodeon. Viacom boasts that it has "viewers from the cradle to the grave." I don't know how you feel about this boast of Viacom's but it is spooky to me because it reveals, perhaps as in a Freudian slip, the agenda of these media conglomerates. Following this further, Chomsky & his colleague, Edward Herman, co-authored Manufacturing Consent: the Political Economy of the Mass Media, and they break it down, in terms of how the mass media manipulate & hence basically control public opinion in the U.S. A propaganda model focuses on this inequality of wealth and power and its multilevel effects on mass-media interests and choices. It traces the routes by which money and power are able to filter out the news fit to print, marginalize dissent, and allow the government and dominant private interests to get their messages across to the public. The essential ingredients of our propaganda model, or set of news "filters," fall under the following headings: (I) the size, concentrated ownership, owner wealth, and profit orientation of the dominant mass-media firms; (~) advertising as the primary income source of the mass media; (3) the reliance of the media on information provided by government, business, and "experts" funded and approved by these primary sources and agents of power; (4) "flak" as a means of disciplining the media; and (5) "anticommunism" as a national religion and control mechanism. These elements interact with and reinforce one another. The raw material of news must pass through successive filters, leaving only the cleansed residue fit to print. They fix the premises of discourse and interpretation, and the definition of what is newsworthy in the first place, and they explain the basis and operations of what amount to propaganda campaigns. (Excerpted from the book) In brief, Chomsky tells us that most journalists have so internalized these filters that they truly believe they are being objective and hard-hitting in their reporting i.e. honest & courageous. As a result, due to our constant subjection to corporate propaganda via mainstream media and the dismal failure of our educational system to teach us critical & analytical thinking skills along with their inculcation of the correct perspectives & values of the elite who are our de facto rulers, the vast majority of Americans are dupes of the powers that be. And let me hasten to add that I too have been duped many times by false appeals to patriotism, etc. I have been reading critically, writing, researching, watching, listening, etc. for over 25 years and yet I still fell for Obama's rhetoric of "change." Moreover, I had stumbled across an essay in the November 2006 issue of Harper's magazine titled Barack Obama Inc.: The birth of a Washington machine which pointed out that "Obama's top contributors are corporate law and lobbying firms." Isn't it clear my friend? Obama sold us with his mantra of "change," but it's the same, sad story i.e. the corporate cockroaches or 'captains of industry,' remain in charge and Obama is dancing to their tune. "Our" president first revealed his true colors when he placed Summers, Geitner, & Bernanke in such critical positions of power and influence. These soulless men, along with assorted other miscreants such as Robert Rubin in the Clinton administration and of course, Alan Greenspan, were largely responsible for the economic meltdown that brought the world economy close to total collapse. This is like putting the fox in charge of the hen house. Following this, we had the so-called "Health Care Reform." A pathetic and sick joke or fa├žade of reform or relief for the tens of millions of uninsured American citizens. Again, a big show or Circus Maximus. All smoke & mirrors. And when it was revealed that several of the 'super banks' we were forced to bail out against the wishes of the vast majority of Americans, have been defrauding tens if not hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of Americans on their mortgages and throwing them out of their homes, a moratorium was called for on home foreclosures, who did Obama side with? He sided with the mortgage companies and lenders who screw us day in and day out. With George W. Bush, those of us who can read at more than a 12th grade level and are capable of critical thought & haven't been seduced by the fear & greed mongering of the reactionary right-wing extremists, knew he was our enemy. Unfortunately, the Wizards of Oz, pulling the strings behind the curtain of government/corporate propaganda, have realized that they needed to once again raise the public's hopes for substantial change and a semblance of fairness and justice so they gave us Barack Obama. In conclusion, I have taken a long time in coming around to understanding what Chomsky has said regarding voting in national elections, if, I read him correctly i.e. the national elections are so rigged it's an exercise in futility but one should participate in their local elections (my paraphrasing). Therefore, the pundits on Air America radio and elsewhere on the so-called 'liberal' or 'progressive' end of the political spectrum who have been chastising us with "you think you're disappointed with the Obama administration, you'll really be disappointed if the republicans become the majority in the Congress, can keep flapping their lips because I'm not playing along anymore. The democrats and their 'liberal' or 'progressive' apologists have been compromising for so long that they have no credibility whatsoever in my book. As someone said, 'if you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything.' Obama has made it very clear that he's the champion of the corporate robber barons and doesn't give a damn about the millions of Americans who believed in him. And the argument that we should back the lesser of two evils is a farce and I reject it as specious & shallow argument. The democrats have had the majority and what do they & "our" president do with that power? They keep playing nice with the republican reptiles and strive to continually appease them. So what the hell difference does it make that we have democrats or republicans 'in charge?' The ones in charge are the corporate criminal elite and they will never relent in their war on us. True change and progress has always come from the bottom up and until and unless we unite and take back the power that is rightfully ours, the song will remain the same. Moreover, Air America radio and other so-called progressive voices have a lot to answer for because they are betraying us as well with their admonitions to play along & to play nice with the cretins driving us to ruin. Do you think me too harsh in my criticism? Well consider the following if you will. Air America radio runs advertisements for WalMart and when I wrote Thom Hartmann regarding this, I again got no response. When I wrote Mr. Hartmann regarding his position against 'illegal immigrants,' and belief that they are a drain on our social welfare system, again no response. Or how about Randi Rhodes when she tore into Ralph Nader a few years back in a phone interview? She was more vicious than anything I've heard out of the mouths of Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck. This is 'progressivism?' In addition, I sent a lengthy essay I wrote to Mike Malloy and his response was "yikes, this is almost a book!" If the political spectrum hadn't atrophied to such a narrow margin, we wouldn't have the likes of Limbaugh, Beck, Coulter, O'Reilly, et al, playing such an influential role in terms of manipulating public opinion. By the way, I want to add that other than on the issue of "illegal immigration," I have a lot of respect for Thom Hartmann's opinion and work. If Obama had a backbone and was truly a man of principle, he'd start kicking ass and taking names. Why doesn't he follow Dubya's example with his "faith based initiative," using the power of executive orders which override Congress's power to block something the president wants, and issue executive orders stopping or seriously limiting campaign funding from corporations, and also one to drastically limit corporate powers? I know there are probably significant obstacles in the way of taking such vital actions but if Obama took these significant measures he'd rally the public like no other president since FDR and his New Deal. I argue that it's better to go down in the history books as a true champion of the people than as a total sellout like George W. Bush & Ronald Reagan. Finally, what does it say about so-called freedom in America when last week, Laura Wells, the Green Party candidate for governor of California was arrested when she tried to enter the building for the debate between the other candidates, Whitman and Brown? Other luminaries beside Chomsky, such as Michael Parenti, Gore Vidal, Howard Zinn, etc. have detailed that we actually have a one party system and that party is comprised of the democrats & republicans who pretend to be polar opposites but actually are playing the same game and just put on a charade in order to fool the public into believing we have representation in the political arena. I ask you, just what is it going to take before we stand up and scream "I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!" I'll leave you with this eloquent plea for freedom of speech from the venerable John Milton. "Though all the winds of doctrine were let loose to play upon the earth, so Truth be in the field, we do injuriously, by licensing and prohibiting, to misdoubt her strength. Let her and Falsehood grapple; who ever knew Truth put to the worse, in a free and open encounter?" (Areopagitica, 1644) ---Rob DeLoss, October 17, 2010, Tualatin, Oregon

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I recommend that you break up your paragraphs 31.Oct.2010 13:22


It's too hard to read run-together words in this format.

While I agree with your pro-Chomsky sentiments, I think you should consider what Chomsky has said repeatedly about "speaking truth to power", namely that it's a waste of time, since power already knows the truth. We need to speak truth to those without power.

You should also know that Portland is a very bigoted place, where lots of "progressives" hate Chomsky because he's Jewish. Also, very few know how to read critically.