Friday, March 24, 2006

Saving Private Kember

Is it just me or does the story of the ‘rescue’ of Norman Kember and two other peace activists in Iraq yesterday have more than a little hint of Jessica Lynch about it? That would be the Jessica Lynch who was rescued from an Iraqi hospital by a Special Forces team with much hullabaloo when they could have just sent a car?

Call me cynical but lines like ‘The men were found in a room in a house in west Baghdad. There was no sign of their captors’ are just a mite suspicious. They don’t really square with all those anonymous media interviews with former SAS men talking about action movie style rescue operations we’ve been treated since the Kember story broke.

I was also particularly amused by the speed with which certain spokespeople embraced the news of the ‘rescue’ as final proof, if ever it were needed, that torturing people to obtain information was clearly a good thing

If this were a game I’d play my ‘This story is bollocks’ card with the confident expectation of receiving double points at some stage later in the proceedings.


There’s little dispute that major media outlets on both sides of the pond now largely restrict themselves to parroting information supplied to them by vested interests. They apparently no longer feel under any obligation to assess whether the stuff they are repeating makes sense or not. The Kember story is a good example.

Having said, I have encountered a couple of choice nuggets of scathing media comment over the last couple of weeks.

First off, there’s James Spader’s courtroom speech in Boston Legal a couple of weeks ago...

When the weapons of mass destruction thing turned out to be not true, I expected the American people to rise up. Ha! They didn't.

Then, when the Abu Ghraib torture thing surfaced and it was revealed that our government participated in rendition, a practice where we kidnap people and turn them over to regimes who specialize in torture, I was sure then the American people would be heard from. We stood mute.

Then came the news that we jailed thousands of so-called terrorists suspects, locked them up without the right to a trial or even the right to confront their accusers. Certainly, we would never stand for that. We did.

And now, it's been discovered the executive branch has been conducting massive, illegal, domestic surveillance on its own citizens. You and me. And I at least consoled myself that finally, finally the American people will have had enough. Evidentially, we haven't.

In fact, if the people of this country have spoken, the message is we're okay with it all. Torture, warrantless search and seizure, illegal wiretappings, prison without a fair trial - or any trial, war on false pretenses. We, as a citizenry, are apparently not offended.

There are no demonstrations on college campuses. In fact, there's no clear indication that young people seem to notice.

Well, Melissa Hughes noticed. Now, you might think, instead of withholding her taxes, she could have protested the old fashioned way. Made a placard and demonstrated at a Presidential or Vice-Presidential appearance, but we've lost the right to that as well. The Secret Service can now declare free speech zones to contain, control and, in effect, criminalize protest.

Stop for a second and try to fathom that.

And then there’s the coverage given by CNN’s Showbiz Tonight to a Charlie Sheen interview where he rattles off a list of outstanding questions about the 9/11 attacks, describes the official account as a ludicrous conspiracy theory and basically accuses the US government of complicity.

It’s no coincidence that neither of these nuggets were broadcast by ‘serious’ news outlets.

It’s a strange world we live in where the most scathing criticism of the repressive actions of our governments is made in a legal soap opera featuring William Shatner or the only mainstream airing of 9/11 issues is articulated by a has been movie actor sandwiched in a show specialising in celebrity gossip.

Strange, strange days


Mr. Chalk said...

spot on, stef.

Wolfie said...

The lesson here is that if you are in a jam you can only expect the American's to help you if there is political mileage in it and the rescue will be a piece of cake. Secondly, questioning the state's version of 9/11 can only be done in the context of "entertainment" programming as airing such doubts, obvious that they may be, must remain in the realm of make-believe or you will find your life seriously FUBR'd.

Peter said...

HI Stef,

Hope you're well. Haven't commented in a while but I still read regularly. Just wanted to draw your attention to something I've been campaigning against. Very very scary: