Editorial ignores other antiwar groups

TBy Christopher Loch

t he Daily’s Feb. 6 editorial, “Protest rhetoric misses the point,” was riddled with inaccuracies and was grossly unfair. It set up the proverbial straw man and then knocked it down. That is, it misstated the main argument and other facts about the Counter Propaganda Coalition and the Twin Cities Independent Media Center, and then smugly repudiated the bogus arguments. This, ironically, is a standard tactic of the corporate media.

Did the editorial writers even research the organizations that it so relentlessly attempted to slam? Apparently not, because if they had only paid attention to the stated mission and history of the CPC printed on the list of charges that was handed out to all at Saturday’s rally they would have seen that the simplistic language the editorial uses to sum up the CPC’s main argument is extremely misleading. It makes you wonder if the writers even attended the rally to gain firsthand information for their piece.

The editorial claimed the CPC provided no evidence to support its charges against the corporate media. Yet, at the very top of the handout, which listed 13 charges against the corporate media, the history of the CPC pointed out a specific instance of corporate media malfeasance, which was the impetus for the formation of the CPC. The Star Tribune buried the story about the historic march of 10,000 people protesting war with Iraq on Oct. 26 on page 22 under a misleading headline that gave the impression the march was only a rally to remember former Sen. Paul Wellstone. Make no mistake: There were tons of people who supported Wellstone at the march, but absolutely everyone there was in attendance to protest war. This fact was mostly lost in the story and completely absent from the headline.

The editorial raises the specter of a “military-media complex.” This is a distortion and simplification of the CPC’s message and is likely calculated by the writers of the editorial to help the reader to “dismiss such outrageous allegations,” as well as the CPC itself. The picture of media complicity in purveying pro-war propaganda the CPC paints is immensely more complex.

But, the straw man set up, the editorial proceeds to knock it down handily. It proclaims the CPC uses simplistic rhetoric. Then it uses grossly simplistic rhetoric itself by classifying the CPC and the broader antiwar movement as “liberal.” Apparently, in this editorial writer’s world there is only the liberal and conservative, Democrat and Republican. I’d like to point out that the antiwar movement is extremely diverse, with Greens, Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, socialists, communists, anarchists, Christians, Muslims, atheists, blacks, whites, Asians and so many others. We aren’t all liberals.

In addition, the editorial’s statement that the CPC “fails to offer any solutions” is ridiculous given that the rally was followed by an independent media fair where positive alternatives to the corporate media were featured. Women’s Press, One Nation News, The Pulse, TC-IMC and many other independent publications had displays.

Further, the editorial bates the rally as having an undercurrent of “anti-Americanism.” We all know that baiting, such as the red-baiting that went on in the past and continues today, is employed to make people fall into line with the political elite who serve to benefit from war, racism, sexism and a disorganized workplace.

The editorial then tells half the story about the open-publishing editorial policy of TC-IMC, saying that TC-IMC “refuses to publish certain items.” In actuality, anyone can publish anything immediately and without initial review on the do-it-yourself TC-IMC Web site. TC-IMC openly admits to having a bias, and proffers that, furthermore, everyone has a bias. Given that, TC-IMC will not allow posts that come down on oppressed groups or that divide people along lines, such as race, class and sex, that have proven to be popular mechanisms for political elites to employ in dividing – and therefore making ineffective – movements. Furthermore, TC-IMC aims to have as light a hand as possible in removing posts that violate the editorial policy, preferring instead as organic a marketplace of ideas as possible. In practice, TC-IMC will only remove posts to the Web site that are extreme, such as hate-filled neo-Nazi posts, anti-gay posts, etc.

Finally, although there are numerous other inaccuracies and omissions, I will point out only one more. The editorial sternly lectures that “until the left realizes it must offer a viable alternative and present the arguments in a reasonable way, its issues won’t be given the attention they deserve.” First, war and peace are not issues of the left exclusively; they affect us all no matter what our political stripe. Second, what is a “reasonable way”? Do you mean using the established channels of debate and political discourse? It is precisely because people speaking out against war are given little, if any, space within the mainstream media compared to President George W. Bush, that we are forced to move to other means of communicating our dissent. The major argument of the rally on Saturday was quite direct in this respect, “if (mainstream media) won’t cover antiwar/we take the protest to their door.”

Christopher Loch is a University graduate, a member of the Counter Propaganda Coalition and a volunteer at the Twin Cities Independent Media Center. Send letters to the editor to [email protected]