FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

15 Minutes of Radical Fame

by MICKEY Z.

 

Search the archives of any left-of-center website and you’ll find no shortage of prose extolling the importance of “getting the message out there.” If only the huddled masses could consume something more than a steady diet of corporate propaganda…so the story goes. For example, try to imagine Ralph Nader being included in the presidential debates. What a wake-up call that would be, right? Well, not so fast…

Over the past 12-15 months, both Ward Churchill and William Blum-two men with impeccable radical credentials-have unexpectedly been thrust into mainstream consciousness: Churchill all over Fox News and Blum interviewed on CNN, MSNBC, etc. (Note: Joshua Frank, author of “Left Out: How Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush,” believes Churchill and Blum have “in large part been on the defense” and thus their 15 minutes was “a far cry than seeing a guy like Nader in the debates.”)

All this lefty exposure has fortuitously taken place during a time of electoral fraud, blatant lies leading to war crimes, the abandonment of New Orleans, and many more events that could theoretically lead “Average Joe” to question our (sic) system. Thus, in what seems like an ideal climate for spreading the word, I’m looking around for any indication that this recent exposure to Churchill, Blum, and their ideas is having a palpable effect. Do we have more progressive perspectives on TV? A growing, broader-based movement for peace and justice? Media types now seeking out alternative sources? Here’s the specific question I posed to some colleagues: Does/can mainstream exposure to progressive ideas really make a difference?

“How can we tell?” was Howard Zinn’s response. “Most actions/events, if they make a difference, make it imperceptibly,” he says, “and it’s only the accumulation of small differences that may occasionally reach a critical point and be identifiable as having been effective.”

Joe Bageant, author of the upcoming, “Drink, Pray, Fight, Fuck: Dispatches from America’s Class War,” sees things differently. “Jesus Christ, fella,” he told me, “I love ya, but don’t you see that both of those people (Blum and Churchill) are completely unheard of by the majority of Americans? Ninety-nine percent of Americans have never heard of either one of them. You gotta be an Internet political freak to know who they are.” So, Joe, I take it you don’t think there’ll be much impact. “The short version,” says Bageant, “is that until Ward is on Oprah nobody will care except those who make so much political mileage from him, both left and right in the newspapers, which, if you will remember, the average family out here no longer gets or reads. The rest of America is mowing their yards because it’s spring.”

“The exposure that Churchill and Blum got was because of a sensationalist incidental event,” says Michael Parenti. “Churchill talked about the Eichmanns killed at the WTC-so outrageous it could not be ignored. It was a hot story. Blum got a plug from bin Laden, same buzz. Where in the major media are Churchill and Blum now? Do they have their own talk shows? Are they regulars on panels? Back into oblivion.”

William Blum took exception with how I phrased my inquiry. “You’re really stacking the cards against the question,” he counters. “I spoke to tens of millions of people who had never before heard of me, and I said lots of things they were very unaccustomed to hearing. The result of that can’t be seen or measured as easily as your questions imply. Who’s to say what the long-term effect of that will be? I assume — and it’s only an assumption — that it will be positive, as one element among many of recent years of the left getting the message out. It’s only the total effect that may have significant meaning.”

Greg Elich, author of “Strange Liberators: Militarism, Mayhem and the Pursuit of Profit,” wonders why the effect-if there is one-must automatically be deemed positive. “For most viewers/listeners, the (left-of-center) ideas are likely to come across as being from another planet, so markedly different are they from the usual perspective presented in the mass media” says Elich. “In such a context, the presentation of radical ideas requires a long exposition to first challenge a whole set of assumptions underlying the corporate media viewpoint. Without that, the ideas are too easily dismissed by most viewers/listeners. The problem, of course, is that media are notoriously disinclined to allot significant time to the discussion of ideas, preferring the ‘sound bite’ treatment.”

“Exposure does not help very much because we are trying to expose a population that has been brain-washed through years in the schools,” declares advocacy journalist, Rosemarie Jackowski. “When that kind of thinking contaminates the educational process it cannot be counteracted with the few (in comparison) books such as Zinn’s. The other side wins because of its volume. And once they have won in the schools they then spread the propaganda in the media. For meaningful change to occur it will take more than just exposure to a different set of facts.”

“It is not realistic to expect that media exposure of radical ideas will have a lasting effect with even one out of a thousand viewers/listeners,” concludes Greg Elich. “For all that, I still think the effort is worth making, on the rare occasion when opportunity presents itself, because no battle is lost until one ceases to fight.”

MICKEY Z. is the author of several books, most recently “50 American Revolutions You’re Not Supposed to Know” (Disinformation Books). He can be found on the Web at http://www.mickeyz.net.

 

 

 

Mickey Z. is the author of 12 books, most recently Occupy this Book: Mickey Z. on Activism. Until the laws are changed or the power runs out, he can be found on the Web here. Anyone wishing to support his activist efforts can do so by making a donation here. This piece first appeared at World Trust News.  

More articles by:
May 31, 2016
Miguel A. Cruz-Díaz
Imperial Blues: On Whitewashing Dictatorship in the 21st Century
Vijay Prashad
Stoking the Fires: Trump and His Legions
Uri Avnery
What Happened to Netanyahu?
Corey Payne
Reentry Through Resistance: Détente with Cuba was Accomplished Through Resistance and Solidarity, Not Imperial Benevolence
Patrick Howlett-Martin
Libya: How to Bring Down a Nation
Bill Quigley
From Tehran to Atlanta: Social Justice Lawyer Azadeh Shahshahani’s Fight for Human Rights
Manuel E. Yepe
Trump, Sanders and the Exhaustion of a Political Model
Bruce Lerro
“Network” 40 Years Later: Capitalism in Retrospect and Prospect and Elite Politics Today
Robert Hunziker
Chile’s Robocops
Aidan O'Brien
What’ll It be Folks: Xenophobia or Genocide?
Binoy Kampmark
Emailgate: the Clinton Spin Doctors In Action
Colin Todhunter
The Unique Risks of GM Crops: Science Trumps PR, Fraud and Smear Campaigns
Dave Welsh
Jessica Williams, 29: Another Black Woman Gunned Down By Police
Gary Leupp
Rules for TV News Anchors, on Memorial Day and Every Day
May 30, 2016
Ron Jacobs
The State of the Left: Many Movements, Too Many Goals?
James Abourezk
The Intricacies of Language
Porfirio Quintano
Hillary, Honduras, and the Murder of My Friend Berta
Patrick Cockburn
Airstrikes on ISIS are Reducing Their Cities to Ruins
Uri Avnery
The Center Doesn’t Hold
Raouf Halaby
The Sailors of the USS Liberty: They, Too, Deserve to Be Honored
Rodrigue Tremblay
Barack Obama’s Legacy: What Happened?
Matt Peppe
Just the Facts: The Speech Obama Should Have Given at Hiroshima
Deborah James
Trade Pacts and Deregulation: Latest Leaks Reveal Core Problem with TISA
Michael Donnelly
Still Wavy After All These Years: Flower Geezer Turns 80
Ralph Nader
The Funny Business of Farm Credit
Paul Craig Roberts
Memorial Day and the Glorification of Past Wars
Colin Todhunter
From Albrecht to Monsanto: A System Not Run for the Public Good Can Never Serve the Public Good
Rivera Sun
White Rose Begins Leaflet Campaigns June 1942
Tom H. Hastings
Field Report from the Dick Cheney Hunting Instruction Manual
Weekend Edition
May 27, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
Silencing America as It Prepares for War
Rob Urie
By the Numbers: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are Fringe Candidates
Paul Street
Feel the Hate
Daniel Raventós - Julie Wark
Basic Income Gathers Steam Across Europe
Andrew Levine
Hillary’s Gun Gambit
Jeffrey St. Clair
Hand Jobs: Heidegger, Hitler and Trump
S. Brian Willson
Remembering All the Deaths From All of Our Wars
Dave Lindorff
With Clinton’s Nixonian Email Scandal Deepening, Sanders Must Demand Answers
Pete Dolack
Millions for the Boss, Cuts for You!
Peter Lee
To Hell and Back: Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Gunnar Westberg
Close Calls: We Were Much Closer to Nuclear Annihilation Than We Ever Knew
Karl Grossman
Long Island as a Nuclear Park
Binoy Kampmark
Sweden’s Assange Problem: The District Court Ruling
Robert Fisk
Why the US Dropped Its Demand That Assad Must Go
Martha Rosenberg – Ronnie Cummins
Bayer and Monsanto: a Marriage Made in Hell
Brian Cloughley
Pivoting to War
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail