FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Can You Feel the Silence?

For saying on Iraqi TV what everyone from grunt to general had been saying to anyone who would listen, Peter Arnett has been effectively silenced, summarily fired from his job at MSNBC and National Geographic.

The same news cycle had not begun to cool when the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Richard B. Myers, called for some more silencing, lashing out at critics of The Plan, mainly from officers both active and retired whom he was too cowardly to name. Such criticism, stammered Gen. Myers, is misinformed, inaccurate and harmful to American forces in combat.

Casualty figures of how many soldiers had been killed or wounded by criticism of Rumsfeld, Myers and Bush were not made available.

Rumsfeld himself could not comment on the frustration expressed by the “coalition” field commander, Lt. Gen. William Wallace, who says the enemy he’s fighting is “not the one we war-gamed against.” How could Rumsfeld be expected to have an opinion on this? He “hasn’t had a chance to read the reports.” Besides, The Plan was the property of Tommy Franks.

In trying to portray people like retired general Barry McCaffrey, who commanded the 24th Infantry Division during the first gulf war, as candidates for membership in the Dixie Chicks, Gen. Myers’ remarks were as predictable as they were despicable.

It’s not as though McCaffrey is vying for a spot on the Green Party ticket. Clinton’s former drug czar has made it clear that in his view there’s nothing wrong with what Bush and company are doing, they’re just doing it wrong. Imagine the righteous indignation of Myers and Rumsfeld if voices actually opposed to the invasion of Iraq were allowed to be heard on American television.

When the closest thing to a dissenting opinion on network or cable TV during a war is the voice of a retired general who declares repeatedly that he supports the president and believes he is doing the right thing, and when even that general has his patriotism questioned when he dares to question the administration’s tactics, do I have to tell you how much trouble we are in?

Here’s the real story: the number of voices that had already been silenced, long before Peter Arnett was “neutralized.” How many voices were silenced when marketing experts told the networks that viewers were “turned off” by the mere sight of protesters? Think of the voices that were silenced when the White House cancelled Laura Bush’s poetry festival. Thousands of voices are silenced whenever the president leaves Camp David to attend one of his by-invitation-only Potemkin events.

How many voices representing anything resembling your own point of view have you heard on network or cable TV? As someone said days ago, even NPR has become National Pentagon Radio.

Speaking of the Dixie Chicks, all of Nashville has fallen strangely silent. You would think at least one or two fellow artists would want to “grab their back.” Veteran music writer Chet Flippo has warned artists to “shut up and sing” if they know what’s good for them.

With its English web site shut down by a Denial of Service attack, Al-Jazeera has been partially silenced, except when American TV chooses to run borrowed footage, which happens about every three seconds.

Even voices in the Administration have been strangely silenced. Did anyone at the White House go publicly ballistic at the report that the Reverend Franklin Graham is threatening to descend on Iraq and baptize anything that moves?

How many voices were silenced by something as benign as the rescue of Pfc. Jessica Lynch? All of us were delighted by her deliverance. So much so, alas, that suddenly all other war news was more or less drowned out by the feel-good reporting. The rescue palpably changed the tone of nearly everyone reporting the war. Bad news is “boring,” this was exciting. Lynch has left the building, Lynch has left the theater, Lynch has landed in Germany, etc. Suddenly the day was full of “dramatic developments.” Which got more coverage, the rescue of one American or the killing of an entire Iraqi family who failed to stop at a checkpoint?

Which story was deemed more likely to “bring this thing home to people”? You may have noticed that TV reporters didn’t hasten to camp in the yard and interview family members of the soldier who shot the car full of women and children.

You can also hear a lot of silence in some of America’s proud “coalition” partners, such as Eritrea, a classic one-party state where no opposition is tolerated. A funny kind of partner for overthrowing a dictatorship, if you ask me.

Look, all Peter Arnett did, besides photograph himself running around his hotel room, looking out the window from time to time and stating the obvious when asked his opinion, was to thank his Iraq hosts for their hospitality.

For this, Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky., thinks firing isn’t enough. Arnett should be met at the border and arrested for treason should he come back to America, says the former baseball player who made a career of intimidating the opposition with high heat. Reporters for the New York Times, Washington Post and other papers have also been accused of behavior “bordering on treason” by right-wing commentators.

To make these charges is to assert that the mainstream press should be nothing more than a corporate rag, an in-house news organ that knows better than to print anything the company deems not in its best interests. It’s like sitting around and waiting for the Enron company magazine to break the Enron scandal.

I was interviewed for Romanian radio in 1980, back during the Ceausescu years. I had been instructed by representatives of the State Department to avoid at all cost making any kind of political pronouncements and to refrain from commenting on anything that could remotely be construed as controversial. Otherwise I was encouraged to do the interview. What was there left to talk about? I complimented the Romanians for their lovely landscape, told them I was enjoying my visit to their fair land and thanked them for their hospitality. Was that disloyal of me?

Did Donald Rumsfeld thank Saddam for his hospitality when they were photographed hugging like schoolgirls in Baghdad in 1983? You bet he did.

DAVID VEST writes the Rebel Angel column for CounterPunch.

He can be reached at: davidvest@springmail.com

Visit his website at http://www.rebelangel.com

Today’s Features

William S. Lind
The Pitfalls of War Planning

Jorge Mariscal
Latinos on the Frontlines, Again

Paul de Rooij
Arrogant Propaganda

Jo Wilding
From Baghdad: “I Am His Mother”

Tarif Abboushi
Operation Embedded Folly

Lee Sustar
Labor’s War at Home

Akiva Eldar
Israeli Dreams of Iraqi Oil

Bernard Weiner
The Vietnam Connection

Robert Fisk
The Graveyard at Baghdad’s North Gate

Steve Perry
War Web Log 04/01

Keep CounterPunch Alive:
Make a Tax-Deductible Donation Today Online!

home / subscribe / about us / books / archives / search / links /

More articles by:

DAVID VEST writes the Rebel Angel column for CounterPunch. He and his band, The Willing Victims, have just released a scorching new CD, Serve Me Right to Shuffle. His essay on Tammy Wynette is featured in CounterPunch’s new collection on art, music and sex, Serpents in the Garden.

Weekend Edition
August 17, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Daniel Wolff
The Aretha Dialogue
Nick Pemberton
Donald Trump and the Rise of Patriotism 
Joseph Natoli
First Amendment Rights and the Court of Popular Opinion
Andrew Levine
Midterms 2018: What’s There to Hope For?
Robert Hunziker
Hothouse Earth
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Running Out of Fools
Ajamu Baraka
Opposing Bipartisan Warmongering is Defending Human Rights of the Poor and Working Class
Paul Street
Corporate Media: the Enemy of the People
David Macaray
Trump and the Sex Tape
CJ Hopkins
Where Have All the Nazis Gone?
Daniel Falcone
The Future of NATO: an Interview With Richard Falk
Cesar Chelala
The Historic Responsibility of the Catholic Church
Ron Jacobs
The Barbarism of US Immigration Policy
Kenneth Surin
In Shanghai
William Camacaro - Frederick B. Mills
The Military Option Against Venezuela in the “Year of the Americas”
Nancy Kurshan
The Whole World Was Watching: Chicago ’68, Revisited
Robert Fantina
Yemeni and Palestinian Children
Alexandra Isfahani-Hammond
Orcas and Other-Than-Human Grief
Shoshana Fine – Thomas Lindemann
Migrants Deaths: European Democracies and the Right to Not Protect?
Paul Edwards
Totally Irrusianal
Thomas Knapp
Murphy’s Law: Big Tech Must Serve as Censorship Subcontractors
Mark Ashwill
More Demons Unleashed After Fulbright University Vietnam Official Drops Rhetorical Bombshells
Ralph Nader
Going Fundamental Eludes Congressional Progressives
Hans-Armin Ohlmann
My Longest Day: How World War II Ended for My Family
Matthew Funke
The Nordic Countries Aren’t Socialist
Daniel Warner
Tiger Woods, Donald Trump and Crime and Punishment
Dave Lindorff
Mainstream Media Hypocrisy on Display
Jeff Cohen
Democrats Gather in Chicago: Elite Party or Party of the People?
Victor Grossman
Stand Up With New Hope in Germany?
Christopher Brauchli
A Family Affair
Jill Richardson
Profiting From Poison
Patrick Bobilin
Moving the Margins
Alison Barros
Dear White American
Celia Bottger
If Ireland Can Reject Fossil Fuels, Your Town Can Too
Ian Scott Horst
Less Voting, More Revolution
Peter Certo
Trump Snubbed McCain, Then the Media Snubbed the Rest of Us
Dan Ritzman
Drilling ANWR: One of Our Last Links to the Wild World is in Danger
Brandon Do
The World and Palestine, Palestine and the World
Chris Wright
An Updated and Improved Marxism
Daryan Rezazad
Iran and the Doomsday Machine
Patrick Bond
Africa’s Pioneering Marxist Political Economist, Samir Amin (1931-2018)
Louis Proyect
Memoir From the Underground
Binoy Kampmark
Meaningless Titles and Liveable Cities: Melbourne Loses to Vienna
Andrew Stewart
Blackkklansman: Spike Lee Delivers a Masterpiece
Elizabeth Lennard
Alan Chadwick in the Budding Grove: Story Summary for a Documentary Film
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail