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Saturday, August 18, 2007


 

Book Review - Static


Nothing like a cancelled cross-country flight (the second time this has happened to me in a row flying United), a new flight that takes off two hours later, and then a three-hour weather delay during a stop over (a stop-over that wouldn't have even happened on the original non-stop flight) to give you time to read a book. Silver linings etc.

This time it was the no-longer "new" book by Amy Goodman and her brother David, entitled "Static." The subtitle lays out the scope of the book rather cleanly: "Government liars, media cheerleaders, and the people who fight back." In other words, it's a review of things that have been covered on Democracy Now! in the last bunch of years, but organized into topics like "Watching you" (government spying), "Outlaw Nation" (no need to elaborate), "The Torturer's Apprentice" (ditto), "The Anti-Warriors," and many more.

Even if you've listened to every Democracy Now! for years, the book is still well worth reading, both as a review, as a way of seeing these kinds of patterns come together, and also, if you're like me, for learning a lot you either missed along the way or maybe that never made it to the air. An example - everyone these days knows about "extraordinary rendition." DId you know the program began in 1995 under the Clinton administration? That per se may not surprise you. But did you know that in 1998, a series of renditions took place in Albania, with Islamic militants being captured, spirited off to Egypt, and tortured and in some cases killed? And why is that particular case of interest? Because several months later, on August 5, 1998, a letter in a London paper from the "International Islamic Front for Jihad" promised to avenge the Albanian operation against the United States "in a language they will understand." Two days later the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were blown up, and 224 people were dead. The Goodmans quote Maher Arar, a subsequent victim of U.S. rendition and sub-contracted torture, summing up the situation: "You can't protect people's lives by destroying other people's lives."

Let me close this review with one quote on the media, which is after all one of the central focuses of this blog. It's a quote from Malcolm X, which leads off a chapter on the relationship between the media and the CIA:

"The media's the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that's power. Because they control the minds of the masses."

- Malcolm X
Read independent media. Listen to independent media. And, when you have some time, read "Static." And make sure not just to read and listen, but to do something about it. In the words of Arundhati Roy which close the book, "Join the battle [to reclaim democracy]. History is giving you the chance. Seize the time."


Why stop here? There's more...

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