Friday, March 14, 2008

Media, and Tibet

Legendary editor & publisher Andre Schiffrin, media critic Michael Massing, and Harper’s publisher John R MacArthur spoke about independent media at Melville House last night. Much lamenting about the press, the freedom of it belong to those who own it, etc. Harper’s is a non-profit, a model offered against the absurdity of profiting-making newspapers (Germany, France, Denmark, and St. Petersburg FL have foundation-owned newspapers). Concentration on the press (it’s fear of the mob; the way its played by the government; the reporters supping with power; financial, social, cultural, ideological constraints) -- television being a given as an unredeemable intentional wasteland of infotainment -- not so many hosannas to the internet, perhaps because the crowd wasn’t very young.

Massing surprised that most of us in the audience were not surprised by Abu Ghraib; historian Mike Wallace, sitting next to me, said, We did it in the Philippines a hundred years ago, and I concurred, noting that we perfected the Inquisition’s water-boarding there. Some other things: the stunning lack of Iraqi voices in our media (it’s just so not about them, and it doesn’t take much to see the racism implicit here; cf. “sandniggers” and “hajis”; the largely unknown story of the military’s dependence on bombing, in which the US doesn’t target civilians, yet has still managed to kill and maim tens of thousands of them in Iraq. Intentions are meaningless when it comes to mass murder. The means become the ends.

There have been demonstrations in Tibet this week marking the revolt half a century ago against Chinese occupation. The demonstration turned violent today, unfortunately, with Han Chinese colonialists and their property being targeted.

It’s been 57 years of occupation and cultural murder in Tibet. Boycott the Genocide Games.

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