Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Court has a funny idea of "justice" and giving Zirin (and others) credit earned

Good evening. Democracy Now! is on the road and in London. In London all week. So let's kick things off with Democracy Now!

Supreme Court Rules Federally-Funded Schools Must Allow Recruiting
In other news, the Supreme Court has ruled military recruiting must be allowed on college campuses that accept federal funding. In a unanimous ruling, Justices rejected a free-speech challenge from law schools that said they shouldn't be forced to accept recruitment so long as the military maintains a "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gay men and lesbian. The schools maintain the policy is discriminatory.

Unanimous. What a brave Court, eh? What a load of crap. The Court says it's okay to allow recruiters on campus if they discriminate. So all the racists and sexists should get ready for their careers days! Think I'm joking? Have you paid any attention to what the so-called "faith-based" organizations are trying to do with their "hiring"? Are you an unmarried woman? Better rethink dropping off that resume. And now, thanks to the Court, they can use all that money they've got, thanks to the Bully Boy, and start participating in career days at colleges.
No reason they shouldn't be allowed to, not after that spit in the face of equal protection and call it "justice" decision.

Since the Court won't protect you, it falls to each of us. So here, we'll add three links to help you out:

Coalition Against Militarism in Schools
Counter-Recruitment and Alternatives to the Military Program
Campus Anti-War Network

I'll also grab two that C.I. added this weekend to The Common Ills:

War Resisters Support Campaign
The G.I. Rights Hotline

Army Announces New Review of Tillman Death
In military news, the US army has announced a new review of the death of former football star turned US Ranger Pat Tillman. Tillman made headlines when he quit the NFL to fight after the Sept. 11 attacks. He died while serving in Afghanistan in April 2004. The military initially mislead his family into believing he was killed in battle when in fact he was killed by US troops. Tillman’s death has already been probed on three separate occasions. The probes have only resulted in light punishment for some of his fellow soldiers. The new probes will focus on both the details of his shooting and allegations the Army covered up crucial facts after he was killed. A military spokesperson said earlier investigations had produced enough evidence to warrant possible charges of negligent homicide.

First, no, no first. This is a theme here. I got a beef. Get ready. Here's Dave Zirin's "Why Did Pat Tillman Die?" from CounterPunch:

Paging Mr. Orwell. In explaining why the Army was finally launching a criminal investigation of the April 2004 friendly fire death of NFL star-turned-Army-Ranger Pat Tillman, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Peter Pace sighed, "Although there is no evidence there was criminal activity the investigators did not specifically look at whether there was criminal activity. In other words, the previous four investigations were flawless except for the fact that they didn,t investigate anything. Now the Army has committed publicly to reexamining the circumstances around Pat Tillman,s death as a formal criminal probe.
The reopening of the case represents a triumph for the Tillman family, particularly Pat,s parents Patrick Sr. and Mary, who have been pushing for a criminal probe for almost two years.

Now C.I. covered this on Sunday morning, early Sunday morning. And C.I. linked to Dave Zirin's "Why Pat Tillman's Parents Are No Longer Silent" because Zirin's been all over this story and even includes it in his book.

So what's my point. I got a beef. I'm seeing, online, all these people linking on Monday to a late Sunday piece. Not by Dave Zirin. The piece doesn't even mention Dave Zirin. Usually, you've got some blogger rubbing their thighs with glee, "Oh ___ ___ is all over this! He's the first one to talk about this!" Well, no, HE wasn't. Dave Zirin was. And in terms of Sunday, C.I. was linking to Dave Zirin's piece that makes all the points ____ ____ makes in his much linked piece that doesn't mention Dave Zirin. So some people knew Zirin was on this story and stayed on it.

Shouldn't our supposed left be aware of Dave Zirin? I talked to C.I. on the phone about this and we both agreed that Zirin has repeatedly written about this topic and that there's something sad when supposed lefties are rushing to credit a mainstream source after Zirin's been on this story forever.

Now I read Zirin's book, What's My Name, Fool? Sports and Resistance in the United States, me and Wally even picked it as our favorite book of 2005 (here and here). And okay, maybe everyone didn't read the book -- their loss. But he was on Democracy Now! talking about this and much more. He's written about this and his stuff on it has appeared at CounterPunch, Common Dreams and The Nation as well as at his Edge of Sports. He's been on Air America Radio (Chuck D's On the Real and Laura Flanders' RadioNation) so I think if you haven't heard of him and you consider yourself informed, you need to take a little responsibility.

I don't think they're uninformed. I think it was "Oh mainstream source! Yea! Mainstream source! Credible!" We need to support our left voices and if we're not doing that, maybe we aren't left?

Now I want to give some credit because there are voices, on the left, who aren't afraid to criticize Dexter Filkins of the New York Times.

Dexy wrote a book review two Sundays ago. Three voices weren't afraid to call him on it. Here they are in chronological order.

C.I. from "And the war drags on . . ." Sunday, Feb 26th:

Now for the New York Times. Prepare to chuckle (and thanks to Rob for pointing it out, I often skip the book section and had intended this to be one of those days):
But [Paul L.] Bremer bears a heavy responsibility for keeping silent -- and so does General Sanchez. If we can ssume that Bremer's recollection is correct, then General Sanchez's remarks indicate that Baghdad was indeed out of control, that both he and Bremer knew it and that without more troops, it was likely to stay out of control. [. . .]
By staying silent, Bremer ensured that there would be no public debate on the merits of deploying more Americans troops. By staying silent, he ensured that there would be little public discussion over the condition of the Iraqi security forces, whose quality he doubted.
[. . . .]
What do we learn from the above? It's by an in-house writer at the paper so it's safe to assume (no surprise) that the Times argument remains "Stay until more are slaughtered!" Yeah, they're making the idiotic argument that "more troops" are needed. Got to protect those foreign investments, got to protect that "free market," no need to leave until we've privatized everything. That's their real argument. The Times can support human rights . . . to a point. The point is where human rights intersects with a "healthy" profit motive. At that point, the paper tosses human rights out the window.
Listening to the scolding of Bremer (who deserves it) for his silence is anyone else thinking of all that the paper of record has been silent on? The Bully Boy hump? The NSA warrantless and illegal spying that they sat on for a year. And so much more. (For years and years and years.)
If you're thinking, "Who is the Times to scold anyone for staying silent?" wait, it's about to get a whole lot funnier (and more hypocritical). The review is entitled "Desert Sturm" (oh, aren't they cute -- in their minds). And the writer? Dexter Filkins.
Dexter Filkins who stayed silent on the slaughter he should have witnessed in Falluja. Supposedly he was there in November 2004. But to read his rah-rah, video game reporting, it was all, people killed, people who had it coming to them. And it was so 'totally cool' judging by his breathless reporting. (Did the American troops have to swat him on the snout to get him to stop humping their legs?) It was all so glorious, so wonderous to read Dexy's "award winning" "reporting." The piece that took over six days to make it into print. Who edited that report? Who had to clear it? Why did it take so long to make it into the paper?
Those are questions Dexy may have to answer someday (probably sooner than he thinks). But the man who couldn't report the truth on Iraq (not just on Falluja, on the entire occupation) now wants to scold Bremer for staying silent. It's interesting to watch the liars turn on one another.
As the Judith Miller controversy was in its final stages, I said repeatedly that if she helped get us into war (she was part of a large number of helpers -- she didn't do it alone), it's the "reporters" like Dexter Filkins who keep us over there by refusing to report the truth. Now Dexter wants to scold Bremer for "staying silent"? Filkins' press releases live from the Green Zone will not be forgotten. He can pretend like the only one staying silent was Bremer but it was him too. Had the Times written the truth about the occupation long ago, America might have woken up sooner.

Danny Schechter "Why Protest Media Coverage Mar 15?" February 27:

New York Times Baghdad correspondent Dexter Filkins reviews Paul Bremer’s book "My Year in Iraq." He faults him and General Sanchez for not demanding more troops. He PRAISES him for organizing elections saying "HE DESERVES OUR GRATITUDE FOR BRINGING THEM OFF." Our gratitude? Who is talking about, the NY Times, The US Government, or his readers?This just underscores the continuing identification of a major media outlet's top correspondent with the military mission which lost because it just wasn't big enough, Never mind that most Iraqis who did vote said they were doing so not to endorse some Bushian or Bremerian view of democracy but to give the the Americans the ritual they insisted on so that they would leave. There is no mention in the review of how Bremer's "energetic" CPA countenanced BILLIONS of dollars in corruption.In contrast to Fikins mild and qualified rebuke, I ran into an Iraqi American now working for the Times who quipped that Bremer should be on trial alongside Saddam.Two journalists. Two views. Guess which one gets ink in the NY Times?

Peter Hart on March 3rd's CounterSpin:

In L. Paul Bremer's new book about running the occupation of Iraq, he reveals that he secretly asked the Pentagon for tens of thousands more troops as the occupation began to disintegrate in May of 2004. Bremer also reveals that the top American commander in Iraq, Lt. General Ricardo Sanchez, was eager to have at least 40,000 more troops. Of course this contradicts public claims by Bremer and Sanchez and the White House that addition troops weren't needed and that commanders didn't want them. In the New York Times Book review on February 26th, Times Baghdad correspondent Dexter Filkins chided Bremer and Sanchez for not going public about the troops shortage. As Filkins put it, QUOTE: "To nearly anyone who spent time in Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein, it was scandalously obvious that the American military, for all its prowess lacked sufficient number of soldiers to bring the country under control. Iraqis knew it, American officers beneath their breath often said it." But if it was that obvious, perhaps it's also a scandal that Filkins wasn't sounding the alarm in his reporting in the Times. By not prominently reporting about the shortage because officials wouldn't say as much on the record, Filkins seems to be suggesting, probably without meaning to, that he needed the approval of US officials to report what he was hearing with his own ears and seeing with his own eyes.

And Ruth caught Hart's commentary so thanks to Ruth.

Now at some point, you're going to see everyone in the mainstream piling on Dexter Filkins the way they did Judith Miller. He deserves it as much as Miller. But I want us all to remember which voices were making real time criticism and which ones weren't.

Give credit to Peter Hart, Danny Schechter, C.I. and any other left voice that hasn't been afraid to criticize Dexter Filkins. It's a lot easier to wait and figure out what's safe, to stay silent until a huge number of voices are speaking out. You see that with the war. Congress isn't sure whether it's "safe" to speak out. Your voices on the left that speak out need to get their credit.

Dave Zirin spoke out. Not once or twice. He covered the Pat Tillman issue over and over. He deserves his credit. If we're not going to credit the left, we can't complain when others don't.

That's it for tonight. Check out Like Maria Said Paz for Elaine's commentary.