by Ann Garrison
“Nearly every war that has started in the past 50 years has been the result of media lies. The media could have stopped it. If they hadn’t reprinted government propaganda, they could’ve stopped it. But what does that mean?
“That means basically that populations don’t like wars. And populations have to be fooled into war. Populations don’t willingly and with open eyes go into war. So if we have a good media environment, then we’ll also have a peaceful environment.”
Unreasonably rational? Quixotic? Of course it is, but so are the Black Alliance for Peace, the Women’s March on the Pentagon, the United National Antiwar Coalition and anyone else still arguing that peace is possible. Assange could have turned his cyber-genius into a multi-billion dollar tech empire like Mark Zuckerburg’s, but instead he devoted himself to peace and justice by exposing the machinations of state, corporate and oligarchic power.
If you’re opposed to war, how can you not love Julian Assange? Peace has been his overarching goal ever since he hacked into Pentagon computers at age 17, and he still has hope.
For that he’s spent the last six years of his life as an asylee, in effect a political prisoner, inside Ecuador’s London Embassy. He has said many times that he’ll gladly walk out of the embassy to face minor bail-skipping charges if the UK promises not to extradite him to the US to stand trial for publishing classified documents. The UK, however, will not make that promise.
Pacifica National Board votes to stand with Assange
On Sept. 26, I reported here that a resolution in support of Wikileaks and its founder Julian Assange was pending before the national board of the Pacifica Radio Network, which was founded by pacifist and conscientious objector Lew Hill nearly 70 years ago. The board, which consists of four delegates each from KPFA-Berkeley, KPFK-Los Angeles, KPFT-Houston, WBAI-New York City and WPFW-Washington, D.C., and two delegates representing Pacifica’s 300 affiliated stations, passed the resolution on Oct. 4.
In Pacifica’s heyday, during the 1960s and early ‘70s, one might have expected a unanimous vote, but Pacifica is not the anti-war, anti-imperial platform it once was. KPFA-Berkeley split during the 1990s over whether the US intervention in Yugoslavia was humanitarian or imperial. The fault line remains and it has been replicated at other stations.
On the 20th anniversary of the assassinations of Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana and Burundian President Cyprien Ntaryamira, KPFA News played the received lies about the Rwandan Genocide three times a day, even though lies about the nature of US involvement in both Yugoslavia and Rwanda had long since become cornerstones of the so-called humanitarian argument for war.
US wars are now preceded by NGO hurricane warnings that genocides like those in Yugoslavia and Rwanda are underway, but the slow-motion genocides in Gaza and DR Congo warrant little or no attention.
Some Pacifica reporters and hosts were so enamored of the USA’s first Black president that they overlooked his expansion of Middle East wars and his institutionalization of weekly drone assassination planning at the White House. Many have succumbed to the fascist reduction of all US politics to pro- and anti-Trump politics.
Nevertheless, what remained of the once fiercely anti-war Pacifica prevailed on Oct. 4. WBAI delegate Alex Steinberg motivated the resolution on the national board:
“The Julian Assange case is a key case for freedom of the press. As you know he’s been hunted by the US government with the cooperation of the UK government. And now it looks like the government of Ecuador is ready to hand him over to the tender mercies of the Justice Department.
“The Julian Assange case is a key case for freedom of the press.”
“And his crime is very simple. He exposed the machinations of the US government in various ways through the whistleblowing activities of Wikileaks. We have to support Julian Assange at a time when he has few friends left.
“The mainstream media has basically been silent about the harassment of Julian Assange and the attempt to imprison him. And even some so-called progressive outlets have been silent. I think that if Pacifica makes a statement, it will be very important and will serve to educate many people in this country and beyond.”
Delegates voted 12 yes, zero no, four abstained and three were present but not voting, as follows:
- Sabrina Jacobs, abstain
- Carole Travis, not present
- Chris Cory, yes
- Tom Voorhees, yes
KPFK-Los Angeles/Southern California
- Grace Aaron, yes
- Jonathan Alexander, yes
- Jan Goodman, yes
- Mansoor Sabbagh, yes
- Adriana Casenave, present but not voting
- Bill Crosier, yes
- Joseph Davis, present but not voting
- DeWayne Lark, yes
- Tony Leon, yes
- Benito Diaz, present but not voting
- Maskeelah-Myrtle Washington, abstain
- Nancy Sorden, yes
- Kathryn Davis, yes
- Ken Laufer, yes
- William Heerwagen, abstain
- Alex Steinberg, yes
Affiliate stations (300)
- Efia Nwangaza (WMPX), abstain
- Alex Randall (WUVI), not present
Voters in the upcoming Pacifica elections may want to inquire as to how they were represented in this and other votes. That’s how democracy’s supposed to work after all.
Ann Garrison is an independent journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2014, she received the Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza Democracy and Peace Prize for her reporting on conflict in the African Great Lakes region. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.