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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

How Would Howard Zinn Write About Syria And The Shutdown?

One thing we should note about the article referring to the diminishing credibility of our government(click here for the article), it is written like many of our history books are written, it is written from the perspective of those with wealth and power. Our allies are worried about our continued ability to project power while others, who are financially connected to us, express angst over the future if we should default on our loans. So goes it for those with wealth and power.

But how would Howard Zinn write about all of this? Suppose he were writing about Syria. Would he forget about the Christians who have been slaughtered by some of the rebel forces or would he work to first listen and then disseminate their words? And what about those civilians who are killed by government forces? Would he pretend not to hear their cries or would he amplify their moans above the sounds of war?

What has happened to how Syria is covered by our news media? What we see is that the tragic atrocities that have visited its people have been selectively reported. By selectively here, I am referring to a time. After our President changed how he was going to respond to the crossing of our 'redline,' our news media began to change its focus. Instead of reporting on the human suffering experienced by a countless number of people, the news media, such as the article cited above, focussed on how our nation's prestige and leadership was being questioned over our change of direction. 

So since Obama has decided to at least temporarily put off US intervention, the media has exhibited angst over the appearance of the US displaying weakness. In addition, there has been a national collective sigh of relief here as if the fighting and killing has stopped. Yes, it is great that we are not intervening, but the violence and the loss of life continues in Syria. And the same conditions that have led to the deaths of almost 100,000 people through bullets and bombs are still in place. Syria's civil war continues. But you wouldn't know it based on the reaction to the chemical weapons deal that has been brokered. 

So again, how would Zinn write about Syria? Would he focus on American loss of prestige and leadership? Would he care that, as some say, Putin has upstaged Obama? Or wouldn't he continue to write about the suffering and loss of life experienced by many of the people in Syria? And wouldn't he also talk about the repressive regime of President Assad and the lack of freedom for the people? And wouldn't he record the courage of those who stood for freedom and rights?   

What about the shutdown? The focus of the media here has been on our nation's possible insolvency. What will insolvency mean to both the lenders of the world and the economic recovery is the focus of the article cited above and most of the news media. But what is not being featured are the specific government services that will be stopped or significantly cut back. We could divide most of these agencies that are listed as closed or not functioning into two categories: watchdog agencies and agencies that promotes human development. 

According to CNN (click here), some of the agencies that monitor the fairness of the actions of our businesses which have been listed as closed or not functioning include: the Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board, the Federal Labor Relations Authority, the Federal Mine Safety And Health Review Commission, the U.S. Office of Special Council, and the Occupational Safety And Health Review Commission. And this list does not include the Environmental Protection Agency. Agencies that promote human development include: the United States Access Board, the United States African Development Foundation, the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, and the Election Assistance Commission. Neither of these lists include partially closed agencies.

So why is it that articles, like the one we cited, as well as most of the news media have, for the most part, dropped its coverage of these people-serving agencies to be most affected by the shutdown? And who is reporting on the hardships of people as they  experience the operations of some businesses which threaten the welfare of people? And who is reporting on the opportunities which some will miss out on because agencies that served people had to be almost completely closed? 

We could be more specific concerning what wrongs will fly under the radar during the shutdown, but the point should have been made by now. The point is that the reporting of harm to or deprivation of those in need takes a backseat to the interests of the wealthy. And this is why we have asked what Howard Zinn would be reporting on if he were to be writing about this.  For if Howard reported news like he wrote history, then we could say that he would have written about our government's shutdown from the viewpoint of ordinary people as they experienced it in their own lives.

But we don't see enough of this kind of news reporting. The news we get is, for the most part, from the perspective of those with wealth and power. Why? It is to continue, if not further, our dependence on them. For the more we read about the news from the perspective of how it affects those with wealth and power, the more we are being led to see the world through their eyes but without their privileges. And the more we see today's events from the perspective of those with wealth and power, the more accept the status quo and the less we will question why our world is as it is and the more we will go along for the ride without thinking of changing it.

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