Lifting the U.S. burqa on war on terrorism | PostIndependent.com
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Lifting the U.S. burqa on war on terrorism

Tamie Meck

At last Wednesday’s Republican fund-raiser, President Bush promised his constituents that the “War on Terrorism” will go on.

“We will respond for however long it takes,” Bush assured. His comment was met with applause.

Do we really know what this war is all about?

Media analyst David Barsamian, founder and director of Alternative Radio, will be in Glenwood Springs Friday to talk about the war, and the propaganda behind it. The talk, “Media, Terrorism and Propaganda,” is co-sponsored by the Roaring Fork Coalition for Peace and the Stepstone Center.

One of the problems, said Barsamian, is that the American government “refuses to acknowledge that terrorism has any political implications.” Through corporate-controlled media, the American people are being told that Sept. 11 and other terrorist attacks on America and Americans abroad are over American values, he says, and that there are people who hate Americans because we are wasteful and affluent.

He calls the information being fed through the media, “a weapon of mass distraction,” saying, “The media is not keeping the citizenry informed” about the truth behind this war.

Barsamian, author of “The Decline and Fall of Public Broadcasting,” and “Terrorism: Theirs and Ours,” is currently on a speaking tour of the United States to raise awareness about foreign policy.

Foreign policy controls much of what happens in the world, yet very little is ever reported on it by members of the U.S. media, said Barsamian.

“The big problem with U.S. foreign policy and the media is that the media only focuses on the symptoms,” said Barsamian. “It’s like looking at the acne, but what is it in your system and in your diet that is causing these symptoms?”

That’s a question for which we all should be demanding answers from our government.

Barsamian, who lives in Boulder, produces the weekly Alternative Radio (AR) program, which airs from noon to 1 p.m. Sunday on KDNK public radio, and from 11 a.m. to noon Fridays on KAJX Aspen public radio.

The program provides information and perspectives on the environment, media, U.S. foreign policy, racism, economic and trade issues, and indigenous rights that Barsamian says are ignored or distorted in the corporate-controlled media. AR is carried by more than 125 public radio stations world-wide.

Barsamian is also the author and co-author of numerous books. His latest, “The Decline and Fall of Public Broadcasting,” argues that the “concentration of the for-profit media has made it even more difficult for alternative voices to gain a hearing.” Barsamian draws on his years of experience in public radio.

“Six corporations control most of the media,” said Barsamian. Those corporations are now focusing on profits and cost-cutting, not on covering the news. What they provide, he said, is “drive-by journalism.” It’s very superficial, he said.

Since covering international news is costly, corporations send journalists into areas, such as Afghanistan, for a few weeks at the most, which doesn’t give them enough time to learn from the inside out and the bottom up about what they are covering.

Other countries put journalists in foreign countries for years at a time, but not Americans. The rest of the world knows about American foreign policy and its effects on the rest of the world, but Americans are basically uninformed, he added.

With terrorism, “Until we address those symptoms, there will be more and more terrorism and more and more confusion.”

You don’t have to agree with any of this to benefit from Barsamian’s talk this Friday. He invites everyone, and assures there will be plenty of time for questions and answers.

“I hope to stir up some debate,” he said.

Information on foreign policy and the other side of terrorism is out there, assures Barsamian. People just have to know where to find it. They can listen to AR and other alternative radio programs; subscribe to or pick up copies of alternative publications, such as Z Magazine, Extra, The Progressive, Utne Reader and a host of others available locally at the Book Train in Glenwood Springs.

Numerous books by Barsamian, Noam Chomsky, David Korten, Kevin Danaher and others are available at or through local book stores.

“The American public sees the world from inside a burqa,” said Barsamian, referring to the garment that has, through the media, come to represent repression of women in Afghanistan. “Americans know very little about political affairs.”

President Bush is promising that the War on Terrorism could last as long as 50 years and cost a half a trillion dollars (that’s a 5 with 11 zeros after it), which far extends the length and cost of the Cold War, noted Barsamian. Yet, it does not guarantee a stop to terrorism. It does not guarantee the safety of Americans, or anyone else.

“Terrorism has political implications,” said Barsamian.

If you want to learn more, get a seat at the Glenwood Springs High School auditorium at 7 p.m. Friday, June 28.

What have you got to lose?

Tamie Meck is a Post Independent staff writer. Her column runs on Tuesdays.


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