This was a column that David Barsamian wrote for the Kansas City Star which they said they would publish, but didn’t
-= Tom Crane =-
GUEST COLUMN FROM DAVID BARSAMIAN
Mr. Barsamian will be visiting at a public event in Kansas City on Friday, December 1 at the St. Garabed Armenian Church at 4400 Wyoming.
Journalism is a bedrock of democracy and it is very disturbing to see what’s happening to journalists here and around the world. From Istanbul to Cairo and Washington to India attacks on journalism and their profession are occurring more frequently than ever from the highest levels of government. The President has called the media “the enemy of the American people.” This reminds of slanders of Hitler and Stalin. In the just released book I authored with Noam Chomsky Global Discontents: Conversations on the Rising Threats to Democracy, he discusses terrorism of a different kind, the efforts of repressive states to silence the media. The only way to expose political corruption is through strong media, and signs of this corruption can be seen when there are increased efforts by those in power to deligitimize and muffle the press, radio, TV, and the Internet. Control and manipulation of the media both directly and indirectly, is a tactic used by authoritarian regimes everywhere. When legitimate reporting is subverted by propaganda, when a population becomes distracted by the media which should be providing accurate information, when people become an audience – then a nation finds itself at risk. For example, when a nation is led by what I call “magical thinking”, as what is happening with the Trump Administration’s position on climate-change, we have to find the tools to protect and insulate ourselves from the dangers we are facing. A good defense is to remember history and remember the past as a way of maintaining our balance against false information – what has been called “alternative facts”. While there many pseudo-news outlets on the Internet, people become too focused on witty or scathing postings on sites like Facebook. . . . but outrage and ridicule are not enough. Simple slogans, memes, and catch-phrases are not the solution. People should contest political policy issues directly through confronting elected officials, peaceful demonstrations, voter registration, and becoming well-informed. It is through books and newspapers such as the Star, that people need to become educated to understand the very complex world we live in.