Posts tagged ‘Washington Post’

Beloved M(X)LK, Raggedy WaPo

Two giants. Two martyrs. One so sanctified he’s made it to Paradise Porn. The other mixedbagged and boutiqued into Niche Noesis. Maybe, for each of them, a second martyrdom.

Now comes the Washington Post with a very, very fine “Malcolm X Redux”. But it’s the Washington Post, so the pretext for publication is another 50th anniversary. But it’s the Washington Post, so it dominates the Style section. But it’s the new, beleaguered with all its print siblings, Wapo, so it has about as much graphics as text.

And what, you may ask, is the problem?

The only photo of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X together was a photo op  taken outside of Congress, March 26, 1964. (Henry Griffin/AP)

It is that we need the ancestors, and we very much need these two precious, dead, thinkers and activists. Krissah Thompson’s article is a valuable contribution, but it is so desperately necessary because the mainstream assumptions reflected by the Post and other “leading” media for these 50 and more years have as a whole served to attack, obscure, misrepresent and sanitize the images of these two men.

Let’s take a whirlwind tour of the borderlands between three gigantic domains: citizenship, journalism, and schools. I’ve hopped on my blog-scooter, so I beg you to hold on tight and forgive me my shortcuts. What for some will be harder to forgive is the overall perspective: what does any citizen or kid-potential-citizen need, to “mature” into an at-risk world that dearly needs his or her input. I.e., where is the groundwork for being/becoming – if one so chooses – an intelligent activist.

Okay, so kids of all ages learn about Saint Martin. With precious exceptions, teachers peddled that in 1980, and still do, in classrooms elementary and otherwise. But from where do they get it, these dutiful ones who don’t get it? Above all, they get it from the dishonest “American Dream” culture that has only a small, sanitized place for minorities. (And denial or worse for those of God’s creatures who were here before Europeans and their slaves). Top-tier newspapers such as the Post are essential elements of this culture, and especially of its transmission to teachers and middle-class parents, who are the main infecters of children.

This remains true (with beloved exceptions) despite all of the intelligent pluralism of editors. They got to be editors because of their ability to present the richest and most literate versions of mainstream assumptions of reality. Otherwise they land on the “fringes,” like Chris Hedges and Noam Chomsky.

Where they belong, you interject, and have ample opportunity to address their following.

Naw. But I am not going to do what I would prescribe for every journalism teacher and media critic. Google Malcolm and Martin for the past year (or 10 or 40 if you have the time) and “Washington Post”.

Then tabulate relative frequencies. And if you want a PhD or something as a media critic, assemble a composite picture of each of these leaders, based on what you find. Or limit yourself to coverage for the year or two preceding each of these precious individual’s assassination.

I’ve done none of that. But once, while driving to Baltimore (where my friends the Women in Black march in the MLK parade) I listened to WPFW reading New York Times contemporaneous coverage of Martin. Makes you wonder what the Jerusalem Post would have thought of Jeremiah.

And I suspect that Malcolm-the-pimp-turned-rabble-rouser (vs.-Saint Martin) was a more prominent tale 1963-1970 than Alex Haley’s Autobiography of Malcolm X. Another challenge would be to see what – if anything – primary school administrators and their employees have made of Malcolm all these years.

It has taken 50 years, but maybe Krissah Thompson’s insightful and comprehensive Post piece would be a good starting point. And yes, your humble servant the present author, who became a ghetto schoolteacher in the 1990s when he was 47, should add Manning Marable’s biography of Malcolm to his already hopelessly long reading list.

I only wish that too much to read was our biggest problem. And when I say ‘our” I mean simultaneously some public intellectuals and academics, all teachers at all levels, and really, all the citizens of these United States – whether they have “stepped up” to what citizen means or not.

In Praise of Our Torturers

In these troubled times, a crazy-superficial balance can be constructed by marrying two unlikely elements.

Such as the pretext-inspiring Washington Post newspaper and the deeply inspiring poet-songster Leonard Cohen.

Wherefore I offer you the following, provoked by




In Praise of Our Torturers

Am I nuts?

Of course I’m nuts.
I live in the greatest democracy in the history of the known world.
I live in the shadow of the Holocaust, slavery, and those who lived here before us.

I live in the shadow of Franz Schubert and Wilfred Owen.

Wanna come live with me, and be my love?
Or with the folks who got wash boards and surfboards and waterboarding confused?
Who told the soldiers and patriotic geeks that the world was our oyster,
and we’d better crack the goddam shell before bad actors got there,
before it is too late.

It is too late for KSM, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed
the “self-declared mastermind” of 911, waterboarded 183 times,
and it is too late for you and I, whether
we want to extract intelligence,
send a message,
crush his soul,
or none of the above.

As I’ve heard,
and Leonard Cohen sang:
Democracy is coming
to the USA.



            -- David Almaleck Wolinsky



The Map of Syria: Another Graveyard?

In Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book, a ghostly old couple adopt a baby that has been in desperation left in their cemetary. Thus the dead again care for the living – as we must care for the dead. Neither of “us” have done such a good job.

Such were my thoughts after reading Liz Sly’s brutally comprehensive front-page Washington Post piece this morning. on the history of the “map” – political, sectarian, religious – of the former Ottoman empire. After three years of war and no end in sight, Syria is of course the focus.

Here are some quotes taken, but re-arranged,  from the article.


We never had borders…. a long time ago, the French came and drew these lines. —  Mohammed Shamas,  shopkeeper near the line between Syria and Lebanon

If Syria is partitioned, there will be war for 100 years to come. The Alawites will have the coast, the Kurds will have the oil, and the Sunnis will be in the middle with nothing. — Abu Zeid, 37, Syrian refugee.

They made sure when those borders were drawn to maintain trouble between us forever. —  Mohammed al-Jamalhis farm in Syria and Lebanon.

The wars will change, but there will always be wars. — Issam Bleibeh, deputy mayor of Hermel, Lebanon-Syria.

The only solution is to share everything. Abu Zeid.

…it is all very difficult to predict.  Fawaz Gerges, London School of Economics.


A Dream Deferred?

Maybe an official of some Asian consulate has read Harold Meyerson’s column on the President’ s untapped army. “A paper tiger,” the bored functionary sighs.

What is... and what should be

What is... and what should be

That reader might be more perceptive than anyone at present realizes.  An e-mail  list is not an army. A year ago millions of people like myself were indeed “fired up and ready to go” knocking on doors,  and telephones,  and credit cards. Electronic networking was a terrific tool for turning ferment  into  political mobilization.  But I believe that Obama’s first six months in office has demobilized —  or at least immobilized — a significant part of his army:

Health care — If a “government option” is the extreme left of the debate (possibly even to be sacrificed through negotiation, and subject to mixed messages from the administration) the battle is already largely lost. Sure I favor single payer, but if it’s not even in the discussion, then the “progressive” side is at the mercy of insurance companies and related forces.

The Economy — The effort and money devoted to saving capitalism from itself dwarfs everything done for everyone else.  ’nuff said on the subject, except that…

War and Peace issues are  proceeding as promised, with a shrinking mess in Iraq and a growing one in Afghanistan/Pakistan. The economics of this “smarter”  superpower warfighting will cripple  progressive domestic initiatives, i.e.,  those that get past the snarls of Republicans, blue dogs, and the lobbyists they pay attention to.

Hope, by its nature, never entirely dies. Obama tapped into and became the symbol of a pwerful impulse. In office, he has blunted it.  Meanwhile the raving Right has increasing become the respectable opposition. This foretells failure at the top and dangerous mass polarization below. I do not want this to happen. But it seems that at this point Obama’s vaunted confidence  has led him into dangerous waters, and perhaps blinded him to necessary corrections of course. Read more…

The Washington Post and Israel

Today’s lead Washington Post editorial rejoices over the withdrawl of the putatively pro-Arab Charles Freeman as appointed head of Obama’s National Intelligence council. As the post now has online “debates” with the editorial board, I jumped in to say “shame on you” to the Post:

First read Post editorials every day, noticing the even tone and careful writing, even on positions you oppose. Then notice the patronizing slop that begins with “latest failed nominee peddles a conspiracy theory” in this editorial

Why? Because all debates start with assumptions of what is reasonable and respectable. And the best “spin” is that which reinforces a desired environment of assumptions.

It is only in the past few years that challenging what the Israeli Government and AIPAC et al. say is good for Israel has become even half-respectable. That is why the editorial can smugly equate the Israel Lobby (supporting muscular democracy — for Israeli Jews) and “Americans who support Israel” (I am one), going on to call Freeman’s statement “grotesque libel”.

And so the usually impeccably dressed editorial board drops its pants on this issue. It’s a good sign that consummate professionals and old-timers like Pincus and Broder can keep their heads — and belts — when the topic is Israel/Palestine.

The real story is a vicious tragedy in which the leaders on both sides embrace arrogance, hatred, and violence. American cheerleading for “Israel” a la the Post editorial makes things worse — but American political support and money have almost always sustained the catastrophe.

Perhaps Freeman meant “change” on this fundamental level. Then perhaps he was unseated by the combination of fear, influence and self-righteousness that can reasonably be called “the Israel Lobby.”

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