Tuesday, January 27, 2009

More on the theme of not speaking out

My earlier comments on American "progressives" as say-nothing courtiers to the Obama administration only scratch the surface. Here's a summary of criticism by Ali Abunimah of two flagship left media institutions on the same theme. (Posted by Adam Horowitz on philipweiss.org, here, including the video link):

Ali Abunimah challenges Mark Green and Katrina vanden Heuvel, saying that progressives haven't spoken out on Gaza. They respond by not speaking out on Gaza.

Mark Green defends the Israeli action and repeats some of Israeli propaganda's greatest hits, including holding up Ariel Sharon (!) of all people as having made sacrifices for peace. To her relative credit, vanden Heuvel just looks uncomfortable and ashamed and tries to change the subject as quickly as possible.

Both Green (Air America) and vanden Heuvel (The Nation) run flagship media outlets on the "left." That neither of them can, or are willing, to speak out against the carnage in Gaza says volumes. As Abunimah rightly points out, Bob Simon's outspokenness on 60 Minutes put both of them to shame. (Though in fairness, vanden Heuvel has run important Gaza pieces by Wallace Shawn, Richard Falk, and Laila Al-Arian).

Abunimah also rightly raises the question of how will progressives relate to the Obama administration: as principled advocates or a simple cheering section? Both Green and vanden Heuvel need to understand that on this issue, the ground is shifting beneath their feet. If they're not willing to speak out there are plenty of others who are. Abunimah is the future, will Air America and The Nation care to join him? (Adam Horowitz)


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