Sorry I’ve been away.
It’s been nearly three weeks since my father’s passing and I am beginning to rub my eyes and take notice of the world again. Those of you have read my last post will have an idea of how profoundly I have felt this loss. The truth is that for the past three weeks I have been unable (with the exception of that obit/eulogy immediately below this) to write. This has not been so much a paralysis as a respite. There is certainly sadness and pain but there is no depression or despair- it’s just that a rather devastating hole has been torn in my life and I have had to retreat and reflect for a while.
My pause for reflection has renewed my energy, reinforced my courage to continue and confirmed my confidence in what I am doing.
Not only that, I have big news. I have alluded in past posts to an announcement that I would soon be making. Here it is:
I have, over the past four months or so, been talking about forming a new non-profit organization with a fellow blogger whom I admire immensely. Richard Landes of Augean Stables and Second Draft. Richard is not only a blogger, he is also an associate professor of history at Boston University. We began working together in earnest when I helped him pull together the petition initiative to support Philipe Karsenty. Karsenty was found guilty of libeling France2 and Charles Enderlin by pointing out that the televised report of what Enderlin claimed to be the killing of 12-year-old Mohammed al Durah by Israeli gunfire really appeared to have been a staged scene in which nobody died.
Rather than admit that his report, which slandered the Jewish state and provoked a wave of violence, anti-Semitism and terror that is still propagating today, was either a grotesque mistake or an obvious fake, Enderlin and France2 sued Kasenty.
Landes, has, for the last four years, (Summary of activity is here) been a lone and courageous voice in exposing this blood libel and showing how destructive and pervasive the sort of manipulation of a compliant mass media by anti-western and anti-Semitic Islamists it represents is. Even more importantly, he has been able, in a scholarly and non-politicized way, to show that one of the best defenses for Israel, The United States of America and (by extension) Western Civilization lies in first isolating and inoculating against the pernicious auto-immune disease that the western media has come to be.
The outline of our partnership was already well defined before my father began his last steep decline five weeks ago. We will be combining our efforts under the banner of a new non-profit organization which is now filed for under the U.S. tax code. The name of our new organization, Second Draft (shared by one of Landes’ pre-established websites) plays upon the adage that “journalism is the first draft of history”. Second Draft will undertake to study the media, its behavior and its power. We take an entirely new approach to producing our second draft of history. We will go deeper than the usual correction of individual inaccuracies and sorting out the bias in various of stories. Our ultimate goal will be to use certain key dossiers (like the one already compiled on the al Durah affair) that at once illuminate a particular case, but at the same time permit an exploration of the key reasons for our media's vulnerability to manipulation and its reflexively anti-Western tenor. We aim to provide not just analysis but a new strategy for combating the ways in which the Western media gets exploited by the information warfare of the weaker side in the asymmetrical warfare between Western Civilization and its enemies: The global Jihad of Caliphate Islam, the infantile nihilism of the radical left, the ignorant neo-Nazi white supremacists and any other unsavory, regressive ideology that seems to need their sympathy and “tolerance”.
Permit me give you an analogy that comes out of my recent contemplations. As I mentioned below, my dad was a shipboard radio operator during WWII. His telegraph key was the conduit for the information that animated his whole ship and kept it safe within the convoy. He had to be careful that the information he decoded from his telegraph key was both accurate and complete and that the source of it was authentic and secure. If an enemy had been able to infiltrate bad information, or even to limit the use of some important information, it would have been very dangerous indeed.
Until very recently, our mass media have, like that old telegraph operator with his trusty key on the ship, been our only source of information about the world. If he were to decide not to decode and pass on warnings of a submarine wolf pack operating nearby because that would be bad for morale (as the msm did by not reporting on the the threat of Islamic extremists- until 09/11 ) or fail to inform the captain of a planned convoy maneuver because he didn’t think it was important (as the mainstream often does when they use euphemisms like “youth” or “structured groups” when they have to report about Muslim Violence); or if he decided to make up reports about things that never happened because he felt sure that such manipulations were so true to life that even if they are not true they are an accurate representation of things that happen “all the time” (which is exactly what Enderlin and his supporters have said about the al Durah affair. The internet (especially, the “blogosphere”) has begun to eat away at the hegemony of the main stream media. Through the blogosphere, many critical omissions and misrepresentations have been exposed.
Richard Landes recognized the power of the blogosphere to transform the scene when, after a year of fruitlessly knocking at the door of the MSM with material on Pallywood and the al Durah affair, he witnessed Rathergate, that "Gutenberg moment" when a new medium of communication crashed the party despite the efforts of the older media, gate keepers of the public sphere.
Landes’ work on the al Durah affair has exposed a critical flaw in the information pipeline. It has become obvious that much of the mainstream media is subject to either not reporting aspects of the world that they find politically incorrect or accepting bad information uncritically or passing it along to an unsuspecting public as “News”.
In a ground-breaking book on the media’s ignoble role in the tragedy of the Yugoslavia, Media Cleansing: Dirty Reporting, Peter Brock quoted a long section of an article from The New Republic in which Tom Rosenstiel pointed out that the major news outlets and agencies (with CNN leading the way) have reduced their correspondents and staffs to such a degree that in order to find enough content to fill the existing news paper, glossy magazine stock and broadcast time, they resort to buying prepackaged reports. This means that much of the information we wind up with is public relations materials and propaganda that have been supplied to our networks by national news agencies from around the world that are really nothing more than extensions of the foreign ministries of the governments many of which are often very hostile to U.S. and Western interests.
Central to our reasons for starting Second Draft is a belief that even if a totally objective media is impossible, an honest media that will:
1. report as accurately and relevantly as possible
2. reveal sources
3. check facts
4. be open about their biases and prejudices,
is the only acceptable source of information for a free society.
It is not enough to “keep the media honest” by reacting to abuses we also have to raise the awareness and sharpen the powers of discrimination in the public. We have great plans to do both of these things. We’ll be running conferences, making more films and creating some exciting web initiatives.
As soon as we are up and running I'll be leaving my "day job" and moving to Second Draft full time. Through it all I'll still be posting here on Breath of the Beast- we are commited to our "web roots".
The blogosphere is a new and valuable way to keep a running monitor on how well the media supports all of these requirements. It has awakened millions to the problem and the awakening is spreading.
This awakening reminds me of a dream I have had a couple of times in the past year.
In the dream I am walking alone, as night is beginning to fall, in a tropical forest. A feeling of disembodied dread fills me as I shoulder my way through a profusion of underbrush under a high canopy of palms. The sun is low in the sky still and the evening air is still bright- but just beginning to lose the daytime heat.. As I come to a break in a wall of vegetation, I see that I am on the edge of someone’s manicured backyard. There are two chaises lounge lawn chairs side by side with a man sleeping on one and a woman on the other. My feelings of foreboding continue to build.
As I watch, they begin to stir and rub their eyes. They look around with a vague air of alarm. Suddenly he points to the horizon. There is a great fire raging just over the horizon. It has made no noise and the heat from it was easy enough to ignore during the tropical day. You would never know it was there if you didn’t look right at it. Its glow suffuses that quarter of the sky with an angry red glow and a great plume of black smoke is rising above it.
The riots in the streets of Europe, the bloodthirsty beheading of Daniel Pearl, the Beslan massacre, the constant bombardment of Israel by Arab and Iranian client terror groups, the Iranian atomic threat, and, of course, 9/11 have merely been a silent fire just over the horizon for most of us, not because it is harmless but because the media has not been doing an honest job of informing us of the common aspects of those crimes. An honest media, one that may not be totally objective but will yet be honest enough to acknowledge that fact and apply and maintain a strict discipline over its own subjectivity.
Second Draft is in its infancy, we have secured a small start-up stake of funding but we need all the help you can spare for this crucial effort. If you would like to help us with your donation (we have filed for tax-free status!), you can click on the donation page here at Breath of the Beast or send a check to:
P.O. Box 590591
Newton Centre, MA 02459
All gifts will be gratefully acknowledged.
Thursday, November 1, 2007
Sorry I’ve been away.