When I walked into work today, co-workers were openly talking about the NSA spying program and the fireworks were flying. This was encouraging to me, and served as a reminder that the worker vanguard is alive in America and very aware that we are being lied to. But I do worry that we being fed the news in parochial terms. As someone who has been following this story for some time now, I say that the media is doing too little, too late.
No one seems to care about the abuse of state power when it impacts Muslim communities. Middle America didn’t feel threatened by that, and the media didn’t think it would be a big story. When documents were obtained proving that the FBI was collaborating with private security firms of big banks to squash Occupy Wall Street, even before the occupation started, it barely registered a blip in the news cycle. People are acting surprised about activities that are documented and a matter of public record. What the Guardian and Washington Post have revealed in the last few days are part of a larger trend. We live in a country where ex-NSA employees who have been talking about these abuses for years are ignored and marginalized. In some cases, people have had their lives destroyed in the effort to keep secrets. The FBI raided the home of NSA veteran William Binney and placed a gun to his head. So yeah, welcome to the party New York Times. It’s nice of you to drop by, but maybe you should go further.
They say that if you put a frog in a pot of boiling water, it will jump out immediately. If you slowly warm it over a long period of time, it will fall asleep and boil to death. I don’t think this is true, but the metaphor certainly is. This is not a problem we can fix by voting. We have an obedience problem in the United States. If you have any sort of stake in the system, any level of privilege, you don’t want to risk it by challenging power. Big name journalists are afraid of losing access to high level officials and rarely ever challenge the official line of policy. In the rare cases where journalists do challenge power, they are removed or isolated for their efforts. Phil Donahue was removed by the supposedly Left-Wing MSNBC for voicing his opposition to the war in Iraq. They deny it to this day, but we have the memo where they state, among other things: “He seems to delight in presenting guests who are anti-war, anti-Bush and skeptical of the administration’s motives.”
This is not a new problem. This is not an Obama problem. This is an obedience problem. If we live in a “free society”, does freedom matter if our fourth estate does not exercise that freedom? I’m glad that the mainstream media is starting to ask questions, but the fact that it took this long worries me. The fact that it took until they felt targeted themselves is even worse. Freedom means nothing if we obey. We need to work on our obedience problem.