A hardy band of boomers stood out in snowy Portland, Maine, USA on Sunday at a vigil for peace that recognized the U.S./NATO war against Ukraine is really a war on Russia.
Publicity for the event made it clear that would be our focus, and requested no flags. If only 10 people in the “peace community” of Maine could stand with us on this basis, so be it.
As Martin Luther King Jr. Day approaches, I’m reminded of this wisdom he shared before the U.S. government assassinated him:
Cowardice asks the question: is it safe? Expediency asks: is it politic? Vanity asks: is it popular? But conscience asks the question: is it right? There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, politic nor popular – but simply because it is right.
This where the few of us not confused by government propaganda find ourselves these days. I wrote about it here as a guest post for my friend Pat Taub’s blog:
by Lisa Savage
As a blogger I enjoy hearing from readers even when they disagree with me. It’s an indication of reader engagement if someone takes the time to offer a critique.
So, I was glad to hear from an old friend in response to a recent blog post of mine. “Tale of Two Broken Accords: Oslo And Minsk,” written during the recent COP27 climate conference. It was my reflection on how international agreements are often achieved with great effort and announced with great fanfare only to be cast aside.
My friend wrote:
“Lisa: Am I misunderstanding something, or have you become an apologist for Vladimir Putin?”
I have old friends from many walks of life but relatively few who stand beside me in objecting to U.S. wars. This friend, however, was part of the original In Spite of Life Players putting on satirical political plays each 4th of July here in Athens, Maine. These plays routinely lampooned propaganda and U.S. imperial ambitions.
I wrote back:
“If you’d been reading my blog you’d know that I reject the “Putin bad” analysis of the RAND-inspired war on Russia by NATO, with the endgame taking out China’s powerful ally. If that were to be accomplished (i.e., regime change and break up of Russia), Taiwan is sure to become the next Ukraine.
At least in Taiwan the U.S. will not have to arm and otherwise support neo-Nazis. Maybe old Japanese Empire collaborators instead? It’s disappointing that you seem to be ill-informed about what’s going on. May I ask what sources of information you rely on to understand global politics? It’s a sincere question.”
This is a person with a huge collection of books about history and politics and I was reminded about that. But books necessarily lag behind other media in interpreting current events, and I was more interested in what news outlets they were relying on to form opinions.
The New York Times, the New Yorker, the New York Review of Books, Harpers, The Atlantic, and television news were on their list, all of which my friend described as “Mainstream/Lamestream Media.”
But then came the real kicker.
“I’d like to think that I would have the intellectual humility/integrity to reconsider my positions if I found myself espousing the views of Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, Mike Flynn, and Kevin McCarthy.”
My friend was afraid of being associated with right wing influencers and was warning me of the danger of sounding like I agreed with them!
I’ve never watched any of those shows and I said so. Instead, I offered a list of some of the sources I consider trustworthy on geopolitics in our day: Consortium News, Responsible Statecraft, The Cradle, and some individual journalists like Eva K. Bartlett, John Pilger, and Alan Macleod.
Will my friend expand their reading following our dialogue? I like to think so but who knows. (Something I’ve found interesting about liberals’ strong disagreement with me over Ukraine is that, when I was running for the U.S. Senate in 2020, they loved my foreign policy analysis in debates.)
There is strong pressure to conform to the group one identifies with – in this case, critics of the media outlets who promoted the rise of 45. So-called legacy media relentlessly associated 45 with Russian President Putin for years, and the transition from hating 45 to hating Putin was a short trip for many. It has blinded them to the facts on the ground in Ukraine.
How did the rebels of the boomer generation become so conformist? Maybe a joke will help:
Two passengers are flying to New York. The American turns to the Russian and asks, “Why are you coming to America?”
“To study U.S. propaganda.”
Pat shared a comment she received on my guest post:
This was not worth offering a window into her thinking nor a contribution to any debate that defends one country attacking another with out provocation and murdering thousands. Her comments are drivel. This action by Putin is not up for debate. I and many of my friends have been donating to Ukraine so they may survive. I can’t believe a thinking person has another point of view.
If you can’t believe a thinking person has another point of view from yours, maybe you aren’t as much of a thinking person as you think you are.
We’ve all be wrong lots of times; the question is, are we willing to examine our beliefs and sometimes change them in light of new evidence?
Now that we know for certain that the CIA, FBI, and other taxpayer-funded agencies spend much of their staff time managing narratives on social media platforms from behind the scenes, where can we get useful new evidence?
From new-to-us, more reliable sources than corporate sources that parrot U.S. press releases.
Pro-tip: if your news source uses the word “unprovoked” about Russia intervening after years of Ukraine killing thousands of Russian-speakers in the Donbas border region, you’re definitely reading U.S. government propaganda. (Ditto China’s alleged “threat” to world peace — but that’s a post for another day.)
If you see someone with a sign like this, maybe ask them what they’re currently reading.