May 3, 2005

Ignorance Is Strength, The Far Right's Motto

I watch PBS. I like it for the most part. I don't like the begging, which occurs with increasing frequency nowadays, and I don't like those boring shows, bought cheaply, to fill time slots. I don't appreciate the shows included just to appease the conservatives either, but I'm willing to live with programs that are boring, stupid and proposing an opposing view to mine. Yet, PBS is the place to get serious news and information about important current issues, and for developing a greater understanding of the world we live in.
We all know the conservative right wants a simple-minded people and a simplistic message, a kind of "bumper sticker" mentality. We also know that PBS and everything else that makes us think, understand, question our one-party government, is despised by the radical right.
With the national press collectively lying down and failing to fulfill its obligation to check on the rulers, public broadcasting must be defended against this latest onslaught. Unfortunately, the PBS leadership has not been brave enough, and it's being slaughtered. Admittedly, it is caught in a rough spot, but being silent and not taking the fight into the open and into the enemy, it helps the sinister, back-stubbing, corporate loyalists, far-right, anti-intellectuals and conservative hacks who've taken control of the Corporation of Public Broadcasting (CPB). Since the days of the disgraced House Speaker, Newt Gingrich, the far right has been trying to kill PBS, or, at the very least, bring it under control of the conservatives. CPB gives about $30 million a year with many strings attached ever since Republican hack, Kenneth Tomlinson, became CPB's chairman. He wants to "eliminate the liberal bias" from PBS, he says. Never mind that the vast majority of Americans believe there is no bias in news and information programming by public broadcasting.
I'm not much of a conspiracy theorist/believer, but there has been a long and coordinated effort by the extreme right to impose their narrow views on the rest of us, to change America according to their own rapturist, fundamentalist and microscopic views. But, they are right in this regard: a monolithic mentality by the public is easier to manipulate.
Anyone, who has watched Frontline, Wide Angle, Nova, Independent Lens, NOW (with & post-Bill Moyers), and all the other wonderful programming, knows that we thinking citizens need as many windows to information as possible; heck, we don't have enough of those. On the other hand, the far right wants to incarcerate us in a windowless environment. For our own security of course! Being fair and balanced, according to Tomlinson and his secret agents, is to include any cookie idea, baseless argument from his pals (Coulter, O'Reilly, Limbaugh,Robertson, Falwell, Dobson, Dr. No, Poison Ivy, Mr. Freeze, TwoFace, the Jocker, and so many other characters), and, for good measure, give a chat room to the The Wall Street Journal to counter-act the "liberal bias" of the News Hour! Incredible. Literally, in-credible!
Even if there were far fewer people who watched PBS, it still would've been worth preserving it for the simple reason that we need: a means to expose the wrong doers, a platform for open exchange of ideas & information in depth, and a ..public record.

This time taking our checkbooks out in order to support public broadcasting is not enough; we must act in order to put the Public back in PBS. Signing the petition is one step, but,please, get ready to follow up with further action, locally and nationally. Check with Free Press* frequently on the latest news and how to get involved.

Ignorance is strength, as Winston was constantly reminded in 1984. In the politics of fear in the early 21st century, we can clearly see that strength, and, sadly,even ignorance have quite an appeal. Why, feeling strong gives you a sense of security, doesn't it? Of course it does! However, you do understand that you have to give up a few "things" in order to be safe, secure, and ..undisturbed. In addition, why would you want to feel the anxiety of the unknown, the cacophony of disagreement, the stress of being challenged in your beliefs? Who wouldn't want to be powerful enough to withstand all sorts of biases and proselytizing voices? Who needs the ideas advocated by those "liberally biased" people who have a tendency to question things, who admit that the search for truth must be un-ending, who challenge the status quo, who want to change the world by infusing it with more reason, scientific inquiry, consumer protection, liberty & civil rights, and protecting & enhancing our common treasure--the environment?
Who needs those people and their biases indeed?

*Free Press is a nonpartisan organization working to involve the public in media policymaking and to craft policies for more democratic media.