Wednesday, December 27, 2006

12.28.06 – An Anarchist Meets the Mainstream Media

I've been blogging a lot lately about the controversy swirling around the idea of "rebranding" anarchism and/or libertarianism in order to make it more palatable to the media and the sheep that read, watch and listen to it.

I've given my views on that topic; which are that the press, academics, and the punditry will just trash the rebranded nomenclature too, and the politically illiterate won't be any more educated, interested or enlightened than before, either. If you want to rehash or inform yourself about that whole affair, go here and here and here.

I was politically active as an LP libertarian (card carrying no less!), an independent "coalitionist" (i.e. I tried to form ad hoc coalitions with Democrats, Republicans, LPers, the Green Party, and interest groups to accomplish specific political goals), and as a anarchist working with liked minded fellow anarchists. So I've been there, and done that. Maybe not as much as some others, but I've been in the trenches before, and not just kibitzed from the sidelines.

So with that preamble of my bona fides, let me say that the mainstream media is never gonna buy a new tag. Nope, never. Oh they may report on it to their readers, viewers or listeners sure, but the reporting will just as bad, misinformed, slanted, and just plain false as it is now. For example:

I gave a short speech before a demonstration in front of my local city hall once, and it was reported on in the local press and I even had a ten second or so sound bite on the local TV news.

Some days later I was contacted by a columnist/reporter who specialized in local issues and politics for a daylong interview. I guess I was flattered. At least a first. I checked up on this mook, and what he really liked to do was portray the subject of his interviews as a kooky, illiterate rabble-rouser and nut, unless you were a “mainstream” Republican or Democrat. And that was if he liked you. If not, well you got the "Michigan Militia" treatment. (More on that syndrome later, but not right now.)

Mr. Media liked to interview his victims in their native element, hopefully, their home. He jokes around with you like a regular guy, chatting on local stuff. Schools, sports, local issues and personalities and such. Then he explains that he grew up in Chicago, where his father was a member of the Republican Party; in fact the only one in the neighborhood, so he knows what it's like to be ostracized and slagged for being in the political minority.

Now hopefully having gained your sympathy and trust, he moves on. Do you own a gun? Oh yeah, how many? Can I see them? How's about we go out in the back so my photog can snap a few pics of "us" popping off a few shots? Can I tour your home too? Just quick look around. Is this your home office here? My, what interesting books you have! Did you read 'em all? Why so many by Marx, Bakunin, Proudhon, and Lenin? Whoa! You have The Turner Diaries!? I thought you said you were an anarchist?

Careful reflective answers avail you nada. Guess what kind of news article you get written about you? No really, take a guess.

Snarky comments about the decor and style of your home furnishings, what nutso books you read (complete with a list of the most inflammatory and controversial authors and titles to be sure!), along with few pics of you popping off a few shots in the backyard with your AR-15. And so whatever kind words Mr. Media has for you or your politics (few at best, and delivered in a very condescending manner) are all completely undone by images and reportage about the Gadsden Flag on the wall of your study, your odd books, and your huge and scary lookin' rifle. That is what you get when you’re an anarchist, libertarian, Constitution Party, Taxpayer’s Party or are otherwise affiliated with some similar third-party outfit, and especially so if the words "liberty", "constitution", or "people's" are included in your name.

So, in the end, do you really think Mr. Media is gonna give you a fair shake cuz you call yourself a "freedom lover" or "abolitionist"? I don't think so.

PS. - I met Mr. Media at a coffeehouse near where I lived. And I was impeccably dressed, direct, honest, and scrupulously accurate and precise in my responses to the questions put to me, whether political or personal, too. And the story never ran and Mr. Media and his photog stuck me with the lunch tab, too. Go figure?

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