Monday, October 24, 2011

Trust Me, History Is Being Written

Fox News-- a handle on history?
One of the frustrating things about going through the times we live in is that the narrative is so easily distorted by many competing forces. It's easy to forget that history has a way of sorting itself out.

Heaven knows we can no longer rely on the mainstream media that has long since lost its Edward R. Morrows and Walter Cronkites. Even the great papers such as the New York Times and Washington Post cannot be trusted to be more than stenographers. And I'll spare you the rant about CNN and Fox News.

Fixing history, Howard Zinn-style
There are many reporters and commentators, not to mention the hundreds of chroniclers and academics toiling away on campuses across the country. Many recognize the convergence, in real time, of truth and history. All the white noise in the media and the political echo chamber can't obscure veracity and clarity forever.

Sure, the famous phrase, "history is written by the victors," tends to apply, but not completely, especially in the new information age. History is no longer written only in the ivory towers. It's written and preserved in the cloud, on the server farms of the Internet.

Nathan Hale, patriot
This doesn't guarantee accuracy or stifle the competing voices, but the chances are better than ever before that the truth can be sorted out over time, that the victors' stenographer pool will not, in the end, manage to dominate.

Here's an example. Take Nathan Hale, hanged by the British for being a spy. Though accounts differ about the nature of his last words ("I only regret that I have but one life..."), history has captured the essence of his sacrifice.

Now let's take Bradley Manning, the U.S. Army private largely credited -- without trial or public statement -- with providing the material released by Wikileaks that exposed the military and diplomatic secret documents and cables from the Iraq and Afghanistan war theaters. He has been held without trial for well over a year in conditions that were, until he was recently moved, considered torture by most observers.

Bradley Manning, patriot
It's likely that he will be eventually tried and convicted, having first had his constitutional and human rights trampled on by the U.S. military and its justice system. It's also unlikely he'll be free for much of his adult life, and even the death penalty is thought to be under consideration.

He has been vilified by the right and will be attacked and condemned by the government during the long lead-up to his eventual conviction. I doubt many in the mainstream press will speak of him in terms of what he really is: a whistleblower and a patriot.

Glenn Greenwald
Thanks to Glenn Greenwald of Salon, Marcy Wheeler of, and Jane Hamsher of firedoglake, we have an on-going record of Bradley Manning the well-intentioned patriot who couldn't sit on the sidelines with information of military cover-ups of civilian deaths, including premeditated executions of  women and children. It's hard to read such a report from Glenn without realizing that there is ample evidence that Manning likely has quickened the end of an unjust war. Is that not the act of a hero?

Jane Hamsher
Yet we will have to endure the constant drumbeat of "traitor, traitor" instead of the truth, that Bradley Manning is indeed a hero and patriot. We do know now, however, that the ferocity with which he is being treated by what should have been a more measured and compassionate Obama administration is meant to accomplish one thing, beyond Manning's personal destruction: to strike fear into the hearts of any serviceman or government employee on any level when confronted by the opportunity to let the truth be known about American governmental or military misconduct.

Marcy Wheeler
The chill that spreads from that reality alone is enough to disgust the staunchest patriot, one would hope. I am not a wild-eyed patriot by any stretch of the imagination -- feeling allegiance to a greater sphere than a country's borders -- but I am repulsed by the stain placed on the map of a land I do, in fact, love.

Though I spent the better part of my life as a musician, writer, and technology teacher, my original degree was in history. It is, yes, small comfort now to know that history will sort out the crimes of George W. Bush, Richard Cheney, and the neo-con cabal that introduced endless, unnecessary war and, indeed, torture and treaty violations left and right. They are even now, at least in historical terms, being rightfully vilified if not truly held to account. But history will not be kind to them, nor to Barack Obama, Eric Holder, and others for their failings in the area of justice, prisoner treatment, human rights, habeas corpus, due process and other niceties of a quainter time.

Coleen Rowley, FBI Special Agent, identified these suspects, Geo. Bush's brain trust

More suspects

 I'm, as usual, conflicted, holding out hope and support for Barack Obama and his regime, that he might yet do more for the suffering masses in the age of the Great Recession. But on these points of which I speak -- and upon which others like Glenn, Jane, and Marcy speak far more eloquently and with more dedication than I -- I offer no forgiveness, and I urge all who consider themselves members of our civil society to withhold theirs and condemn these practices outright, until and beyond the inevitable verdict of history. It cannot and shall not be kind.

History's trash bin or history's pantheon -- your choice, dude

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