Tuesday, December 9, 2014
This Bill Moyers quote is obviously a promo for Mother Jones magazine. Yet, Moyers brings up a fascinating point about the role of journalists today. The irony, of course is that with all our fancy technology, the democratic values the U.S. was founded on seem to be leaking slowly out of the airship of state. Today, with the release of data outlining the CIA's role in employing torture techniques in the new post 9/11 security paranoia, our democratic values have taken a mighty hit. I'd venture to say that we are at a critical juncture as a democracy; the road ahead doesn't look promising.
Writer/theorist Henry Geroux has eloquently discussed this trend, this slippage in his book The Violence of Organized Forgetting. What's so troubling is how the mass of the American people can be transfixed by the distractions of a market economy with it's emphasis on constant consumption. The stupor is thick...and getting thicker one would think. They don't hear the air leaking out.
When we see the inequity in our social classes, it's alarming that the only one's filling our burgeoning prison system are on the bottom rung of the social ladder. White collars stay whiter than white, aided by the indecision of Grand Juries, the lock that the wealthy have on our political process, and the intended continual demise of public education.
Back to Moyers, I don't think he's completely right because we have only to look at the efforts of whistle blowers in government and the massive pseudo-security structure forced in place to see how some journalists are trying to get the word out. Maybe it will be left for the artists and musicians to take that torch and run with it. Historically there is precedent, much of it to be sure. Is it such a surprise that people in this country probably place more faith in their favorite musicians than their elected representatives?
If I were back in the classroom these days, I'd put together a teaching unit based on Moyers' idea here. Find the Muckrakers. Some kind of most under-reported stories of the year weighed by their importance and the process by which they become under-reported. (Who decides what we hear about and what we don't?) Perhaps a good place to start would be with Mother Jones Magazine and see how what they report compares to everything else. It's the latter, that all other sources, that might be most revealing.