Monday, November 23, 2009

Censorship: Editors the blood is on your hands

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News

By Brenda Norrell

TUCSON -- During the past few weeks, there's been a wave of censorship and news distortion surrounding events in Tucson. In the first case, the O'odham Solidarity Project hosted the event, "Apartheid in America: Surviving Occupation in O'odham Lands."

There is a series of ways that this event was censored by editors and publishers. First of all, most didn't even send reporters. Then, there are reporters who wrote articles that were not published. Here is the primary way that editors censor a reporter's article. They say, "Get the other side of the story." In the case of the O'odham event, speakers spoke and there was no opposition. Their words deserve to be quoted.

Of course the bottom line was that most newspapers did not want to risk quoting the controversial Ward Churchill, the guest speaker. They were afraid to print his words and engaged in a form of censorship. In the borderzone, the media is reluctant to point out the similarities between the militarization of the US/Mexico border and the border of Palestine. Along with the militarization and oppression, the two borders have in common the same spy industry contractor, the Israeli defense contractor Elbit Systems, subcontracted in the US by Boeing. The city of Tucson is nursed by the poison milk of war manufacturers and military operations.

The O'odham Solidarity Event offered a special potency because of the presentations by Ofelia Rivas and her brother Julian Rivas, O'odham living on the border, a region militarized by US border agents, where the elected tribal government and tribal police oppress their own people. Here, O'odham have no civil rights. O'odham and migrants are murdered by US border agents who are never held accountable.

The second case of news distortion was in the coverage of the Southwest Weekend of Witness to End Torture. In one newspaper's coverage, both the peaceful protesters and the counter protesters were covered as if they stood on the same moral ground. However, to report this accurately as a journalist, the newspaper should have pointed out that the counter protesters screamed insults and slurs constantly.

Sierra Vista, home to Fort Huachuca's US Army Intelligence Center, made the news in recent years when the Ku Klux Klan joined with Minutemen. The Southern Poverty Law Center lists Sierra Vista as the home of a hate organization, the anti-immigrant American Border Patrol. This climate of hate, with its rancid hate speech, was obvious during the peaceful vigil, protest and walk.

Of course neither AP nor the major newspapers in the US sent reporters to cover the US torture vigil. Those present at the vigil called for an end to US torture, the closure of Guantanamo and an end to drones. Drones, unmanned aerial vehicles are now carrying out "rogue assassinations," and killing civilians.

At Fort Huachuca, five people peacefully crossed over onto the army base and were voluntarily arrested to bring attention to Fort Huachuca's longstanding role in publishing torture manuals and training soldiers who carry out torture. The production of the School of Americas torture manual was here, a fact made public by the US in 1996. Major Gen. Barbara Fast, who previously served at Fort Huachuca, was the chief of interrogations at Abu Ghraib.

During the 1970s and 1980s, tens of thousands of people in the Americas were tortured, raped and assassinated as a result of US torture training by the School of the Americas. The US kidnappings and torture continues around the world, masked with the words "secret renditions." Mercenaries, such as Blackwater, now XE, murdered with impunity. Bush and Cheney have not been held accountable for violating the Geneva Conventions.

So, for those editors and publishers who censor and distort the facts of the oppression at the border, and the United States role in ongoing torture and assassinations, the blood is also on your hands.

Video coverage of the O'odhan event and torture vigil and arrests at:
Photos and articles at Censored News
Southern Poverty Law Center's Hate Map:

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About Censored News

Censored News is published by censored journalist Brenda Norrell. A journalist for 27 years, Brenda lived on the Navajo Nation for 18 years, writing for Navajo Times, AP, USA Today, Lakota Times and other American Indian publications. After being censored and then terminated by Indian Country Today in 2006, she began the Censored Blog to document the most censored issues. She currently serves as human rights editor for the U.N. OBSERVER & International Report at the Hague and contributor to Sri Lanka Guardian, Narco News and CounterPunch. She was cohost of the 5-month Longest Walk Talk Radio across America, with Earthcycles Producer Govinda Dalton in 2008:
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