One of the really frustrating things about being a person who does not believe violence works is that much of the public discourse on war seems completely insane to me. At the same time, people who share my views are marginalized. Our views are not taken seriously, and consequently are not heard or acted upon, even on those fortunate occasions when we happen to be in the majority.
For example, if you bring your mind back to the days following the September 11 attacks, you may recall an eerie feeling of possibility in the country. It was a time when we had a chance to really, seriously, radically rethink our foreign policy. Nearly the whole world was on our side. 9/11 was a wonderful opportunity to wage peace, and a lot of Americans wanted to. But that never became part of the national discourse. Why not?
An article published by PressThink, an online news blog published by the journalism institute at NYU, talks about why political speech in the U.S. is so constrained and how that is now changing.
I’m not going to quote the whole article here, because you should go read it, but I’ll quote one nugget that I think may tease you into going and reading the whole thing:
Deciding what does and does not legitimately belong within the national debate is—no way around it—a political act. And yet a pervasive belief within the press is that journalists do not engage in such action, for to do so would be against their principles. As Len Downie, former editor of the Washington Post once said about why things make the front page, “We think it’s important informationally. We are not allowing ourselves to think politically.” I think he’s right. The press does not permit itself to think politically. But it does engage in political acts. Ergo, it is an unthinking actor, which is not good.
If you have been noticing this too, and wish there were something that could be done about it, I recommend the article. It might give you some much-needed hope. The good news: what we are doing here on the Pax Pac blog is part of the solution.