Trump and Clinton: Censoring the unpalatable – John Pilger

johnpilger.com – the films and journalism of John Pilger


 

Biography

Journalist, film-maker and author, John Pilger is one of two to win British journalism’s highest award twice. For his documentary films, he has won an Emmy and a British Academy Award, a BAFTA. Among numerous other awards, he has won a Royal Television Society Best Documentary Award. His epic 1979 Cambodia Year Zero is ranked by the British Film Institute as one of the ten most important documentaries of the 20th century. His Death of a Nation, filmed secretly in East Timor, had a worldwide impact in 1994. His books include Heroes, Distant Voices, Hidden Agendas, The New Rulers of the World and Freedom Next Time. He is a recipient of Australia’s international human rights award, the Sydney Peace Prize, “for “enabling the voices of the powerless to be heard” and “for fearless challenges to censorship in any form”.

“John Pilger unearths, with steely attention to facts, the filthy truth and tells it as it is” – Harold Pinter.

“Pilger’s work has truly been a beacon of light in dark times” – Noam Chomsky.


 

A virulent if familiar censorship is about to descend on the US election campaign. As the cartoon brute, Donald Trump, seems almost certain to win the Republican Party’s nomination, Hillary Clinton is being ordained both as the “women’s candidate” and the champion of American liberalism in its heroic struggle with the Evil One.

This is drivel, of course; Hillary Clinton leaves a trail of blood and suffering around the world and a clear record of exploitation and greed in her own country. To say so, however, is becoming intolerable in the land of free speech.

The 2008 presidential campaign of Barack Obama should have alerted even the most dewy-eyed. Obama based his “hope” campaign almost entirely on the fact of an African-American aspiring to lead the land of slavery. He was also “antiwar”.

Obama was never antiwar. On the contrary, like all American presidents, he was pro-war. He had voted for George W. Bush’s funding of the slaughter in Iraq and he was planning to escalate the invasion of Afghanistan. In the weeks before he took the presidential oath, he secretly approved an Israeli assault on Gaza, the massacre known as Operation Cast Lead. He promised to close the concentration camp at Guantanamo and did not. He pledged to help make the world “free from nuclear weapons” and did the opposite.

As a new kind of marketing manager for the status quo, the unctuous Obama was an inspired choice. Even at the end of his blood-spattered presidency, with his signature drones spreading infinitely more terror and death around the world than that ignited by jihadists in Paris and Brussels, Obama is fawned on as “cool” (the Guardian).

On March 23, my article, “A World War has Begun: Break the Silence”, was published across the web. As has been my practice for years, I had syndicated it to an international network, including Truthout.com, the liberal American website. Truthout publishes some important journalism, not least Dahr Jamail’s outstanding corporate exposes.

Truthout rejected the piece because, said an editor, it had appeared on Counterpunch and had broken “guidelines”. I replied that this had never been a problem over many years and I knew of no guidelines.

My recalcitrance was then given another meaning. The article was reprieved provided I submitted to a “review” and agreed to changes and deletions made by Truthout’s “editorial committee”. The result was the softening and censoring of my criticism of Hillary Clinton, and the distancing of her from Trump. The following was cut:

“Trump is a media hate figure. That alone should arouse our scepticism. Trump’s views on migration are grotesque, but no more grotesque than David Cameron. It is not Trump who is the Great Deporter from the United States, but the Nobel
Peace Prize winner Barack Obama… The danger to the rest of us is not Trump, but Hillary Clinton. She is no maverick. She embodies the resilience and violence of a system… As presidential election day draws near, Clinton will be hailed as the first female president, regardless of her crimes and lies – just as Barack Obama was lauded as the first black president and liberals swallowed his nonsense about hope.”

The “editorial committee” clearly wanted me to water down my argument that Clinton represented a proven extreme danger to the world. Like all censorship, this was unacceptable. Maya Schenwar, who runs Truthout, wrote to me that my unwillingness to submit my work to a “process of revision” meant she had to take it off her “publication docket”. Such is the gatekeeper’s way with words.

At the root of this episode is an enduring unsayable. This is the need, the compulsion, of many liberals in the United States to embrace a leader from within a system that is demonstrably imperial and violent. Like Obama’s “hope”, Clinton’s gender is no more than a suitable facade.

This is an historical urge. In his 1859 essay On Liberty, to which modern liberals seem to pay unflagging homage, John Stuart Mill described the power of empire. “Despotism is a legitimate mode of government in dealing with barbarians,” he wrote, “provided the end be their improvement, and the means justified by actually effecting that end.” The “barbarians” were large sections of humanity of whom “implicit obedience” was required.

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johnpilger.com – the films and journalism of John Pilger

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