Updated: Censorship, struggling against the new McCarthyism
By Brenda Norrell
The Censored blog has been an education this year, changing the way I approach news, thanks to all of you who read and contribute to the Censored blog.
For most journalists, the news that is published comes by way of compromises with the editor and publisher. While reporters are carrying out interviews for controversial stores, they have to ask themselves: “Will they publish this?”
This all depends on the editor and publisher’s personal views and politics, along with fears of advertisers and other controlling powers that are quietly hidden behind every newspaper.
Yesterday, I drove by the building in Scottsdale, Arizona, where Tim Giago, Lakota, and the staff of Indian Country Today gave birth to a new newspaper in the summer of 1994. Giago was recently honored at the South Dakota Newspaper Hall of Fame, where his photo now joins all the white men who have been honored. During all the years that I worked for Giago, at Lakota Times and Indian Country Today, he never censored my articles. After he sold the newspaper, the situation changed.
But driving past that building, I remembered the incredible people and stories. I remembered Hopi photographer Larry Gus who went out on stories with me, and our managing editor who came down from South Dakota during those early months, Avis Little Eagle from Standing Rock. There are two stories that stand out in my mind. One was about Fred Walking Badger, environmental activist who was then missing and later found buried in the desert. The other story was Larry Gus’ photo shoot with Keith Secola in the desert. Keith, known for his “Indian Kars,” was always generous with his time. Avis Little Eagle was, and is, a light in American Indian journalism.
It was an honor to have been there with all of them.
Now, the U.S. Congress is creating new legislation to criminalize radical thought and we are all thrown back into the McCarthy Era. As the media is compromised more and more each day, the United States government, both the Bush administration and the US Congress, continues to represent the tyranny, censorship and terrorism of the Nazi regime that it claims to oppose.
But with this oppression comes the hope delivered here each day in e-mails from readers like you. Thanks to all of you who rise up in the fight against censorship and oppression.
May your holiday season bring you great joy and a celebration of the struggle for life and humanity.
Now, this just in, an example of those great e-mails. When Juan Reza, heard that Texas border columnist Jay Johnson-Castro had been terminated, here's what he wrote. His comments are published with permission:
Hi Jay! I just finished reading about your firing at the Rio Grande Guardian through Brenda Norrell’s site. With sincere and humble respect I render to you my Congratulations! I read several of your articles within the last few months, and I commend you for your steadfast, courageous reporting of critical information that the sell-out media owners and their accomplices are refusing to disseminate. I will be sending my prayers your way, that you may be strengthened even further in your resolve to provide truthful, highly ethical services to the people you really serve: God’s Children, your relatives, the poorest and most vulnerable ones. Where one is intelligently courageous for a noble purpose, others will be too. Wishing you the greatest of blessings possible, that according to the great Lakota Holy Man, Frank Fools Crow, are inner peace and Love. Juan Reza
We asked Juan Reza if he would like to share something about himself with readers. Here goes, "I’m a pitiful two-legged being seeking to daily grow my love for our Creator and our Creator’s creation and do something good for them while I’m here."
UPDATE from Juan Reza:
I sent this letter of encouragement to a courageous reporter who was just recently fired for his valiant work. He shared it with Brenda Norrell, who then asked if it would be okay to put it up on her site. At first, I was hesitant to give permission, because I know that it can lead toward something unpleasant and painful. But, I thought, as I (and so many of us) stay quiet in the fear of losing my comfort or perhaps ultimately even my earth-robe, the repression of truth and good people is growing among vicious politicians and their so-called “religious” co-horts, corporate controllers, media owners with their robotic accomplices and mercenary armed forces who think they can get away with it because not enough people are speaking out and taking action to stop them in a well-orchestrated manner. As a result, people of all sacred colors are being fired and fired upon, deported, tortured, killed by the millions through various means and children are being arrested in prisons, sexually assaulted and denied access to toys and even their parents. Horrors untold are being committed all over, and many of us are staying far too quiet and complacent, hoping perhaps that we won’t have to suffer any serious hits to our comforts, peace of mind or our bodies, not realizing clearly that what is most important to protect, our family, the children, the elderly, the women, our indigenous cultures and sacred rites and sites, Mother Earth and her life-sustaining elements (in essence our spiritual sustenance), are the ones really taking the hits because of our fearful, quiet complacency. With my own brother, Salvador Reza, and others who are walking with him putting their lives on the line in front of gun-toting KKK minute-men backed backed by a Sherriff Arpaio who is doing the dirty work for ruthless, mean-spirited, genocidal politicians that don’t have the guts to pull the triggers themselves, but only send others to do the killing, I figured it’s time for me to break down the fear that keeps the oppressors in positions to dominate. Far too many of us are falling prey to the false and cowardly belief, “there’s nothing we can do about it.” There is always something that can be done. I believe there is nothing impossible for our Creator, who is pure Love and Compassion and never gets angry – sad, but never angry. So if everything is possible for our Creator, who the heck am I to think or say “there’s nothing we can do about it.” Every human action begins as a thought. Prayer-thoughts produce energy, energy that can change things. Where one is intelligently courageous, others will also made so.You are all in my prayers.For all of my relatives, especially my Chiricahua Apache and Tarahumara Grandpas and Grandmas. I know they are still alive and that their loving prayers for us are still in effect.
Finally, for a few of my favorite all time censored articles, please see my earlier Censored blog. The articles include an interview with Buffy Sainte-Marie, an article censored for seven years, about her being blacklisted:
Another censored issue was the Lakota warriors' defense of the Badlands against museum excavations for prehistoric bones, during the summer of 2002. The struggle was censored by most newspapers except the Lakota Journal. Stronghold Table is where the Ghost Dancers were massacred after they fled the Massacre of Wounded Knee:
Before passing to the Spirit World, Tony Black Feather delivered a powerful statement on the American flag and the nation it represents, from the Stronghold:
In his own words, Tony Black Feather, Lakota:
"I tell them that the aboriginal Lakota people of this country look at this flag as a piece of red, white and blue cloth that stands for the foreign racist system that has oppressed Indigenous peoples for centuries.
"For traditional Lakota people, that piece of red, white and blue cloth stands for a system and a country that does not honor it's own word."
Black Feather, in his statement to the Working Group on Indigenous Populations, said the flag represents a nation of dishonor.
"If it stood for honor and truth, it would remember our treaties and give them the appropriate place under international law. But it doesn't. It dishonors its own word and violates its treaties, that piece of red, white and blue cloth."