October 22, 2003
Date: Tue, 21 Oct 2003 22:16:58 -0500
From: George Salzman <email@example.com>
BCC: (entire general list)
Oaxaca, Tuesday, October 21, 2003 (date of original letter)
Here we go once again. Though many of you already know me, I'm writing with the hope that this note will also reach many people who don't know me.
Nancy has a way with words. She said to me, during the past year or two, "You're the biggest fucking cheapskate I ever met." It's true. I watch my expenses like a hawk circling over a barnyard in the grey pre-dawn light of early morning, as intent on holding down my living costs as the hawk is in holding down the size of the chicken population. An eagle-eyed product of my youth during the Great Depression, with an independent streak of miserliness thrown in.
So what's this all about? Well, I want to tell you why I've sent $1,000 to support the work of Al Giordano, tax-exempt of course, and am ready to do it again each of the next two years.
Who's Al Giordano, and who am I? I'll start with him.
Alberto Giordano is the most inspiring person I've met in recent years, maybe ever, and I'm 78, so I've had a little experience. The on-line investigative reporting of his NarcoNews website burst like a supernova of no-punches-pulled journalism -- what he justifiably calls authentic journalism -- in the sky of América latina. Three and a half years ago he started with his laptop, telling the truth about the U.S. 'War Against Drugs', exposing that dirty war of Washington for what it was, and is, a war against the mostly poor people south of the Rio Grande. And telling the truth about the dirty reporting of mainstream media. He laid it all out, no holds barred, and scooped them all on the real news, again and again. And he had fun doing it.
The New York Times was eating crow the day after it editorially welcomed Pedro Carmona, the wealthy coup-installed dictator-for-a-day of Venezuela in early April, 2002. Al had previously reported what was really going on, hidden and lied about in mainstream pseudo-coverage. He told how the poor people were coming down from the hills to seize back their country from 'los golpistas' - the military engaged in the coup. He also beat a legal attack against NarcoNews by a major drug money profiteer, the billionaire owner of the privatized former Bank of Mexico, a stunning legal victory for the first amendment rights of all on-line journalists. For more about Al, a good place to start is his interview by the San Francisco Independent Media Center on Dec 20, 2002, at http://sf.indymedia.org/news/2002/12/1552703.php. It's also posted at http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/Strate/Discus/2002-12-20Giordano.htm
So what's the deal? On October 18 Narco News put out its final report. It can't keep going as is. Al explains why in the Closing Statement, at http://narconews.com/Issue31/article886.html -- mainly money and danger to the reporters. That's a great blow to all the segments of civil society that are working to improve the deplorable conditions under which the majority of the Western Hemisphere's people are forced to live. We need NarcoNews. We need to know the truth. We need to counter the false perceptions of reality put out by corporate media. We have a 'right' to know, but we can only gain that 'right' through our own efforts, and those of a robust, broad-based grassroots movement of authentic journalism, like Al practiced, and, at least as important, very successfully promoted by aiding and abetting and inspiring a whole school of young journalists. And he has inspired, I'm sure, a whole school of old farts like me, too.
So who am I? Who is this Mr. Pinch Peso - the Mexican peso, that is - who's ready to make a thousand dollar per year commitment for another two years towards the work of Al Giordano?
I'm a still-rebellious but now retired professor emeritus of physics whose obsession is trying to change history so that the truth of Einstein's assertion, "We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if mankind is to survive" will not be borne out because of human failure to think critically about the crucial issues for survival.
Yes, I am obsessed, no doubt about it. I believe the achievement, for all the world's people, of humane, sustainable survival is achievable and is the preeminent issue we all ought to be grappling with. To see where I'm coming from, a good window is probably a series of essays I'm writing. They reveal me. The ninth one, titled "Out of the Prison!", is framed largely on the basis of the quote from which Einstein's ominous warning, which I think is justified, is taken. That essay is at http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/Grass/Infra-9.htm.
That's it. I'm both frugal to a fault on personal expenses (Don't throw those leftover beans away, Nancy! I'll eat them.) and convinced that so-called civilization is a dead end. And I don't want humanity to perish prematurely, above all by its own hand. If a supervolcano under Yellowstone blows, we can do nothing about it. If not, then maybe we can continue until the sun becomes a red giant. We can't alter the cosmos, but we can alter our own society's destructiveness.
We need to know reality, and then we need to change it. The whole global grassroots communications infrastructure is crucial for our - this is Paulo Freire's word for it - conscientização - our becoming fully conscious of the reality in which we live. Al Giordano and his dynamite associates have been a major sparkplug in developing this infrastructure, and could be again, once the wherewithal were available. If we could get it together and come up with, say, a commitment of 100,000 per year for three years, I'm pretty damn sure Al and Luís Gomez and Dan Feder would be strongly tempted to revive NarcoNews and keep doing what they obviously love doing, and are so successful at. After all, they want satisfaction out of life too, and their commitment to changing this world for the better is beyond questioning.
It's time for all of us who have been better informed by Narco News to show these guys that there is real support out here, not just sympathy and words of encouragement, important though those are. Reading Narco News' closing statement, it's clear they don't see enough commitment by us. How can we expect them to continue carrying on with 'the landlord incessantly knocking at the door', without any reliable backup support?
I must know at least a hundred people who could, if they chose, do the same thing I'm doing without it having any significant impact on their standard of living. And many others who could make smaller commitments. There are 879 people currently on my mailing list. So, let's do it. Let's get Narco News back in the fight for the hearts and minds of our fellow Americans, and all Americanos and Americanas Latinos.
Let's just do it! Here's how. Send your contribution for 2004 and your pledge for 2005 and 2006 [see note in blue for updated information]
with the memorandum, For the work of Al Giordano
BY NOW (September 10, 2005) Narco News has been back up and doing its stuff for a good year and a half! To support it financially, and its associated and crucially important School of Authentic Journalism, updated information is at http://www.authenticjournalism.org.
I'd love to see NarcoNews back on line in time to report on the 10th anniversary celebration in Chiapas of the Zapatista uprising there at midnight in the first moments of 1994.
Note added, Oct 26, 2003: Probably the best way to follow this campaign is on Al's weblog, Big, Left, Outside, at http://www.bigleftoutside.com/. Conservatively speaking, I would say Al's about 100 times faster than I am.
from this "mass" mailing list, just let me know.
All comments, corrections, criticisms are welcome.
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