At the Democratic Convention last week, California and Oregon delegates interrupted former CIA Director/Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta’s speech several times with chants of “NO MORE WAR!” Then, after DNC officials dimmed the lights on the Oregon delegation, the protesters activated their flashlight apps and held their phones aloft like little Statues of Liberties to get Panetta’s attention. Panetta, also a former Congressman, OMB Director and Chief of Staff for Bill Clinton, is a highly seasoned politician, yet he seemed genuinely surprised and somewhat perplexed as to how to handle the anti-war chorus. All he could do was smile sheepishly and awkwardly soldier on through his speech. The chants also caught the rest of the delegates off guard, until they started a counter-chant of their own: “USA! USA! USA!” to drown out their opponents, and that’s when a cold chill ran down my spine.
Was I watching a rerun of the ‘04 GOP Convention when Code Pink disrupted George II’s coronation at Madison Square Garden and got drowned out by a similar neo-con infused “patriotic” roar? No. It couldn’t be. The “LIVE” caption at the bottom of my flatscreen disabused me of that notion. So I rubbed my eyes and waited patiently for Rod Serling to emerge from the woodwork to reassure us that we had indeed, entered another dimension; some parallel universe where, after 15 years of perpetual war, the Democrats shouted down anti-war protesters with hollow chants of “USA! USA! USA!” while an embodiment of the military-industrial-complex extolled the virtues of a hawkish nominee.
Nope. No Serling. This wasn’t the Twilight Zone folks. It truly was the 2016 Democratic National Convention. Wow. History was pivoting on a dime and I was watching it all go down in real time. I felt privileged. Then, my shock turned to awe as a realization swept over me: I was witnessing the conversion of the Democratic Party from a historically tacit Pentagon supporter to an openly militaristic party that shuns any form of dissent when it comes to endless war. But before I could digest this sea change, I was floored by an equally disturbing development. PBS commentators, eager to project a glossy picture of party unity after Bernie’s Clinton endorsement, were virtually SILENT on this momentous turn of events. It’s so very rare to witness a turning point in history crystallized in such dramatic fashion, and yet even on public television, and even with a media STARVED for drama, there was no analysis, no prolonged discussion and NOT ONE QUESTION fielded to Panetta during the ensuing interview regarding the embarrassment he had just suffered through, or, more importantly, the implications thereof.
When I combed through the next morning’s Washington Post (hardcopy), there was also NO MENTION of the disruption ANYWHERE in the ENTIRE NEWSPAPER (apologies if I’m wrong, but I don’t think it was covered). Democracy Now was the only news entity that devoted extensive coverage to the anti-war chant and subsequent “USA” drown-out. No surprise there.
Fast forward to Thursday night’s acceptance speech: Once again, protesters’ cries were drowned out with chants of “HILL-AR-Y, HILL-AR-Y, HILL-AR-Y,” which repeatedly interrupted the first woman nominee for President in U.S. history as Bernie supporters chanted more anti-war slogans. Again, the Orwellian media (with the exception of Fox News) was so eager to pander to Clinton, they glossed over the disruption as if we dreamed it or it never happened.
Ladies and gentlemen, this country’s establishment has moved so far right in its unquestioning support for military expansion (and expenditure), that lame-stream media just suppressed coverage of historic anti-war dissent to a surreal degree. This should all give us pause, and open our eyes to the octopus-like corporate nexus of “news” media, campaign finance, K-Street Congress, and military contractors that dominate our foreign policy discourse.