To Comfort The Afflicted
And Afflict The Comfortable

To Comfort The Afflicted And Afflict The Comfortable

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Observercast

Clearing Out The Closet

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BY RICHARD L. FRICKER

RichardFricker-2From all indications the earth has yet again made a complete orbit around its nearest star without any, as yet, noticeable complications. A shout out for the third rock!

Generally the passing year is portrayed as an old man limping into the sunset as a sprite-full youngster scurries to claim the new calendar. It may be more appropriate to view 2013 as a weary yeoman, escorted into the pantheon of years past by pages named success and failure, hope and despair, peace and war, love and hate, good and evil.

And, after being seated at history’s table to await evaluation, he turns to the assembled annuals saying, “You won’t believe what they made me do.”

Regardless, 2014 is upon us: it is time for a clearing of the closet. Closet cleaning often times includes taking care of old and sometimes forgotten business.

In this case the pending business is books. Among the plethora of good intentions flowing from the keyboard the reviews of these books have failed to make the journey to completion.

Lest 2013 complete its orbit unfulfilled:

TERRORISM TV: Popular Entertainment in Post-9/11 America, Stacy Takacs, University Press of Kansas, 2012

Stacy Takacs is a member of the American Studies faculty at Oklahoma State University. This is a landmark work about the media based post 9/11 American culture we created for ourselves.

Takacs provides a detailed examination of how the often described and scorned “liberal media” not only did not oppose post 9/11 military actions but often times embraced such tactics for fear of appearing un-American or unpatriotic.

But Takacs goes further. While “media” is often used to designate news services she explores the entire electronic media, news and entertainment. As she peels back the layers of “entertainment” she slowly and articulately exposes an industry feeding and sometimes promoting fear and prejudice.

But this is not a media bashing endeavor. Terrorism TV was undertaken as an academic work examining entertainment TV as a part of “us.”

While proponents and opponents of the various news outlets may feel there is a liberal or conservative bias, the entertainment factor in the influence of public opinion is seldom if ever examined. Takacs has provided that examination in a clear and concise manner.

In 1975 Australian journalist Phillip Knightley published The First Casualty. This was an examination of media coverage of the Vietnam war. His book won the Overseas Book Award that year.

His title was based on a comment made by Sen. Hiram Johnson, R-CA, on the floor of the Senate in 1918: “When war comes the first casualty is truth.”

Others have said the original observer of the phenomenon was the Greek poet Aeschylus [525 BC-456BC] indicating the stability of truth in war time is not a new problem.

In any event Takacs’ Terrorism TV is the “First Casualty” of the 9/11 generation and a must read for anyone who wants to know how we got here.

SWIM AGAINST THE CURRENT: Even a Dead Fish Can Go with the Flow, Jim Hightower with Susan DeMarco, John Wiley & Sons, 2008

Jim Hightower is a native Texan, populist, political philosopher and, according to some, sage. Hightower was the national campaign manager for former Oklahoma Sen. Fred Harris in his bid for president.

Later he wrote for the Texas Observer and was elected Texas Agricultural Commissioner. His nationally syndicated column appears regularly in The Observer and at okobserver.org.

During his tenure in office he promoted hemp cultivation, noting the U.S. was the world’s largest hemp consumer, but was required to import hemp from Canada and China because of laws enacted as part of the “War on Drugs.”

He was defeated for re-election by Rick Perry, current Texas governor.

Swim Against the Current is a primer on community activism. Hightower offers examples from across the country where community groups have successfully taken control of their own lives in the face of political and corporate opposition.

Community and citizen activism has been the mainstay of Hightower’s philosophy. His book offers a road map to forming community banks, food banks, agricultural co-ops and housing.

Swim Against the Current also offers contact information of successful efforts. Each chapter is a lesson in how ordinary people have succeeded with little more than willpower in the face of well-financed foes.

His opposition to the status quo is well know as are his Texas political witticisms: “The water won’t clear up until we get the hogs out of the creek.”

His website www.hightowerlowdown.org offers daily updates of his column and radio broadcasts.

His motto, if in fact he has one, is encapsulated in the title of his 1997 book, There’s Nothing in the Middle of the Road but Yellow Lines and Dead Armadillos.

Hightower is always a good and instructive read.

So, the closet is slightly cleared and it’s time to welcome 2014. With Congress returning, legislatures convening around the country and the off year elections even now gaining steam, 2014 will be busy, perhaps even now casting an envious eye toward the pantheon of history.

Richard L. Fricker lives in Tulsa, OK and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer. His latest book, The Last Day of the War, is available at https://www.createspace.com/3804081 or at www.richardfricker.com.

 

Arnold Hamilton
Arnold Hamilton
Arnold Hamilton became editor of The Observer in September 2006. Previously, he served nearly two decades as the Dallas Morning News’ Oklahoma Bureau chief. He also covered government and politics for the San Jose Mercury News, the Dallas Times Herald, the Tulsa Tribune and the Oklahoma Journal.