DEAR BLAIR JACKSON,
An Occupy Your Mind column starting with a Bill O’Reilly quote? Progressive minds, not to mention precious column space, occupied by the rants of one of the extreme right’s most prominent henchmen?
What is this, an attempt at persuading O’Reilly or his followers that you are not a socialist? You gotta be kidding. O’Reilly and his ilk are not taking part in a debate of any kind, in which facts and arguments have any currency. They are engaged in propaganda. By quoting and discussing their straw man arguments and other lies and distortions, all you are doing is giving them legitimacy they don’t deserve. This column is another stark example of American liberals’ and progressives’ self-defeating tendency to allow the extreme right to frame the debate and dominate the public discourse.
The Occupy Wall Street movement has done the right thing: they have started framing the debate on their own terms — “We are the 99%!”, instead of allowing the 1 percent to push their agenda on the whole country. Polls show that they are in fact expressing ideas that vast majorities of Americans share:66 percent of the public say that wealth is not fairly distributed, two-thirds consistently say that the rich are not paying their fair share in taxes, 70 percent say that Congressional Republicans favor the rich, 80 percent say that Wall Street and large corporations have too much political influence, and so on and so on (http://arkansasmediawatch.wordpress.com/2011/11/07/msm-vs-ow/). OWS have put the corporate elites, the1 percent and their enablers on the defensive. Finally, the voices of two thirds of the people are starting to be heard — voices that have hitherto been drowned out in the mainstream media and left virtually without representation in Congress.
It seems that the Free Weekly hasn’t gotten the memo yet: Stop wasting your time responding to the same tired old right wing talking points! End the occupation of the public discourse space by Fox News and other corporate shills! Expel O’Reilly from your mind! Put out your own vision!
Arkansas Media Watch
To whom it may concern:
Thank you for your response to the “Occupy Your Mind” column.
Yes, I agree that Bill O’Reilly is the type of far right extremist who generally discredits himself within his extremity. However, I think it important to confront the “propaganda” with a rational, sincere voice. Opponents to the movement have and will continue to manipulate the residual fears this country has in response to Marxist economics; and even if Bill O’Reilly is an extremist, the discomfort people have with socialism is still very mainstream. I will not ignore any media attempts to enflame an inherent fear of the America people. I will not ignore any attempts to delegitimize the movement in agross misrepresentation.
Quoting and discussing his views is, possibly, ineffectual. Perhaps no one who reads the Free Weekly thinks O’Reilly is a legitimate source of news. I certainly don’t. However, there are millions of Americans who do. At the very least, it is a reminder that a mainstream presence still exists that is misleading the American people. O’Reilly may prove a poor member of the news media, but it’s important to remember that he is an influential commentator. He’s paid to have an opinion, not to offer a balanced representation of the nation’s events.
If I were to offer only my opinion, how much better would I be than him? Whose propaganda would I be spreading? To become strong within our views we must have a response to our opponents. To acknowledge opposition is to present a contrast of ideologies, an exercise I believe to be healthy when forming opinions and views that can realistically make change.
To me, OWS is the beginning of a dialogue that has the potential to change the world. My “precious” column space is going to be dedicated to OWS indefinitely.