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Tue

25

Dec

2007

Censorship, struggling against the new McCarthyism
Tuesday, 25 December 2007 12:35
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."

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."
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