Half of the Truth, Half of the Time. How the New York Times Discredited A Baltimore Demonstration.

The Page A1 story shows a burning building, attributes only violence and property destruction to “thugs” and “outsiders” and speaks only of rioters and of a police department ‘stretched thin’ by community violence. (The burning building is across town from the looting, and seems unrelated to the protests.) 

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/28/us/baltimore-freddie-gray.html

The A15 page story is more realistic, speaking of peaceful demonstrators gathering in an organized way, a group of 300 gathering to peacefully demonstrate against the injustice of a group of police and their killing an unarmed black youth whose spine was severed. The only gangs in the page A 15 story are protecting the property of black store owners from looting. There is mention of a burned car and of many residents expressing regret over property damage, while expressing understanding that the protests are necessary to stop police brutality.  The A15 story link is here:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/28/us/amid-violence-factions-and-messages-converge-in-a-weary-and-unsettled-baltimore.html

I deplore property destruction because it is a form of theft and violence and because someone innocent worked hard to create what is being destroyed. There is no acceptable excuse for looting. However, as Martin Luther King Jr. once suggested, the violence of the fed up, oppressed and victimized black poor, who are given no reasons to hope for jobs or help to survive and who are beaten down by police and imprisoned in great numbers, is understandable. It is the inversion of continual oppression to extract a ‘cost’ from the society which does not care about the oppressed. 

Nonviolent calls for change have always been seen as a threat to the establishment. ‘Threatened‘ by forces calling for change, the establishment, in this case represented by the New York Times chose to tell half-truths, otherwise known to you and I, as lies. On Page One, the protestors are portrayed as violent, thugs, arsonists, outsiders. The forces for peaceful nonviolent protest are faintly represented and the police are described as unable to contain looting. On Page Fifteen, where few people have time to read, a complete description of the peaceful and organized protests can be read. Finally, it is obvious that many more people support an end to police violence, and that they are willing to come out on the streets and demonstrate peacefully to achieve real change to how police interact with their communities. 

An Historical View of This Process Of Suppressing A Movement: The Hippies. 

For an example of how the press and media are misused to suppress any changes to our society, recall the tabloid headlines about hippies describing them as violent, drug-abusing lawless persons. During the “counterculture’s” response to the Vietnam War in protests which frightened the then Nixon administration, youth threatened to leave home, to go live in the woods, to share their possessions, foods, tools, arts,  and to love each other with respect and tolerance for their backgrounds’ differences. They believed in original goodness and sharing. They were peaceful and encouraged disillusioned and alienated youth to drop out of a culture which glorified wealth and material possessions. The hippies said, “Don’t Enlist” to a war which seemed to only benefit war industries and offered death to their peers who came home in body bags. The folks who ran these war corporations, and their peers in the auto industry and in the building trades, viewed the hippies, who wanted to recycle and to make their own clothes and fix up their own old cars, as an economic threat. The military was not going to be able to recruit soldiers if the truth about their murdering four million Vietnamese were known and if kids took the hippie route of running to Canada or declaring their opposition to any war and sitting this one out. The Republican-Democrat Noise Machine started calling these youth unpatriotic, traitors. As impoverished folks in the ghettoes were allowed to die in squalor and as millions of Vietnamese were slaughtered, the calls to American youth to “be responsible” and sign on to this madness, fell on deaf ears. In response, the Noise Machine escalated the attacks on the counter culture: called the hippies violent and drug addicts, sexually immoral, lawless, lawbreakers. Who could love them after an onslaught of media, Hollywood and tabloid attacks, suggesting that hippies would turn America into a chaotic mess? Even the spiritual leader of the antiwar movement, Martin Luther King, Jr. had been assassinated for his effective and persuasive speeches against materialism, the Vietnam war, and racism. Elimination of the hippies was a continuation of the suppression of any viable threat to the Establishment…e.g. the makers of Agent Orange and Napalm…General Motors and the auto industry….those home construction industries who wanted to build houses for cookie cutter Leave it To Beaver families. Using the paradigm of the most conservative Puritanism in our society, the media beat the drums of hate against hippies, calling them sexually promiscuous, lawless, violent, disobedient sons and daughters, and lazy (ouch). In a work oriented, Puritanical society, to call people lazy is the worst you can do to them!  

What does Page Fifteen look like for the hippies and counterculture of the 1960s-1970s? No one wrote the history of those who successfully hid away inside the American society. Many of the inventions of the movement have been co-opted by the neoliberal business establishment, like alternative energy. However, the greening of America still is restricted by corporations who have not been able to find a way to make it pay them a profit! The suppression of the counter-culture was a huge Establishment coup, and unless voices rise up to counter the most recent misinformation campaign against the black justice movement, it may well succeed in suppressing yet another movement for social justice.

Updated 4/30/2015: Eyewitnesses reported that police corralled high school students trying to ride buses home afterschool:

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/04/how-baltimore-riots-began-mondawmin-purge

Correction: The print version of the Tuesday, April 28th, 2015, article  in the NYTs,… shows police standing in front of the  CVS store which had been burned.  Not the original photo in the online version.  (The Page One article remains a work of hysteria and fear mongering.)

 References:

On the dissolution of the counterculture:  From the Guns and Butter website:  Show #91, Mae Brussell, Charles Manson & the Crushing Of The Counter-Culture. http://www.soundcloud/guns-and-butter-1

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