Hold It All

Category: Journalists

Is Murdered Journalist Anna Politkovskaya’s “A Russian Diary” Only Relevant to Russians?

Anna Politkovskaya, A Russian Diary:
A Journalist’s Final Account of Life, Corruption, and Death in Putin’s Russia

Random House, 2007

… the Russian people gave its consent. Nobody stood up. There were no demonstrations, mass protests, acts of civil disobedience. The electorate took it lying down and agreed to live, not only without Yavlinsky, but without democracy. 16

Our society is sick. Most people are suffering from the disease of paternalism, which is why Putin gets away with everything, why he is possible in Russia. 71

The Russia tradition is one of an inability to plan and see through the sheer hard work of systematic opposition. If we are going to do anything, it has to be something we can do on the spot, here and now, after which life will be sorted. As that isn’t the way things work, life doesn’t get sorted. 121-122

This whole system of thieving judges, rigged elections, presidents who have only contempt for the needs of their people, can operate only if nobody protests. That is the Kremlin’s secret weapon and the most striking feature of life in Russia today. … We have emerged from socialism, as thoroughly self-centered people. 124-125 Read the rest of this entry »

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Raising the Alarm, Or Not

I just finished the book Witness: Lessons from Elie Wiesel’s Classroom  by Ariel Burger and found this interview segment on Wiesel and Palestinian Rights.

Burger quotes Wiesel as follows, which reminds  me of Israeli journalists Gideon Levy and Amira Hass– “The ones who recognize the coming of evil, of oppression, are often seen as madmen. They are attuned to a reality that most people do not see, to a vision of the world without hatred, a messianic vision. They live for this vision, and they are so sensitive to whatever threatens it that, unlike others, they react immediately. They are usually the first to raise the alarm.”

 

Share the Wealth 2018

Thanks to my/our friends–those who shared with us, those who hosted, and those who came, opened, and listened. Like my student Anlin, I’m one of the richest people around.

Harvest in Occupied Palestine: Lea Koesterer

My Time in the Philippines:  Hanna Suek

Spiritual Questions, Faith Journeys, and Religious Identities: Savannah Sisk

Ramadan and the Experience of Patience: Ayesha Akhtar

Visions of Social Work: Some Food for Thought—Ashaki Jackson Read the rest of this entry »

Share the Wealth with Alee Quick: How a Small Newspaper Is Staying Committed to Watchdog Journalism

I’m Alee Quick, local news editor for The Southern Illinoisan, a regional newspaper based in Carbondale. We cover Southern Illinois from Missouri to Kentucky, and down to the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. With four reporters.

I will talk about how my small newsroom is staying dedicated to providing strong, local coverage in an era of layoffs and fiscal cuts. Our newsroom has particularly focused on investigative and watchdog journalism with a mission to create positive change in our community. I’ll let you know how that’s going for us. I will also discuss how you can support local journalism now … and why it’s important to do so.

Join us
Sunday 9 December
Potluck dinner begins at 6:00 p.m.
Alee begins sharing at 6:45
At the home of
Laurie and Marlon Fields
1016 Active Drive
Creve Coeur
63146

For Friends in NYC

I think you might appreciate Intractable Woman–a few years ago, I read any book of Anna Politkovskaya I could find translated into English.

Giving No Peace to Those in the Country Who Are Violating All the Laws of Truth  

She represented the honor and conscience of Russia, and probably nobody will ever know the source of her fanatical courage and love of the work she was doing.

— Liza Umarova, Chechen singer

 

Colleagues helped put together the volume, Is Journalist Worth Dying For? about the intrepid Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya, assassinated in 2006.  The book contains writings from the last years of her life as well as stirring testimonies by those who knew her and respected her work.

For years she’d written about the horrors in Chechnya, which earned her the denunciation you’d expect from her own government.  From Tolstoy to Solzhenitsyn, such dissidents are ever a thorn in the side of Russian power, which thinks  it is, or should be, worthy only of praise.

Here is a small sample of her voice…

I have never sought my present pariah status and it make me feel like a beached dolphin. I am no political infighter. 

I will not go into the other joys of the path I have chosen: the poisoning, the arrest, the embanking by mail and over the Internet, the telephoned death threats. The main thing is to get on with my job, to describe the life I see, to receive visitors every day in our newspaper’s offices who have nowhere else to bring their troubles, because the Kremlin finds they stories off-message. The only place they can be aired is in our newspaper, Novaya gazeta.

What am I guilty of? I have merely reported what I witnessed, nothing but the truth.    [6]

Believe me, there is nothing more hateful than, in your own country, to feel that you are a target for shooting practice for parasites living it up, eating and drinking at your—a taxpayer’s—expense. And then they have the gall to denigrate you. [17] Read the rest of this entry »

Alexander Cockburn on Edward Said

Only last week did I learn that Alex Cockburn had a book that came out in 2013, A Colossal Wreck. Earlier today I was reading entries from 2003, and came across this tribute to Edward Said.  Here’s an excerpt, with reference to Christopher Hitchens (Andrew Ivers, take a peek): “He never lost the capacity to be wounded by the treachery and opportunism of supposed friends. A few weeks ago he called to ask whether I had read a particularly stupid attack on him by his very old friend Christopher Hitchens in the Atlantic Monthly. He described with pained sarcasm a phone call in which Hitchens had presumably tried to square his own conscience by advertising to Edward the impending assault. I asked Edward why he was surprised, and indeed why he cared. But he was surprised and he did care. His skin was so, so thin, I think because he knew that as long as he lived, as long as he marched onward as a proud, unapologetic and vociferous Palestinian, there would be some enemy on the next housetop down the street eager to pour sewage on his head.”

 

Anna

It is we who are responsible for Putin’s policies, we first and foremost, not Putin. The fact that our reactions to him and his cynical manipulation of Russia have been confined to gossiping in the kitchen has enabled him to do all the things he had done in the past four years. Society has shown limitless apathy, and this is what has given Putin the indulgence he requires.
–Anna Politkovskaya, Putin’s Russia

For a profile of the Russian journalist, see Anna Politkovskaya: A double-edged legacy.

Writing for the Future

In winter-spring of 2015 I read every book I could find in English translation of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya.  She’s another writer who would be at home in the world of Kafka’s Axe (“But we need the books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us.”)

The following passages from 2001’s A Dirty War: A Russia Reporter in Chechnya deal with the Russian government’s war-making, its victims, the citizenry, the military,, the impunity of the powerful, and the profits for the greedy.  Come to think of it, Politkovskaya’s work may spark recognition in the alert U.S. reader about matters close to home…

These direct and unsophisticated  villagers are infinitely wiser and more principled than all of our Moscow politicians put together, no matter how many advisers crowd round them.  30  The present catastrophe in Daghestan has once again shown that ordinary people are a hundred times better and purer than our authorities. 33

The regime stresses that it has taken a decision to begin the war, but accepts no responsibility for the consequences. They owe us nothing, we owe them everything. 47

I thought how senseless everything happening here was. If you look at it from the State’s point of view, why scatter a vast number of mines around the city and receive in return an astronomic growth in the number of disabled people, who require tons of medicine, artificial limbs, and so on? … the reality is that the inhabitants of Grozny have been sentenced to this fate. Evidently, the ultimate aim is to ensure that as many people in the city as possible are either left without legs—or dead. Perhaps this is a new stage in the “anti-terrorist operation”, an unhurried punitive mission directed against one ethnic community, which now requires hardly any more ammunition, just the patience to wait for the inevitable outcome. 218-291 Read the rest of this entry »

“I Denounce the US Government’s Threats of War against North Korea” by Andrew Wimmer

Andrew shared this early this morning, and I  want to share it with others…

Dear Friends,

Our first obligation in the face of US war threats is to speak a word of truth, wherever we go and to whomever we meet.

With regard to North Korea, I denounce the threats of war coming from the US government.  They are not a tough stance in the face of an intractable situation.  They are just the opposite.  They are the latest and most egregious in a series of unilateral moves by the US government to reject and move away from a diplomatic solution.

Donald Trump and the US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, have both made overt threats of military action against North Korea within the past two days.  I denounce them both.  Haley’s appearance at the UN yesterday was not only a study in mendacity but a reckless and immoral affront to humanity.  “We will not repeat the inadequate approaches of the past that have brought us to this dark day,” she said while attempting to rally the world to further economic sanctions against North Korea while making overt threats of war.

The media has begun its “measured analysis” that excludes diplomacy and focuses on the known disastrous consequences of the various military options.  This piece from the Guardian is a prime example.   Read the rest of this entry »