Wednesday, May 18, 2005

A few brief remarks about George Galloway's senate testimony

Hopefully anyone who reads this will have seen the extended clips of this amazing event on the web, as I did. George Galloway is a fiery Scottish MP who speaks his piece plainly and well. He spoke to the depravity and dishonesty of our actions in Iraq from the Gulf War to the present. The senators brought him there as part of their dog and pony show about the oil for food "scandal." They intended to pillory him for his opposition to the current war, and somehow tie it to the supposed scandal, and got more than they bargained for. It was one of these electrifying moments you don't often see in public discourse. A breath of fresh air. I think for people who saw it, it may have been kind of like Joseph Welch before the McCarthy subcommittee. It was like watching someone turn on a bright light in a room full of cockroaches. Most of them froze, though there was some scurrying in the corners. Senator Coleman looked slightly paralyzed, seemingly unable to believe that anyone could dare to talk this way.

The difference between this and and Army McCarthy hearings is that everyone in America who had a television saw that Joseph Welch spoke simple and obvious truth, and that McCarthy was a bully.

Galloway, likewise, spoke simple and obvious truths, and dealt easily with the feeble attempts at bullying by the committee. But most people in this country, now, thanks to the way TV news is done these days, are not going to get to see it.

I went to the BBC on the web and watched every word of his testimony, from beginning to end, roughly 25 minutes long, I think, available courtesy of the British version of TV news.

Then I went to Fox News, on actual cable television, not the web, and watched their reportage of the same event. Now I don't usually watch Fox News, and so some people may find my amazement at their dishonesty naive and laughable. But I was actually dumbfounded. They had a few disconnected seconds of Galloway's words. They devoted most of their reportage to discredited accusations against Galloway. The longest segment where we actually got to see or hear Galloway came after a claim (which Galloway had refuted eloquently) that Saddam had paid Galloway millions of dollars to speak up on Saddam's behalf. So then Fox takes a moment of Galloway's attack on the morality of the war, and appends it to the previous accusation, so it sounds like Galloway, here and now, unrepentently, is speaking up again for Saddam, as he, by implication, was paid to do.

The dishonesty of it was just incredible.

This sort of thing makes me dispair for public discourse in this country. The web may be our only real hope. If it were not for that I would have had _no idea_ what Galloway said, or how definitively he said it. Which means, for those of us--namely most of the people of the United States--who do not go to the trouble to look up the extended remarks of Mr. Galloway on the web and watch them there, as far as they know it was just another day of wrangling before a senate committee.

Sigh. I think I need to go write about birdwatching for a while.

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