We begin to take for granted that which has always been the cornerstone of our lives, and in America, we always assume access and protection under the universal and all-inclusive privilege of what we consider to be the most basic human rights while… in this present moment in America… those same rights are daily challenged by powerful forces at work to undermine them. Not all at once, but just a little bite here, a little bite there. Not in a comprehensive, all-out assault on our freedoms, a thing you can grab hold of and fight, but in the small, unnoticeable steps that mark the progress of the inevitable, movement so slight we hardly notice… until one day we wake up, notice the lack of something that was always there for us before and wonder, “What the hell happened?”
Fascism will not overtake us when we are aware of its presence, but when it works behind the scenes we hardly even notice its advance. It’s a deadly game of Simon Says, creeping up behind us by degree. Freedom of speech, as it is exercised in the freedoms of the press that we take for granted, is one of those metaphorical, but no less substantial cornerstones on which all other liberty depends. Knowledge is power and when the people are uninformed, they are doomed to be exploited.
Americans tend to disregard events overseas… as though, somehow, events in other nations do not concern us. We are, after all, “America!!” and we often assume that we set the course for all the world. Nonetheless, events in other nations have… historically and significantly… affected Americans in ways that have forever altered our trajectory as a people.
“Surely,” you may think, “the troubles of one unfortunate journalist in the Philippines, a tiny, insignificant nation… all the way on the other side of the planet from Pittsburgh… cannot possibly affect me.”
You would be wrong.
We have a President who is acutely aware of the power and methods used to advantage by the leader of that tiny, insignificant nation, methods that propelled him to a position of virtually unchallenged authority, methods that align him with historical tyrants of mythical proportions. Donald Trump has even expressed a profound and public admiration for the Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, just as he has expressed admiration for and affinity with the likes of Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un.
Journalists in America and worldwide should view the successful prosecution of a journalist for doing her job in the Philippines with the utmost alarm. More specifically and especially here in America, where our President, the one man holding the highest position of authority, has proven himself to be a profoundly antagonistic critic of journalists, going so far as to call them collectively, “the enemy of the people” jounalists should decry this abuse of human rights in the Philippines and its assault on the freedom of the press… not only journalists, but all Americans as well. We claim that our nation is served by a government of, for, and by the people and any nation that even pretends to be governed by democratic processes cannot possibly survive an assault on the free press that informs it.
Pay attention. Read this article from James Risen at the Intercept… Maria Ressa’s Libel Conviction Is a Blow to Press Freedom