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Practicing peace at Pacifica

From: Carol Spooner
Date: Sun Apr 28, 2002 3:20 pm
Subject: Thoughts for your consideration

These are such beautifully expressed thoughts from Loraine Mirza -- kpfk news reporter in the early 1990's -- that I wanted to pass them on beyond the freepacifica list.


----- Original Message ----- From: Loraine Mirza
Sent: Sunday, April 28, 2002 8:31 AM

We still continue to ignore the past history and still continue along the same blind path we've been on since this who mess started.

At KPFK there tensions and a rift between the Jewish and African American communities. Instead of dealing with it, the gag order was the method used and so tensions and rifts grew more instead of dealing with it head on.

You don't need a "commisson" to deal with what is taking place in Houston. [ a recent incident at KPFT with people from one program being very harsh to the Jewish guests of the program that had just finished - ed. ] And the other extreme, a gag order, will just increase the tensions.

You need staff and involved programmers and perhaps members of the LAB to first sit down face to face and talk.

I know that's too simple but talking things out usually clears the air. It will also give the station manager, program director, and members of the LAB a chance to see first hand what the issues are and then to meet later and formulate policy for what can or cannot go on the airwaves.

Without censorship and to encourage free speech, having two opposing programs on the air is an ideal we strive for, to give the listeners the respect that they have the ability to make up their own minds. Of course a line must be drawn between free expression and hate speech. In the description of what took place in Houston, while there was definately sacasm expressed, I'm not sure if the line was actually crossed and the best way to decide that would be at such a meeting. And the programmers as they understand the Pacifca Mission itself that attempts bridge building between folks, opposes war as a means of settling differences and opens up the opportunity for those who have been deprived of a voice will allow for a variety of opinions and programs. And some of those opinions are bound to clash but that does not necessarily constitute hate speech.

Let me venture one last observation. Those of us who have strong anti zionist views have for the most part been unable to express those views on almost the entire media. At KPFK the policy had always been to remove programmers who even expressed the slightest sympathy or even just curiosity toward the Palestinian view. Frank Greenwood, a long time progressive African American programmer at KPFK was purged from the airwaves after interviewing a Palestinian on his show in the early 70's. "Middle East in Focus" began as an Israeli program, and did not even begin to include Arab voices until Judith Gabriel took the program over and began to gradually balance it with both voices.

Cory Dubin while news director quit on the air because of intense pressure on him not to report anything negative or critical about Israeli actions and policies. In 1983 the news department was mandadted NOT to report on the Israeli actions during the invasion in Lebanon.

I know even in the early 90's when I arrived I was NOT treated like everyone else at the station simply because I was an openly practicing Muslim. And I witnessed first hand how much pressure the news department was constantly under to not report events that made Israel look bad. During my entire time at KPFK we were also under a strict gag rule not to report any stories or use any interviews that dealt with Jewish/African American tensions. I am talking factual reporting, not opinions. I was also bypassed for a stipened to cover the pre-gulf war, though I was the only one who applied who had first hand in-the-trenches experience in the region. Indeed they gave the stipened to a Jewish person, not only from outside the station but who had neither technical know-how (so they hired an additional person to cover the lack of producing and techical skills) nor had he ever been anywhere near the Middle East, he had no knowledge about it at all.

Now having said all this, suddenly for the first time in my memory, and I'm a grandmother so it's a LONG memory over decades, we are hearing very critical views and coverage about what is taking place in Isreal, on the Pacifica airwaves. For those who us who have been on the end of the censorship stick for so many years, it's like a rush of fresh air. But I am sure for those who have been accostomed to have only their spin aired, the recent surge of other views, must be a big shock and must be very disconcerting.

I do hope, now that our views are being aired though, they we do not ger carried away and cross the line and that we too, hold the spirit of the Pacifica Mission dear, and seek ways to start healing and a bridge building process that will bring folks closer together and not divide us further.

I hope I have expressed myself in a way that will not deepen the rifts. But I do need to be brutally honest, yet at the same time grasp at any straws that start the process of accepting differences witout the traditional hostilities.


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