Report on Amy Goodman's speech at the Seattle Green Festival

Sunday afternoon I heard Amy Goodman and Dennis Kucinich speak at Seattle Green Festival. Both speakers received standing ovations. This article covers Amy Goodman’s speech.

Here’s my photo of her during the book signing that followed the speech.

Amy Goodman at Seattle Green Festival, May 22, 2011

Goodman spoke about her book “Breaking the Sound Barrier” — the power of independent journalism.

I couldn’t believe how fast she spoke. Either her mind is super-fast or she’d rehearsed the speech numerous times before. Or both.

She told of driving through drenching rain to a commencement address at the University of Vermont Law School. And she spoke of the Mississippi River flooding. The point: global climate change. She said that TV weather forecasters (“meteorologists”) should be talking about global climate change. But the sponsors wouldn’t like it, and conservatives would complain. The American Meteorological Association should deny certification to forecasters who fail to state the facts.

She spoke of compost toilets and platinum certification. The NW US is a trendsetter in building a sustainable planet.

We need solar energy — proven by four billion years of solar heating of the earth.

The University of Vermont Law School deserves accolades because they refuse to allow military recruiters on campus until Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is actually repealed. (It’s still in the process.) Their refusal is causing the school to lose increasing amounts of government funding.

Vermont was the first state to pass a same sex civil union law. A GOP governor signed it.

A 12 year old girl who loves her moms testified in favor of a gay marriage bill in Vermont. Her testimony swayed the legislators, who overrode the governor’s veto.

As Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Vermont challenged the Yankee nuclear power plant, whose design is close to that of the Fukushima plant that failed in Japan. The challenge may be appealed to the Supreme Court.

Vermont will be the first single-payer state. (Loud applause.)

Goodman told a story of a WW II journalist who witnessed the horrors of the aftermath of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagaski: “atomic plague” in which skin fell off, etc. The War Department (more honest name than the Defense Department) funded a New York Times journalist, William Lawrence (?), who whitewashed the story of the bombings and received a Pulitzer Price for his distortions. Goodman petitioned the Pulitzer committee to withdraw the prize.

Goodman told a harrowing story of journalists being arrested and mistreated at the 2008 GOP Convention. She was on the convention floor and heard there was trouble outside. There was a protest (led by brave US soldiers who marched in uniform). A couple of journalists had been detained. When she went there, she showed her press credentials and asked for the release of the journalists. She was promptly handcuffed and arrested. Secret Service agents came and tore off her press credentials. A couple of journalists were bloodied. One was dragged face down by her legs, having had a policeman’s foot on his or her back. Another was thrown against the wall and kicked in the chest. More than forty reporters were arrested, she said.

“Money is drowning the political system”

There is “static” (distortion) in the media: a veil of deception and lies.

We need a media that covers power, not one that provides cover for power.

We need the Fourth Estate, not one that is For the State.

The US has supported despots. Mubarak wore a coat of armor manufactured in the US.

In Egypt, the government made a fatal mistake: turning off the Internet. That forced people into the street, leading to the Arab Spring revolution there. US companies collaborated in turning off the Internet and in providing “deep packet” technology to allow authorities to track dissidents.

We need an American Spring (parallel to the Arab Spring).

The media can be the greatest force for peace if the media is independent.

Bottom-up journalism is trickle-up journalism.

Democracy is a messy thing and it is our job to cover the record. We shouldn’t have to get a record (arrested) to cover the record.

She later spoke with the police about the mistreatment. The police suggested embedding journalists. But that introduces bias, as it does during war.

Massey Energy killed 29 workers, because they violated rules. See here.

The deficits of 45 states could be paid for by the cost of one year of the war in Afghanistan.

As Eisenhower said: beware the military-industrial complex.

Peace groups and progressives thought they deserve credit for bringing President Obama to power. But Obama has brought us more war. Goodman said she spoke with Harry Belafonte, who recalled that FDR had told him “Make me do it!” The same is true of Obama, of course. He’s the supreme community organizer. “Power concedes to nothing without a demand. It never has and never will.”

Goodman told a story of some Christian Germans, a couple, who refused to be silent about the mistreatment of Jews during the Nazi era. The couple distributed anonymous literature on the streets advertizing the truth about what was happening. They paid with their lives. They were beheaded. We need a Hippocratic Oath of media; “We will not be silent!”

Final note: there were lots of local businesses there hawking their (green) products. An interesting one is Go Green Cemeteries, which promotes cremations (not burials) and an online, virtual memorial. Coffins and land and embalming are environmentally expensive. Modern crematoriums catch toxins. I asked them how long they’ve been in business. They said they started last Friday! “GoGreenCemetery is an alternative to traditional, in-ground burial. We are an eco-friendly, online alternative that allows you to be connected to your loved ones wherever and whenever you need.” Clever idea.

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