Dispatches from Deena Stryker
There would appear to be little in common between a bearded fighter in the Sierra Madre and a London-trained optometrist each holding power in his respective country, but as the US pursues a new policy toward Cuba and a new administration considers how to redirect policy toward war-torn Syria, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard is facing the same reception from the US media that I would have faced had I not travelled to Fidel’s Cuba in 1963 on my French passport. (All that happened to me was that until Congress decided I could only use my US passport to return ‘home’.)
Gabbard, however, was asked on live TV [see video below] whether she was not ‘embarrassed’ to be talking to a ‘bloody dictator’, to which she answered that if a country has differences with another country the first thing to do is to talk to its leaders.
“Whatever you think about President Assad, the fact is that he is the president of Syria,” Gabbard told CNN Wednesday, defending her meeting with the Syrian president. When the opportunity arose to meet with him, I did so because I felt it’s important… if there is a possibility that we could achieve peace, and that’s exactly what we talked about,” Gabbard said.
In the belly of the beast, that view is anathema, and has been for a hundred years, starting with the Russian Revolution of 1917. If you allow a leader to explain his positions, say, by revealing the extent of poverty in his country, you might be tempted to admit that his actions were justified. Hence, to speak to ‘the enemy’ is as close to high treason as an American can get without being sent to a black site. Indeed:
“Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger spoke out against (Gabbard’s) trip on Facebook: “To say I’m disgusted would be an understatement. By meeting with the mass murderer of Syria, Bashar al-Assad, Tulsi Gabbard has ‘legitimized his dictatorship’.” A phrase heard ad nauseum by defendants of the Empire, it asserts that the US is solely tasked by humanity with determining which rulers are legitimate, and explains the MSM’s attitude toward those who refuse to tow the line.
I’ve admired a lot of women in the public arena, but Tulsi is one of several young US Congresswomen that have been breaking the mold, and I was not surprised that she undertook a perilous voyage to war-torn Syria. It was the reception she got from the press that moved me to write about her, because the book I wrote in 1965, which includes conversations with all the people at the top of the then Cuban government, most of which had been part of the Fidel’s 26th of July Movement since the beginning, could only be brought to the US public’s notice in 2016. I’m certain Tulsi never feared for her safety while she was interviewing Assad, just as I never feared for mine riding behind Fidel in a car whose floor held several machine guns. There is no point in being a journalist if you don’t trust your instincts about people and you can’t tell the difference between a ‘dictator’ and a leader who does what it takes to defend his country when it is under attack.
The same principle applies to differences in ideology, which should figure alongside the standard ‘who, what, why, where, how’ of journalism 101. (It applies doubly to those in government.) Long gone are the days when American journalists were welcomed in conflict zones by their diplomats and military; when reporters rode along with the troops, filing first-hand, unfiltered accounts of events that were taking both American and foreign lives. Most journalists who venture into Syria today are backed by organizations who tow the US government line. And as for elected representatives, we’ve all seen those embarrassing pictures of senators like John McCain or Lindsey Graham posing with ‘our’ rebels (not to mention Victoria Nuland, the cookie lady of the Maidan).
I don’t know how Tulsi managed to get to Syria (could there be an underground pro-world current in Congress?) but for her trip to be meaningful, she will have to be able to tell the American people what she heard and saw first-hand from both ordinary Syrians and their president. (She’s already doing a bit of that, albeit the media as expected are not offering coverage commensurate to the importance of her testimony.) And she will need her experiences to be fleshed out with solid background information on the country and its history, without which current reality will be almost meaningless. The historical context matters. Otherwise, the public is forced to fly blind.
Sy Hersh came out in The Intercept blasting the media for its coverage of the election. It’s time to move on and ensure Tulsi’s back.
BELOW: CNN anchor Jake Tapper does his best to torpedo Tulsi’s testimony by injecting all the lies that the MSM has spread against Syria and Assad.
Editor’s Note: Some readers have asked who the hell is this “Jake Tapper”, acting less like an interviewer and more like an inquisitor. Well, here’s the goods on this disinformer, as per Wikipedia: “Jacob Paul ‘Jake’ Tapper is an American journalist, cartoonist, and author. As of 2016, Tapper is the Chief Washington Correspondent for CNN, anchor of the CNN weekday television news show The Lead with Jake Tapper, and anchor of the CNN and CNN International Sunday morning affairs program State of the Union. In 2016, The Lead was honored with two National Headliner Awards: Best Newscast and Best Coverage of a Major News Event for the show’s coverage of the Paris terrorist attacks in 2015.” (Courtesy of Wikipedia) Tapper, 47, is an Ivy League grad (Dartmouth). Too bad all that fancy education did not teach him how to distinguish truth from lies, let alone morality.
MAIN IMAGE: Tulsi Gabbard, a woman for all seasons.
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