By Susie Day
Dear Mainstream News Media –
I’m talking to you, New York Times, Washington Post, MSNBC, CNN, and all your upstanding, highly professional conglomerate cohorts.
Thank you one and all very, very much for not covering the trial of the Kings Bay Plowshares 7.
Huh, you ask? Trial? Kings Bay? Plowshares 7? What Kings Bay Plowshares 7? WHAT trial?
Exactly. I totally appreciate your putting the kibosh on this one.
It would have been highly unprofessional if even one of you had paid any serious attention to the hackneyed, been-there story of seven geriatric Catholic Worker activists who chose April 4, 2018 – the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s assassination – to cut through a fence and enter the Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base in Georgia, where they threw bottles of their own blood onto military plaques, hammered statues of nuclear missiles, and spray-painted twee little messages like “Love One Another” on sidewalks.
Then, as if they hadn’t embarrassed themselves enough, they presented an “indictment” charging the U.S. government with crimes against peace. All because they wanted to prevent a nuclear war that could wipe out life as we know it on this planet.
I mean, seven funky old white Catholic hippies? Could there be anything more uncool? These spiritual moonbats have been carrying out turn-your-swords-into-plowshares protests for nigh onto forty years now. We’re talking over 100 actions: the sneaking, the throwing, the hammering, the spray-painting, the government-property besmirching. Followed, of course, by the lengthy prison terms.
After the verdict came down on October 24, Bill Quigley, a Plowshares’ attorney, stated that the defendants had spent two years in prayerful practice before deciding to carry out this action. Too bad God didn’t tell them to hire a PR manager first.
You’re right, Mainstream News, this story is simply not newsworthy. The fact that, after their arrest at the naval base, many of the defendants were kept in jail without bond for months before trial; the fact that the judge refused to allow arguments of necessity, justification, or international law; the fact that the base harbors at least six nuclear ballistic missile submarines, each containing 20 Trident thermonuclear weapons, any one of which, if launched, would incur 1,825 times more destruction than the atom bomb dropped on Hiroshima; the fact that all seven defendants were convicted on all charges – three felonies and one misdemeanor – these facts obviously make for awkward run-on sentences, which are very hard to tweet.
Then, when you add in the fact that these seven are well past middle age – the youngest 57; the oldest a few days away from 80 – and that they face a possible 20 years, which could amount to a death sentence in prison, you’ve got a really unsexy story there. So thanks for catching that.
Of course, Mainstream News Media, your decision not to pay any mind to this Plowshares thing goes far beyond your disinterest in these seven nerdly peace-mongers. Although you may still be confused about how to cover “climate change,” you at least have come to the realization that the prospect of nuclear annihilation – a prospect that has only increased since the first atom bombs were dropped in 1945 – has simply become OLD NEWS. Unprofessional. Too boring for words.
OK, maybe “boring” isn’t the word I’m searching for. How about “unthinkable”? “Unimaginable”? The point is, you’ve finally figured out that it’s impossible for your audience – we who buy the products you advertise – to allow nuclear holocaust into the realm of the speakable. Really, compared to witty adverts of Geico car insurance, who wants to be woke to that?
So, given that our inability to contemplate nuclear war – or accident – is something you guys want to cultivate, it’s much better that you steer us into fixating on breaking news updates like Russia-gate or the World Series or that woman who climbed into the lion exhibit at the Bronx Zoo. After all, Donald Trump, with absolute presidential authority to order a nuclear first strike, has been pissing on arms treaties and considering renewed underground testing, not to mention pursuing an overall military buildup. How much better, then, that we become lost in the exciting saga of whether or not he’ll be impeached?
I wonder how I even heard about this Kings Bay Plowshares 7 story in the first place. Oh right – it was on Democracy Now! Which, along with Counterpunch, Truthout, The Nation, and whoever-heard-of The Ithaca Voice, is one of a tiny handful of “alternative” news outlets that think outside the cashbox.
These countercultural media tend to be biased toward pinko political activism, which isn’t making anybody any money. As such, they are highly unprofessional. Unlike you, Mainstream News, they do not strive to get all the points of view. For instance, when Plowshares defendant Liz McAlister explained to Democracy Now host Amy Goodman how she and her codefendants took full responsibility for committing all of those three felonies and that one misdemeanor, McAlister quipped: “We don’t have the right to destroy God’s creation.” Amy just let that slide.
Right there, Amy could have called up just about anybody in the Trump administration, who, in a robust ratings-boost for alternative media, would have aggressively demolished McAlister’s cornball argument.
See, Amy’s problem here is one shared by all rad-lib news outlets. In informing us on such issues as racial injustice, prison abolition, or climate change, they assume that, in order for their work – as journalists or as activists – to matter, everyone has got to remain alive on Earth.
And that is so very unprofessional.
© Susie Day, 2019