In 2011 Venezuela still gets a certain kind of press coverage by many in the mainstream media, as it has ever since President Hugo Chavez was elected. For the past few years, Eva Golinger has been taking a close look at how this reporting is done and who is behind it. Her work has led her beyond the media and into the world of American politics and Latin America Policy.
Joining me to discuss her work, Chavez, wikileaks, twitter, press freedom and to help give us an idea of how things are in Venezuela today, all the way from Caracas; journalist, author and attorney Eva Golinger. She blogs at Postcards from the Revolution. She is also the editor of the english language edition of Correo del Orinoco.
A vlog entry regarding how tweets from conflict zones often get repeated and then expanded or exaggerated and then at some point becomes the story.. even if it isn’t accurate. Not to say twitter should be filled with fun, creative lies, and general randomness.. I like that too. But this is specifically about situations where we are getting our information from twitter about places where we can not go or are not able to get to in a moment. Places where sometimes, even the people who are there nearby, can still get the story wrong.
Afghanistan is a country of many ethnicities, tribes and languages, which many people can explain to you if you have the time to listen. But there is one language you don’t often read about that is spoken throughout Kabul and no doubt the nation. In café’s and restaurants, over lunch and late into the night after dinner, Afghans and foreigners alike, are speaking the language of war.
The language of war consists of words connected to violence and armed conflict, both in the present and the past tense. It is made up of the saddest and most terrifying stories; about murder, kidnapping, threats, moments of extreme panic, and people who have been lost to any of these. It is spoken by those who have been here for 5 years or 5 days, spoken while passing the rice or just passing time at a friend’s house. Beyond any of this, it is spoken with an ease and regularity that makes it one of the most widely spoken and understood languages in the nation.
I find history to be one of the most important and interesting topics one can discuss, no matter how exciting or mundane. I find personal experiences to be a constant source for learning and inspiration. Yet after almost one month listening the accounts of what it was like in what terrible situation, from both participants and observers, I find myself hating history and personal experience. Unable to listen to the language of war because something about it seems so bad for everyone in the conversation.
Surely there are import lessons to be learned from discussing these topics. Surely if our nations, our fellow humans, can carry out all the terrible actions of war, then we can confront them and not be afraid to examine these events among friends. Why should the language of war be considered taboo, when hiding the truth can only serve to keep us from learning lessons and not repeating mistakes.
While I know how important testimony and understanding are, especially in the context of war or violence, I am taken aback by the language of war. I want to stop the stories. I want to turn up the music. As strange as it may seem, the more the language of war is spoken, the less meaning it has to me, the previously outspoken citizen journalist.
Over the last 4 years working in Afghanistan, Bette Dam has learned a few things. During her time embedded with the Dutch military in Uruzgan she learned that this was no way to do journalism. Researching and observing the behavior of the other international forces she learned of the counter-productive posturing and refusal to learn from the past. Moreover, as a journalist, she has learned the challenges of getting people in the west to pay attention and think critically about reports coming from Afghanistan.
As the kites flew high overhead one fine afternoon in Kabul, we sat down to discuss this and more.