(MPN) — Caitlin Johnstone asserts that “[t]he most significant political moment in the U.S. since 9/11 and its aftermath was when liberal institutions decided that Trump’s 2016 election wasn’t a failure of status quo politics but a failure of information control.” Since Trump’s election, information control contributes to why those critical of Democrats are called Trump sympathizers. Journalist Paul Street epitomizes this tendency, seeming to speak for many who equate any criticism of Democrats with support for Trump and his policies. To the extent that this attitude serves to obstruct political dialogue and struggle, it does not serve us well — especially in these dark times, when we must pull our forces together to overcome the challenges we face.
Street’s CounterPunch article, “Glenn Greenwald is Not Your Misunderstood Left Comrade,” obstructs political dialogue and struggle. He gives no substantive rebuttal to a Greenwald article that declares “grotesque” the sight of “masked servants and unmasked elite at the New York Met Gala.” In a classic ad hominem attack, since Street couldn’t summon up an intelligent response, he just hurled insults. Sadly, this is what currently passes for political debate.
Compasses, nautical and political, are known to stop working in the vicinity of a strong electro-magnet. What has happened to our political compass? Street declares, “Glenn Greenwald is not a man of ‘the Left’ (or whatever’s left of ‘the Left’).” What does “Left” mean, post-Trump? The once-reliable compass seems now to be spinning wildly, as the political magnetic field does a headstand.
Street asserts that “Greenwald broke on through to the wrong side during the Trump years, so clouded by his understandable contempt for liberal and Democratic hypocrisy, corporatism, and imperialism as to become a willing accomplice of the white nationalist right.” Greenwald’s tireless and meticulous debunking of Russiagate has cast him as a Trump sympathizer to people like Street. Remarkably, many on “the Left,” still believe Russia did it, though the recent indictment of Hilary Clinton’s lawyer and arrest of the principal source of the bogus Steele dossier should put any such notion to rest.
Street snidely discounts Greenwald’s stated reason for leaving The Intercept — that “The Intercept’s editors, in violation of my contractual right of editorial freedom, censored an article I wrote this week, refusing to publish it unless I remove all sections critical of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, the candidate vehemently supported by all New York-based [Intercept] editors involved in this effort at suppression.” Instead he claims that Greenwald, having submitted “a piece that tried to advance Trump campaign propaganda against Joe Biden on the eve of the 2020 presidential election,” regarded himself as “too good to be edited.” He lambasts Greenwald for being, as he put it, “all over the Hunter Biden-New York Post-deep state laptop story, even after CNN published an article titled “New Proof Emerges of the Biden Family Emails: a Definitive Account of the CIA/Media/BigTech Fraud.” Yet, even CNN recognized the bombshell.
Smelling (and finding) the rat
The World Socialist Website, in sync with Street’s “analysis,” calls Greenwald a “sly fascism-denier” who, Street says, “has creepily thrown in with the white nationalist right.” Why? Because in his impeccably documented piece, “FBI Using the Same Fear Tactic From the First War on Terror: Orchestrating its Own Terrorism Plots,” Greenwald discussed the plot to kidnap Michigan Governor Whitmer. He concludes:
There was no way to avoid suspicions about the FBI’s crucial role in a plot like this absent extreme ignorance about the bureau’s behavior over the last two decades, or an intentional desire to sow fear about right-wing extremists attacking Democratic Party officials one month before the 2020 presidential election.
Greenwald was one of the few who smelled a rat in the Michigan kidnapping story and, after serious investigative journalism, he found the rat.
In sum, the FBI devised this plot, was the primary organizer of it, funded it, purposely directed their targets to pose for incriminating pictures that they then released to the press, and then heaped praise on themselves for stopping what they themselves had created. The Wall Street Journal’s headline declares “In Michigan Plot to Kidnap Governor, Informants Were Key,” yet Jan 6 is declared an attempted coup.
In spite of such headlines from the Wall Street Journal, Street says Greenwald “downplays the seriousness of the fascist-putschist Capitol Riot of January 6, 2021.” This doesn’t sound like downplaying to me: “Of course the FBI was infiltrating the groups they claim were behind these attacks,” Greenwald reported, concluding, “yet the suggestion that FBI informants may have played some role in the planning of the January 6 riot was instantly depicted as something akin to, say, 9/11 truth theories or questions about the CIA’s role in JFK’s assassination.”
Street claims Greenwald has a “curious alignment with the white-nationalist neofascist Donald Trump and the January 6 marauders in their purported struggle with ‘the deep state.’” Marauders or the FBI? Does Street not believe that a “Deep State” exists? Greenwald’s article “Questions About the FBI’s Role in 1/6 Are Mocked Because the FBI Shapes Liberal Corporate Media” is subtitled “The FBI has been manufacturing and directing terror plots and criminal rings for decades. But now, reverence for security state agencies reigns.”
In a widely praised TED Talk, Trevor Aaronson states: “There’s an organization responsible for more terrorism plots in the United States than al-Qaeda, al-Shabaab and ISIS combined: The FBI.” So why are Street, the World Socialist Website, Counterpunch, and many others well-versed in COINTELPRO tactics, now swallowing FBI words whole and calling people Trump fascists for raising the issue of possible FBI involvement in the January 6 riot?
Street claims that Greenwald “defends Trump and other Amerikaner neofascists against the ‘censorship’ of their supposed free speech right to spew sexist, nativist, and white power hatred on Twitter and Facebook.” An article I wrote about the new reality police revealed that Media Alliance, a San Francisco organization founded in 1976 to be mainstream media watchdogs, circulated a petition after Jan. 6 that says: “Facebook should create a circuit breaker to help prevent dangerous disinformation and incitements to violence from ever reaching a mass audience…”
That good minds sincerely believe Silicon Valley executives should be the gods of truth in today’s world makes Orwell look cheerily optimistic. Yet shockingly, many people agree with the unprecedented censorship of a former president. Nixon, even after his impeachment and resignation, was never gagged as Trump is. As a former constitutional lawyer, Greenwald addressed concerns of Silicon Valley censorship in his article “Congress Escalates Pressure on Tech Giants to Censor More, Threatening the First Amendment.” Greenwald believes House Democrats are getting closer to the constitutional line, if they have not already crossed it.
Visceral hatred and rational discourse
Greenwald recently wrote several pieces on COVID as well, one announcing that he was eagerly vaccinated. However, his questions about the cost-benefit analysis missing from the COVID debate and his support of the position taken by NBA star Jonathan Isaac have Street condemning him for “failing to mention the horrific, anti-science, COVID-fueling and pandemo-fascist anti-masking and anti-vax practices, policies, and politics of the Amerikaner Party of Trump (the Republicans).”
An article titled “Forced Vaccination Was Always the End Game” — from the non-profit National Vaccine Information Center, which advocates for informed consent protections in medical policies and public health laws — reports that breakthrough COVID infections, hospitalizations, and deaths in fully vaccinated people are on the rise; individuals who have recovered from the infection have stronger natural immunity than those who have been vaccinated; and officials at the World Health Organization now say that the SARS-COV-2 virus is mutating like influenza and is likely to become prevalent in every county, no matter how high the vaccination rate. Yet, in spite of such growing perspective, Greenwald’s piece supporting the NBA’s Isaac is subtitled, “It is virtually a religious belief in the dominant liberal culture that people who do not want the COVID vaccine are stupid, ignorant, immoral and dangerous.”
In a separate article, titled “The ACLU, Prior to COVID, Denounced Mandates and Coercive Measures to Fight Pandemics,” Greenwald writes that the “ACLU prior to its Trump-era transformation” had one primary purpose: to denounce as dangerous and unnecessary attempts by the state to mandate, coerce, and control in the name of protecting the public from pandemics. The ACLU report cites important lessons from American history:
…vivid reminders that grafting the values of law enforcement and national security onto public health is both ineffective and dangerous. Too often, fears aroused by disease and epidemics have justified abuses of state power. Highly discriminatory and forcible vaccination and quarantine measures adopted in response to outbreaks of the plague and smallpox over the past century have consistently accelerated, rather than slowed, the spread of disease, while fomenting public distrust and, in some cases, riots.
Greenwald legitimately questioned the ACLU’s about-face from the pre-Trump era to its current position, pointing out how the ACLU tweeted that “[f]ar from compromising them, vaccine mandates actually further civil liberties.” Yet Street lauds the ACLU’s current position.
Far from compromising them, vaccine mandates actually further civil liberties. They protect the most vulnerable, people with disabilities and fragile immune systems, children too young to be vaccinated, and communities of color hit hard by the disease. https://t.co/UYfQY2EEqj
— ACLU (@ACLU) September 2, 2021
Many ask, as one article puts it, “Why Does Glenn Greenwald Keep Appearing on Tucker Carlson’s Show?” The question I keep asking, but get no answer to, is why Greenwald, Tulsi Gabbard, Aaron Maté, Matt Taibbi, Max Blumenthal, and Jimmy Dore can appear only on Fox. Why are they not invited onto “liberal” MSNBC or CNN, let alone Democracy Now? The apparent answer is that the dominant, ubiquitous paradigm, which cannot be challenged, is “don’t go after the Democrats.”
Much like Julian Assange, Greenwald began to be condemned by liberals only post-Trump. The liberal visceral hatred of Donald Trump has trumped rational discourse. If there were true rational discourse, Julian Assange would not be suffering in Belmarsh Prison as a consequence of his cardinal sin — publishing emails harmful to Democrats.
Facts and the distorting ideological lens
Following the Kyle Rittenhouse verdict, Greenwald again went out on a limb in what a revolutionary comrade called a “rant,” but Greenwald’s message was essentially the same as that conveyed by Caitlin Johnstone:
If your opinion about a legal case would be different if the political ideologies of those involved were reversed and all other facts and evidence remained the same, then it’s probably best not to pretend your position on the case has anything to do with facts or evidence.
Yet Greenwald, once again, has found himself in the crosshairs of “progressives.”
I agree with Street that he and Greenwald are not “on the same side.” If Street, and countless others like him, engaged in true political debate and struggle rather than calling people “facetious,” “stupid,” and “snotty,” we might be closer to the revolution that Street claims to hunger for.
Riva Enteen, former Program Director of the San Francisco National Lawyers Guild, is a lifelong peace and justice activist, retired social worker, lawyer, and editor of “Follow the Money,” a collection of Pacifica Radio’s Flashpoints interviews. She can be reached at [email protected]