THIS IS WHAT DEMOCRACY LOOKS LIKE! FREE SPEECH AND FREE PRESS…..
Famed Broadcast Newsman Walter Cronkite observed, “Freedom of the press is not just important to a democracy, IT IS DEMOCRACY!” And, so it is. And, that is why that cherished right, among others, is enshrined in the First Amendment to the US Constitution. And, given the constant assault on free speech and the legitimate press and mainstream media by Donald Trump and his cast of characters – Kellyanne Conway, Sean “Spicy” Spicer, and Steve Bannon, architect of the Alt. Right and White House Alchemist practicing his dark arts in the West Wing and the Oval Office – 500 folks, mostly from the resistance generated during the 1/21 WOMEN’S MARCH ON WASHINGTON – UPSTATE, now known as MARCH ON! NY who traveled from upstate and were joined by others located in NJ and in NYC, assembled at Bryant Park in NYC to Rally and March in support of a FREE PRESS. The March took us to a Rally in front of the NY Times Building at 41st Street and 8th Avenue where we all again spoke out in support of REAL NEWS and against the FAKE NEWS COOKED UP BY THE CRACKPOTS IN THE WHITE HOUSE and their Chief Alchemist, Steve Bannon. The following commentary is the speech that I gave on that day just before the March left Bryant Park. It appears here in its entirety.
REMARKS BY FORMER DNC MEMBER AND ACTIVIST – 3/25/2017
ROBERT JANISZEWSKI – The Senior Progressive. http://theseniorprogressive.blogspot.com
Our nation was founded on the notion that all were created equal and that we all share – without exception – certain inalienable rights. And, in the language of the Declaration of Independence, “that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Thirteen years later, in 1789, the new US Constitution expressed these rights in the first 10 Amendments – the Bill or Rights – which further outlined the “inalienable rights” that each American citizen would enjoy.
Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, Sam Adams, and the other Founders deeply believed that free expression, debate, and the exchange of ideas through the press was THE essential element necessary to preserve a democracy. Jefferson often spoke of the necessity of a free and unfettered press as the guardian of liberty and enemy of oppression. “Our liberty cannot be guarded but by the freedom of the press, nor be limited without danger of losing it,” said Jefferson. And, perhaps his most famous comment on this subject was “were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate for a moment to prefer the latter.”
The legitimate press and the main street media are under attack today – and have been for more than 18 months – from the right wing, and now from the West Wing. Since the rise of Trump, Bannon, and their allies, we have witnessed attacks on the legitimate press and mainstream media over and over again. From Alt. Right news sources like Breitbart and others, radio commentators who fudge facts and attack “FACTS” that they don’t like or disagree with, and with a President who has insisted on LYING constantly and then doubling down on each lie while attacking any press outlet that has the nerve to challenge his lie, the assault on a free and unfettered press has never been so severe. Assistant to Bannon, Stephen Miller, famously stated that Trump, “shall not be questioned” when speaking of the Immigrant Ban announced by the White House. Donald Trump was elected with a minority of the people’s votes to the Office of President, not POPE! Trump, as President, speaks in the public square on public issues, and not on “matters of faith”. The Donald IS NOT INFALLIBLE.
We gather here together today to celebrate that inheritance and to uphold the value of truth in our public discourse and the right to hold to and to speak out, print, and publish varied points of view in the public square.
Like all of you, I had a life before Donald Trump. In the 1950s I was a rock & Roll kid with a black leather jacket flirting at the school dance. In the 1960, I was awakened by JFK, marched for civil rights, voting rights, and against discrimination. In the 1970 I marched against the Vietnam War and ran for a seat on my local Board of education and became a union activist. In the 80s and 90s I worked on issues of rent control, affordable housing, the Equal Rights Amendment for women, labor rights, economic justice, funding for AIDS treatment, health care for children and seniors, and worked on numerous campaigns. I retired 17 years ago, moved to the countryside, live in the woods, and enjoyed retirement – hiking, biking, skiing, reading, and writing. And, then came along – Donald Trump. And, like the snake oil salesmen before him, Trump came fully equipped with a litany of lies that is ever-present in a never-ending torrent of deception that continues to this very day. Here is a sample of some of his best whoppers:
– Barack Obama is a secret Kenyan Muslim. Why not a Martian?
– Barak Obama “wiretapped” the Trump campaign. Not according to the FBI.
– Trump won the election in a “landslide!” Lost by 3 million votes
– More people attended the Trump Inauguration than at any other time in the history of the nation. Maybe even in the history of the world??????
– 3 to 5 million illegal votes were cast in the election! Even the Republicans reject this one, though 4 improper votes were found in California. And, they ALL voted for Hillary!
– Tens of thousands of Illegal voters took buses from Massachusetts to New Hampshire. That would require 500 buses for more for 25000 riders! There are not that many buses there or invisible buses and transparent voters voted.
– Senator Cruz’ father was a friend of Lee Harvey Oswald and played a role in the assassination of President Kennedy. Maybe he held the rifle? Let’s have a House Committee investigate!
– Trump said that he knows more about Isis than all the Generals! What? From military school? Or from playing Risk?
– On health care, Trump said that EVERYBODY WILL BE COVERED, TAKEN CARE OF MUCH BETTER, AND AT LESS COST. Duh?
– “I never met a Russian or spoke with any Russians,”said Trump. What? He held a Miss Universe contest in Moscow in partnership with a Russian Oligarch. Trump maintains that he doesn’t even know where Russia is. Did he think that he was in France? Or, was he distracted by all of the women around him?
– And, what of the millions of women who marched in Washington on January 21st for equal justice for all and the millions of others who have protested in sister marches on that day, and the millions who have attended Town Halls in protest since? Well, they were “all paid professional protesters.” Spicy Spicer recently said that “protesting is now a career choice for liberals.” He left out the millions of “gift bags” from George Soros that he alleged were given to the marchers as well as the truckloads of cookies from the DNC.
– Trump announced that more than 94 million Americans were “unemployed” – WOW! That’s 25 % of the US population! Yet, the Department of Labor calculated the unemployment rate at 4.7%. The difference? 88 million children, students, Moms staying at home by choice, and retirees who ummm… are RETIRED and have chosen not to work. Wake up Donald!
– Trump recently boasted that his administration was operating like “a fine tuned machine.” During the Republican primaries, Jeb Bush described Trump as “the chaos candidate” who would be “the chaos president”, if elected. And John McCain recently said that the White House is bumbling and chaotic! Hmmm. What do you think? Machine? Chaos? Pick ‘em.
– Trump criticized Obama for having released “122 dangerous dudes” from Gitmo who went right back to being terrorists. The truth is that George Bush released 113 and Obama released just 9 detainees from Gitmo. Well, he had the total…
It appears that they only “dangerous dude” that poses a threat to our nation and our people is not being detained at Gitmo. He is presently sitting in the Oval Office.
Kelly Ann Conway described these Trump statements as “alternative facts.” You and I would call them “lies.” Kelly Ann and Sean “Spicy” Spicer consistently condemn those who dispute these Trump “facts” as the source of “fake news.” Some media outlets, the NY Times included along with several major networks, have been evicted from official press briefings for challenging the accuracy of these “alternative facts.” Years back, NY Senator Patrick Moynihan famously said during a 1994 debate, “You are entitled to your own opinion. But, you are not entitled to your own facts.” Responding to Kelly Ann’s recent description of Trump’s “alternative facts”, Chuck Todd said, “they are not facts, they are untruths… lies.” Steve Bannon, Senior Counselor to the President, responded to this controversy by charging that “the media here is the opposition party”, and bellowing that the media should “keep its mouth shut…..” Today, we assemble here to say that in a democracy,
SHUTTING UP IS NOT AN OPTION!
WE WILL NOT SHUT UP! WE WILL STAND UP! WE WILL SPEAK OUT!
We assemble here today to stand up for the truth. We assemble today to speak out for justice and to march against the lies, deception, and propaganda that has streamed across the twitterverse, the internet, and into some print and electronic media. There are no “alternative facts.” And, there are no alien babies in the White House basement. We call upon those who pollute our public discourse with a constant stream of lies, un-truths, and deceptions to stop the insanity of insisting that falsehoods are truths and truths are falsehoods.
Two hundred years ago, Jefferson wrote that, “The only security of all is in a free press.”
Sixty-eight years ago (1949), George Orwell published “1984”, and introduced us to “Big Brother”, the “Ministry of Truth”, and the “Thought Police.” Some would say that we are now living the reality of “1984”- a day when thought control would be a result of oppressive propaganda repeated over and over and over again until a set of uniform beliefs would result and “Big Brother’s” words would be accepted as the ultimate truth. Orwell warned us of a future where liberty would be lost to the growing presence of false “truths.” “Truth” as determined by the government, enforced by the “Thought Police” (Kelly Ann and Spicy), and under the direction of the “Ministry of Truth” (Steve Bannon), would become our “alternative reality” built on “alternative facts.”
And so, today, we – you and I – must become the truth tellers and defenders of speech, of press, of print, and of broadcast media – free to speak, to write, and to publish the fruits of their sourced and vetted research, their points of view, and their opinions, free of fear of arrest, interference, law suits, or reprisals from the “governors” as envisioned in our Constitution.
Forty six years ago, in a landmark Supreme Court Case – “NY Times v. United States” (1971) – the Pentagon Papers case – Justice Hugo Black wrote that the Founders gave “the free press the protection that it must have to fulfill its essential role in our democracy. The press was to serve the governed, not the governors… and, that only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government.” And, so it is.
Newsman Walter Cronkite observed that, “Freedom of the press is not just important to democracy, IT IS DEMOCRACY.”
In our recent history, President Obama encouraged us saying that “we must uphold a free press … because, in the end, lies and misinformation are no match for the truth.” This is the truth that President Trump has not grasped. This is the constitutional right guaranteed to the press that President Trump would prefer to weaken or erase. These are the sources of actual facts, and not “alternative facts” as generated from the unfortunate fantasies of our modern “Big Brother” or from the darkest depths of the Minister of Truth, Steve Bannon.
So: TODAY WE STAND TOGETHER FOR THE TRUTH!
TODAY WE STAND TOGETHER FOR THE BEDROCK RIGHTS
PROTECTED IN THE US CONSTITUTION.
TODAY WE CELEBRATE OUR HERITAGE, OUR OF FREEDOM –
RELIGION, SPEECH, PRESS, ASSEMBLY, PETITION.
HERE IS WHERE WE TAKE OUR STAND!
THIS IS WHAT DEMOCRACY LOOKS LIKE!
THIS IS WHAT DEMOCRACY SOUNDS LIKE!
THIS IS WHAT OUR DEMOCRACY DEMANDS! TRUTH, NOT LIES!
STAND UP! SPEAK OUT! MARCH ON!
Former DNC Member (1990-2000)
Served as Municipal Chair, County Chair, and Campaign Chair for the
Democratic Party from 1988-2000 including Presidential Campaigns in 1992, 1996, and 2000.
Currently author of an on-line progressive blog: http://theseniorprogressive.blogspot.com