Det mesta här är bekant om man läst Pilgers egna böcker. Men stundtals glimtar den här boken till, när den berättar om opublicerat/icke ‘broadcast’ material (t.ex. intervjun med Alan Clark, s 254-257). Jag, som läst mer och sett mer av Pilgers arbete än de flesta, tycker att boken är alltför idoliserande på sina ställen (något Pilger, som tvärtemot vad man kan tro har en väldigt ödmjuk och modest inställning till sitt arbete, knappast skulle uppskatta).
Men på det stora hela fångar den väl de absurda situationer JP många gånger hamnat i. Här beskrivs hur Daily Mirror, från att ha varit den enda rösten i media mot fascism på 30-talet, mot Vietnamkriget, och alltid för den enkla människan, kommersialiserades bortom all kännedom. Boken berättar om det eviga käbblet med de orwellska ”motbalanserande programmen” som fick göras i all hast som svar på Pilgers dokumentärer. Här beskrivs hur dokumentärerna lett till diskussion i länders parlament (t.ex. Australien, FN:s generalråd, m.m.) och ger inblick i vilken effekt de haft för att ”väcka” frågor som Östtimor, Kambodja, thalidomid-barnen, m.m.
bbc grunare lord reith – premiärminister, strejk
Max Stahl i Östtimor
gensvar från ”dumt” folk – 100 000 tals samtal, brev
At the end of this harrowing report, Pilger said, ‘If you’ve been horrified by what you’ve seen, then good. No doubt the commercials in a minute’s time will offer reassurance to those who feel they need it. The truth is that Bangladesh and Britain have been caught in the same blizzard of inflation, energy crisis and shortage, with the one difference – when prices go up in Britain no one dies, when prices go up in Bangladesh thousands die. You see, it’s no longer a question of pity and charity – to hell with that! Their struggle to survive is our struggle. Beat it in Bangladesh and you beat it in Britain. It’s really a simple choice that has simply to do with the brotherhood of man. The alternative is that we are all expendable.’
One example of reluctant, grudging praise came from A.A. Gill in The Sunday Times, who described Pilger as ‘the guilt fairy’ who ‘comes in the night and pours thick Third World guilt into your ear’ […] However, he added, ‘Much as I despise his retro, student-poster politics and his scavenging of others’ misery to further an old cause, I’m pleased he’s back on the box…’
(Kendall, then chairman of PepsiCo)
Within a month of becoming president in 1968, he [Nixon] appointed Kendall head of the National Alliance of Businessmen. […] struck a deal with Prime Minister Kosygin [Soviet] that gave Pepsi the distinction of being the first US consumer product to be made and sold in the Soviet Union, in return for marketing vodka in the United States. Nixon and Kendall considered that totalitarian countries could best serve US interests as monopoly markets rather than adversaries. ‘It became the symbol of détente,’ said Kendall.
For A Faraway Country… a people of whom we know nothing, a title taking the words that Neville Chamberlain used to describe Czechoslovakia dismissively in 1938 when it was invaded by the Nazis…
Pilger asked him [Derek Fatchett, minister of state at the Foreign Office] ‘Would you dispute this statement, and I quote, ”Hawk aircraft have been observed on bombing runs in East Timor in most years since 1984”? ‘Ive seen those statements,’ replied Fatchett. ‘They have been challenged by the Foreign Office, by British Aerospace previously…’ Pilger interjected, ‘ As you know, Robin Cook [senare utrikesminister i GRB] made that statement.’
Jessica Mitford, författare till den mycket intressanta boken The American Way of Death:
Her parents, too, were among those who appeased Hitler and Nazism; many of the British ruling class had supported Hitler’s policies. ‘He had crushed the trade unions, he had crushed the communists and he had crushed the Jews,’ said Mitford, ‘and don’t forget there’s a huge strain of anti-Semitism that runs through that class in England.’
Om Chomsky-intervjun 1992:
‘I challenged him on a number of issues that produced, I think, an interesting debate, especially on free speech, where I felt he was less certain than he usually is. His view is that you give this freedom, unfettered, to everybody, including fascists and racists. He and I disagree about that.’
Chomsky’s view of world affairs was first coloured by the Spanish Civil War, as was that of Martha Gellhorn and Jessica Mitford. At the same time, he was anti-Leninist and sceptical about Marxism, whose name suggested an ideology, or ‘form of organized religion’, based on an individual. ‘In any serious domain, you don’t personalize collections of beliefs,’ said Chomsky.
Svar till Frank Barber, som i The Sunday Times gjort påhopp på dokumentären Nicaragua – A nation’s right to survive:
‘I wonder how Barber’s written words would stand up to two and sometimes three civil servants of the IBA combing through them up to six weeks before publication? I wonder how his ”facts” would stand up to a researcher with an MA in Latin-American politics double-checking and double-sourcing? That is how it works for me in television.’
The United States had been able to ‘tailor the UN Security Council to its war plans by using debt and the international banks’. Egypt was told that $14 billion would be wiped off its national debt if it joined the coalition [mot Saddam Hussein, första gulfkriget], Iran was rewarded for its support with its first loan from the World Bank since the 1979 Islamic revolution, and China received its first World Bank loan since Tiananmen Square massacre.
Golfer Tiger Woods was paid more to promote Nike than the entire workforce making the company’s products in Indonesia received. Pilger asked, ‘Is this the global village we are told is our future, or is it merely an old project that used to be run by the divine right of kings and is now run by the divine right of multinational corporations, and by the financial institutions and governments that back them?’
‘Unlike the first white Americans, who imagined themselves on a mission from God, those first white Australians knew they were Godforsaken…’
Whitlam’s Labor Party came to power in 1972, […] ordered Australians to stop fighting in Vietnam, conscription was ended, those jailed for opposing the war were freed […] ‘Whitlam made it clear to Washington that their bases were no longer sacrosanct and the treaty governing Pine Gap, due to expire in December 1975, might not be extended.’
Philip Knightley, den ende andra journalist som fått utmärkelsen årets journalist i Storbritannien två gånger (och som rapporterat på bl.a. thalidomid-offren, se hans kontribut till Tell me no lies) säger följande om Pilgers arbete (och Hayward låter detta avsluta boken). Jag håller inte med om att Pilger skulle vara ”polemicist”, bara därför att han använder sig av polemik (den klassifikationen – varför måste man klassificera de som avviker? – antyder att man bara är ute efter att provocera). Hursomhelst:
‘In Welcome to Australia, he concentrated on the bad things that were happening but not the good. He would say that’s not part of his brief and it’s covered elsewhere. He’s a polemicist and, if you want to arouse people’s passions and anger, the stronger the polemic, the better.’