AGENDA Is interested In receiving letters from readers. Please keep them short and Include your name and phone number (not for publicatlon). Send letters to: AGENDA, 220 S. Main St, Ann Arbor, Ml 48104. Right-Wing Talk Radio: Talking Back! I thought AGENDA readers might be interested in my recent experience with talk radio. Whiie "channel surfing," I caught the beginning of a talk show on W JR-AM where both the host and guest were women and the topic was foreign policy - a combination that seemed unusual and promising. But it quickly became clear that the primary goal was not to share factual nf ormation ordebate the pros and cons of different policies, but rather was to criticize the Clinton Administration. This didn't bother me too much as I believe its foreign policy deserves to be criticized. When they began to discuss Haiti my reaction turned from curiosity to anger. The host and guest started making claims that were simply absurd - that Aristide has absolutely no popular support in Haiti, that Aristide is buying influence in Washington, that Clinton is considering an invasión to install a "puppet" regime, that Clinton is being "pulled" to the left, etc. Knowing that such lies were being broadcast, unchallenged, to hundreds of thousands of listeners made me livid. After I retumed home, I decided to cali in, not expecting to get through since WJR is a "clear channel" station at night and reaches throughout the Midwest. But I did. In fact, after a ten minute mini-debate with the fascist who was filtering the calis and who said his solution to Haití was forthe U.S. to unilateral ly invade and make it a permanent American resort área, I was the second caller to get on the air. I got to make all of my points: that Aristide had an overwhelm ing electoral mándate - 67 percent of the vote in a race with eleven candidates; that since the coup thousands of Haitian citizens have been willing to risk their lives to continue to demónstrate their support for democracy, freedom, and Aristide; that the U.S. has a long and ugly history of intervention in Haiti and is therefore largely responsible for the current tragedy; and that Clinton campaigned on helping to restore freedom and democracy to Haiti and was only being "pulled" to fulfill his promises. I said that ! too opposed unilateral U.S. intervention in Haiti, in view of the death and destruction caused by our interventions in Grenada, Panama, Nicaragua, etc, but that I could support military action under the auspices of the O AS or UN if the embargo didn't work and if such action had the support of the Haitian people. It would be nice, I mused, if we could be on the right side for once and use our military might for good instead of evil. Well, the host didn't quite know what to do with me (unf ortunately , the guest was long gone). To her credit, she didn't cut me off (until, at the end, when I started bellowing with laughter when she claimed that Aristide had "bought off the Kennedys") but she couldn't debate me either. She had no facts or ëvidence to back up her claims (she said that I was lying about Aristide's 67 percent vote and Clinton's cam paign promise to support Aristide) and I cleariy disarmed her when I told herfrom the outset that I wasn't going to debate her about Clinton but rather about the situation in Haiti. I think I scored one small victory against right-wing talk radio. I leamed two lessons. One, if this show (and Rush Limbaugh's) are representative of the recent wave of right-wing talk shows, this country is in even worse shape than I thought. Two, if given the chance, it only takes a little knowledge and courage to show these folks up as gnorant and self-serving charlatans. Finally, there is some hope for "alternative talk radio." Jim Hightower, one of the wittiest radicáis in America and the only white state office holder (Texas Agricultura Commissioner!) to have the guts to endorse Jesse Jackson in 1 988, has begun a weekend talk radio show. It is syndicated by ABC radio and already has 110 stations. To my knowledge, no station in Detroit or Ann Arbor is carrying it yet. WJR would be a logical station as it is owned by ABC Radio and it would help balance the strong conservative bias of their othertalk shows. I encourage all AGENDA readers to write or cali WJR (31 3-875-4476) and ask them to carry ABC's Hightower Radio. Anyone with suggestions about other stations that we could pressure to carry it should cali me at 6684296.
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