A few years ago, I won an award for a piece I'd written for The Moscow Times
(and CounterPunch.) By hook, crook and the kindness of others, I flew
out to San Francisco, then caught the last night ferry to San Rafael,
where the ceremony was being held the next day. I was one of several
people being noted by Project Censored for their "Top 25 Censored Stories" volume of that year.
The honorees were supposed to give speeches, so, weary with jet
lag, I worked on mine in my motel room, while keeping one eye on the
television, where an astonishing spectacle was playing out: an Austrian actor mounting an Enron-sponsored coup to take over one of the largest governments in the world.
But in the end, I didn't like my speech, so just before the
ceremony began, I quickly wrote out something else, and said that
instead. Just tonight, I ran across those tattered notes in the back of
a desk drawer, and found that they still hold true as an explanation
for what I'm trying to do with all this political writing. So I thought
I'd set it down here. This is what I told them:
Years ago, during the run-up to the first Gulf
War, I wrote a short piece about the sea of propaganda that was
flooding the country, and the difficulty of cutting through to the
blood-and-iron reality behind it all. This is the whole of that piece:
I think we are living in a world
of lies: lies that don't even know they are lies, because they are the
children and grandchildren of lies.
One of the hardest things about doing stories like
the ones honored here tonight is that the reality of our world is
buried under so many layers of official deception and well-cultivated
public ignorance about our history and our political system. Even if
you break through somehow, momentarily, and hold up a fragment of the
truth, most people have no context for dealing with it. It's like a
bolt from the blue, they can't process the information. And so the sea
of lies closes over us again, and again, and again.
But I don't know what else we can do, except
to keep on telling as much of the truth as we can find, to anyone who
will listen: reclaiming reality, fragment by fragment, one person at a
It's an endless task -- maybe a hopeless task
-- but the alternative is a surrender to the worst elements in our
society -- and in ourselves. Thank you.