When you’ve finished this book, if you’re not so angry that you find it physically impossible not to get involved in
the fight against this administration, you haven’t been paying attention. Amy Goodman, the host of “Democracy
Now!” and her husband David have written one of the most broad and scathing criticisms of the government and
the media that I’ve ever read. From the administration’s underhanded methods to grant themselves the power to
use torture with impunity, to the shameless pundit-dominated coverage of the news from the major media outlets
that allow these people to get away with it, Static is guaranteed to get your blood boiling with rage.
And you really ought to be enraged. Just ask Maher Arar, a Syrian native turned Canadian citizen, who was
stopped at John F. Kennedy international airport on his way home in September of 2002 under suspicion of
terrorism. After 8 hours of interrogation, he was detained without charge by the United States for two weeks,
and then released. But he was not released to Canada—they sent him to Syria, where he would spend the next
year undergoing brutal torture until the Canadian government was finally able to bring him home. Arer was an
innocent man, scarred for life by the U.S.’s policy of “extraordinary rendition”—sending suspects to foreign
countries to be harshly interrogated so that we may keep our hands clean—and due to the lack of knowledge or
outrage about this program, he will almost certainly never see justice.
This is just one of the many nightmarish true stories of the downright immoral behaviour of our government. One
may make the counter-argument that this kind of thing is justified because we are at war, we have enemies, and
we need to use every tool at our disposal to be able to track down those enemies and kill them to keep us safe.
Among the many things wrong with that argument, the most important is that torture simply does not work when it
comes to securing good intelligence. Under the kind of harsh interrogation a prisoner will face in Syria or Egypt,
he will say anything to make the pain stop, regardless of whether it is true.
I could go on for pages about all of the awful things in this book, but you should read it and form your own
opinion. But for those of you who won’t read it, here’s a short list of some of the things everyone should know
• There are two fronts in the government’s war on terror, and one of them is against its own people. This
war is fought with shameless methods of propaganda, such as paying Iraqi journalists to publish stories favourable
to the occupation. The Iraqis know these stories are lies, but the government gets our media to report on these
fake stories to make it seem like things are going better than they are.
• We claim to be trying to spread democracy, but when Jean-Bertrand Aristide came to power in Haiti with
an overwhelming 67% of the popular vote (in an election with eleven candidates), the U.S. saw a problem when
he began chipping away at the power of the Haitian elite and handing some of the nation’s paltry amount of wealth
back to its people. The American media portrayed him as a power-hungry despot as the U.S. government aided
the Haitian elite in their coup to remove him from power. When he was successfully removed, the pundits were all
cheering this great victory for democracy.
• There are few more perfect illustrations of American short-sightedness than this: We did not like the way
the independent media organisation Al Jazeera was reporting the war (you know, actually showing the war—
civilian casualties and all) so at home we reported that they were in league with Al Quaeda, while in Iraq reporters
for Al Jazeera were kidnapped by our soldiers and beaten. Yeah, that will win hearts and minds. Could you
imagine if the government of another country invaded us and started beating up on our reporters?
• To boost waning recruitment, the government is targeting Hispanic immigrants, promising them a fast-track
to citizenship. It’s bad enough that we send our own citizens to fight our wars, but we’re also sending citizens
from other countries. Even more frightening is the dramatic lowering of standards for who we accept for
recruitment now, including convicted felons. There is actually something called a “moral character waiver policy”!
• The United States, international champion of human rights, did not only turn a blind eye to the brutality of
Uzbekistan, known to execute prisoners by boiling them alive—that’s right, boiling—pulling out their fingernails
and making them watch as their children get raped in front of their eyes, but we actually gave them money and
helped them quash pro-democracy demonstrations, all for the hope of being awarded a lucrative contract to draw
on their large supply of natural gas. And yet in spite of our shameful moral compromises, we lost the contract to
the Russians and were kicked out of Uzbekistan. The media reported that we left because of concerns over
human rights abuses.
The book also spotlights many of the unsung heroes who stand up to the machine, usually quite unsuccessfully,
and how they are either ignored or smeared by the media. We as human beings can not allow this to go on any
more. We must demand that our news organizations give us the truth and not just propaganda, and then we must
demand that our government respect the ideals that this nation was founded on.
There is a fire burning inside all of us—the fire of conscience that makes us angry when we see our own nation
involved in such gross violations of justice—though the kettle in most of us has not yet reached the boiling point.
Static will provide enough fuel for the fire to get your kettle boiling over, and inspire in you the anger you need get
out and get involved in the movement—this movement that must succeed—for the sake of our nation and for the
sake of our world.
Static: Government Liars, Media Cheerleaders, and the People Who Fight Back
Amy and David Goodman - 2007