Are you acquainted with Freedom House, the nonprofit American organization founded in 1941? If not, this independent watchdog group is dedicated to expanding freedom and democracy around the world.
Freedom House says, “We analyze the challenges to freedom, advocate for greater political rights and civil liberties, and support frontline activists to defend human rights and promote democratic change. We recognize that freedom is possible only in democratic political environments where governments are accountable to their own people; the rule of law prevails; and freedoms of expression, association, and belief, as well as respect for the rights of minorities and women, are guaranteed.”
What I especially like about Freedom House is that they “advocate for U.S. leadership and collaboration with like-minded governments to vigorously oppose dictators and oppression.” And yet, in 2017, Freedom House found that “only 13 percent of the world’s population enjoys a free press, a media environment where political news coverage is robust and uncensored, and the safety of journalists is guaranteed.”
In the United States, the First Amendment was adopted on Dec. 15, 1791, as part of the Bill of Rights to protect the freedom of the press. However, some media outlets presently are under constant onslaughts.
Saldana (Photo: Submitted by Antonio Saldana)
One frequent provocateur of the media is the president of the United States of America. His attacks have gotten so bad that two U.N. experts have condemned the president’s rhetoric and are concerned that it will lead to a risk of violence against journalists.
David Kaye and Edison Lanza, U.N. experts of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, have called these attacks “strategic, designed to undermine confidence in reporting and raise doubts about verifiable facts.”
It perturbed me immensely when the president proclaimed on Twitter on Feb. 27, 2017, “The FAKE NEWS media (failing New York Times, NBC News, ABC, CBS, CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!” I found this revolting expression “enemy of the people” very unnerving because history’s worst tyrants have used this detestable declaration. These revolting dictators and nauseating autocrats used this repulsive phrase to de-legitimize foreign governments, opposition parties and dissenters.
The enemy of the people came into use during the modern period during the French Revolution. This filthy expression was used to label those who disagreed with the new French government. During the Third Reich’s rule in Germany, Jews were referred to as “a sworn enemy of the German people” because they were viewed as an entity who posed a risk to Adolf Hitler’s vision for the country.
However, the enemy of the people gained its widest use by Josef Stalin during the early years of the Soviet Union. In recent years, Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez has also called political dissenters “enemies of the homeland.” And now the president of the United States of America has embraced this fear-provoking phrase.
One American journalist whose life I fear for the most is James Acosta, the current chief White House correspondent for CNN. The president of the United States vigorously castigates him every chance he gets. To make matters even worse is that this horrendous brashness is vehemently imitated by some of the president’s devotees.
At the recent Tampa, Florida, Trump rally it was the worst attack on the media, especially toward Acosta. He was cussed out, flipped off, and even given the double bird. The animosity toward him was real and bloodcurdling. In addressing this atrocious situation, Acosta said, “I mean, honestly, it felt like we weren’t in America anymore. I don’t know how to put it any more plainly than that. Americans should not be treating their fellow Americans in this way.”
I passionately agree that Americans should not treat each other with such contempt. That includes the media. After all, they are not the enemy of the people.
Antonio Saldaña of Green Bay is a former migrant worker. He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. He has been employed as a Spanish teacher in Brown County for 30 years and also gives lectures on the issues of race, racism and discrimination.
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Authored by Glen McStanly