Bill Moyers’ speech

You might have heard that Moyers delivered a rather shocking address at a recent conference on media reform. The entire speech is available at Salon (you have to watch an ad to get to it) and I strongly recommend you read it all. I found it incredibly moving, and surprising, too, to see how his show Now came to be, and how it became the bete noire of the far right.

“Sometimes I would offer a small prayer of gratitude that I had been born in a country whose institutions sustained me, whose armed forces protected me, and whose ideals inspired me; I offered my heart’s affections in return. It no more occurred to me to flaunt the flag on my chest than it did to pin my mother’s picture on my lapel to prove her son’s love. Mother knew where I stood; so does my country. I even tuck a valentine in my tax returns on April 15.

“So what’s this doing here? Well, I put it on to take it back. The flag’s been hijacked and turned into a logo — the trademark of a monopoly on patriotism. On those Sunday morning talk shows, official chests appear adorned with the flag as if it is the good housekeeping seal of approval. During the State of the Union, did you notice Bush and Cheney wearing the flag? How come? No administration’s patriotism is ever in doubt, only its policies. And the flag bestows no immunity from error. When I see flags sprouting on official lapels, I think of the time in China when I saw Mao’s little red book on every official’s desk, omnipresent and unread.

“But more galling than anything are all those moralistic ideologues in Washington sporting the flag in their lapels while writing books and running Web sites and publishing magazines attacking dissenters as un-American. They are people whose ardor for war grows disproportionately to their distance from the fighting. They’re in the same league as those swarms of corporate lobbyists wearing flags and prowling Capitol Hill for tax breaks even as they call for more spending on war.

“So I put this on as a modest riposte to men with flags in their lapels who shoot missiles from the safety of Washington think tanks, or argue that sacrifice is good as long as they don’t have to make it, or approve of bribing governments to join the coalition of the willing (after they first stash the cash.) I put it on to remind myself that not every patriot thinks we should do to the people of Baghdad what bin Laden did to us. The flag belongs to the country, not to the government. And it reminds me that it’s not un-American to think that war — except in self-defense — is a failure of moral imagination, political nerve, and diplomacy. Come to think of it, standing up to your government can mean standing up for your country.”

It never lets up and builds to a climax that left me speechless. It’s worth the time to read it all.

The Discussion: 12 Comments

I listened to it too. It’s a kick-ass speech.

You can also watch it on-line or listen to it in mp3 over at Democracy Now.

May 17, 2005 @ 10:22 pm | Comment

Bill Moyers on the State of American Political Journalism

May 17, 2005 @ 10:35 pm | Comment

Bill Moyers on the State of American Political Journalism

May 17, 2005 @ 11:19 pm | Comment

This is the best speeches I came across in a long time. Good link, Richard.
Now I will do my bit by cutting out a check to PBS. I think there should be a tickbox on 1040 for taxpayer to donate money to PBS so its funding is not interfered.

May 17, 2005 @ 11:23 pm | Comment

Richard, I too thank you. Moyer is a sensible voice for America, more of which it needs.

May 18, 2005 @ 8:31 am | Comment

The 30 minute “Now” is the absolute must watch TV news program of all, even if it is only on at odd time (Tuesday midnight) here locally.

May 18, 2005 @ 10:29 am | Comment

Moyers once did a show about a modern “confucian” scholar, Du…er, I forget his name. He’s a professor at some Ivy League school. My Chinese teacher, a graduate of Beijing Language and Culture University, saw the interview and shows the tape to all her classes.

Moyers is a classy, smart guy. A shame that there are so few “public intellectuals” like him…

May 19, 2005 @ 1:37 am | Comment

Random thoughts…….or Rummy needs a math lesson

The Peking Duck has a link to a great speech given by Bill Moyers at a recent conference on media reform. Here is an excerpt, go to the Duck’s site then follow the link to the Salon web site. Its worth reading in its entirety.

May 19, 2005 @ 3:13 am | Comment

I recorded most of his 4 hours long Chinese Americans special back in 2003 I think. It was excellent.

May 19, 2005 @ 9:57 am | Comment

“Kenneth Tomlinson has his demanding donors. I’ll take the widow’s mite any day.” I’ll start believing Moyers, as well as take him up on his offer, when he says he would rather have the $500 than the $400 million from Uncle Sam. See Raging Bill

May 19, 2005 @ 1:18 pm | Comment

Oh no, a certified wingnut. That’s a word I try to avoid, but after visiting your site I’m left with little choice. Are you related to Charles Johnson? And can’t you find someone better to quote about Newsweek than Ann Coulter? No wonder your site traffic averages 52 hits a day. (Sorry for the undisguised snark, but your blog scares the hell out of me. PBS is the one voice of sanity in our country, along with Peking Duck.)

May 19, 2005 @ 1:57 pm | Comment

That “Du” mentioned by “Other Lisa” is Tu Weiming, who’s at Harvard. (I wish I had caught the interview with him, though.)

May 23, 2005 @ 8:54 am | Comment

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