Back then “free” was a powerful word and the little arm hairs tingled positive not negative

Juli Kearns Everyday Stories Leave a Comment

More on Ward Churchill. Brief bio that calls to mind (for me) Lucas’ “American Grafitti”, a film that I am reminded of about once every two years at most so it’s not like my brain’s short list of synonyms equates all things 50s and 60s with Ron Howard.

H.o.p. doing his online reading program becomes mostly phys ed. He props elbows on desk, chin in left hand, and looks to levitate, one foot then two feet leaving the ground as they travel up the chair on which I’m seated behind him. A swivel chair. Knees dangle in the air, one foot on the seat pushing me back and forth and around, digging sharp toenails into the tops of my bare feet (me having regressed to a seated fetal position), the other foot kicking up toward my face. This lasts only as long as it takes to click an answer on the mouse, about two to three seconds, then he plants feet on the ground and turns, opens mouth wide and happily roars, jamming his tonsils in my face. Then turns back to the computer, elbows on desk, chin in left hand, feet again climbing the chair, the air, air dancing like Fred Astaire, toenails digging into my flesh, as he clicks the next answer then again down, turns and roars his tonsils in my face. In the meanwhile, a Flaming Lips song repeats itself endlessly, courtesy of H.o.p.

In the things I hate to love category is Bradblog’s revelation that CNN news was using photos of the same alleged nuclear facility in two different stories, one identified as Iran’s purported nuclear program and the other (several days previous) identified as North Korea’s purported nuclear program. Then there was unearthed yet another news outlet using the same photograph in a story on North Korean nukes when the photo is (Bradblog says) of the purported Iranian facility, this last mentioned news story being a March 2004 story at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. And the photo was under the filename of iraq-nuclear.jpg.

The kind of news I hate and love at the same time. Should be pinned on to the bulletin board with the twin masks of drama, Comedy and Tragedy.

Wikipedia notes that Radio Free Europe, the broadcasting arm of the National Committee for a Free Europe, founded in 1949, received its funds from the U.S. Congress via the CIA until 1971, the CIA its guide and generating daily input. The CIA’s funding wasn’t publicly revealed until 1971, at which point the organization was rechartered in Delaware as a non-profit making corporation, oversight moved to the International Broadcasting Bureau, and the budget moved to open appropriations. In 1975, RFE merged with the similar Radio Liberty (Congress-funded, founded in 1951). The mission of the International Broadcasting Bureau was transferred to the Broadcasting Board of Governors in 1994.

Free. Radio Free Europe. Powerful advertising words, that particular string. At least back in 1969 when I was 12 and a rather awkward child with frizzy hair beaten down to the sides of my head so to form flaring wings which gave me the nick of “Dogears” and being the malcontent misfit that I was I had no problem with marking myself further as a malcontent misfit by deciding at some point during that year to not pipe in with the daily Pledge of Allegiance. I trusted authority not one wit, perhaps because authority had never favored me, and for that I suppose I ought to be grateful. However, the words Radio + Free + Europe sang in my ears as they were equipped to do and conjured associated words such as brave, free, subversive, free, non-authoritarian, free. Now, any envelope in my mailbox that has “free” on it, political or commercial (difference?) goes in the trash. But back then “free” was a powerful word and the little arm hairs tingled positive not negative. Radio + Free + Europe was to me the power of words, of ideas, of free speech, profoundly elevated through the notion of stealth, hidden treasures the most precious of all, and what was more stealthy than the ultimate invisible ink of radio. All a matter of unconscious associations. No critical judgment. No questioning. Because the equation was just that right.

I’m still alarmed by that, as an adult. I go to look at the Radio Free Europe website, which I have never before visited, and I remember vividly and think about kids today being raised on similar equations, naive, the power of the word “freedom” doing the majority of the work in the construction of the subliminal aesthetic backdrop that shapes opinion.

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