The Common Good
May-June 2000

The Revolution Will Not Be Sponsored

by Wes Howard-Brook | May-June 2000

I’m sorry to sound cynical, but as Gil Scott-Heron rapped long ago, "the revolution will not be televised." 

WHILE I APPRECIATE the enthusiasm Duane Shank expresses for the apparent "conversion" of Arianna Huffington ("Which Side Are You On?" March-April 2000), I find myself sobered by the fine print at the bottom of the page: How to Overthrow the Government, published by "HarperCollins, 2000." Are we suggesting that Rupert Murdoch’s world corporation is sponsoring the revolution? The same Murdoch who supported England’s Margaret Thatcher, New York mayor Rudy Guliani, and the repressive Chinese government all because they provided favorable access to his media machine?

I’m sorry to sound cynical, but as Gil Scott-Heron rapped long ago, "the revolution will not be televised." The real events in Seattle were not on TV, and Murdoch will not finance the undermining of his empire. Simply recall his pulling the HarperCollins presses on retiring Hong Kong governor Chris Patton’s account of Chinese repression when Murdoch realized it would look bad to his Chinese government supporters.

We indeed must hope for the conversion of those in power—the Nicodemuses of the world—but we can not afford to be naive. When Warren Beatty makes a Murdoch-sponsored film about the evils of politics-as-usual (Bulworth), we should expect that there will be more profits than prophets as a result. When radical rockers Rage Against the Machine are eagerly sponsored by Sony, we should expect more promos than protests as a result.

Ironically, it is the alternative media such as Sojourners, The Other Side, and nonprofit book publishers such as Orbis and Fortress who are more likely to allow the voices of dissent and truth-telling to be heard, even if they don’t reach the audience that Huffington’s book will. How often must we be reminded that following Jesus to the cross and to Easter will never make prime time?--Wes Howard Brook

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