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News ::
Boston Nader Rally
12 Nov 2001
Modified: 24 Nov 2001
New England activists and curious Ralph Nader supporters packed the Orpheum Theatre in Boston Saturday night in a five-hour rally and fundraiser that mixed the big marquee names of Nader and Patti Smith with the Boston line-up of usual suspects in the "anti-globalization" scene.
New England activists and curious Ralph Nader supporters packed the 2,700-capacity Orpheum Theatre in Boston Saturday night in a five-hour rally and fundraiser that mixed the big marquee names of Nader and Patti Smith with the Boston line-up of usual suspects in the "anti-globalization" scene.

Nader made his appearance after three hours' worth of speakers and a Patti Smith performance, proclaiming the need for no less than a complete overhaul of the United States' political system. "If you don't start a civic revolt against these politicians," he said, "you should be ashamed of yourself."

Taking his time in getting to the issue of Afghanistan, Nader first set his sights on mainstream media, comparing US airwaves to public parks and federally protected land. "Our greatest wealth is our public property," he said. "News broadcasts are wasting our time with three minutes of weather, eight minutes of sports, and one minute of contrived banter between anchors, or 'newsreaders.'" He chided corporate media for spending too much time reporting on frivolous subject matter and cooperating with the government too easily in times of war.

He quoted President Abraham Lincoln in saying that "the whole point is to bring them the real facts," countering modern politicians' use of media to actually hide facts about military and government operations. Nader blamed corporations and greed for American narrow-mindedness. "We grew up corporate, not civic; to believe, not think."

Nader denounced the war in Afghanistan, doubting the reports of President Bush's sky-high approval ratings and noting that Senator Russ Feingold, the only senator to vote against Bush's anti-terror bill, went home to Wisconsin and found that his own popularity actually increased for his vote.

Nader spoke of French General Charles DeGaul, who was faced in the early 20th Century with threats of terrorism from militants in Algeria, which was then a French colony. DeGaul, Nader said, responded to the threats of violence and revolt not by attacking them but by giving them their independence.

His most powerful, yet general, warning of the night regarding the "War on Terrorism" was an echo of Lyndon Johnson--"Beware the military industrial complex."

The event, a fundraiser for Nader' Democracy Rising group, was one of several rallies continuously being set up across the country to raise money for Nader's 2004 presidential election campaign. Envelopes and yellow credit card donation forms were passed out during the night and a call for 'heroes' to stand up and pledge $1000 to the organization.

The night was hosted by Barry Crimmins, a long-time Boston comedian, activist, and political satirist who has occasionally been published by the Boston Phoenix. Crimmins's Dennis Miller-esque delivery and sarcasm offset the serious anti-war testimonies of the night's speakers.

Boston City Councilor Chuck Turner took the podium to blame the US-backed military actions for the state of the country. "We are the instigators of terror throughout the world," he said, pointing to examples such as the destabilization of Chile in the 70s and US actions towards Native Americans, slaves, and women. Turner said that humans can solve their problems by using their humanity. "We have the ability to fuse our minds with our morality."

Amy Goodman, host of the acclaimed ex-Pacifica radio program "Democracy Now," spoke about her experience in New York City in the week after September 11 and her opinion of the way television news treated the stories of victims and their families. "The media tells us their stories of grief and loss--and we really can't hear enough of these stories," she said. "But they cut away when [the families] tell us their prescriptions for action, when they say 'Not in my name, war is not the answer.'"

Goodman said that, instead of getting victims' outlooks, network news broadcasts switched back to anchors and terrorism specialists who were already calling for war against Osama bin Laden. "The media are the advance troops for the Pentagon," she said.

Jill Stein, a Green Party nominee for Massachusetts governor in 2002, took the opportunity to lay out her platform for the gubernatorial race, which includes universal single-payer health care, household toxin protection, a state-supported living wage, a green energy plan, and more money towards affordable housing.

Patti Smith played a mellow half-hour set with acoustic guitars. She took a break between songs to give her advice to everyone. "In times like this, the most important thing to do is just take good care of yourselves," she said. "Drink lots of distilled water."

The Orpheum's lobby was lined with tables from the Green Party, Boston Global Action Network, and United for Peace with Justice, among others, where restless ralliers socialized and leafed through handouts and newsletters.
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Rally coverage on Democracy Now! in Exile
13 Nov 2001
The New York Times reported yesterday that top executives from Hollywood's movie studios, television networks, cinema operators and labor unions met for 90 minutes Sunday morning with Karl Rove, senior adviser to President Bush, to discuss how the entertainment industry could cooperate in the war on terrorism and to begin setting up a structure to make it happen.

One idea discussed was a series of public service announcements -- some created to play in American theaters before feature films, some made for television, others directed to members of the armed forces and still others intended to spread pro-American messages abroad. Another idea involved efforts to enlist movie and television stars to entertain troops abroad and their families at bases around the country.

Several of the about 50 executives at the meeting said that such discussions had, in fact, been under way for several days, hammering out how this effort can best be organized, and a general agreement has begun to take shape. Each of the studios, networks and unions will designate one executive to act as a liaison in the effort, and this industry wide group will probably operate under the umbrella of the Motion Picture Association of America.

While the media celebrates war, it whites-out voices of dissent. But these voices are growing. Ralph Nader spoke to thousands in Boston on Saturday night about corporate power, the media, human rights, and war.


Ralph Nader, speaking at the Orpheum Theatre in Boston Saturday night.
See also:"1:18:22.1"
Pt. 2: Rally coverage on Democracy Now!
15 Nov 2001
Ralph Nader spoke to thousands in Boston on Saturday night about corporate power, the media, human rights, and war.


Ralph Nader, Speaking at the Orpheum Theatre in Boston Saturday night.
See also:"1:41:41.8"
A clarification on the Nader story
24 Nov 2001
Just a couple corrections to Matt Parish's story on the Nader rally: it was
Eisenhower, not Johnson, who so presciently warned U.S. citizens about
the military-industrial complex. Second, when Nader intoned that those
in attendance "should be ashamed" if we let the politicians succeed in
their plans, he was not referring to some economic stimulus package being
cooked up in Washington, DC. No, he was talking about a crime against
democracy that was being planned a mere two hundred yards from where
he was speaking -- the plan to kill Clean Elections being put together by
Senate President Tom Birmingham and House Speaker Tom Finneran at
the Massachusetts State House.

Parish doesn't mention the issue of Clean Elections in his article, although
it was mentioned by both Green candidates who spoke, as well as Nader.
This is regrettable, though something I don't find very surprising. As an organizer
for the campaign to implement publicly-financed elections in Massachusetts,
I find it difficult to compete with 'sexier' issues like corporate globalization and
the War on Terrorism, that seem to draw the energy of activists away from a local

But, as with most local struggles, the usual suspects are turning up on the list of
villains. Just three days ago, our state legislature voted for a budget that
slashed human services funding, killed the Clean Elections law, and was the
product of a negotiation process that would make any member of the G8 proud.
Anyone want to guess which two local multinationals saw their tax-free status
preserved at the same time these worthy programs were going under the knife?
Raytheon (3rd largest weapons manufacturer in the world, headquartered right
down Route 2 in Lexington) and Fidelity Investments (the world's
largest mutual fund company, with holdings in Exxon-Mobil, General Electric,
Occidental Petroleum, Monsanto, etc., etc.).

Another world is possible. But we have to be ready to fight for it at home, too.

Patrick Keaney
See also: