"Editorial pages are the place you least want to jar your readers." Jacqueline Thomas, Baltimore Sun's new editorial page editor, as reported in the Sun's article announcing her appointment.
Thus, Jacqueline Thomas, the successor to Joseph R.L. Sterne, assumes the position of editorial page editor in Charm City's largest daily, seemingly committed to keep her page as socially relevant as the comics page. Or perhaps she meant to say "...least want to jar the people who count." It would be an honest admission, one that the moral relativist Sterne would never have made.
The historian who reviews the despair Sterne wrought has an interesting problem of content: the most insipid characteristic of the Sun's editorial page has always been the near-total omission of news, points of view and historical facts that would clue their readers about what is really going on around them.
For example, the U.S.'s overthrowing democracies and installing dictatorships around the world while contributing to world hunger are two worthy topics of an editorial page worth its name. Yet, under Sterne, they received an infinitesimal amount of ink.
So after "60 Minutes" reported that the CIA under the Bush Administration helped overthrow Aristide's democratic government in Haiti in 1991 (which drew heavily on the uncredited but Pulitzer Prize-worthy reporting by Allan Nairn in The Nation between 1995-96)-there wasn't a sentence of follow-up from the Calvert Street editorialists.
Likewise, Sun "reporters" made no disapproving comment on another Bush crime which occurred only months after probably a million people (half of whom were children) began to die in Iraq, and later from the inhuman economic sanctions that the U.S. was instrumental in delivering, each action trumpeted by the mainstream media as pro- democracy and anti-aggression.
Another glaring editorial omission by the Sun was the silence following the U.S.'s shameful conduct during the 1996 World Food Summit in Rome, Italy. There the U.S. delegation, led by Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman, reinforced U.S. advocacy for "a fair and market-oriented world trade system." The position was understood by all who attended. It says what the U.S. considers unfair are the profit losses that U.S.-based multinational corporations involved in agriculture might see if our government were to recognize a global right not to be hungry and to do something about feeding the world's poor (ours too).
As David Bacon tells us (Z Magazine, 1/97), 800 million people in the world go hungry every day, a quarter of whom are children under five. No one should be surprised the Sun never repeated the chilling U.S. position that "[We believe that] the attainment of any `right to adequate food' or `fundamental right to be free from hunger' is a goal or aspiration to be realized progressively that does not give rise to any international obligations nor diminish the responsibilities of national governments toward their citizens."
In other words, the U.S. questions the right for starving kids to receive food; we are not obligated to give out any of our food, and the only people who should feed the poor are governments of the South who must collectively continue to lose $500 million annually in unjust, non-equivalent trade that our "market-society" forces on them.
Most people know that the U.S. uses food as a foreign policy tool. The thirty-something-year-old economic embargo against Cuba (which prohibits food and medicine) is not a mystery. Yet, it has been years since a Sun editorial (not Op-Ed story) considered it. The economic warfare is supposedly taking place because Fidel Castro is a dictator. Yet, Castro has been a relatively popular figure to Cubans because he has shown a commitment towards governmental investment in food and education, with notable results. At the very least, one could say that while the U.S. has turned its back on Castro's people, it has supported Zaire's Mobutu Sese Seko, Indonesia's President Suharto, Algeria's Jonas Savimba, Afghanistan's Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, Nicaragua's Anastasio Somoza-and a host of other monsters. Only mere space prevents a full accounting. Yet, this list would fit nicely inside a Sun editorial, so why does one never appear?
Domestically, the Sun supports policies of Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, which contribute to the growing number of hungry here. Greenspan raises interest rates before inflation sets in to keep the economy at 6% unemployment, and no lower. To make fiscal austerity for the poor easier to swallow (sorry) for its readers, the Sun reacted to Greenspan's latest rate hike by telling us that Greenspan is "a skilled manager" who "can count public relations mastery among his personal assets." He is "adept at his phraseology," simply a "guru whose `pre-emptive strike' [vs. inflation] suddenly became common wisdom." Furthermore, the Sun told us all these wonderful things in a single editorial! (3/26/97).
Such is the propaganda that Jacqueline Thomas has pledged to continue during her reign. She is already on her way. If we don't all resist it, the propaganda may someday "be popular"-and "adapt its spiritual level to the perception of the least intelligent of those towards whom it intends to direct itself" (A. Hitler).