are up in arms one of their own has been fired from his
position as a "journalist" at the Voice of America
and may be on his way to becoming the Mumia
Abu Jamal of the War Party. The cause of Stephen
Schwartz, a writer formerly
known as "Comrade Sandalio," has been taken
up by William
Safire and Ronald
Radosh. In a column berating the "accommodationist"
US State Department supposedly in control of VOA whose news
director is under the illusion that he heads up a real news-gathering
organization, instead of a propaganda arm of the US government
excuse may be leaked, but I think the real reason is ironic:
the former San Francisco Chronicle reporter is an outspoken
dissenter from the news director's views. Schwartz, a contributor
to the conservative Weekly Standard, is critical of Saudi
and Syrian support of terror."
it sounds like Safire may be all-too-aware of the real
real reason Schwartz was kicked out, because he goes to
describe Schwartz pretty accurately:
abrasive reporter, 53, who covered the war in Bosnia and Kosovo
firsthand, was unpopular with deskbound colleagues."
is putting it mildly. When we linked to one of his diatribes
in this column, Antiwar.com received a phone call from someone
purporting to be Schwartz's lawyer, threatening to sue us.
We told him to drop dead.
known the voluble Schwartz for years. He used to be a local
"character" here in the Bay Area, whose antics are
best exemplified in a May 6, 1987 story in the San Francisco
'New Age Rightist' Stephen Schwartz discovered graffiti calling
him 'the philosophical whore of North
Beach,' the former Trotskyite turned red with rage. He
uncapped his felt-tipped pen and was printing a reply to the
scurrilous scribblings when he was busted by Mayor Feinstein's
anti-graffiti police squad on a charge of malicious mischief,
defacing the wall of a Vallejo Street construction site.
demanded a trial to exonerate his exercise of free speech.
was just going to answer that I was not the philosophical
whore of North Beach,' said Schwartz, 37."
years later, Schwartz is still defacing public property,
demanding that we all pay for his "right" to "free
speech" this time, by giving him free rein to peddle
theories that demonize America's Arab allies, via the
Voice of America. Of course, Schwartz has every right to believe
that the Saudis are the number one enemy of mankind, and that
we need to engage in a new cold war with practically the whole
of the Muslim world except the Sufis, and the Bosnian branch
of Islam. But at a time when we are trying to enlist the aid
of our Arab allies in a war against Al Qaeda and allied organizations,
Schwartz's firing is hardly surprising. Indeed, it raises
the question: "Why was he hired in the first place?"
I haven't seen him skulking around North Beach lately, it
seems Schwartz is still a philosophical whore. Here is someone
whose long march through the ideologies started out on the
fringe of Trotskyism as "Comrade
Sandalio," he was the leader (and sole member) of
the Fomento Obrero Revolucianario of the United States
(FOCUS) and wound up on the opposite shore, where
he became "Suleyman Ahmad," the Jewish convert to
Islam and a self-described "New Age rightist."
matter what sort of ideological drag he turns up in, however,
Schwartz always sings essentially the same song. During his
travels through the Balkans, he teamed up with Albanian Catholics,
whom he claims were "threatened by Christian Orthodox
imperialism 'Yugoslav,' Macedonian, Greek." Clinton
had barely begun bombing some of the oldest cities in Europe
when Schwartz popped
up on Bay Area television cheerleading the Kosovo war.
Now the enemy is Wahabism, instead of Orthodoxy, but it's
the same old story: the US must conduct a religious war to
suit Schwartz's latest persona whatever that is.
what's up with all the phony names, and the different ideological
guises? Is the guy a nutball, or just an opportunist? In an
amusing account of his friendship with Schwartz, Keith Sorel
story that provides a clue: After agitating against unions
in his ultra-leftist magazine, The Alarm, declaring
them "enemies of the working class," Schwartz abruptly
decided to go to work as the "official historian"
of the Sailors Union of the Pacific "in order to gain
access to their archives." But it was necessary to keep
his political past a secret:
Alarm had been sacrificed so he could get a union job.
He couldn't work as the official historian of a union and
allow it to be known that he was the author of a publication
that in its first issue had described assassinations of union
bureaucrats in Italy by urban guerrillas as 'viscerally pleasing.'
He argued that any confusions caused to readers of The
Alarm would be well worth the ultimate value of this book
to a resurgent wildcat workers' movement in the United States.
The Alarm would be resurrected after he'd finished
his book. I respected his machiavellian attitude. I liked
Schwartz. I thought he was for real and I wanted to believe
the sectarian politics of the left-communist fringe to the
halls of the Institute
for Contemporary Studies and on to the Voice of America,
this chameleon has changed his spots several times over, but
always, you'll note, in search of a job. The only problem
is that he has to blot out half his resume in search of the
from opportunism, however, there is an ideological
theme to Schwartz's recent career: Wherever there is a war,
there is Stephen Schwartz, hovering vulture-like, demanding
an escalation of the conflict. From the class war, to the
Kosovo war, to the "war on terrorism," the war-bird
Schwartz pops up on every battlefield, like some macabre jack-in-the-box,
braying for the blood of the "oppressors."
the neocons, however, Schwartz is another heroic government
"whistle-blower," blowing the whistle on the "accomodationist"
US State Department. Radosh paints us a portrait of Schwartz
as a political martyr:
de Nesnera, dismissed Schwartz, claiming that his work
was not competent. Given the major journalistic scoops of
Schwartz, the apparent ''reason' is clearly nothing but the
usual bureaucratic excuse offered by the cowards running the
VOA shop. Schwartz obviously was let go because he refused
to toe the line
funny that Radosh touts Schwartz as a crackerjack "reporter"
and regales him with "five in-house rewards for his reporting"
in the San Francisco Chronicle: the joke is that a
good portion of his literary output consisted of obituaries
written for that newspaper. His specialty was panegyrics to
lefties. Whenever some ancient
leftist of note croaked,
the Chronicle wheeled out Schwartz to pen
a paean to the departed. So, what was his big "scoop"
Hall was buried in his best suit?
attempt to turn Schwartz, a.k.a. "Suleyman
Ahmad," a.k.a. "Comrade Sandalio," into
some kind of political martyr is bound to backfire as soon
as the spotlight falls on the alleged "victim."
Indeed, his initial hiring calls into question the whole rationale
for the existence of VOA and the attendant propaganda apparatus
left over from the cold war and now being revived and expanded
by the proponents of the "war on terrorism."
plenty of plush government gigs to go along with all the hopped
up "axis of evil" rhetoric, which is why dubious
characters like Schwartz were the first to plunge their snouts
into that particular trough. Now that the cold war is over,
and knowledge of the intricacies of the Stalin-Trotsky dispute
won't get the aspiring "expert" very far, the new
anti-Muslim cold war is the neocons' meal ticket for the next
decade or two, or so they hope: that's the real motivation
behind the campaign to "Free Stephen Schwartz,"
the neocons' newest poster boy.
complaint that Schwartz was fired because he failed to "toe
the line" is utterly incomprehensible. To begin with,
this is a federal agency we are talking about here: not the
voice of America, but the voice of the American government.
Isn't "toeing the line" part of the job description?
Which brings me to my main point, which is not Schwartz, but
the VOA itself.
don't need an official government agency pumping propaganda
and a lot of hot air into the political atmosphere of the
Middle East. The example of the United States, as a free and
prosperous commonwealth, is sufficient to inspire the admiration
of many, and the envy of a few. We will never win over the
latter, and should be content to let Hollywood mobilize the
allegiance of the former. Baywatch
is a better and far more effective advertisement for
American values than the incitements of an embittered
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