The Apache Stronghold & Euphemizing Genocide

Featuring Vanessa Nosie

by Kate Horgan
Published: Updated:
The Project Censored Show
The Official Project Censored Show
The Apache Stronghold & Euphemizing Genocide
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In the first half of the show, cohost Eleanor Goldfield talks with Vanessa Nosie from Apache Stronghold about the profit-driven priorities of what we’d assume are protective agencies like the US forest service. Vanessa draws a red thread of connection between historical and present-day colonization, uplifting the spiritual and survivalist fight to save the sacred area known as Oak Flat, a decades long struggle that is now taking her and her tribe to the US Supreme Court. Later in the show, cohosts Mickey Huff and Eleanor Goldfield dive into some of the news that didn’t make the news and why vis a vis Palestine, how algorithms are pushing journalists to euphemise genocide, and self-censor while Palestinian journalists are being murdered, Palestinian academics are being canceled, and more.

Video of the Interview with Vanessa Nosie

Video of the Interview with Eleanor and Mickey

Below is a Rough Transcript of the Interview with Vanessa Nosie

Eleanor Goldfield: Thanks, everyone, for joining us back at the Project Censored Radio Show. We’re very glad to welcome to the show Vanessa Nosie, who’s a mother, a matriarch in protection of her tribe’s ancestral home and sacred places, and a community organizer who’s also employed with the San Carlos Apache Archaeology Department and Tribal Historic Preservation Office as an archaeology aide.

Vanessa, thanks so much for being here.

Vanessa Nosie: Well, thank you. Thank you for inviting me on.

Eleanor Goldfield: Absolutely. So Vanessa, I’d like to just go back briefly to in order to go forward and give listeners kind of a very rough outline of what we’re discussing here.

Back in 2014, at the last minute in the guaranteed to pass national defense authorization act, then senators John McCain and Jeff Flake threw in a rider handing what is known as Oak Flat inside the Tonto National Forest over to Resolution Copper Company to build one of the world’s largest copper mines.

Now we’ve covered the issue of protected versus unprotected land on the show before, but I feel like people might be understandably confused by how a quote unquote national forest, supposedly forest land or protected land could be gutted for a mining project.

Could you talk a little bit about that?

Vanessa Nosie: Sure. I think the misconception or like the confusion of it is that we think National Forest Service, you know, under the United States Department of Agriculture, that their job and their priority is to manage these forests, and to protect their natural resources. But that’s not the case.

What their job is to do, and we found this out with the Chi’chil Biłdagoteel, the Oak Flat issue is that their priority is to make profit off of our natural resources.

So, you know, there’s that lie and the confusion that, you know, they have like campgrounds and it’s federally protected under the United States government and so forth.

So any federal land, forest land is up for grabs because they want to profit off our natural resources. And it’s a sad situation because at the very very beginning before the land exchange was put into the Midnight Rider in 2014, the Tonto National Forest Service was against this mine. They were telling them that this is going to be devastating and detrimental to the environment and to the land.

But because of Senator John McCain. And Kirkpatrick and Jeff Flake and all of them that were bought into supporting resolution copper. They feel their hands are tied, you know. But it always goes back to making a moral decision, regardless, and and standing your ground.

So yeah, that’s the bottom line is that they’re going to make money off our natural resources because there’s free campsites and there’s campsites that you have to pay for, and it’s very few of them to that are free. So they make revenue off these campsites. Well, now you got a foreign mining company that comes in, and the United States government just turns around and hands it over to them.

Eleanor Goldfield: Yeah, that that seems abundantly clear and I I want to shift to to talking specifically about the place.

And I think oftentimes the question that’s posed to Indigenous peoples is “Could you talk about how this place is sacred.”

And while I would like to hear your thoughts on that if you’re willing to share, but I think a bigger question that doesn’t get asked as often is why isn’t any land sacred to the colonizer? And there have been many books and essays written about this, like the concept of Wetiko from Jack D. Forbes book Columbus and Other Cannibals, but Vanessa, I’m curious to hear your thoughts on that question.

Why is no land sacred to the colonizer?

Vanessa Nosie: What I’ve been taught is that we’re old to the old ways, so it’s very much a part of our life, still present, and we’re new to this new way of life as Indigenous people.

You know, you hear all that happened so many years ago, hundreds and hundreds of years ago, what happened to your people, like get over it, you know, you come across those type of people that don’t unerstand. And then we have our allies and our non indigenous communities of support, they get it, some of them get it.

What we’ve learned in this process of why some of them are so quick and easy to turn their head and not acknowledge the sacredness, what is the spirit that God has created all things we believe from the pebble to the wind to the animals, to us as humans. And that’s a part of our religion. But what happened is that it’s so very recent for us. Cause I can go back to my great grandfather that was a chief and that was with Geronimo. Can you imagine? I mean, that’s only two greats. That’s my grandfather, my great grandfather, and then him that, that was with our people fighting to continue to exist.

And you go back to the history of Indigenous people, it was up to like the mid 70s when the Bureau of Indian Affairs quit taking us from our families and sending us to boarding school. I live next to a 20 minute border town where up to the 70s, it was “no dogs no Indians allowed.” So a lot of this, I mean I’m born in 1979. I mean I don’t feel old, you know, I can remember up to like my earliest years of life, and I can’t imagine that that was still happening to my people, relocation, the boarding school era, even to be placed as prisoners of war.

So for instance, my Father is first reservation born. I’m second reservation and I’m a mom of four girls. So my girls are third generation reservation born. And my grandmother was placed as prisoner of war here. And so, it’s so much alive. It’s not even, you know, you hear the wording of historic trauma. It’s not for us. It’s still very much present.

So going back to your question is what happened to the non Indigenous communities, what happened to Europeans when they fled here for religious prosecution, they were already assimilated. They have been assimilated way far longer than what we have.

And what’s crazy is that we as indigenous people, like for myself and my family, we don’t look at anybody any different. You are indigenous from somewhere. You have your roots. But what happened is that that was all cut off. As for us, we still feel the chains around our wrists, around our ankles. Everybody else forgot it. They’ve assimilated. They don’t even know it exists anymore.

And if you go back to queens and kings, when it was human form that placed fear of religion into their own people. So you look at these kings and queens and they took different stories out from the Bible to place fear for power and greed. Right. And so they were already using religion as a form of colonization, of assimilation, of divide and conquer. Right.

So what happened is why a lot of people that are non indigenous don’t understand it’s because they’ve been assimilated far too long. Now the Apache Stronghold, we’re telling everybody you need to wake up.

You need to know where you come from and you need to remember you’re no different than us. Because if you go back to the biblical stories that are written, Moses talked to God in the mountain through a burning bush. Noah got messages to save the people and the animals to create this boat. You look at all these real significant people in Christianity or in the Bible, they’re no different than what our prophets and our holy people have stated.

Just now, today, people don’t recognize that. The non Indigenous communities don’t realize that what we’ve witnessed happening to them, we don’t want to happen to us.

And so, that’s where we see the division, or what, like your question, like, why don’t non Natives or non Indigenous people feel that this is sacred? It’s because they’ve been far assimilated. They, they don’t feel the chains anymore, and they’ve adapted to it. And they have to go back, they have to wake up and be like, we are no different. We have indigenous places and holy sites where we, our people have come from. And God spoke to us the same way he’s speaking to these people.

So, that’s, I guess, an example of a way that we look at it. Go back, find out who you are. You know, we’re not telling you to leave. We’re just saying, find your roots, learn where your people come from because you are no different. We’re trying to not only protect ourselves from the further of assimilation of losing who we are spiritually, but we’re also trying to wake up the world, because we at the forefront fighting for our sacred places, the places that are at threat.

As being first nation on this continent, first nation of this land here in the so called America, we’re trying to wake you guys up.

Eleanor Goldfield: Yeah, absolutely. Thank you for that framing. I think that’s helpful for people who do relate to the Bible or really, I guess, any religious books or stories or things like that.

I’m also curious, could you talk a little bit about what is known as Oak Flat and how the Apache have historically and still, how you interact with that place?

Vanessa Nosie: We believe that’s where God has touched the earth, where our direct connection comes from. And so being there and being raised with the understanding that God, creator, we say Yosen has created all living things. This is a place where our deities are, I guess, like our angels, our holy people, our holy beings come from.

And this is a place where, you could be born there, you could live your life there and you can die there. It has abundance of food and medicine and water. It has so much life there. And that’s the sacredness. When you touch the ground, when you walk into Oak Flak, you can feel it. This is a place where our girls, when they transition from a young girl into a woman, this is that place that happens, where our ceremony, our ancient ceremony that was in time immemorial that was given to us by God, is where this is the exact place where these girls can become women.

This is a place where our boys go through their transition too, and have sweat. This is a place where we can pick our chichil or acorn that goes into our ceremonies, that go into our everyday lives. This is where we pick the berries that help nourish our body, our mind, and our spirit that is very much a part of our religion.

So there’s, there’s so much of importance of our way of life, our religion that is tied to the land, that is tied to Oak Flat, but that if resolution copper is to win this land exchange, and the destruction that’s going to happen there, that means our spirit, the spirit of this holy place, the religion of our people, that spirit that we all have will be gone forever. Because it becomes a two mile wide crater, a mild deep down, as big as the Eiffel Tower.

It will be gone. It’s not like like I could go over there and still pray, go over there and be able to teach because our way of life is oral history, is oral religion. So, as a mom, my responsibility as an Apache woman, as an Apache mom is to give these teachings that was passed down to me to my daughters.

If it’s gone forever, I will not have that opportunity. My children will not know what it is to be an Apache. So I have four girls. Three, I have three of them that are adults. I have a 24, 23 and a 19 year olds. I’ve had the blessed gift, even when we were feared for our lives or worried about getting in trouble, we still went back ’cause it’s outside of our reservation. Right? It’s outside the jurisdiction that the United States government said, this is where you can only be. We risked it, you know, going back, going to Oak Flat, going to these holy places. And I was able to gain those teachings from my grandmother and those before me.

Well, my responsibility is to give those to my children so that we can continue to exist. So like I said, I have three older kids, older children, older daughters, but I have a three year old. My worry, one of my worries is, how am I going to teach her how to be an Apache? If it is gone forever, we all know there’s a difference of how we can perceive and conduct ourselves when we are able to visualize it, right? Are we able to go to places? Able to touch things, all our senses?

But if I can only tell her a story, it’s different. So as my daughter, we’re at a crossroads. My older girls are able, I knew that I was going to raise them in this fight. I knew that the fight for them, and when they took their first breath because we weren’t supposed to exist, but I knew they had that opportunity or option to pick up a fight, to pick up the fight.

My daughter, she doesn’t, we don’t even, it’s so uncertain that we don’t know she’ll be able to even pick up the fight. So we’re at a crossroads. Are you just going to know the idea of what it is to be Apache? Are you going to be able to be Apache? And that’s why Oak Flat is so important on the indigenous side, on the Apache side.

Because all the teachings and the spirit that we consume or that we embrace is there. That sacredness, that spirit that is alive, that God has touched, and if it’s gone, then that’s a part of us that is, we will be gone. And that was what was prophesized in our people was that the last war was going to be our religion, and it’s on trial right now.

Eleanor Goldfield: Yeah, absolutely. Thank you so much for sharing that.

And with regards to the future, I want to get into the status right now because in the middle of May, so we’re recording this on May 30th, so roughly 15 days ago, a press release came out that I read on Apache Stronghold’s website that the Ninth Circuit of Appeals had denied your request to be heard, and now the next step is to go to the Supreme Court.

So I’m curious, what is the status now in terms of that case?

Vanessa Nosie: Well, it was a close case, you know, especially with the 11 judges, it was six to five. I think a lot of people didn’t really didn’t think it would be so close because when you look at our case, it’s on religion.

And the United States government does not want to talk about religion, they’re not going to want to make a decision on it, or even acknowledge it, especially because what’s going to happen is that they have to acknowledge the first people of this land. They’re going to have to acknowledge the indigenous people and say that, yes, they’re still alive and breathing and their religion does exist.

And so, it’s been an amazing opportunity to witness because regardless, I can be angry. I have every right to be angry as an indigenous person. My people have , all indigenous people have witnessed genocide, from our lives, our ancestors being murdered, raped, to genocide of assimilation, to cut off everything that it is to be who we are.

The United States campaign was a good Indian is a dead Indian, but when they couldn’t kill us all, it was kill the Indian and save the man. And so that that’s still very much alive because to kill the Indian is to kill our spirit, to kill our religion, our holy places.

And that would cut us off completely. So, I can be mad, I can be angry, I’m hurt. I’ve witnessed so many things within my own family of genocide and racism and trauma.

But I’m hopeful. I’m hopeful because at some point we’re going to have to be acknowledged. At some point we need to not be the dust that they sweep underneath the carpet.

We as indigenous people are at the forefront fighting for all people. Oak Flat is just not an Apache war anymore. It’s everybody’s war. It’s a world, and it’s an international fight now, because of our natural resources continue to be raped and taken and destroyed, no one is able to live on this earth without water, air, the food that the earth provides, all of it. How are we going to survive? How is it going to look seven generations down for all people?

And then as a religious aspect, if my religion is at stake, so is yours. So whether you are a person of faith or not, when you look at this fight, you have to see the ugliness, that evil that’s behind it, and so, that’s why I say I’m trying to be hopeful in this fight, because it’s a time of unification for all people.

It’s a time of unification and solidarity to stand together, because before colonization, before European settlers came, all tribes, no matter where they were located, and no matter what type of tribe they were, we were one drum, one circle, one prayer.

And that was prophesized to us because they said this evil that was happening on the other side of the world that was conquering and dividing and was of colonization that was happening to their people, he came to this side of the world, but we were so strong in our spirituality that it couldn’t penetrate its evil, but it did promise us that one day he would be back. So that’s what we see today is that this evil is back, not in human form, but in corporation and colonization, and it’s not just trying to penetrate its evil within the indigenous people, but it’s a collective of all people.

And now that we’re all here on this land, we have to find a solution to protect each and every one of us. We have to come together.

As indigenous people are now making a voice and saying enough is enough, that we’re no longer want to be in prison and we no longer want to allow this corporate government control us and take away who we are, our spirit.

We’re forming that circle, but there’s a spot missing and that’s everybody, all race, all nationalities to come and form this circle. And that’s what we’re witnessing now with Oak Flat. There’s so many people that want to help support and protect Oak Flat, we’re closing that circle. And that’s what gives me hope.

That’s what turns my anger into, no, we’re ready. Bring on the Supreme Court. We’re ready. We’re ready to fight. This is the last battle that we have witnessed, that we are witnessing. And, we’re going all the way. We are going all the way. There’s no question about it. Our attorneys are working on it. We are heading to the Supreme court, and we will continue to fight this judicial system so that our people, and not just our people, but all people are being heard, because we have so many different faiths that have assigned onto amicus brief, so many different organizations, so many people, of all walks of life are on our amicus brief.

So we’re ready. Resolution copper, United States government, bring it on. We’re ready. And no matter what the outcome is, we will fight till the end. And that means even if it takes our life, if I have to stand there at Oak Flat and let it take my life, I’m gonna let it take my life.

And I know that’s where my father sits. I know that’s where a lot of people sit, you know? So, I’m willing to give it everything it has til my last breath and so, that’s where Apache Stronghold is. That’s where we’re at right now.

Eleanor Goldfield: Thank you, Vanessa, so much for sharing that and I think to your point, I’ve noticed as a non Indigenous person in a lot of the work that I’ve done with, whether they be pipeline fights or forest defense, that a lot of non Indigenous peoples have come to the realization that if Indigenous land is not considered sacred, then no land is because it’s all Indigenous land. Because we are in a colonized space. So I think that I agree that I think that’s a very hopeful aspect of this.

And I want to, before we wrap up here, I noticed on Apache Stronghold’s website, there was also a really, I guess, not shocking when you understand what the U.S. government is, but, a really terrifying note: As part of the land exchange, the topic of all federally owned land in the West was brought up, including all reservations in the West. And previously on the show, we have had Leona Morgan from Haul No talking about the proposed mining just outside of the Diné reservation in what’s known as Grand Canyon.

So this is something that’s happening across the West, but could you talk about this idea of basically all federally owned land being open for this kind of ecocide, including reservations.

Vanessa Nosie: Well, you know, it’s a form of manipulation. And why I say that is because we’re facing a huge climate change, right?

We’re in a climate crisis. And I was just talking with a friend and it was funny. Well, it’s not funny. It’s sad. When we firs,t when you go back and you look at the discussions and conversations that were happening around climate, right, it was like climate change is happening and then it was climate crisis, well now they’re calling it climate mitigation.

, with the United States government and how they run their government, it’s a corporate government.

And so a lot of what you see when you talk about federal land, when they say federal land, I mean, just property in the United States. It’s land that belongs to them. And so they’re looking for every which way to make profit.

Vanessa Nosie: They don’t care about you and I, they don’t care about the children or those yet to be born, of what kind of life and world that we’re going to be leaving them or creating for them. And so, with Oak Flat and the United States, that’s a prime example of showing them that they don’t care about the people and why I say that is because they’re willing to give so called in the US soil to a foreign mining company.

And the copper that they’re supposed to extract, 75 percent is going to China. So not only are you giving it to Rio Tinto and BHP, you know, that are from a whole different country, it’s going to have property here in the US soil, and they don’t care.

So going into reservation bound, well, a lot of the misconception about indigenous people is like, oh, they got reservation, they got their own land. That’s not true. Every federally recognized tribe that is recognized by the United States government sits on their concentration camp. What they did is just changed the wording to manipulate people from a concentration camp as prisoners to reservation.

Then what’s underneath that is that every reservation that a tribe sits on that is federally recognized is trust land, meaning it not owned by that tribe. So me as an enrolled tribal member of the St. Carlos Apache tribe and residing on the St. Carlos Apache reservation, I don’t own the piece of land that I reside at.

And nor does my tribe own the one point million or however many acres that the United States allows us to be on. So when you go back when Trump was president, he was threatening to take federal land, even reservations, so that they can take the natural resources, from lumber to minerals to, to the water to metal, because they want to profit off of it.

So as indigenous people, we’re not safe. This is not our land, and San Carlos has actually been downsized several times from when we were first placed here as prisoners of war, because the state of Arizona and the United States found copper, found gold, found silver. And so San Carlos sits next to the copper triangle.

So our reservation boundaries or our area that we’re placed on has been downsized. So we’re not safe. It’s already been in talks that they want to downsize so many federal lands and reservations and reserves because they want these natural resources and these special minerals and metals to profit off of.

So, you know, it all goes back, if you look back at how the United States was founded and the seat, not only did they tell the indigenous people, but all people is that’s the root, that’s the root of this evil, this corporate life, this colonized way of living, and enough is enough and that’s why it’s important that we all wake up and understand what’s at stake, you know, because after they take away federal land and reservation, who’s to say that your property is not up for grabs.

Eleanor Goldfield: Yeah, absolutely. And as many people could tell you, there’s a lot of people who have been forced off their land because a pipeline is going to go through there or, you know, a compressor station for fracking or what have you. So, it is already happening in that way.

Vanessa, I really appreciate you sharing so much information, and speaking of closing that circle, where is a good way, a good place for folks to go to, to learn more, and potentially join the fight to save Oak Flat?

Vanessa Nosie: Please get on our website, www. apache-stronghold.com.

And we have all our social media accounts from X to Instagram and Facebook that will be posting whether events or ceremony, you know, because the Apache stronghold is a spiritual group. And we’re asking for everybody that believes how important this is, or even if you have questions or don’t know, please reach out to us, whether it’s through our website or social media accounts, reach out to us.

Because it is important that you know that this fight that’s happening because Oak Flat is such a big issue from an environmental injustice to religious injustice. And so you know I really encourage people to go to our website. It has from events to our marches to the legislation, it has press release has videos and so much important information that on our website.

You know, on the other hand, please reach out to your Congress people, reach out to your senators, tell them, write to them, flood their phones, email them to not destroy a holy site, to not destroy Mother Earth, to not contaminate the water and the air, please reach out to them.

Because it’s federal land no matter what state you’re in, you can reach out to your elected officials, from local state to federal. Reach out to them and tell them: no resolution copper, protect Oak Flat.

This issue is, we’re at the forefront. Like I said, it’s not just an Apache issue anymore. Yeah. At the beginning, at the very beginning, when we started, because we’ve been fighting this for, since the late 1990s, going into the 2000s. So we’ve been fighting for 20 years, fighting to protect Oak Flat.

And so, you know, just get informed, reach out to your official, your political officials, and get on our website. And prayer, prayer is vital because when we’re fighting something really evil and it’s not in a physical form, it’s in that spiritual realm, and so, we need that.

Those that want to sign on as amicus brief onto a case, get ahold of Beckett law, the Beckett law firm, they have attorneys there to help. And, and just, continue to stand with us.

Eleanor Goldfield: Thank you so much, Vanessa, really appreciate you coming on the show and talking about this vital issue.

Vanessa Nosie: Thank you. Thank you for having us because it’s really important to get our stories, because I’m not just telling my story, but I have so many people, you know, from my own people to my other indigenous communities and non indigenous communities supporting it because it’s about all of us.

It’s about all of us and we need to be that one drum. One prayer, one circle.

Eleanor Goldfield: Absolutely. Couldn’t agree more. Thank you again.

Vanessa Nosie: Thank you.

Below is a Rough Transcript of the Interview with Eleanor and Mickey

Mickey Huff: You’re listening to the Project Censored Show on Pacifica Radio. I’m your host, Mickey Huff, with co host Eleanor Goldfield, and it is that time in the program, once again, that Eleanor and I actually get to talk with each other, which is always a treat for me. And I always appreciate getting to dialogue with Eleanor, whom our audience knows does amazing and incredible interviews and carries on great conversations with fantastic guests.

And today, I’m going to kick things off with Eleanor talking about a few recent pieces. We, as you all know, sort of cut up the headlines a bit. We talk about what’s happening in the media. We talk about the state of the free press. We talk about the news that doesn’t make the news and analyze why. Because it’s the Project Censored Show.

So, Eleanor, it’s great to be with you again. And one of the pieces that I know that you brought to my attention and you wanted to talk about is from Prism Reports and the title is a profound question. We are reporting on a genocide through emojis. What does this mean for journalism? And the subtitle talks about how journalism is an integral part of social media.

But what happens when platforms censor reporters? So there’s a couple different directions that this article certainly is going, and I know you have some things to say about it.

So, Eleanor.

Eleanor Goldfield: Yeah, absolutely, Mickey. And I agree. It’s always good and I think important to sit down with you and discuss these issues. And for those who want to check this out, it’s on prismreports.org, and it was written by Anna Lekas Miller. And the first thing that you see when you look at this article is a giant watermelon, and for folks who don’t know the watermelon is a symbol of Palestine.

It started because Palestinians were not allowed to fly the Palestinian flag. So then they started using the symbol of the watermelon because it has the same colors of the red, black and green. And you’ve probably seen it online too. The watermelon as being used instead of using the Palestinian flag or the word.

So I think this is a really important thing to highlight because it’s ridiculous on its face, right? And Anna writes “not only must we create content to capture an audience with an attention span that lasts just a few seconds, but we are also forced to normalize a form of censorship that prioritizes pleasing the algorithmic gods over engaging in honest conversations about important social justice topics such as white supremacy and settler colonialism.”

It really is absurd, the idea that we can’t just share information about an ongoing genocide, but then it has to be, it has to be click worthy, right? It has to be something that’s engaging. I don’t know how to square that circle. A, it shouldn’t be engaging in that creepy kind of capitalist way. But also, if you are looking for that kind of content, when there’s a genocide going on, you know, I fear for the direction of your moral compass.

We’ve talked about this before, Mickey, as well, like how TikTok has become the enemy of the state simply because the U.S. can’t control the narrative, and all of these people are going on TikTok and learning about what’s happening in Gaza, and that’s unacceptable. And so she also points out in this article that, you know, we have to use the symbol of the watermelon, or we write P@lestine with an @ symbol instead of the a. And instead of writing genocide, there’s a skull and crossbones emoji.

And as she writes, “according to the algorithm, I might be a terrorist.”

And so the algorithm is censoring people who are talking about this ongoing genocide, not just, you know, people like Anna and other great journalists, but of course the journalists that are on the ground in Gaza sharing the genocide live streamed.

As I’ve said before, it’s the first genocide that’s being live streamed in real time. This is being horrifically censored by the very same outlets that we recently covered, Mickey, are where people are going to find out the information about this genocide.

Mickey Huff: Indeed, and great coverage of that material. And Anna also writes the background, sort of the history of the genocide.

When you were mentioning the watermelon emoji, you know, she writes that given that a genocide is all of these things, violent and graphic killing, murder, death and so on, the gravestone or skull emojis have become a stand in for mass slaughter of well, what’s now 37,000, at least, Palestinians, this coded language and this working around.

And then the use of the watermelon, as you say, the history goes back to the 1967 Israeli ban on public displays of the Palestinian flag after the Six Day War, and the reason I bring that up, and Anna writes right in the beginning, and the reason I wanted to mention it here with you now, obviously you’re well aware of this, the corporate media, the establishment press in the US, they’ve conveniently, contextually framed all of what’s happening as if it started on October 7th, 2023.

And there’s so many other places we can go back. And of course, if you go back even further, people want to go back thousands of years. But as an historian myself by day, I think it’s extraordinarily relevant to go back at least multiple generations to sort of see what’s the back and forth that’s happening here and what is the disproportionate kind of response to the so called terrorism attacks.

And look, the Hamas attack is called a terrorist attack. But what spurs or causes the horror of terrorist attacks? Well, it’s often state terror, right? It’s often a long series of provocations and volleys. And of course, in the middle of it all, as we know, over the course of the 20th century, at the beginning of the 20th century, 90 percent of the people that were dying in global wars were involved in the military. By the end of the 20th century, the numbers reversed. Now, most of the people that are dying in global wars or innocent civilians, as we know, in Gaza, many innocent women and children.

And so I think pointing out that there are many ways to censor this with language and so on. But the social media platform algorithmic special, right, is that people are forced to spell things weird, use different font, use different emojis, and on one level, it’s like, well, we’re trying to beat the algorithm, but on the other, on this other level, how much are we engaging in a self censorious act by having to utilize these platforms? , And what does it say that our quote, public square has been subsumed by a handful of major Silicon Valley, tech companies that don’t have the public interest at heart that are now more ensconced in the military industrial complex than arguably ever before, and that have a vested interest in controlling these narratives?

You mentioned TikTok moments ago, and we know publicly both Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and Senator Mitt Romney talked openly at the McCain Institute, about censoring TikTok about content because somehow the youth were being brainwashed to support the rights of Palestinian people.

Often censorship is something that’s kind of surreptitious or it’s behind the scenes, but come on, we’re seeing open calls for various kinds of censorship from all over the place, including from academia and law journals. Maybe we’ll talk about that in a little while.

But again, I think that what’s stemming around this piece is the fact that we can’t seem to even come to an agreement Eleanor about how to share information about this, how to talk about these things and without using clear language, we run the risk of euphemizing mass tragedies, genocide. It’s pretty incredible that we’re watching this happen in real time.

What was another major takeaway for you in the Prism Report piece, Eleanor?

Eleanor Goldfield: Yeah, absolutely, Mickey. And I think, another major takeaway for me was that, like what you mentioned about the self censorship and that it can happen so insidiously so that you don’t even realize that you’re doing it.

Like, I will not put the word Gaza in the title of a podcast or some kind of post that I’m doing because I know that it’s not going to be seen by even, you know, my mother. So, I’ve started, even though I’m talking about what’s happening in Gaza, I have to call it something else.

And to be honest, we’ve seen this in the past. I remember, one of Lee Camp’s most shared images from the Occupy days was a picture of a kitten, and then next to the picture of the kitten, it talked about Wall Street and how horrific it is that they own our entire government, but the fact that it was a kitten meant that it was shared so many times because everyone’s like, oh, kitty.

And so this kind of allowing certain images or allowing certain discussion topics to go past algorithms, this has existed for a while. It’s just that now it’s ramping up.

And as you pointed out, Mickey, it’s becoming so overt, and to the point where, I mean, this is really disgusting, but as she writes in this article, there are journalists in Gaza that are using popular hashtags. So, for instance, 22 year old Plestia Alaqad jumped on the “what’s in my bag” trend to show people what she packed to flee Gaza during the genocide.

So, there are these trends on Instagram where it’s like, what did I buy at the store. You know, what’s in my bag was a trend about, I’m assuming what makeup or clothes you bought. And now it’s being used so that people will pay attention to genocide. And as she points out, “I wonder about the future of journalism when journalists themselves are beholden to algorithms that prefer get ready with me videos over war reporting.”

We can’t even have a straightforward war report. I don’t know that we ever really did in this country, but we really can’t have it now. And this is really disgusting that we’re having to Kardashian our reporting in order to get it past the algorithms.

Mickey Huff: Yeah, the algorithms, the invisible big tech sensors, right?

You know, in fact, this fall, our associate director, Andy Lee Roth is spearheading a whole study on algorithmic literacy and trying to put together curriculum for algorithmic literacy for journalists. And Andy was awarded a Reynolds Journalism Institute fellowship actually to study this and to create didactic educational documents for people to understand how this works.

How do these things get censored if we don’t understand how the platform is operating, which is private and proprietary. Then it’s difficult for us to try to get around that. And this article that you’re talking about really highlights the fact that we’re already doing this, we’re already adopting ways to work around the sensors.

And at some point again, back to I think one of your main points is we need to address this kind of head on, so we don’t euphemize around these kinds of issues. We can speak honestly and directly about these kinds of issues. So again, it’s important, while it’s difficult, of course, to read some of the things that we’re seeing at prismreports, this is why we need public interest, independent media.

This is why we need journalism in the public interest and bottom up grassroots journalism is because we really need to understand what’s happening around the world. And, there are so many efforts to try to censor what’s happening, particularly right now in what’s happening in Palestine with Israel, Gaza, Hamas, et cetera.

I think that we can’t draw attention to this enough.

Eleanor Goldfield: Absolutely, Mickey. And I think that it’s important also to point out, which is something that you pointed out before we started here, that the ultimate type of censorship is what we’re seeing in Gaza.

And, as the Committee to Protect Journalists pointed out, we’re recording this on June 6th, and they released a press release on June 5th that shows, that their investigations show at least 108 journalists and media workers are among the more than 37,000 people who have been murdered since this began on October 7th. Well, this particular thing began, nothing started on October 7th, but 108 journalists and media workers.

I mean, and as they’ve pointed out, and you can look on their website to see more of that, you can see many of them have been targeted killings, like more than like several dozen have been targeted killings, which means that Israel is well aware that they’re going after journalists.

They’re not like, oh, oops, my hand slipped. They’re going after journalists as this ultimate form of censorship. And so I think that it’s important to recognize that censorship is a spectrum and that we have to fight it across this spectrum and also recognize that the most horrific type of media censorship is what these journalists are experiencing in Gaza right now.

Mickey Huff: Absolutely. And Eleanor, the piece that you’re looking at now from the Committee to Protect Journalists, just so our listeners know, you can go to cpj.org. This is the June 5 piece, Journalist Casualties in the Israel Gaza War, which is the terminology that they’re using there. And if to quote the CPJ program director Carlos Martinez de la Serna in New York, Carlos said, “since the war in Gaza started, journalists have been paying the highest price their lives,” That’s the ultimate censorship here “for their reporting without protection equipment, international presence, communications or food and water. They are still doing the crucial job to tell the world the truth. Every time a journalist is killed, injured, arrested, or forced to go to exile, we lose fragments of the truth. Those responsible for these casualties face dual trials, one under international law and another before history’s unforgiving gaze.”

And let’s remember, Eleanor, the IDF claims that it does not target journalists. It claims that it is not trying to silence people. Although we know otherwise. There’s a long history of the targeting of journalists. And we’ve certainly seen a long list of quote unquote mistaken attacks. Right. That seems to be it’s a serial excuse at this juncture. A mistake is something that one makes rarely. When you have bombings and missile strikes that are killing journalists, killing people in tents that were told to shelter in places, these are not mistakes. And it’s important to call out the language that’s being abused around this.

This is a classic news abuse issue, clear abuse of language, clear obfuscation going on.

And then, of course, the response to this stuff in the United States Congress, Eleanor, is to have a bipartisan invitation to bring Netanyahu to the United States, who is, you know, wanted by the ICC for war crimes. And so too is the head of Hamas. Right? But that’s how the United States responds to this.

There’s also further reports out that are showing that it was U.S. made weapons that were killing the people in the tents around Rafah. Again, we know this, but, and look, this stuff is now being reported in the establishment press.

CNN did an exhaustive detailed report of what we just said. And I’m like, what is going on? It’s extraordinary. And it does show a lot of how people are conditioned. And it shows that we have a lot of work to do, Eleanor, and figuring out how we communicate with people and finding out why they may have these ideas or thoughts or beliefs about what’s happening and how best to counter it.

And as you and I mentioned, independent media often is a great way to introduce people to these counter narratives based on evidence, the degree to which that we’re not trying to push people in a direction saying, I’m right, you’re wrong, no matter what, which is what they’re doing in reverse.

But it’s, how do we get people to see what’s happening? Their own inability to see around what they’re conditioned to look at. Right? How can we expand that frame?

And, Eleanor, I know as you said earlier, may have been off air. But when we’re talking about the numbers and casualties, there’s so many people still buried under rubble. We don’t know even the extent of the tragedy. And as I spoke with historian Peter Kuznick last week, he said that he surmises there’s well over 50, 000 people that had been killed, not to mention however many more journalists that would be.

But there was another piece that you, brought to my attention. Middle Eastern and Muslim media workers are facing retaliation for covering Gaza. A new report details cases of retaliation and discrimination against media workers advocating for Palestinian liberation and against the killing of journalists in Gaza between October 23 and this past February.

This is a piece by Alexandra Martinez, also at Prism Reports. Eleanor, can you tell us a little bit about what’s happening with this story and other related, in, for our topic today?

Eleanor Goldfield: Yeah, absolutely, Mickey. So this, this story came from, or this report is by the Freelance Solidarity Project, which is the digital media division of the National Writers Union, and they created a report, a report, documenting retaliation that, workers in the media industry have faced.

And they, focused on media workers of Middle Eastern or North African descent and those identifying as Muslims. So this does not mean that those who don’t identify as that have not faced retaliation. But, as listeners might be aware, we live in a white supremacist, very anti Muslim, anti African and Middle Eastern society.

So those people are going to face more retaliation more often than not. for listening. And so this report titled Red Lines, Retaliation in the Media Industry. During the war on Gaza was released last month, right after World Press Freedom Day and recorded 44 cases of retaliation affecting more than 100 media professionals, professionals between October 7th and February 1st.

So listeners might note that this is February 1st. So this is before we see the college encampment start up. And so there’s probably likely and, and, and, the freelance solidarity project makes this note that there’s going to have been more since February, right? We don’t have the resources to do this work, but we wanted to create kind of a snapshot and show folks, what this, what this looks like.

And their research encompassed international cases, although they point out that the majority of reported incidents originated in the United States. And so the report found that workers of color, particularly Muslim and Arab media professionals, face disproportionate impact. In one instance at the LA Times, a group of 38 workers signed a letter protesting the targeting and killing of journalists in Gaza and were told they could not cover anything related to the war after they signed the letter.

And of those 38 workers, more than 25 were workers of color. Over half,

Mickey Huff: more than half.

Eleanor Goldfield: More than half. And additionally, the report highlights the impact on freelance workers, a significant factor, considering that more than 30 percent of journalists are freelancers. And I think that this is important because they point out that you don’t have that workplace solidarity.

And it’s easier for the, the, this kind of retaliation to pass unnoticed because the employer can just say, Oh, it can just say, we’re not taking your pitches anymore or can just not respond. And as a freelance writer myself, I know that that’s something that could easily happen, and then it would be on me to try and prove that it had anything to do with specific reporting or a specific stance that I took.

And they also point out that unions can be a powerful tool against this kind of retaliation. Yeah.

Mickey Huff: So how so? Yeah, that’s a very fascinating and important connection of labor protecting workers, particularly protecting marginalized workers. In this case, we’re talking about journalists that are people of color, Eleanor.

Eleanor Goldfield: Yeah. So they point out that Hearst magazine’s union was actually successful in pushing back against a social media policy that the, that the company was trying to push, which would have limited what their workers were allowed to say on social media to only things that were consistent with the company’s stated positions, which is just absolute, Like, that’s, that’s so Not

Mickey Huff: journalism.

That’s just not journalism. It’s

Eleanor Goldfield: just not. You’re right. And so this, that, that was one of those instances where a union was able to have that collective power and push back and say, nope, that’s not what we’re doing here. But considering how few people, are actually in unions. And again, that 30 percent, are freelance writers.

There are a lot of people that are left out in the cold with these, with these principled positions that have nowhere to go. And she also points out that we’ve been watching mass layoffs and media organizations basically collapsing under the weight of these kind of, retaliations. And there, there’s, there’s nowhere for these people to go.

Especially freelancers. ’cause again, the, the, the, the, the weight of that proof is on your shoulders to try and say, well, it’s because of this. So, it is, it, it is frightening to see how much retaliation has come just on this one topic, which of course means Mickey, that there’s retaliation on a lot of other topics too.

It’s just that right now, we’re very much focused on this one.

Mickey Huff: Eleanor, what a phrase. If there is a pull quote for our conversation right there. It’s there is retaliation on a number of issues, including labor, labor itself, including having these corporate outlets report about labor with that innate bias, right?

So somehow if you’re a labor organizer, you’re biased, but if you’re writing for the corporate press, your objective, you know, the double standards abound. And again, this is another extraordinary, report we, we found at prison reports. org. This was by Alexander Martinez on Middle Eastern and Muslim media workers facing retaliation for covering Gaza.

So a couple of reports there, we’ve talked about the CPJ and Eleanor, we’ve got a few minutes left. I wanted to bring to, bring it back to the table. Another example of censorship, this being a violation of academic freedom in particular, and this one is a serial issue because this is a scholar in an article that was originally written by a Palestinian human rights lawyer.

It was censored by Harvard law last year. The nation and a few other places wrote about this. And in a recent article here at common dreams, June five, Brett Wilkins writes, what are they afraid of? Columbia law review board shuts down website over knock bar article. And so a legal scholar, the author of 106 page piece said that the suppression attempt is reflective of a pervasive and alarming Palestinian exception.

To Palestinian freedom. So just as a little background, the Columbia Law Review Board Wilkins writes, the board of directors temporarily shut down the prestigious journal’s entire website following its publication of an article arguing for the establishment of the Nakba, or ethnic cleansing of Arabs from Palestine, to establish and expand the state of Israel as a novel legal concept.

So Eleanor, do you know, have you followed anything? Around this. I mean, this was an extraordinary effort to just just some of the language has been used as they just nuked the whole site and they just simply claimed that the website was under maintenance and it was still under maintenance midway through the week.

Apparently, I guess censorship is a hard thing to maintain Eleanor. Any any of your thoughts around this?

Eleanor Goldfield: and I think Mickey, I think this speaks to, and, and as the title says, what are they afraid of? And the full quote is, what are they afraid of, of Palestinians narrating their own reality and speaking their own truth? Yes, that’s exactly what they’re afraid of, because that’s why, of course, they’re targeting journalists.

As, as the, the person from CPJ pointed out, every time a journalist dies, they take that truth with them. And so this is why journalists are being targeted. This is why people are trying to find workarounds for the algorithm, because the algorithm doesn’t want Palestinians to be telling their own stories.

They don’t want them To be proving and pointing out that Israel is an apartheid state committing genocide. They don’t want that because that goes against the United States stance. This very hyper Zionist stance with Israel as a U. S. colony, basically, formerly a British colony. And so I think that this is exactly what they’re afraid of.

And these, I mean, this ties all of, all of what we’ve been talking about together. Because anybody who’s willing to uplift the voices of Palestinians, anyone who’s willing to uplift the reality of what’s happening on the ground there is going to be retaliated against, is going to be censored, is going to have an entire website shut down, you know, you name it.

The tactics are really myriad. When it comes to this, and this is why I also think it’s important that we remember that the system is rigid in its ideology, but it is very malleable in its tactics. And it is so important that we remember that censorship looks a lot of different ways, and it comes in a lot of different forms, and we have to combat that however we find it.

And I would just say that I’m, I’m very glad that they’ve found a place to put this up. But, but I would say that this is something that we have to be very aware of is going to continue happening as long as, people are willing and able to share the reality that goes against any kind of, of U. S.

stance. Be that Gaza, be that labor rights, be that climate chaos, be that indigenous rights, you name it.

Mickey Huff: Yeah, and the, the human rights, lawyer and scholar, this is article and to quote him saying by attempting to silence and censor my scholarship, these two law reviews have actually amplified it.

Right, as we’ve argued at the project for a long time, censorship has a way of backfiring, right, where the Streisand effect, as it’s also called in the pop culture, goes on to say that, quote, and by attempting to erase the Nakba, they have, in fact, made it clearer. And still, despite this irony, it feels quite offensive and unprofessional and discriminatory to be faced with such repression.

And again, going back to Romney and Blinken, the U. S., not only is the U. S. Congress inviting Netanyahu to the Congress to speak freely, they’re simultaneously trying to shut down any platform, any student protest, legal scholar, journalist, I mean, just fill in the blank. You said the tactics are myriad, but The targets are very clear the message that of that they’re trying to suppress Becomes clearer as the efforts grow to silence them.

And I think it’s important on this kind of program that we keep calling attention to those efforts. And instead of, you know, trying to beat people over the head with true sticks and whatever, whatever the facts are. I think if we keep pointing this out and letting people see that this is, unequivocally, this is happening, there is a gross, overt form of, various gross, overt forms of censorship happening right before our very eyes.

And it’s not just the backdoor algorithms and the shadow banning and the demonetizing and the things that we’ve talked about for a long time. This is now in your face old school censorship. Yeah. And I think if we don’t stand up to it and we don’t call this out, this doesn’t even mean we have to agree with what this human rights lawyer writes or says.

It means that we should never tolerate these institutions saying you don’t have a right to see it.

Eleanor Goldfield: Absolutely. And I think this comes back to that question that I’ve asked on the show before, which is what is so scary about it that you had to censor it that you couldn’t allow it to be debated in the open?

Mickey Huff: Yeah, and and I think that’s, that’s probably a good note to end on and we could probably end every show ever in the future with that quote, because that’s a really, it’s a really overarching question and what there’s what’s at stake. Who are the interested parties? Why is it that so many people in Congress have this bipartisan support for what’s happening with Israel?

And then, of course, we go and start looking at the lobby money and the defense contracts and how much money and donations and foundation support are there that comes from organizations supporting Israel that are in higher education. I mean, when we start using the critical media literacy lens here that asks those kinds of questions, The answers start to become a little clearer, right?

And, and we start to really see that there are concerted efforts, outside efforts, right? We hear over and over Russia, China, trying to take over the disinformation campaign. Nancy Pelosi is worried about the Russian bots coming for us. Michael Douglas is worried we’re being brainwashed. Meanwhile, they’re inviting one of the lead brainwashers.

Bibi, to come here and continue to rinse the brains of Congress.

Eleanor Goldfield: Well, and Mickey, to your point about how even legacy media is, is somewhat like inching towards the bandwagon here, the New York Times this morning, again, we’re recording this on June 6th, published an article that’s called The headline is, Israel secretly targets U.S. lawmakers with influence campaign on Gaza war. Sub headline being, Israel’s Ministry of Diaspora Affairs ordered the operation, which used fake social media accounts, geez, does that sound familiar? Yes. Urging U. S. lawmakers to fund Israel’s military. Would you call that meddling in someone’s politics?

Mickey Huff: I’m sorry, Eleanor. Our signal seems to have gotten very fuzzy. What was that again? The New York Times reported what? Oh, it wasn’t Russia, but some other country is trying to manipulate us during an election year with bogus social media accounts. And it’s not Macedonian teenagers. It’s not St. Petersburg.

It’s not coming from Putin. Yeah. Well, look, we know sometimes it might be coming from Putin, but we have ironclad evidence that this is happening from Israel, yet you’re not allowed to point it out or else you’re anti Semitic. This is absolutely absurd. I’m so glad that you pointed that out because that’s exactly the report that I was paraphrasing and talking about, moments ago.

And it’s important to note that it is the New York Times. Yeah. Even they can’t. But they are coming around to saying these things.

Eleanor Goldfield: Well, welcome New York Times.

Mickey Huff: Yes. And guess what? I welcome them.

Eleanor Goldfield: Yes. I would love it. With open

Mickey Huff: arms to do this kind of reporting versus what they were doing months ago, right?

And still do. And still do. But it is heartening to see that there are some cracks in that facade. And again, people really just need to understand that censorship is not the way to handle these complicated and difficult issues. We need to have open dialogue and we need to, we really need to resist the efforts of one side or another to tell anybody what they’re allowed to see, read, hear, or express.

Amen. So, Eleanor, it’s been another half hour that is zipped by and I’m glad that we were able to talk about some of these issues again. I’m Mickey Huff with Eleanor Goldfield. You’re tuned to the Project Censored show, and we do this once or twice a month. Eleanor and I talk about key issues. We talk about the news that doesn’t make the news.

We analyze why, and we hope that it may work to broaden, if not, maybe our audience’s media horizons. Maybe this gives you some more information where you can talk to your friends or family or other people in your lives, and you can say, hey, Have you considered these different sources of information? Have you looked at these other, other issues?

Have you heard these kinds of narratives before? Because I think it takes, you know, it takes more than a village. It takes all of us to really contribute to changing the discourse and kind of changing the environment around these issues, Eleanor.

Eleanor Goldfield: Absolutely, Mickey. I couldn’t agree more. And just like your food diet, your media diet should be diverse and, come from good places.

Indeed.

Mickey Huff: And that about does it for another episode of the Project Censored show. Thanks to everybody for tuning in. We’ll definitely see you next time.