Maintaining Memory

Maintaining Memory

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June 9, 2012

In my essay about the importance of maintaining memory as a community safeguard, I emphasized the value of archives, inquiries and communications in preserving social memory. In the ongoing war of ideas between corporate states and indigenous nations, exposing such things as state terrorism is essential to understanding this conflict and its resolution. For state-funded media like National Public Radio and the Public Broadcasting Service, this poses a dilemma: tell the whole truth and lose your funding, or tell part of the truth and hope for the best.

Writing in Upside Down World, Kate Doyle reports on the Government of Guatemala announcement to dismantle the Peace Archives, established in 1996 to recover historical memory and to support judicial proceedings against human rights violators during the 36-year conflict that left nearly a quarter million, mostly Mayan, people dead.

Also writing in Upside Down World, Grahame Russell critiques a National Public Radio This American Life program report on one of the massacres that took place in Guatemala in 1982. While supportive of the program as far as it went, Russell observes that This American Life completely factored out the extensive role the U.S. Government has played in funding, training and arming the Guatemalan military. As Russell notes, truth, memory and justice about the genocidal violence of the Guatemalan military — what amounts to State Terrorism — is necessary for reconciliation, but when government-funded media in the United States distorts truth and memory, justice is not well-served.

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