(en)CBS SPEWS - Latest Article by Mumia Abu-Jamal

Apr 6,1997

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1. CBS SPEWS 2. Protest Bruderhof Treatment by CBS


Written March 29, 1997 c 1997 Mumia Abu-Jamal All Rights Reserved

"All propaganda has to be popular and Ins to adapt its spiritual level to the perception of the least intelligent of those towards whom it intends to direct itself." --Adolf Hider, Mein Kampf (1933)

In its late March 1997 Broadcast of the CBS News Magazine, "48 Hours," the network hit a deadly and diabolical low with its piece 'on the Christian Community in Woodcrest, NY known as the Bruderhof (German for place, or home, of Brothers).

Using slick editing techniques, half-lies, and most damaging, juxtaposition with other unrelated stories, "48 Hour" projected the unmistakable and dangerous assertion that the Bruderhof is a cult. This projection took place in a particularly insidious way in the same program that featured an opening segment on the mass suicide of 39 members of a group calling itself "Heaven's Gate," in a place called Rancho Santa Fe, California.

"Heaven's Gate," which saw itself as millenialist, and inheritors of a new evolutionary entity; perceived their human bodies as encumbrances, as burdens that had to be shed, and when the Hale - Bopp comet came near, they saw it as a sign to "shed their flesh containers."

To say the very least, Heaven's Gate-seekers were folks who were immensely alienated from their bodies (according to press accounts the males were Voluntarily castrated), and neither contacted, nor created, families.

Taking the quasi-similarities that Heaven's Graters were mostly white, well educated, computer-savvy and remote from general society' and that the Bruderhof shared similar attributes, "48 Hours" launched into a "guilt by similarity,' program, and in the minds of millions created the dangerous notion that those mere similarities amounted to equivalencies arid therefore, one's a cult, so the other must be also.

How can a community of thousands of fathers, mothers, farmers and carpenters, who heartily embrace the sacredness of all life, be so cavalierly equated with a little-known, virtually asexual group of 39 people like "Heaven's Gate?"

The smart answer, of course, is that a powerful entity like CBS can do it because they can. They are the media, and they do what they want to do daily.

So the question becomes, 'Why?"

The answer is the Bruderhof's most recent 'efforts on behalf of life, justice and freedom, most notably on behalf of the writer, and his spiritual family, the revolutionary MOVE organization. It lies in their efforts against the U.S. Death Penalty. It lies in their efforts to practice a Christianity that seeks social justice and is unabashedly critical of white supremacy. It lies in their expression of community.

Why then would a show scheduled for April, one which was taped months ago,. be rushed on the air opposite the "Heaven's Gate" suicides?

Part of it is the unerring lust for the sensational that is at the heart of American media, and much is the interests they represent -- that of the established: the State.

The doyen of CBS News, Edward R. Murrow once noted, "Unless we get off our fat surpluses and recognize that television in the main is being used to distract delude. amuse and insulate us, then television and those who finance it, those who look at it and those who work at it, may see a totally different picture too late."

Well, Ed, your colleagues at your old network (CBS) may now intone, "too late," for they have fired an unfair broadside at a group, labeled them without just cause a "cult" that "bears close scrutiny", and endangered them by aligning them with a group that they hold virtually nothing of value in common.

For; by utilizing one word, "cult". and putting them in the programmed context of the Heaven's Gaters, they project them in the public mind as other, weird, and dangerous, if not suicidal.

In America, as MOVE's example nakedly reflects, people projected as Other can be treated far differently (and even negatively) than so-called "normal" folks.

With the arrogance of the media's power of projection, "48 Hours" suggests the Bruderhof held a young woman as a virtual prisoner, neglecting to inform viewers that their youngsters go to high schools and colleges on the outside (even around the world) every day.

Does that sound like hostages?

Americans are widely and justly suspicious and distrustful of the nation's mass media. They view it as a tool of the wealthy and the, a protector of the status qno. and a fermenter of unjustified fear.

CBS did nothing to dissuade them of that view.

MAJ --------------------------------------------------------------------------- From: Mumia@aol.com Subject: Protest Bruderhof Treatment by CBS

Please send you protests immediately. This treatment of the Bruderhof was deliberate and malicious. If we let CBS get away with this we give them carte blanche to tell half truths and therefore lies about anything.

They must know that they cannot tell stories that are factual, but untrue because they don't show the whole picture.

Report on the CBS Attack on the Bruderhof Communities from Refuse & Resist!

On Thursday, March 27, the CBS program 48 Hours broadcast a slanderous attack on the Bruderhof communities. 48 Hours had been preparing a program on the Bruderhof communities for some time, but following the mass suicide of the Heaven's Gate group in San Diego, CBS took the material they had collected and used it produce a program on "cults." The result was that the Bruderhof communities were thrown in with Heaven's Gate, Jonestown, the Branch Dividians, and the Order of the Solar Temple. The fact that the Bruderhof communities maintain a web page on the Internet was used by Dan Rather in this special edition of 48 Hours that "will take a look at the darder side of the Web."

It is fairly obvious that this attack on the Bruderhof communities comes as a result of their active support for Mumia Abu-Jamal. The Bruderhof communities don't even fit the establishment's definition of a "cult" which usually boils down to 1) total isolation from the outside world and 2) total obedience to a maniacal leader.

The Bruderhof communities are Christian communities in the Anabaptist tradition. The name Anabaptist goes back to the Protestant reformation, and was applied to dissenters who opposed infant baptism on the grounds that sacraments of the church could only be accepted knowingly by adults. Other religious communities in this tradition include the Mennonites and Amish. The Bruderhof communities attempt to emulate the communal life of the early Christian communities and oppose all forms of violence. They are very conservative on issues of sex and marriage. They are governed by community meetings and elected elders. They differ from other Anabaptist communities in that they do not isolate themselves from the modern world, and they hold property in common rather than as private property.

People are always welcome to visit the Bruderhof communities, and they actively go out and participate with others in issues such as opposition to the death penalty. So what makes the Bruderhofs a "cult" and a cloistered order of Catholic nuns ruled by a mother superior not a cult? Apparently the difference is that the Bruderhofs have taken up the defense of Mumia Abu-Jamal, put information about him on their web page, and have published his recent book.

People who wish to protest this outrageous lumping of the Bruderhofs with Jonestown and other mass suicides should contact the producer Paul LaRosa by calling 212-975-1517, or faxing at 212-975-5797, or e-mail in care of AUDSVCS@CBS.com.

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