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Prophetic Pilger: Breaking the Silence – An Evening’s Q&A, 10th April 2019, Byron Bay

By Melissa Frost

Its Bullshit. The media, it’s Bullshit. We have been lied to since the 50s. Where’s the anger? Why aren’t we angry? Where’s the protests and the movements?

Award winning journalist and film maker John Pilger addressed the propaganda of the media, during his Q&A talk at the Cavanbah Centre in Byron Bay last week.

The hall was crowded with Byron Bay/Mullumbimby residents, sitting obediently still. Waiting for inspiration perhaps. Or a platform to express their discontent at the facts behind the fictions that Pilger has been reporting on for over 40 years.

When the 76-year-old wandered through the crowd to the stage, a wave of excited celebration moved across the Byron Bay audience.

Pilger said it was good to be home. Pilger been based in London since 1962. The acceptance of home was not lost on the Byron Bay audience who lapped up the recognition.

“John Pilger’s independent journalism is the stuff of legends,” said Dr. Richard Hill, convenor of the Ngara Institute.

In his talk, Pilger tackled what he calls the “great Australian silence.” The complacency of Australians. The lack of dissatisfied energy of the Australian populous. “Where are the heroes? “Pilger says. “Here!”, “Here!”, “Here!”, several in the crowd called out. And with that the energy of the hall lifted. People were leaning forward, mesmerised by the heinous facts Pilger was delivering about our unjust world. The 750,000 starving Yemeni children. The brutality “Le Petit Royale” aka Macron was enforcing on his French countrymen and women of the Yellow Vests. And the ever expanding listening and scrutinising US base at Pine Gap.

Pilger goes on to say he is disgusted at the political agenda of all Western governments. Australia not independent, continues to do what America tells it, still playing the race card, still at odds with the one unique element of Australia: The First Nations. “Where are the journalists?”, Pilger asks. The ABC under siege, Fairfax on the ropes and Murdoch manipulating all sides of government.

Pilger is a strong critic of American, Australian and British foreign policy which he considers to be driven by an imperialist agenda. Pilger goes on to say that a war between US and China is likely, referencing his recent film, “The Coming War with China”.

Pilger then turns to the topic of Julian Assange, whom he has visited in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London many times. Assange now a dual citizen of Australia and Ecuador. Pilger tells us that Assange is constantly monitored by guards and cameras and that his lack of human rights are in violation of asylum international law. Assange has not been charged or convicted of anything and the Australian government continues to abandon him. Pilger fears for Assange’s health and sees no immediate solution. Pilger goes on to suggest that Ecuador would lose its reputation on the World Stage if Assange is forcibly removed from the embassy by British Police.

Little did Pilger know, exactly 24 hours later that’s indeed what took place in London.

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  1. Jack Cade

    Pilger is a genuine talent, brave and principled, and Australia shuns him. Probably BECAUSE he’s brave and principled.
    I have always had a jaundiced opinion of America’s excursions into countries whose politics it disagreed with. More particularly, countries with ASSETS that the US coveted. But my opinion was cemented by a book by Gregor Salmon, an Aussie journalist who was in Afghanistan. His revelations about the US fostering the opium trade, even escorting truckloads to the distributors.
    Treaties with the USA are almost always broken by the USA. It’s in their DNA. They made 700 plus treaties with their own native tribes and broke every one. As Red Cloud of the Sioux said ‘The white msn made us many promises, but he only kept one: he said he’d take our land, and he took it’
    Read ‘Poppy’ by Salmon, and wonder what they and we were REALLY doing in Afghanistan. And support Pilger against all his denigrators – he is the real deal.

  2. Aortic

    Pilger, Assange, Manning Snowden et al whose only ” crimes” amount to exposing the more egregious secretive excesses of the supposedly democratic voices of the elected defenders of our free speech societies. I admire Pilger for his condemnation of the privileged western societies and their machinations but in particular for his interest and vigorous defence of indigenous peoples whose lives, lands and way of life for millenia have been usurped by mainly western ” civilisations”. I particularly recall his insightful documentary on the meaning of Australia Day to all non indigenous people and the possible rejection of the whole premise by the first people. Many skimmed over the question whilst one particular “Aussie” with missus and kids in tow when asked, looked querously at Pilger as if he was from outer space, walked off and said, ” you’re full of shit mate.” It can be construed that Pilger and those like them are voices in the wilderness but unless we in our comfortable bubble collectively take responsibility for our criminal unjustified superior attitude, it may well result in a wake up call, to this point reasonably peaceful but perhaps not forever so.

  3. New England Cocky

    Pilger is a true Australian National Treasure and a very competent old school journalist reporting evidence as he finds it. Go back and watch his early expose of the living conditions of Australian Aborigines from the 1970s and enjoy every other offering he has made since.

    In this election period there is the opportunity for each and every one of us to make a difference. Take an active part in the election process by supporting the campaign of your preferred candidate; assist in the election office, talk to voters about everything, handout at pre-poll locations and at election day polling booths. MOST IMPORTANTLY

  4. Keitha Granville

    As a uni student in the 70s, a self confessed hippie and a Green, I protested ! We marched, we made a noise, I like to think we made a difference. Vietnam Moratorium marches, Save the Franklin.
    There was no social media to invisibly grizzle on, or vilify, or otherwise spout nonsense. You had to be out there, up front and personal. I have bemoaned for many years the lack of ooomph in the young, but have been encouraged by the recent student protests for climate change. Go kids !

    We just have to keep on trying, exposing the liars and the charlatans, voting the dinosaurs out of office. Listen to and read AIMN and proper journalists, be informed.

    Don’t give up.

  5. Josephus

    I am wary of conspiracies and counter conspiracies, as these are propagated by governments to legitimise the imprisonment and killing of dissidents, so far in Russia, China, Iran, Saudi in particular . Everywhere modern surveillance techniques are available to spy agencies and police, which no longer protect peaceful civil movements but rather tend to discourage them in order to serve these same governments. The populace is distracted by booze, drugs, TV, spectator sport, the individual, apolitical criminal anecdotes that saturate the mass media.

    All this will worsen world wide as water and resources shortages increase. Water is poisoned to serve resource companies for the short term gain of a few. Adani’s Carmichael is not alone.
    How then to distinguish the findings/warnings of Pilger, Assange, Manning and Chomsky from fake news? Check the evidence? but what about the fake evidence to which the less educated are susceptible? Perhaps worst of all, Royal Commissions’ findings are ignored or circumvented, cf the Dondale enquiry. Academic findings can be peer reviewed and checked by anyone so minded, but is it not easy to find out about Pine Gap’s increasing reach for example. Secrecy and trespass laws are ever tightened. I suspect that this very post is being monitored and added to my little portfolio.

    Is Pilger’s Q and A on line ? I did not find it recently. Meanwhile, vote independent or for any any party that does not receive corporate donations. BAN all large, non individual donations, check even their source/s in case they are being split up to avoid discovery; BAN secret meetings between eg mining companies and Ministers, send bribed officials/MPs to prison.
    Our democracy is a Potemkin village, which I assume is Pilger’s message. Or is that a mirage as well?

  6. Alcibiades

    Behind the Assange Saga: Radicalized by Frustration William M Arkin, April 12, 2019

    Yesterday morning, with news of Julian Assange’s arrest, I wrote the below piece for The Guardian (US), trying to explain that the real reason that the U.S. government was moving on Assange NOW had nothing to do with the 10-year old case of Chelsea Manning nor WikiLeaks’ role in the 2016 election. The news people at The Guardian passed on the article, as did the Daily Beast. I didn’t really get a reason from The Guardian, but the editor at the Daily Beast wrote: “We don’t have the bandwidth tonight to sort through your sourcing, or to separate out the parts of this that immediately make sense from the ones that seem, at least here, offputting.” Some others offered to publish, and no disrespect to them, but I decided to just publish the piece here because I wanted to add a little explanation and analysis…

    The American case, which shifted completely in March 2017, is based up WikiLeaks’ publications of the so-called “Vault 7” documents, an extensive set of cyber espionage secrets of the Central Intelligence Agency.

  7. Jack Cade

    Today I posted to the Guardian (which has an article saying that lying is rife in the current campaign) and asked why, if lying was accepted, a Labor candidate was moved to withdraw because she told the truth about Istael’s treatment of the Palestiniand, that such a view was not anti-Semitic because the Palestinians were also Semites. The post was censored, as was my follow up post saying the comment was benign, and that the worlds greatest liberal newspaper was not. We are not allowed to be critical in any way of Israel, which is not being critical of Jews.

  8. Aortc

    Agree Jack, any semblance of even an oblique criticism of the Israeli regime brings immediate condemnation from all side of the spectrum. Palestinians are apparently obliged to remain in obedient silence as more and more of their rights and lands are usurped. Have nothing against Jews and empathise with their suffering over the millenia, but the regime is surely oppressive and only survives through the support of similarly minded allies.

  9. Alcibiades

    Jack Cade,
    The Graund does so as a matter of policy. Progressive ? Politically centrist or Left ? Little more than a false front. Ketherine Murphy(AA), political editor, as did the majority of the press gallery knew of the dual/citizens fraudulently in our parliament, and actively sought to suppress & conceal it, When it became public, the effort then shifted to obscuring/omitting/protecting the Libs & Nats who were the majority in breach, and would bring down the gubernment.

    AA & the rest of MSM knew all about Barnaby Joyce’s conduct(Fictional ‘constructed’ employment roles, outright nepotism re his mistress, etc) in his so called adulterous ‘private’ life whilst maintaining the farce of a devout, moral, Xian of conviction & faith, months prior to his farce of a by-election as a result of the High Court ruling on his dual citizenship. Any evidence or even links to publicly available non MSM reporting was ruthlessly & immediately censored until Barnaby was again re-elected by an utterly oblivious electorate. AA even went so far as to appeal on twitter to leave the private lives of politicians ‘out of it’.

    Was being so systematically censored, even just a valid reference, or wholly supported factual non-partisan analysis, simply gave up.

    Re Israel, or for that matter, war crimes & atrocities of the ‘West’, ask what a UK Tory PM would say & especially not say, and you have the core of the Graunds ‘reporting’.

    They are beholden, partisan stenographers of omission. Only subsequent to Turnbull’s dumping have they as an editorial policy gradually, slightly, moved away from publishing coalition pseudo-press releases, as of course, the result is now probably inevitable, even to them. Simply a change in policy to maintain the facade & cover their arse. The least worst of our corporate MSM, IMHO.

  10. Jack Cade

    Israel pulls the ‘holocaust’ out of the bag at all times. I have nothing against Jews at all: I admire them, and completely understand their sensitivity, surrounded by countries that hate them and want to crush them. But denying that their government is one of the most unpleasant – and continuing to vote for it – does not excuse them treating the Palestinians the way the Boers treated non-whites. I had hoped better of the Guardian.
    Murphy has been the subject of numerous complaints about her soft handling of the Coalition, particularly Turnbull, on whom she seems to have had a journalistic crush. Remains and Badham call it like it is, but they are junior to KM. There is NO main stream media – including the ABC – that can be deemed even mildly left of centre. Last week
    the Adelaide Advertiser reported on the last Newspoll as ‘Coalition surges.’

  11. Josephus

    It is wrong to state that all Israelis approve what is going on there. Some I have met here fled their country due to its rightward drift. There is also the Peace movement, which monitors and publicises what goes on at the borders. So while I appreciate the foregoing comments I think it dangerous to generalise, as there are human rights activists, writers, artists and journalists who speak out there and in even the worst regimes such as Saudi and Iran.
    It is frightening how the intolerant Right is making progress over a large part of the world. Yet in the Sudan, in Algeria, in Israel, in Hungary, in Saudi, in Russia, in China and in Iran brave people are protesting; some lose their lives. Let us support, remember and acknowledge them.

  12. Trevor

    Pilger is an Australian Icon and his books attest to the facts on the ground and the manufactured stories presented by mainstream media, who still insist that reprinting Government press releases without researching the release for truth or fiction is responsible reporting.
    The media has always cowtowed to the powerful, the wealthy, the governments, the Corporates and their rosy views of “ normal, proper and self interest.
    The world needs more Pilgers, more than it needs more of the same Standardised reporting.
    As Neil Young sang. It’s all crap. Wtf up Australians.

  13. Alcibiades

    Yup, concur. Token reporting or opinion pieces, do not compensate for the majority of core/critical reporting & articles.

    Everything Melissa Parke was quoted as saying was objectively, factually true. And she was eminently experienced, qualified & competent to say it. Yet Labor forced her resignation. Disgraceful.

    Ex prez Jimmy Carter & ex-Minister Melissa Parke are far from alone in calling Israel an apartheid State at least equivalent to, or even worse, than the former Apartheid State of South Africa. The issue is not one of religion but an extremist, nationalist, ultra-right wing politics of Zionism.

    The ends are never justified by the means.

    Haganah & the Irgun were terrorist organisations. Haganah became the core, the seed of the self-proclaimed ‘most moral’ army in the world, the Israeli Defence Forces. The leader of Irgun became Israels 6th PM. Haganah & the Irgun, assassinating, torturing & murdering Brits & Europeans, even uninvolved civilians, defenceless prisoners as publicly proclaimed ‘punitive measures’, etc let alone Arabs & Palestinians. IEDs ? Routinely used against the then Brits prior to ’48.

    The IDF did their very determined best to try to kill every last one onboard the USS Liberty in ’67, ’cause the SIGINT ship likely captured compromising traffic re the mass execution of nearby defenceless Egyptian Prisoners of War. A War Crime, compounded by an outright blatant Act of War on a neutral non-belligerant.

    Yet we & our ‘parties’ are suborned vassals, in a vassal State. We are not sovereign.

  14. Alcibiades

    A strawman ? One can see no comment re All Israeli’s. Israel as a State, a government, and the majority who vote for the longstanding policies thereof. You simply made it up, and then argued upon it.

    Israeli’s though, in the majority, just re-elected Netanyahu, yet again. Therefore giving a mandate for the Israeli government to illegally annex Jerusalem, illegally annex the Syrian Golan Heights & Lebanese Shebaa Farms, and now imminently the Illegal Israeli settlements in the illegally occupied West Bank.

    It is frightening how the intolerant Right is making progress over a large part of the world. Yet in the Sudan, in Algeria, in Israel, in Hungary, in Saudi, in Russia, in China and in Iran brave people are protesting; some lose their lives.

    Respectfully, irrelevant, diversionary gibberish & evasive whataboutery, no ? The Intolerant Right ? Um, you missed the US & UK, the prime enablers & supporters of Israeli policies & conduct, no ?

  15. Diannaart

    ”The issue is not one of religion but an extremist, nationalist, ultra-right wing politics of Zionism.”


    I am appalled by the push to destroy Palestine because of some B/S in some old religious texts, I am sickened by the repeat of atrocities by people who (should) know better.

    FTR, my great grandmother was Jewish, on the matriarchal side of the family, of which I am proud.

  16. paul walter

    Not too hard on Josephus.

    There are many Israelis and Jewish people in general who live appalled at globalising politics, starting with the likes of Noam Chomsky. We see that it is like here, or the US, where there is a more enlightened demographic of which AIM seems to be a part locally, but there are also powerful forces within the system that encourage the vilest of populisms amongst the ignorant and fearful.

    Diannaart is right.

    We have cranks in our country more closely aligned with the Klan, such as the idiot at Christchurch, or with Zionist extremists or the National Front types in GB.

    I’ve got some good Jewish friends on FB, but from what I have read from alt right-wing sites, I would have nothing in common with most rightists.

    Just an hour ago I was online following an American friends page dealing with Assange. Herself and several others see Assange from my perspective but a number of others seemed to be “talking in tongues”, what they were saying was so extreme and at odds with the facts as the rest of us knew them.

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