I just finished, Naomi Wolf's The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot. I initially posted about it here, Listening to the Wolf.
She reminds me of the Ghost of Christmas Future. Remember when Scrooge asked the Spirit, "Are these things that will come or could come?" The Spirit gave no answer save the shadows. Then Scrooge woke up and did something about it.
In a similar way, Wolf outlines ten steps that are taken when an open, democratic society moves to a closed one. She sees these steps taking place in America today. Here is an outline of the steps, but you will want to read the whole book.
One of the steps is the restriction of the press. I may be quoting too much without her permission. I hope she will forgive me. She writes:
"At a time such as this, it is up to U.S. citizens who are not part of the formal media world to publish online, research aggressively, check facts assiduously, expose abuses, file Freedom of Information Act requests, publish 'zines, write op-eds, and take ownership of producing as much of the news and information stream as they can. Above all you need to push through the laws proposed by the American Freedom Agenda and the American Freedom Campaign, so that journalists will be shielded from threats and prosecution.
Blogging has to lead the way, because this is the access point for citizen journalism. But bloggers must take their impact far more seriously, becoming warriors for truth and accountability: Citizens have to start to produce reliable samizdat. Opinion is important, but opinion alone is totally inadequate when the ground itself is under assault. Bloggers must become rigorous and fearless documentarians and reporters--not just to critique the news but also to generate the news. Citizens in every venue must now apply to their work the accuracy and accountability that news editors have traditionally expected of their writers and researchers. The locus of power of truth must be identified not in major news outlets but in you. You--not "they"--must take responsibility of educating your fellow citizens.
It was librarians, schoolteachers, booksellers, and small publishers who helped to push back dictators in coutnries where speech was under attack. Journalists are in the line of fire now; but history shows that these producers and distributors of free speech are next in line.
In the Revolutionary era, farmers, artisans, and small shopkeepers read and wrote pamphlets, distributed broadsheets, gave speeches at town assemblies, and ripped essays from the presses to debate with one another the points they made. They didn't subcontract out the patriot's task of speaking up to a professional pundit class. They saw their own voices as being vitally necessary to the crafting of the Constitution and, even more important, to the life of the new nation.
We have to abandon the passive role we have accepted as mere consumers of media; we must see ourselves in a new light--or rather, see ourselves once again in a revolutionary light--as citizen leaders with responsibilities to speak the truth. (pp. 131-132)
So get blogging. Speak up. Act up. It is up to us. That is what Democracy is all about.