Harper’s Ken Silverstein on a few unspoken truths about that Honduran coup:
- There’s very little truth to anything you’ve read about the coup in American newspapers.
- President Manuel Zelaya is no radical. He approved a big minimum wage increase, which was desperately needed in a country where so many workers are poor, but he otherwise has been a very cautious, ineffectual reformer. The intensity of the reaction against him by the Honduran elite — as seen in the coup — reflects the feudal mentality of the traditional economic and political leadership, not Zelaya’s politics.
- Zelaya was not seeking to stay in power by unconstitutional means; even if his political reforms had succeeded, he would have been out of power within the year. The only side guilty of unconstitutional action is the coup plotters.
- Based on his response to events in Honduras, Barack Obama may as well be Ronald Reagan or George Bush when it comes to coups in Latin America. The Obama administration initially managed to muster “concern” about the coup, and has been acting in a cowardly fashion ever since. The only reason it has moved at all was that it was forced by the united front by Latin governments of left and right. If Zelaya is returned to power, it won’t be because of anything Obama did.
- The American media does not believe in democracy, as seen in the routine portrayal of a moral equivalence between the elected government and the coup plotters. The Washington Post is the worst of the pack. For its editorial page, “democracy” is strictly utilitarian; it’s OK when our side wins; otherwise, we will justify vote-rigging or military action by the other side, even while pretending we support constitutional order.
But what else would you expect from a newspaper that fired its only opinion writer who was right about Iraq and that has offered to sell its reporters to the highest bidder? Maybe the Honduran military is buying up advertising space in the Post in order to ensure favorable treatment from Fred Hiatt & Co.