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Common Dreams

Open Letter: Facing the Pacifica Crisis

Hovering over all this about Pacifica is that the composition of the Pacifica national board has shifted against progressives. Since the board has made itself self-perpetuating and able to fill its own vacancies, the prospects for positive developments in this regard are bleak. A close look at the actions and espoused positions of the people currently holding the most power in the Pacifica "leadership" is chilling. Details about corporately-oriented people now being promoted as new members of the board, by the current hierarchy, are even more chilling.

We almost lost KPFA last summer through sale of the station, as Pacifica board member Pete Bramson confirmed and as the San Francisco Chronicle reported. ("Three sources said a majority of the [Pacifica board executive] committee appear inclined to support a sale." -- Chronicle, 7-28-99.) After the lockout the board chair, Dr. Berry, made it clear that the board reserves the right to move against KPFA again.

In such contexts, the recent letter calling for an end to "Pacifica bashing" fails to grasp the underlying situation -- and ends up, counter to the intent of the vast majority of the signers, running interference for a board majority that has shown itself to be anti-progressive in its Pacifica-related actions. (Why in the world should we pledge to stop criticizing and challenging "Pacifica" when the institution at the top continues to consolidate power in the hands of a board majority that has behaved as this one has?) Our only hope is clarity. And hopefully strong progressive unity -- not through a facile "stop bashing Pacifica" line but through acknowledging what's at stake in the big picture.

The instances of overt censorship at WPFW, KPFT and KPFK are not incidental. They are in harmony with a tone set by top Pacifica management. (An insightful letter on Pacifica censorship and labor-related concerns has just been posted at .)

These are very loud canaries in a frightening coal mine. Denial has never been a very helpful coping strategy.

-- Norman Solomon

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