Saturday, February 24, 2007

Astroturfing for Redress

Jonathan Hutto first caught my attention on January 27th, before I knew who he was. His rant on imperialism at an anti-war rally in Washington made me wonder why he was in the Navy.

As it turns out, he is a career activist. Greyhawk at Mudville Gazette has the details. NewsBusters has more, as does Media Lies.
When Hutto graduated from Howard, he worked for the ACLU and then for Amnesty International. Hutto has expressed disdain for President Bush, stating "[Bush's] agenda is not only anti African/African American, but anti-labor, anti-woman, anti-environment and anti-human rights", has called the Iraq war "illegal" and the United States "imperialist". According to Hutto, he joined the Navy (a very odd decision for a longtime anti-war activist) to start a new life.

Hutto is featured on Between the Lines this week promoting his Appeal for Redress web site. Don't expect BTL to give details about the muscle behind the movement. Their introduction to the interview:

Navy Petty Officer Jonathan Hutto, along with Liam Madden, were the initiators of this effort. Hutto served on an aircraft carrier off the coast of Iraq from September 2005 to March 2006. Between The Lines’ Melinda Tuhus spoke with Officer Hutto, who explains how the Appeal for Redress began and how non-military opponents of the war can support their brothers and sisters in the armed forces to bring the war to an end and support veterans once they come home.

I haven't heard the interview yet, but it's likely Hutto's story is rather creative.

The site is registered to J.E. Glick, of 803 North Main Street, Goshen, Indiana.
A quick check of online white pages reveals that's the address of The Fourth Freedom Forum. (You can also read about the group here).
This would seem to confirm the point in the Sun story quoted above:
A staff member at Fenton Communications who requested anonymity said his company was approached last week by a longtime peace activist and former director of the anti-nuclear proliferation front known as SANE/Freeze, David Cortright, to
publicize Appeal for Redress. Mr. Cortright is now president of an Indiana-based nonprofit group, the Fourth Freedom Forum And Jennifer Glick (J.E. Glick), actual "owner" of the Appeal for Redress web site, is listed in the Fourth Freedom Forum contact page as Director, Information Services.
The Fourth Freedom Forum's opposition to war pre-dates Iraq and Afghanistan.
They are a well funded, very professional organization. But the group is not listed among the sponsoring organizations on the Appeal for Redress web page. (Those groups are Iraq Veterans Against the War, Military Families Speak Out, and Veterans For Peace.)

More on Hutto and Cortright here.

The idea that an active duty sailor could independently decide to speak out, despite a military culture that considers it verboten to do so, is startling. So who is Jonathan Hutto? A courageous man standing against the machine? Not exactly. Hutto is led, supported, financed and promoted by longtime anti-war activists, chief among them Mr. Cortright.

Things are not always what they appear. In this case, it becomes obvious that the left's "grassroots" effort is every bit as disingenuous as commercial "astroturfing."

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1 comment:

Bill said...

I just popped in to see some set list info and was surprised to read this post...I never realized that you were a right-wing conservative!

To each his own, but I was curious to know if you actually read and believe the reference material you sited?

That material is very outside of the mainstream view on the war; how poorly it's gone so far; the failures of the Bush security policy overall; the lack of quality health care for returning veterans at Walter Reed; the 70%+ disapproval of the handling of the war amongst U.S. voters. There is even dis-satisfaction within the Republican party and acknowledgment of this.

I am not sure I get the real issue you would see in the situation here if it were true that there is financial backing of these grassroots organizations by people who support those views, there is nothing sinister about that. It certainly doesn't weaken or discount the validity of the discussion.