Looking to the future requires us to take a hard look at our past and present. And when it comes to issues of “War, Peace, Truth and the Media,” our record as a country has not been admirable or even decent. In my lifetime, our political leaders have lied us into at least two wars – Vietnam and Iraq – and our mainstream media has often furthered the rush to war rather than support international law and the sanctity of peace.
Let me say a few words about Frank Kelly, for whom this lecture series is named. He was a co-founder of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation and served as its Senior Vice President from our founding in 1982 until his death in 2010 at the age of nearly 96. His life spanned most of the 20th century and intersected with some of the most important people and issues of his time.
In creating the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, Frank and I shared the belief that peace is an imperative of the Nuclear Age. Peace is no longer just desirable; it is essential for humanity’s future.
Frank was a journalist, a soldier during World War II, a speech writer for Harry Truman, an assistant to the Senate Majority Leader, and the vice president of the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions. The Center is where Frank and I met, and where he also met Robert Scheer.
Frank believed that everyone deserves a seat at humanity’s table. He believed in democracy and in the inherent value of every person. He believed, in short, in humanity’s future. This lecture series honors Frank and his vision that “we can shape a more promising future for our planet and its inhabitants.”
Our lecturer tonight, Robert Scheer, is one of our country’s most distinguished journalists. He speaks truth to power. In the 1960s he was a Vietnam War correspondent, managing editor, and editor in chief for Ramparts Magazine.
In the 1970s through the early 1990s he was a correspondent for the Los Angeles Times and launched a nationally syndicated column that is now based at Truthdig.com, which he founded in 2005. He currently serves as editor in chief of Truthdig.com.
He is also a professor of clinical communications at USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Among his many books are With Enough Shovels: Reagan, Bush and Nuclear War. His most recent book, about corporate and government data-collection and the destruction of democracy, is They Know Everything about You.
The title of Mr. Scheer’s lecture tonight is “War, Peace, Truth and the Media.” This is a topic of considerable importance for obvious reasons, but particularly since no war in the Nuclear Age is trivial when nuclear weapons are lurking in the background. If the stance of the media toward war is docile and deferent to authority, this helps support war and defeat peace. On the other hand, if the media finds and reports the truth, war is less likely to be embraced.
America needs more journalists like Robert Scheer, and we are very pleased to have him with us for this 15th annual Frank K. Kelly Lecture on Humanity’s Future. The video of his lecture will soon be available at the Foundation’s www.wagingpeaace.org website.