At a Just Peace meeting on October 20, it was proposed by Wade McDonald, a leader of the International Socialist Organisation, that all "paper selling" be banned outside an upcoming forum on Islamophobia co-hosted by Just Peace.
McDonald argued that those wanting to distribute newspapers be allowed to do so only after the meeting and that, contrary to a decades-long tradition at progressive meetings, only the forum organisers — Just Peace, Refugee Rights Action Network and the Curtin Centre for Human Rights Education — be allowed to have information stalls.
The forum, to be held at Curtin University, will examine the rising racism towards Arab people, Islamophobia and their connections with the so-called "war on terror". Supporters of Green Left Weekly have been involved in Just Peace since its formation during the recent round of rallies opposing Israel's invasion of Lebanon. I was Just Peace's chairperson at the September 23 International Day of Action for Peace and Justice rally.
As a proud supporter of Green Left Weekly and a founding member of Just Peace, I find it strange that others on the left want to limit the circulation of left-wing newspapers, including their own. This is also happening at a time when the Coalition government's new media ownership laws will spawn even greater media monopoly concentration, and when Howard's "anti-terror" laws and mainstream media are fanning racism and Islamophobia. Papers like Green Left Weekly are more indispensable than ever.
The progressive movements need to be supporting, not suppressing, the distribution of progressive, anti-war newspapers. Censorship, or a restriction on when alternative media can be distributed, simply aids those racists in Parliament House and their corporate media mates.
As George Orwell put it so well: "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth can be a revolutionary act". The more we tell the truth, the greater the opportunity to challenge that deceit.