The strange saga of Marc Cooper
Warning: Contains graphic descriptions of internal left-wing vendettas and wars.
A couple of years back, Marc Cooper, who writes for The Nation magazine and has a radio show, Radio Nation, was a respected leftie around L.A. When he spoke at the Midnight Special, a left wing bookstore, the place would be packed. Now he’s not speaking anywhere. Why? Because if he did, he’d probably get loudly booed.
So, what happened? The Pacifica wars for one thing. Pacifica owns five leftie radio stations, including KPFK in L.A. It is a beacon and shining light for progressives. Lots of news and content you don’t find anyplace elsewhere, and it has a deeply loyal audience (which includes me). A few years back a new board took control and were either a breath of fresh air or Satan Incarnate, according to your POV. They began taking control of the always autonomous local stations, and rumors circulated they were considering selling the stations.
Rebel factions began organizing, and (to make a looong story short), after much turmoil, screaming meetings, and lawsuits, the rebels got the old board tossed out and themselves put in as the new board. Marc Cooper, through his radio show, sided strongly with the old board. At one point Cooper invited one of the then-rebels on his show to debate the issues. He then, to my mind, completely lost his cool and temper and spent most his time screaming. The intelligent rational Cooper who is such a skilled interviewer on Radio Nation was gone and a foaming-at-the-mouth loonie temporarily took his place. At that point, for many L.A. progressives, I think Cooper blew up all the credibilty he had. A few weeks later the old board was gone, and Cooper was gone from KPFK.
This Pacifica war got nasty. Cooper had his car vandalized and tires slashed, $3,000 worth of damage. Ugly stuff indeed. If this embittered him that would be understandable.
Since then he’s written for the L.A. Weekly, and has been increasingly distancing himself from the Left he used to be part of. Recently, he and David Corn have been bashing the peace movement because it’s not doing what they want and, gasp, has Marxists who are organizers. By this he means that NION and ANSWER have organizers who may actually be communist. Well Marc, I’m a hardcore Green and have been to many NION and ANSWER organizing meetings in L.A. Don’t recall seeing you there. Had you been, you’d have seen there are no commie agendas and that the meetings are genuinely open to all. The people at these meetings really want to end the war, and the leaders are excellent organizers.
Their articles have gotten him and Corn more than a few heat-seeking missles in reply, (see one exchange here) accusing them of red-baiting, deliberately dividing the movement, and hey, talk is cheap, you don’t like our organizations, then stop your sobbing and start your own.
Some among the more radical Left now darkly assert Cooper is a CIA plant and hey, he was a translator for Salvador Allende in Chile in 1972 when the coup happened – and, he escaped, didn’t he, so that proves he’s been CIA all along! Aha! How fiendish!
I yi yi! “Can’t we all just get along?”. If you don’t like the Hard Left, then go work with the Soft Left.
Or maybe Cooper will do a Christopher Hitchens and leave the Left completely. There’s lot of switching going on lately. I remember when Arianna Huffington was on the Right…
My take. We in the peace movement don’t have to agree on everything, or even on much of anything, except for “No war in Iraq”. Let’s build our own groups, help each other when we can, and work on stopping this war.
Hey, Pat Buchanan is against the war and I sure don’t agree with everything he says. We are building an issue-based coalition here, loyalty oaths are not required.