Web site creator seeks mainstream alternative
Sitting at the counter of a Truckee cafe – sipping coffee and reading the San Francisco Chronicle surrounded by Western memorabilia and the voice of Olivia Newton John in the background – Tod Zankert talks about revolution.
Not just revolution for the sake of revolution, but what he calls “intelligent revolution.”
“I’m not like a lot of commentators who like to spout out about everything they know,” said Zankert, who publishes journal entries on his Web site, http://www.Inter-Nation.org. Zankert moved to Truckee four months ago from Florida, and just bought his first pair of ski boots, a sure sign of adaptation to mountain life.
The downtown cafe seems an unlikely place for a writer who aims to link politics to daily life, and publishes his thoughts and experiences on a Web site that also hosts a site that was shut down by the U.S. government a couple months ago.
Zankert linked portions of stopamerica.org, a Web site associated with American Muslim James Ujaama – who was charged with trying to set up an al-Qaida training camp in rural Oregon – to Inter-Nation.org.
“Even if I disagree with parts of his site, I still support his right to say what it is he wants to say,” Zankert said of his decision to keep Ujaama’s site going.
Zankert said he is in close contact with Ujaama’s mother, who has spoken out in the press about the difficulty of communicating with her son since he was taken as a federal prisoner without bail.
The site is unabashedly against a possible war in Iraq, but Zankert welcomes the views of others. He said he supposes people believe his Web site is left wing, but all he really wants to do is show different points of view.
“In our media we only see how the U.S. relates to the rest of the world, as if we’re the only player,” he said. His site has links to the Jerusalem Post, the Korea Herald and the Prague Post.
Nestled between the links to conservative think tanks like the CATO Institute and the Heritage Foundation, is a link to the Communist Party USA. An advertisement for Qatar Airlines flashes at the top of the homepage.
“Inter Nation exists as a portal to what I consider to be intelligent Web sites,” Zankert said of the site, which he says receives about 10,000 hits per week.
He tried to make the site more personal by adding a section called “Tod’s Journal,” which documents his everyday run ins with the effects of politics on his own life.
He criticizes inflated egos in “A Tale of Two Pine Cones,” observes apathy in “Living Among Cannibals” and buddies around with a group of U.S. Air Force pilots taking a break from Beale Air Force Base in “For our Armed Forces.”
Zankert hopes his journal is a way for people to apply stories about national and international politics to their daily lives.
“It’s a slice of life and at the same time it’s a microcosm of the larger political world,” he said.
He’s not about forcing opinions on people, but gets worked-up when he starts relaying stories about people’s disinterest in what’s going on in the world. He criticizes the Patriot Act and displays an “Impeach Bush” sticker on his notebook.
“InterNation is also an attempt to get at the metaphysics of the unfolding of history,” he said.
Zankert said he started the site about a year ago, angry about 9-11 like most Americans, and searching for a way to make a difference. “All I want to do is honor the dead. That’s how I started out,” he said.