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Friday, May 07, 2004

Jonah Goldberg in National Review

He provides a brief context for the contextualizations used by US journalists in covering previous atrocities. Rwanda, the dead Americans at Fallujah, the World Trade Center. This is a good quote:

Lost is the fact that in America torturers get punished, while in the Arab world they get promotions.
And sometimes get to be the ruler of all they survey, but that's neither here nor there. Here's a longer snatch about Salon.com, a former favorite site of mine:

" In 2002, Salon.com - the left-wing web magazine - ran a finger-wagging story full of condescending quotes and observations about how America was too obsessed with 9/11. The author, Michelle Goldberg (no relation), wrote that the appetite for documentaries about the attacks "suggests a voyeuristic impulse cloaked in patriotic piety."

"Maybe what stoked America's appetite wasn't pious voyeurism but the decision of the networks to withhold the footage in the first place?

"Regardless, now Salon asks another question. The lead story by Eric Boehlert on May 6 asks: "The media are finally showing the war in its full horror. What took them so long?"

"That's a fair, if slightly creepy, question. But it underscores my point: The media decide which images are too disturbing, too sensational, too dangerous all of the time [emphasis mine]. Ms. Goldberg, for example, spoke for the establishment media when she declared that the Danny Pearl murder-video was "too sickening to broadcast even once."

"So the question is, What was gained by releasing these images now? CBS could have reported the story without the pictures. They could have still beaten their competition to the punch."

True that. Still, I'll bet Goldberg could live with endless reruns of 9/11 video. Can anyone in the media square this? Seems like the only totally fair thing to do is to either devote a channel to 'all atrocities - all the time', or to ban all depictions of them.

Donald Rumsfeld before Congress.

No one would judge the worthiness of their best humane belief system - religious, political, or philosophical - by their most violent flaws. So I won't either. Islamofascists, Fascists, and Marxists have it easier, I believe, since their beliefs are mostly comprised of violent flaws. They just aren't considered flaws.

Earlier in today's Congressional session, Rumsfeld stated that the abuse of Abu Ghraib prisoners was inconsistent with American values. This phrase seems so familiar that I haven't even put quotes around it. No one should have to at this point - 'inconsistent with American values' is like a part of the public quotation domain. And it's nothing but easy for antiwar pundits to laugh, roll their eyes, and punch in Vietnam-era stories, maybe some episodes from the American prison system. A slam-dunk to mock.

That's really too bad, because torture and humiliation are inconsistent with American values. Admittedly, this point isn't provable by their complete absence from any kind of institution that by necessity deals with criminals and their punishment. But if torture were a real value of our country, not only would there be smaller public outrage - there'd be damned little private feeling about it too. There'd be no need to be subtle, either. If torture didn't offend our values, we'd all be closer to - though not exactly like - " We have our torture chambers. They have their torture chambers. Your point is?"

Prosecute and jail those sadists. Continue rebuilding Iraq.

Ted Rall's consolation?

Like I wrote yesterday, there's always publicity.
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