Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Carnage Reporting

With all this scrutiny of the Muslim world again come some chances for typically Christian Americans to redeem ourselves in the Arab and Muslim world - to restart a rather tenuous and falsified relationship. Broken Telegram has a great post on that here, exploring the rise of democratic revolutions in majority Muslim nations recently (and what that means for a society that tends to think of Muslims and Arab people in purely racist terms).

And then comes this startling revelation - for many of us, anyway - that perhaps the best place to get reportage on the goings-on in Egypt and Tunisia is through Al Jazeera English (which, btw, is basically censored in the US. Although you can get it via internet live feeds, it is not available on any cable networks here, unlike in say, Canada). As one Facebook friend-of-a-friend reminded me, Al Jazeera is primarily known as an anti-American, pro-terrorist network that showed beheadings of American citizens and Osama bin Laden's (postmortem?) "Death to America!" tweets.

Of course, Al Jazeera English isn't quite the same as the older station, but there is enough of an obvious linkage that the initial question, "Isn't that the station that showed Americans' head getting cut off?" needs to at least be acknowledged. My response follows:

That's a good question. I found the fact that they would do such to be abhorrent. From a Western point of view, it seemed like a snuff film, or one of those barbarous hangings/lynchings for general amusement from our recent past.

But then I think and wonder, is the focus of news to be entertainment or is it to be the truth? If it's truth, then aJ has done a shameless job in showing the devastating after-effects of the US-led war on Iraq.

While American media was shunned from even showing the caskets of returning soldiers, al Jazeera was showing the bloody streets where 'smart' bombs killed and crippled civilians.

To honestly critique aJ for showing such footage, I wonder if I can put myself in their shoes. What if it was my state, my country, my neighborhood that was being attacked, besieged, and occupied.

What if I lost my wife and daughter to such a war? Wouldn't I want tne world to know the effects that the invading country left us with? Wouldn't I want the whole world to share in my suffering?

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