Monday, November 12, 2007

Bring the Real World Home

This is a very good column in the New York Times about the Al-Jazeera English network. Al-Jazeera is an Arabic news network that became well known after 9/11 and the invasion of Afghanistan. They have launched an English version of the network. Our soldiers stationed in Kabul even watch it, but it's available in very few homes here. Many cable companies are pressured not to carry it by far-right wing groups.

I have never really seen Al-Jazeera; I remember visiting their website a few times, particularly when they had photos and video of dead American soldiers in Iraq. They are derided by "patriots" here for their supposedly slanderous coverage of America, and their positive coverage of Al-Qaeda. But since I've never seen it, I really can't comment on that. But any alternative to our commercial news media here is a great thing. The media's antics during the onset of the Iraq war, from the high-tech graphical themes with the booming music, the slogans ("Fight for Freedom", "The War Against Saddam"), the "embedded" reporters, were embarressing to me as an American.

I remember when those photos of American soldiers killed in combat were posted on Al-Qaeda's website, many people were very angry at them for showing those images. I lauded what they did, because in that time, many media outlets (especially in the U.S.) were engaging in the practice of sanitizing the war. You didn't see dead Americans, or mutiliated Iraqis on the 6 o'clock news. Those photos should have been a sobering reminder of what war is.

As Cohen states in the column, it's essential for Americans to expand their horizons and get their news (if they get it at all) from more than just Fox News or CNN. Our status as a country and a beacon is diminishing rapidly due to our blinding ignorance.

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