Sunday, June 13, 2004

Where Is the Media Outrage?

Dr. Khaled M. Batarfi, Arab News

The New York Times has apologized because it didn’t investigate the US administration’s excuses for waging war on Iraq as thoroughly as it should. I respect that apology and take my keffyah off to the editors.
It must be said, though, that the paper did question the war and did take a stand against it. That cost it a lot of fans in the circles of power and earned it some powerful enemies.
A couple of journalistic scandals in the paper were uncovered, damaging a highly respected paper, and very well covered. Still, the paper steadfastly stood its ground and time proved it right.
On the other hand, most other American papers went along with the war propaganda.
Reporters and writers rarely questioned the evidence and motives or care to ask the hard questions. Even after most claims were found baseless, the evidence fabricated, and motives suspicious, there was no real outrage.
The same can be said of our media. An American civilian was savagely slaughtered, on camera, and little fuss has been made about it.
Some would explain the mooted reaction by the mode of anger and anti-American sentiment in the Arab street, especially after the Abu Ghraib crimes, and the devastation of Gaza by Bush’s champion Sharon.
Others would explain that the Arabs have been victims for so long that they can’t find it in them to sympathize with a small loss for the enemy.
Why would we who lost tens of thousands to unjustified, brutal war, the argument goes, worry about one enemy down, no matter how brutally that happened.
I would say to all those apologists that such arguments may suit barbaric Nazis and Zionists but cannot fit the ethics of the civilized Arab nation. Islam instructed us to use a sharp knife and be efficiently quick when we slaughter an animal.
Sentenced killers must be killed with a sharp sword in a specified way to assure a quick and easy death. We are prohibited from mutilating enemies’ corpses under any circumstances.
If all that is due to animals, criminals, and enemy soldiers, it has to be even more so when it comes to innocent civilians.
The media should lead, not just follow the public mode and reflect its sentiments. It should educate, enlighten and propagate our noble principles at all times, especially when the world is on fire and rage confuses the rest of us.
Both American and Arab media failed us in this test. When we most needed them, they were feathers to the wind. What an outrage!

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