Tuesday, June 14, 2005

America is good because it doesn't behead people

An MSN Space that I frequently visit recently pointed to a Washington Post article wherein Fred Hiatt addresses a common criticism aimed at the mainstream media; a criticism that is often echoed in the US Government by folks like DefSec. Rumsfeld:

Two of the country's largest newspapers, for example, have devoted more than 80 editorials, combined, since March of 2004 to Abu Ghraib and detainee issues, often repeating the same erroneous assertions and recycling the same stories"…"By comparison, precious little has been written by those editorial boards about the beheading of innocent civilians by terrorists, the thousands of bodies found in mass graves in Iraq, the allegations of rape of women and girls by U.N. workers in the Congo.

I agree that there is a bias in this discrepancy but unlike Rumsfeld I think the bias is a justified pro-American one, or at least it is an anti-terrorist one. Hiatt explains it better:

But it's also true that The Post has published more editorials criticizing Donald Rumsfeld than Abu Musab Zarqawi. That's partly because, to the extent that editorials are meant to educate or explain, there isn't all that much to say about Zarqawi's evil that isn't evident to most Post readers; and to the extent that editorials are meant to influence, there's no point in addressing messages to the beheaders of the world.
At least with the US Government there is a chance that criticism will be heard and taken into account and there is hope for reform and change.

With the terrorists and suicide bombers there is just no point. Their lack of morality and sanity is obvious and simply beyond our comprehension. The only useful thing we can do is to get rid of them.

Many critics note that the Post and other papers have given much more coverage to the faults of the administration than to the infinitely more serious crimes of mass graves and suicide bombings conducted by Saddam and the opposition.

If someone were to tell me that I am a good bloke because I am better than a guy who beheads people, then I would definitely be offended. What these critics are doing is putting the United States on the same measure of morality as the terrorists and that in itself is an insult to the United States and its allies. Hiatt agrees:

...just invoking such a comparison, even implicitly, amounts to a loss for the United States. If we have to defend ourselves by pointing out that we are morally superior to terrorists, it's a loss.

Of course when the media does increase its reporting on the atrocities committed by terrorists they are criticised (with some justification I must say) for being too negative.

It’s damned if you do and damned if you don’t