I had a brief discussion with Mother Curzon last night about a BBC news story. She was talking about some American professor who had written a book with the thesis that the US president today has more power than a monarch of the medieval age. The story was mentioned on the BBC and Mother Curzon thought it was very interesting. Although I hadn’t read the story, I said something curt along the lines of “It’s the BBC getting the chance to wear their anti-Americanism on their sleave — what makes you think there is any merit to the story?” (I’ve now had a chance to read the article and can say with some confidence that the professor has no idea what he’s talking about.) But that’s not even the subject of this post. When I went to look for the story this morning, I was greeted by another little treat…
On the front page, next to a picture of a screaming, bloodied boy, is a link to this photo set telling a sad story with graphic gore about what happened when US soldiers in Iraq tried to stop a car that ran a checkpoint. They fired a warning shot, and when it continued to drive towards a US patrol, soldiers shot the driver and killed him. Turns out he was a family man driving his kids somewhere. Tragic.
I’m not one of those knee-jerk jingoists who thinks any criticism of America is wrong on its face, and I hope there will be some serious evaluation of what went wrong. But US soldiers are under constant fire from suicide bombers and insurgents disguised as civilians. Their conduct here does not seem to be unreasonable, given the circumstances. And can you show me the last beheading the BBC showed on their website? Or the faces of the innocent Iraqis killed by insurgent bombers? When it comes to the US-lead coalition forces in Iraq, nothing is good enough. Every move is scrutinized, every possible misdoing aggresively pursued with dogged determination to find a hint of any wrongdoing, while the terrorists undermining the future of Iraq are ignored at best, and forgiven — even sympathized with — at worst. As for today’s BBC web page, it doesn’t stop there. Also on the front page today was a set of photos profiling “alleged abuses” commited against detainees in Iraq by UK soldiers.
Now let me show you a story and a photo the the BBC did not show on the front page of their site yesterday or today:
The BBC did, however, find time to profile a Catholic archbishop freed with no ransom paid. How kind of those insurgents to be so thoughtful to a non-Islamic religous leader.
This fawning over the bad guys is driven by something deeper than a leftist bent. Robert Kaplan has the best comment on the state of the media today, in le from Policy Review last month:
To the extent that the left is still vibrant, I am suggesting that it has mutated into something else. If what used to be known as the Communist International has any rough contemporary equivalent, it is the global media. The global media’s demand for peace and justice, which flows subliminally like an intravenous solution through its reporting, is — much like the Communist International’s rousing demand for workers’ rights — moralistic rather than moral. Peace and justice are such general and self-evident principles that it is enough merely to invoke them. Any and all toxic substances can flourish within them, or manipulate them, provided that the proper rhetoric is adopted. For moralizers these principles are a question of manners, not of substance. To wit, Kofi Annan can never be wrong.
I’m sure Kaplan scares a few people in the way he refers to the media as “Communist,” with all the John Birch Society connotation that such an accusation holds, but he hits the nail on the head. Read on…
Some of our most prestigious correspondents have occasionally remarked that the only favoritism they harbor is toward the weak or toward the victims in any crisis… Because the media confuse victimization with moral right, American troops in Iraq have had occasionally to contend with unsympathetic news coverage, which in an age of mass media has concrete tactical and strategic consequences. Last spring, I accompanied the first United States Marines into Fallujah. After several days of intense fighting, the Marines — reinforced with a fresh new battalion — appeared on the verge of defeating the insurgents. A cease-fire was called, though, snatching defeat from victory. No matter how cleanly the Marines fought, it was not clean enough for the global media, famously including Al-Jazeera, which portrayed as indiscriminate killing what in previous eras of war would have constituted a low civilian casualty rate. The fact that mosques were blatantly used by insurgents as command posts for aggressive military operations mattered less to journalists than that some of these mosques were targeted by U.S. planes. Had the fighting continued, the political fallout from such coverage would have forced the newly emerging Iraqi authorities to resign en masse. So American officials had no choice but to undermine their own increasingly favorable battlefield position by consenting to a cease-fire. While U.S. policy was guilty of incoherence — ordering a full-scale assault only to call it off — the Marines were defeated less by the insurgents than by the way urban combat is covered by a global media that has embraced the cult of victimhood.
So there you have it. If you have to watch or listen to the BBC, or read the Manchester Guardian, the Independent, or some other anti-American, insurgent-loving newsite, for the love of God watch a healthy dose of Fox News or subscribe to the National Review for some sense of balance.