Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Media and a "Nutcase" (with qualifying notes)

"Nut case" can refer to someone who is deranged and/or dangerous. But what do we call those who cater to the "nutcase"?

Yet, despite the reasonable-ness of the following Op Ed, after posting and finding this item posted Sunday on Huff Post with alleged quotes from the Iman who speaks of Compassion, I'm personally wondering what to think of this whole series of events? Click here

This Op Ed is the story of how one lone (man)...held the media hostage.

Here's a condensed version of this article (I like leaving out rather derogatory names...yet this story - in full - did not. Perhaps he author might be excused in part since he is one of few voices addressing media's getting sucked in with this story?)

Quran Burning Story: This Is How The Media Embarrass Themselves

...An organization called the Cordoba Initiative were granted permission by the appropriate authorities in New York City to turn an old Burlington Coat Factory at 51 Park Place in lower Manhattan into a community center. The organization was headed by an Imam named Feisal Abdul Rauf, who has made it his life's work to stand against radical cults like al Qaeda and teach young Muslims that America is a place where one can freely worship at the appointed times and then join other faith communities in America in the task of building a great nation. The proposed community center WAS TO INCLUDE A BASKETBALL COURT and SPACE FOR DIFFERENT RELIGIOUS COMMUNITIES to have interfaith relations. It was also going to have a place for Muslims to pray, if they liked.

The news didn't sit well - notably people who didn't live in Manhattan. This is because they were told...that what was planned was a "Ground Zero mosque." Of course, the planned community center was not, strictly speaking, a "mosque." And it was most definitely not "at Ground Zero." "Ground Zero" is the site of an interminable municipal construction project. There are no plans to build a mosque there. "Ground Zero" is also not the name of a recognized New York City neighborhood...But, here's the thing: even if it was, the battle to stop the "Ground Zero mosque" was already lost, because there already is a mosque in that neighborhood.

This logic failed to sink in, because very few people...made any attempt to bring these facts to light...Obviously, many people are still feeling the loss of that day. And that loss breeds many emotions, among them sadness and anger. And people definitely do have the right to express their sadness and their anger. But what people don't have the right to expect is that the government will intervene to remedy claims that have no basis in law.

As soon as the media saw themselves a (a prize) in New York City, they pounced! How perfect! Something for us to talk about during the slow-news summer! I mean, we could talk about the nation's unemployment crisis, but that would mean we'd have to talk to poor, jobless people, and there's no currency in having access to a bunch of poors. Right away, they accepted the premise that this was a "Ground Zero mosque," when it wasn't. And so, by the power vested in the media, things that weren't in fact true were accorded the privilege of being "one side of a great debate" and "an interesting point of view."

Charlie Brooker states what should have happened at this very moment:

New York being a densely populated city, there are lots of other buildings and businesses within two blocks of Ground Zero, including a McDonald's and a Burger King, neither of which has yet been accused of serving milkshakes and fries on hallowed ground. Regardless, for the opponents of Cordoba House, two blocks is too close, period. Frustratingly, they haven't produced a map pinpointing precisely how close is OK.

That's literally all I'd ask them in an interview. I'd stand there pointing at a map of the city. Would it be offensive here? What about here? Or how about way over there? And when they finally picked a suitable spot, I'd ask them to draw it on the map, sketching out roughly how big it should be, and how many windows it's allowed to have. Then I'd hand them a colour swatch and ask them to decide on a colour for the lobby carpet. And the conversation would continue in this vein until everyone in the room was in tears. Myself included.

...why would all these pundits be so angry about it? And why would anyone in the media listen to them with a straight face?

And because the media couldn't do their job, a group of hack politicians, like Rick Lazio and Newt Gingrich, desperate...saw an opportunity to horn in on the "discussion." They started telling all the sad and angry people that they actually did have the right to expect someone to provide a remedy to their claims. Their case was primarily based on the idea that nobody has the rights of religious freedom, no one has property rights and that the government has the right -- nay, the duty! -- to intrude.

Right away, they should have been entirely ridiculed...

But of course, that's not what happened. The media has too much invested in flattering people like Newt Gingrich...And so, these inherent contradictions simply became "one side of a great debate" and "an interesting point of view."

And from there, some idiot news producer said, "Hey, I bet we can shoehorn this into our election narrative somehow!" And so the Park51 community center became an election issue.

Imagine that, in a world with a nine year-long, going nowhere war and a massive unemployment crisis!...

(Then) Democrats like Harry Reid stepped forward to publicly cover themselves in cowardice. This turned the frenzy up several notches for the media, because suddenly, they had obtained a very precious thing -- the right to say "both sides do this." The matter had become a folie a deux -- a madness made for two! -- but the media focused all their attention on the "two" and none on the "madness."

And in that climate, a pastor named Terry Jones saw an opportunity to make himself famous... And boy howdy, lots of people took him up on the offer!...deep down, your media all-stars knew that they had aided and abetted something that closely resembled an intellectual atrocity...

And this gave an opportunity for some of those who had opposed the Park51 community center -- who deserved the treatment being meted out to Terry Jones -- to do the same...

A few people, like John Boehner ... went so far as to say, "See, this is exactly the same thing we were decrying with the Ground Zero mosque." Except it wasn't, because the Ground Zero mosque was a thing they had made up!

None of this bothered Terry Jones at all! Why should it? In the long history of fringe religious figures saying and doing stupid things, it is exceedingly rare for the media to provide much attention to them...

Terry Jones, however, had been given something very precious: he was now "one side of a great debate" who possessed "an interesting point of view."

And the media worked very hard to push the case that Jones was part of a debate. Now, Quran burning was an election-year issue, for which every candidate had to answer. And they even went so far as to ask Jones repeatedly, "What if President Obama told you not to do this? What if former President George W. Bush told you not to do this?" They were literally brokering negotiations between a...cult leader and some of the most powerful and important people in the world!

By now, things were terribly out of control. President Obama had to publicly state that Quran burning is a stupid thing to do. Imagine how out of touch you have to be that you need to go all the way to the White House to find that answer! Other important people were compelled to interject at this point.

General David Petraeus had to come forward and state the plainly obvious: that all the public attention being given to this Quran burning would undermine the ability of U.S. forces to conduct their counterinsurgency operations, which depend heavily on winning the "hearts and minds" of Afghans...

Eventually, Robert Gates -- the Secretary of Defense, who is running two wars! -- had to call Jones up and try to convince him not to do this. "Which is crazy," says Alex Pareene, accurately, because when, exactly, did the Pentagon start negotiating with two-bit terrorists?

All of this finally culminated with yesterday's press conference, where Terry Jones lied and said that the Park51 community center was going to move, thanks to him...

To go back to Charlie Brooker, let's remember that after sizing up the incompetence that pervaded the Park51 coverage, he warned that the "media" should just "give up" before they "[made] things worse." Pretty prophetic, isn't it? They got played, and played badly...

...There were many, many moments where someone could have simply said, "No, we should really not be doing this. These Islamophobes are objectively wrong, objectively stupid, objectively contradictory, objectively harmful, and by God, as someone with a functioning brain and a devotion to the pursuit of reason above all else, I am going to stand here and say no to all of this."

But as it turns out, it wasn't until yesterday afternoon that someone finally had the guts to say maybe we cannot really believe a word this man is saying.

Well, they should have thought of that before they decided to point a bunch of teevee cameras at him, I guess.
END Op Ed...

Many Comments under the Huff Post Story - here are just a few:

Michael Moore: If the 'Mosque' Isn't Built, This Is No Longer America
I am opposed to the building of the "mosque" two blocks from Ground Zero. I want it built on Ground Zero. Why? Because I believe in an America that protects those who are the victims of hate and prejudice.

James Zogby: Nine Years Later - So here we are, 9 years after a devastating attack that shocked and then unified our nation and we are engaged in a debate, not about building a mosque, but whether or not Muslims will find a place in America. The very soul of America is at risk.

Karen Armstrong: 9/11 and Compassion: We Need It Now More Than Ever
It is time to combat the ignorance that inspires hatred and fear.

Find the above article and comments here

My comments are as follows:

First: maybe we should urge people like Terry Jones and his congregation to get some help in maturity, perhaps to recognize why attention-seekers do what they do and to seek better means? Those who hide behind bully attention-seekers may wish they could be the bully and this is their way? See Bully On Line dot org here

Second: Our US leaders were talked into begging Jones to end his plan - what do we need to do to beg you makers of war to truly win "hearts and minds"? What hearts have you won in Pakistan with your treatment of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui? You've inflamed nearly an entire nation kidnapping, torturing, raping, falsely accusing her and STILL holding her in prison falsely charged.

Third: And how have you won "hearts and minds" with Blackwater's Xe running around creating havoc and lying about it in Pakistan and elsewhere?

Fourth: What about all the recruiting for "the enemy" you've done by all the killings of civilians by drones? TIME TO END the Drone killings among so much else! Drone killings, assassinations, kidnappings, multiple ways you've allowed humiliations, suicides, disrespect of Islam and decency in your prisons (and Hidden floating boat prisons too!) All these are and have been many ways you've been inflaming hatred - many multiples of Jones bizarre plan.

Are you leaders of war and you operators of the drones aware what happens when someone is hit by one? Check it out if you haven't yet? Your 'safety' behind a video operating stick is obscene!

How would you like to die that way? Is this what you want to leave as YOUR LEGACY?

How would you like any of your children, grand-children, nieces, nephews, wives, mothers, grand-mothers, uncles, aunts, sisters, brothers, neighbors or fellow church-goers to die that way? How would you like to be at a wedding and suddenly see all the wedding party or other celebration on the floor writhing in a slow, hellish, painful death?

Or if by some miracle surviving it find out that no doctor is able to provide a healing for the skin it's so charred? Come on, warmongers, it's TIME to bring ALL our Youth and their elders home from war at long last...enough is enough is enough! The US military's weak excuse for an Oil Crusade has only made are lies that we are making peace sound lamer all the time.

Fifth: if you want to decry Jones, decry lying in the US military as well: Even those who've supported the military and the wars for quite awhile, like the Tillman family are announcing their fall film The Pat Tillman Story like this:

"They lied to the wrong family...

For Peace, Love and God's sake let's stop giving press and war to ALL the liers and "Nutcases"!

1 comment:

  1. Other Comments under the Huff Post version of this Op Ed:

    When this guy left Florida and went to NY, it gave the Authorities the chance to put this guy in a bottle, Because of the events of 911 in New York the police could closely monitor outside agitators. And that's what this guy had become, he had no real business in the 911 Anniversary, he didn't have relatives that died, and he wasn't their in 2001. He wanted to high-jack the event with his own little story, and NY didn't let him do that, Bravo New York!

    Melanie Sumner 38 minutes ago (2:01 PM) It makes me so sad that sensationalism matters more than the actual facts.

    44 minutes ago (1:55 PM) The media, instead of being the vanguard of truth, seems to have become the vanguard of spurious entertainment. We all lose.

    ...Marveleous laying out of the stupidity of the media and people like Harry Reid getting sucked into it. I would not mind Harry Reid being defeated, at least we may get someone replacing him (a democrat) who has a backbone!

    What's so absurd about all this is the fact that 99.9 % of all Muslims around the world are just people who happen to be born in Muslim countries and loosely follow the tenets of Islam and are not fanatics...

    Most Christians around the world are similar to Muslims in this respect, we just happen to be born in countries with large Christian populations and even though we believe in Jesus, we loosely follow the tenets of Christian religion to avoid fanaticism, hypocrisy and to avoid making harsh irrational judgements of others.

    Christian RELIGION does not always equal the teachings of Jesus, who's ministry revolved more around LOVE than extreme and absolute interpretations and enforcement of religious laws/doctrines.

    The right wing religious fanatics in both faiths are giving moderate Christians and Muslims, who simply want to live in peace, a bad name. Although religious doctrines are, and can be useful and important, they must be tempered with mercy and common sense relative to modern culture

    ...I think the point here is to come up with valuable, informative, or entertaining content to populate all those 24/7 cable networks -- otherwise it's just whatever shiny new object gets someone's attention. There are probably a lot of unemployed media people who could do a better job than those currently making many of the media coverage decisions -- anybody want to switch places?

    "People want to know about this story" is the excuse Katie Couric uses for her execrable news-like program. TV news covers junk that makes good pictures and sexy stories. It isn't really about news at all.

    HuffPost called the Koran burning story a "media fail," but I'd call it a TV viewer fail. Just because they put it on TV doesn't mean you have to watch it.