rn:Hope for US media? yes! (B. Blum)


Jan Slakov

Dear RN list,

Not only should we take heart from the fact the article below made it into
the mainstream media, we can also take heart from what Michael Albert said
about the radio talk shows he has spoken on recently.

When I think of our situation now, and how important it is to build links
with our neighbours, to build strong and trusting communities (and to watch
the trend spread!) I think of a couple quotes:

"Do not wait for leaders, do it alone, person to person. "   
                       --Mother Teresa

and, from a local community-based health activist: "The emperor has no
clothes but I'm not interested in looking at him anyways!"

all the best, Jan
From: •••@••.•••
Date: Tue, 25 Sep 2001 23:22:50 EDT
Subject: Hope for the media?  At least temporarily.
To: •••@••.•••

I think that if this article can appear in USA Today, then some good may come 
out of the tragedy yet.  And it's one of many I've read, in the Washington 
Post and elsewhere, the past two weeks that mentions truths about the US role 
in the world that are normally filed by the media under "leftist propaganda 
garbage".   The Post quoted Castro at length about American imperialism, 
without putting him down.  To we leftist propagandists, it's all old stuff, 
but to the American mass mind, it's "huh?"

Published on Thursday, September 20, 2001 in USA Today
Despair Feeds Hatred, Extremism
by Sandy Tolan
An hour after the attacks, I was sitting catatonic at my computer screen,
trying to get some news, when my neighbor poked his head in my office.

"Ever wonder," he asked, "why we're so hated? Fifty years ago we were
so beloved. What happened?"

His question penetrates the simple facade built in recent days by the
mass media: of America in a battle of Good vs. Evil; of the attacks
portrayed only as the work of hate-filled religious zealots.

The men in the four doomed airliners were filled with hatred and a twisted
interpretation of Islam. But this explanation alone is not sufficient. It
does not account for the flammable mix of rage and despair that has been
building up in the Middle East since the Gulf War's end.

Seven years ago, in Hebron in the West Bank, I attended a funeral for a
Hamas follower, shot by Israeli soldiers after he lunged at them with
acid. In the funeral tent, mourners handed out candy to celebrate the
martyr's ascent to heaven. Afterward, in the street, young boys stopped
their laughing and roughhousing long enough to tell me that they, too,
hoped to grow up and die in such an honorable way.

My question then was like my neighbor's on Sept. 11: "Why?"

Decades of humiliation

As a journalist working regularly in the West Bank and Gaza, I repeatedly
witnessed the humiliation and anger of a population living under decades
of occupation: Israeli bulldozers knocking over families' ancient
stone homes and uprooting their olive groves; military checkpoints,
sometimes eight or 10 within 15 miles, turning 20-minute commutes into
3-hour odysseys; the sealing off of Jerusalem and the third-holiest
shrine in Islam to Muslims across the West Bank; the confiscation of
Jerusalem identification cards, and hence citizenship, from Palestinian
students who'd been abroad for too long; the thirst of villagers facing
severe water shortages while Israeli settlers across the fence grew
green lawns and lounged by swimming pools; U.S. M-16s used to shoot at
stone-throwing boys.

Again and again, Palestinians asked me: Why does the American superpower
support this? Do ordinary Americans know about this? Do they care?

Death tolls

It was no surprise when West Bank streets later filled with men burning
American flags and waving posters of Saddam Hussein, given our country's
lead role in sanctions against Iraq. Children there were dying from
dehydration and disease -- a half-million excess deaths, according to a
1999 UNICEF study, or 5,000 a month. This is almost the projected death
toll of the World Trade Center blasts.

Again, the questions: Do Americans know about this suffering? Do they

At work in the Arab streets is the rage of the weak and ignored. Young
men, out of work and nearly out of hope, look for someone to blame. In
such an atmosphere of despair, absent any perception of justice or
equal treatment, extremism grows. In its most perverse form, it helps
turn commercial airliners into flaming missiles, causing unfathomable

It can be comforting to blame it all on the insane religious fervor of The
Other. Much harder is to understand that our own failure to witness and
address the suffering of others -- the children of Iraq, for example --
has helped create fertile recruiting ground for groups seeking vengeance
with the blood of innocents.

Now the network theme music pounds out the drumbeat of war. Talk shows
speak of "dusting off the nukes" and wiping out entire countries. Last
week, the deputy secretary of defense spoke of a "sustained campaign"
aimed at "ending states who sponsor terrorism." (U.S. officials later
said he misspoke.)

But if the attacks on the United States lie just as much in rage and
a sense of injustice as they do in religious fervor, will bombing a
country senseless make us safer? Or will it help perpetuate more rage,
more hatred, more despair -- and, quite possibly, more terror in the
United States?

Sandy Tolan is an independent journalist and radio documentary
producer. He has won numerous awards for his reporting on the Middle East.

 Copyright 2001 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.