Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Nothing Changes in the Media

New York Times came out with mea culpas for its WMD/terrorism coverage. Pundits and lots of bloggers trashed them for going only half-way. I'll trash them for continuing in the same vein on more current subjects. They still spin like hell.

My example is an article on the increased influence of Sunni Muslim clerics (which, I note here, I'm not at all happy about). I'll only quote criticised parts with some context:

"They have many plans to make conflict between Iraqis, between sects, between ethnic groups, between tribes, between students and teachers, between the military and civilians," he said, chopping his fist through the air. "They shake hands with the people of Falluja with their right hand, but they shoot them with their left hand."

So says one cleric. And what is noteworthy about it? The insistence on unity among Iraqis? The implicit denouncement of harrassment of secular teachers and military, as well as that of Shi'a and non-Muslim Iraqis? No, the only thing the author insinuates this speech was about is anti-Americanism:

The enemy is America, and since the uprising last month that message has been hammered into the heads of worshipers every week across the country, more intensely and with greater effect than ever before.

Later, we again get Sunnis painted as Saddam supporters, and apparently supporters to this day:

The deeper one goes into the so-called Sunni Triangle, where supporters of Saddam Hussein's minority Sunni government remain defiant, the wider the clerics' appeal.

Saddam supporters supporting fundie Sunni clerics, now THAT is some spectacular example of double-think! Later:

Many of those men, including the ones in the Muslim Clerics Association, the most powerful Sunni religious group, are virulently anti-American.

Again, "anti-American". Rather than "anti-occupation". As if it were some irrational reality-removed ideologic standpoint, not opposition to an intrusion into their daily lives. And so NYT continues in the next paragraph:

The group has actually dived into politics, just not in a way the Americans would like. Although the interim government has yet to take shape fully, the association is already condemning it, which does not bode well for stability.

Now this really puts the cart before the horse! I mean, why should the Association wait for an illegitimate body of people, not elected by Iraqis but by a foreign power which insists on controlling executive decisions anyway, to materialise before denouncing it? And why is it this denouncement, rather than a foreign power picking a puppet government instead of letting Iraqis to establish a real government, that hinders stability?

As the clerics' power has grown, the group has become bolder in its verbal attacks against the occupiers and has tried to present itself as the political wing of the armed resistance.

Maybe the author of the article has information I don't but won't share with us, but nowhere have I seen them present themselves as a political arm to the armed resistance. Peaceful resistance yes, but I read them insisting on their independence from the armed resistance. In particular, they were keen to not have weapons in mosques like as-Sadr preferred, and were quite voiceferous about the fact that repeated US searches found nothing.


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