Media War Reporting – from Which Side?

By | August 4, 2014 | 0 Comments

Carl von Clausewitz famously remarked, “War is the continuation of politics by other means.” It is amusing to take well-known sayings and reverse them – sometimes they still make sense. In this case, the words of the military commentator become “Politics is the continuation of war by other means.”
Clearly that isn’t always true. Normal politics is designed to push an agenda, but by reasonable means. Normal politics is a rivalry between competitors, not a merciless struggle between bitter enemies.
There are legitimate reasons – philosophical and practical – to oppose a specific war. For example, the likely cost might exceed the possible gain. But nothing justifies self-righteous posturing, sneering contempt, vicious name-calling, or blatant hatred.
In short, is much of the current political strife in America “normal”? No, such goings-on are hardly “normal.” In fact, they represent the continuation of war by other means.
Many on the Left, as well as those on the far Right, opposed our war in Iraq, oppose our war in Afghanistan, and stridently oppose Israel’s war on Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Nobody wants to fight two wars at once, and the left-wing media are already at war – with America, and now with Israel as well.
Think about it. In this generation, we have seen dozens of films depicting our leaders as scheming warmongers, our military as crazed killers, and our veterans as unemployed, divorced, mentally unstable, alcoholic, drug-addicted, all-around losers.
Is that how we want to portray ourselves to our young people? Is that how we want to portray ourselves to the world – friends and enemies alike? Is it possible that some of the current hatred for America was inspired by films depicting us as degraded and despicable? Is it possible that some of the hatred for our military stems from this source?
What did we expect? It is as though a businessman spent millions advertising himself as dishonest and his products as shoddy. And then he was surprised when sales plummeted and the business went broke.
What about coverage of the current war in Gaza?
If we confine ourselves to CNN, CBS, ABC, NBC, and MSNBC, we see dead bodies, destroyed schools, wrecked apartments, crying children, and grieving adults. We see what these media – under the iron hand of Hamas – choose to show us, but we see it without context.
Context? We don’t need no stinkin’ context. We’re the mainstream media.
Thousands of missiles launched against Israel during a period of “peace”? Millions of Israelis rushing to air-raid shelters as sirens sound? The Iron Dome missile-defense system downing incoming missiles before they can hit cities? A missile hitting not far from Tel Aviv airport? What would this do – and almost did – to the tourism industry? A missile hitting not far from the nuclear reactor at Dimona? What would have happened if there were a massive radiation leak? “Holocaust 2, the Sequel”?
But this brings up a troubling question: What if such biased TV reports had been available during World War II?
● What if we saw sinking ships and drowning men as we ate breakfast?
● What if we saw dead American troops sprawled on beaches as we took our lunch break?
● What if we saw medics treating horribly wounded men as we sat down to dinner?
● What if we saw the families of troops killed or taken prisoner weeping over photos of their loved ones just before we went to bed?
● What if we awoke next morning to be told by pundits that the war was going badly, and that President Roosevelt and General Eisenhower were to blame?
This would have been bad enough. It would have sapped our will to fight. But there is something even worse: downplaying our casualties, but emphasizing enemy casualties.
What if we saw color videos of dead and horribly injured German and Japanese civilians after American and British air raids? What if our media called this “disproportionate” – that is, more of the enemy were dying in our air raids, and fewer of us were dying in their air raids. Wouldn’t this be a good thing, rather than a reason to condemn our air forces?
What if the Nazi and Japanese propaganda machines co-opted our mainstream media? What if our media downplayed enemy atrocities but emphasized enemy casualties? What if dead and injured children and weeping parents were shown in “living color” in our homes every evening?
What if the media insisted that we follow the Marquess of Queensbury Rules, while our enemies followed no rules at all? What if we saw the grimness of war, laced with pessimistic commentary, while our enemies were being spoon-fed cheerful propaganda, with their defeats, their casualties, and their atrocities edited out? This couldn’t have gone on very long before we lost heart, while our enemies remained confident and shouted “Sieg heil!” and “Banzai!
In short, how much blood and misery could we see before we became demoralized? How many enemy casualties could we see before we felt more empathy for the enemy than for our own troops?
Let us hope that the war in Gaza, and all wars, will be short.
Let us hope that the mainstream media will report that 1.2 million Arabs choose to live in Israel, while not a single Jew is allowed to live in the Gaza Strip – though it is still called “occupied.”
Let us hope that the media will explain how Israel can arrange another cease-fire with Hamas, when Hamas “honored” the last 72-hour cease-fire by killing thtree Israeli soldiers and detonating a suicide bomb after only 90 minutes.
Let us hope that the media will explain how Israel can make peace with Hamas, when Hamas openly declares its intention to obliterate Israel.
Let us hope that the media will report that Hamas placed missile batteries and other military equipment next to schools, hospitals, and apartment blocks, so that Hamas is responsible for civilian casualties as Israel attempts to destroy that equipment.
Let us hope that some of the empathy the media show for the Gazans, who elected the terrorist organization Hamas to rule them, will rub off on the Israelis, who chose a democratic government for themselves.
Let us hope that the media will comprehend that, as with the Nazi regime in World War II, those who choose violent, fascistic, racist regimes to rule them must bear the consequences of that decision – and the consequences are shared by all, including women, children, and people who oppose the regime.
Let us hope that the media will understand that wars which endanger exclusively the guilty exist only in the imaginations of those who have no experience of war, and that therefore people should be very reluctant to start wars in the first place.
Let us hope that the media will realize that wildfires are impossible to control, and that it ill behooves those who ignite them to complain when the wind shifts and their own houses burn down.
At least we can hope.
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