Media Madness

There's a lot of big news about to come out. More tape recordings of Saddam Hussein and his advisors soon will be translated and released. We may find out whether Iraq actually did have weapons of mass destruction and if they were moved prior to our invasion there.

However, instead of focusing on this, the news has been filled with stories on how Vice-president Dick Cheney accidentally shot his friend with birdshot while hunting quail. The chairman of the Armed Forces Committee is pushing for an investigation into Operation Able Danger and whether there is proof that there were early warnings in 2000 that an attack was planned against the United States and our Navy ship in Yemen.

Instead of this heading the news, it was the story of the Cheney incident. Politicians called it a cover-up by Cheney because he didn't call the major news media immediately but waited for a day.... The vice-president's accident was just that: an accident. Yet the chatter has been all over the place on it. One TV host even proclaimed that Cheney could have been drunk when he did it. Is this accident worth five days of coverage?

When will we get the news about Able Danger and the tapes of Saddam Hussein?

The New York Times did more than thirty stories on reported abuse by a few Americans on prisoners in Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison. Other media followed suit. Yet they all refused to reprint those Danish cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammed for fear they'd insult Muslims. Is there a view now that America is evil and that it's all right to condemn this country, its leaders and soldiers, but not offend those who have attacked it, who have killed 3,000 people here?

Muslim radicals flew commercial airlines into buildings here, beheaded innocent businessmen and a reporter in Iraq and then put the tapes of the beheadings on the Internet, blew up Iraqi children at school, beheaded schoolgirls attending a Christian school in Indonesia, killed American sailors in Yemen, slaughtered hundreds of children in Russia, fired rockets at schools in Israel, killed scores of commuters in Spain and England, murdered vacationers in Bali, attacked a missionary school in India and took hundreds hostage inside a Moscow theater, with deadly results.

Where was the Muslim outrage when all this was going on? Did Muslims take to the streets to protest this carnage? No. But Danish newspapers print cartoons depicting Muhammed as a bomb-turbaned man and people are killed and embassies burned. Then what happens? Newspapers here (including this Times-Press) don't print the cartoons. They tell us what's in the cartoons but they don't print them.

Two editors of the Daily Illini at the University of Illinois who were brave enough to print the cartoons (alongside an article explaining the controversy) were suspended for their action. I don't understand this curious political correctness. We've been treated to publications of pictures of beheadings and of American contractors burnt, dismembered and hanging from a bridge. Yet newspapers can't reprint cartoons? Are we now so sensitive to our attackers that we are cowered by them? If so, we've become a nation of self-hate. More importantly, we have forgotten our history.

John Keegan, England's preeminent military historian, once observed that the deportation and ultimate extermination of Jews was an open secret and served as a self-policing factor in most of occupied Europe. Thus were the Nazis able to control the great nations of Europe with a minimal garrison presence. The lesson is that the intimidation of the few is sometimes enough to ensure the docile complicity of the many. Welcome to the not-so-new world of political correctness!

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