Thursday, April 10, 2003

Arab Press Strikes Again

I try to find Arab perspectives where I can find them. One place I go (because I can read it) is Yesterday's top two headlines:

  • Editorial: Against the Occupation
  • Exclusive: US Occupies Baghdad

The editorial was certainly presumptive and unfair. The article with the more inflammatory headline was actually pretty fair.

But they still chose those words. Why? Arab intellectuals have for years been feeding their populations a line that all their problems are caused by Israel and America. They now believe it to the point that they are unwilling (and practically unable) to entertain the possibility that Bush is telling the truth when he says "Iraq will be governed by the Iraqi people", and "This is a liberation, not an occupation." And there's the other reason the headlines and verbage is slanted that way -- because it sells copy. Because that's what the population wants to believe.

Why do they want so badly to believe that the U.S. is evil and imperialistic? I'll get to that in a minute, but let's talk about how it doesn't help matters. Suppose they are wrong and that America truly intends to help the Iraqis set up a democratic system of self-government, free from puppet strings. Suppose they somehow chose to believe that America really is there to help. It would be much easier, then, for America to actually help if America is not constantly having to fight the perception that they're really there to take over the oil or destroy Islam or kill the Iraqi people.

Let's put it this way. Nobody else has done anything to help the Iraqi people. Certainly no Arab nation. Some have actually sent nationals from their country to go fight to support the regime that was so obviously one of the worst to its own people in the history of civilization. Sad thing that it happens to occupy the territory of is commonly accepted as the birthplace of civilization. I think it can be safely argued that fighting in support of the Hussein regime is not helping the Iraqi people -- although the Arab press has certainly made it look that way by skewing their reporting in that direction. And why would they skew their reporting in that direction? I'll give you three possibilities, some of and probably all of which may be true. 1) they believe the story that America is evil 2) they want to believe it because it deflects responsibility for their own problems away from themselves, and 3) Their governments may actually want them to believe it to deflect criticism away from themselves.

If the Arabs (ok, not all of them, but it's safe to say most of them) have made up their minds that Bush is lying about Iraqi freedom and non-occupation, then nothing can be done to convince them. They scour the facts for anything that can be used as evidence to support that view, and either ignore any evidence to the contrary, or do whatever they can to discredit evidence to the contrary.

Because that is what they want to believe.