Posts from April 2003

Critic, criticize thyself

Critic, criticize thyself
: Do we sense the irony in Tina Brown making fun of retired generals and retired cops appearing on cable criticizing employed generals and employed cops?

An old-style prewar pack frenzy hit when the Laci Peterson murder case returned to the American airwaves. Retired homicide detectives instantly supplanted retired generals as the electronic experts du jour.

Does Tina sense the irony, being that she is a retired editor making fun of employed editors on cable (when her show finally launches in April)?

She tries so hard in her latest column to find greater meaning in the fickle interests of TV and its audiences: war and Pfc. Lynch today, Laci tomorrow, Elizabeth and Chandra yesterday.

Why is cable news so addicted to missing girls and women? Is it because so much of the audience consists of boiling white males who feel stomped on by the economy and their wives, and girls in peril make them feel protective and virile? The rescue fantasy has never been more potent.

This from the former editor of Vanity Fair!

Methinks she’s trying too hard to find something to say in the media about the media. Methinks she’s thinking too hard. Methinks even she knows it.

I wonder when Americans will get tired of being told what to do and think. By publicists. By bloggers. By the Pentagon. By talk show hosts. We are punch-drunk with other people

Naked celebs!

Naked celebs!
: The mere promise (albeit dashed) of pictures of a half-naked celebrity has sent traffic on Gawker soaring.

Sina Motallebi update

Sina Motallebi update
: MSNBC’s Will Femia has a roundup on Iranian blogger Motallebi’s arrest.

Will links to a post on Blogalization complaining that bloggers have not spread this meme as aggressively as we should.

And there are links to the arrest of a Tunisian blogger in jail because of what he said online. The full story here.

There’s a warning in all this: When journalists who work for big-time publications get arrested because of what they dare to say, they still have the power or at least threat of an organization and its printing presses behind them. When a lone blogger gets arrested because of what he dares to say, he has no one but his family … and us.

: New: Mark Glaser reports on the arrest and bloggers’ support for Motallebi at OJR.

Sin

Sin
: Don’t believe that every Iraqi Muslim is like the crawling, self-flagellating, scalp-slicing pilgrims we’ve seen on TV this week (just as you shouldn’t believe that every American Christian is Jerry Falwell).

Ibidem points us to a report by Rosie Dimanno in the Toronto Star on booze and cigarettes flowing onto the streets of Baghdad:

Two weeks ago, American troops eagerly traded their MREs

Where is the charity?

Where is the charity?
: I’m surprised and saddened that we have not seen an outpouring of charity from the people of the U.S. to the people of Iraq — and I’m especially shocked that I have not seen this from the churches that opposed the war.

Why? It could be that we think they’re the enemy (though we helped enemies that attacked us, Germany and Japan). It could be that we think they’re strange (images on the evening news of millions of Muslims slicing their scalps with swords and beating themselves silly would add to that reputation). It could be that we think they’re oil-rich and don’t need help (though, obviously, they need more than just royalty checks to build a sustainable economy). It could be that our economy’s still to much of a mess and we hope we don’t have to volunteer (tsk-tsk). It could be that we are buying the Iraqi PR and we think we’ll be out of there in a month (letting one tyranny replace another; that would be irresponsible, wouldn’t it?).

There’s no excuse. We should be reaching out to help build a successful society — a tolerant society that accepts its various flavors of Islam (not just the biggest) as well as outsiders; a robust economy that shares the wealth of oil broadly and uses it to build a stronger base of expertise and value; a learned culture that builds on the land’s tremendous history and creates a future based on free sharing of information and opinions.

But instead, when I go to Google News and search for “Iraq” and “charity,” what I get are links about British MP George Galloway allegedly using a charity to take money from Saddam Hussein; an indictment for using a charity to send money to Saddam; heads of charities protesting war; and problems with getting charity to Iraq. And I see this disturbing note: “U.S.-based relief agencies are mobilizing to feed and heal Iraq, but so far they are straining to illustrate the need to potential donors and reach those who are suffering. The chaos of war — followed by rampant looting and lawlessness — is partly to blame, they say, and many who might give are only beginning to focus on the plight of Iraqis. There has been no huge refugee crisis to galvanize donors, the agencies point out. Delay in sending relief could hamper the American campaign to demonstrate good will toward Iraq and quickly relieve widespread suffering.”

I’m a bit ashamed of us.

: Now as I’m thinking this through, I come across a fascinating story at the oddly named site Killing The Buddah by Tim Shorrock, the son of missionaries who went to Japan after World War II with the blessing and active support of Douglas McArthur and our occupation government.

So began one of the strangest episodes of the Cold War: MacArthur’s attempt to harness Christianity in his mission to transform Japan into an anti-communist and pro-American bastion of democracy. Between 1946 and 1950, over 2,000 American teachers, social workers and evangelists came to Japan in response to a recruitment drive launched by mainstream churches and blessed at the highest levels of the U.S. government….

Going by numbers alone, the American crusade was a miserable failure. In the political turbulence after World War II, millions of Japanese joined the Japanese Communist Party and aligned themselves with the Japanese Left to organize and join labor unions and demonstrate against the spread and testing of nuclear weapons. Fifty-six years after the war, the number of Japanese who call themselves Christians remains around one-half of one percent of the population, the same level it was before Pearl Harbor.

But judged on human terms, the American missionary influx after 1945 was profound; it helped heal the wounds of war and exposed the defeated Japanese to a new kind of American, neither businessman nor soldier, willing to forgo the comforts of home to share in the uncertainties and poverty of postwar Japan. “They were young and idealistic, and identified with Japan,” recalls Kiyoko Takeda Cho, a prominent Christian intellectual who lives in Tokyo and was one of my parents

On radio, nobody needs to know you’re naked

On radio, nobody needs to know you’re naked
: Anne Gerrels, NPR’s brave correspondent, is back from Baghdad with tales of war:

From her hotel in Baghdad, Garrels used a smuggled satellite phone to file her reports in the dark of night, a measure designed to elude ever-watchful Iraqi security officials.

“I decided that it would be very smart if I broadcast naked,” Garrels recounts. “If, God forbid, the secret police were coming through the rooms, that would give me maybe five minutes to answer the door, pretend I’d been asleep, sort of go ‘I don’t have any clothes on,’ and give me maybe a few seconds, minutes, to hide the phone.”

Irrelevance

Irrelevance
: The Catholic archbishop of Baghdad‘s view of Iraq’s future:

Archbishop Sleiman said it is wrong to try to impose democracy through force on a people who do not yet fully understand democratic concepts, including the proper relationship between religion and government.

What a hock of hooey. What would he prefer? Tyranny? Theocracy? Anarchy? [via Ibidem]

Hero in the house

Hero in the house
: The man who tipped us to Pfc. Lynch’s location is headed to the U.S. [via au Currant]