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Since the US media mostly sees only two colors, black or white, thanks to their fear of standing up to the Administration, we entitled this page that way. Although few things are actually black or white, least of all in the political world, it is time that black and white behavior in the media is addressed on this site.

It is still possible to get accurate news--if you are good at reading the tea leaves. The 2007 National Congress of the Communist Party of China is a case in point. The US press tended to view the proceedings as one in which Hu Jintao was more or less consolidating his power. The UK press largely reported the essence of what Hu said. On the ground in China, however, it sounded quite differently. The middle-class Chinese we talked with were uniformly elated. They were proud of their nation's great economic achievements. They were supportive of the idea that growth has come at a cost that now must be repaired, the environment, pollution, income gaps, and that the party has not quite lived up to its ideal of serving the people. Our Chinese friends were elated that specific problems had been mentioned and further that some new blood in the top hierarchy was brought in to help fix those problems with special skills new to the Politburo.

These three viewpoints bring three attitudes:

The US media leans toward viewing all political events in terms of power. US media usually reported variously that Hu was mildly too strongly consolidating his power. While power is an element on most occasions, this political event was more, much more.

The UK press, seasoned better by history perhaps, saw fit to report the message from the headman pretty much as he gave it with emphasis on the environment.

As for the Chinese press, yes, it is state controlled. But what was said? Solid stuff people complain about, income disparities, corruption, and pollution were all addressed in detail. Hu obviously has the Chinese people behind him. He brought people with technical skills into his inner circle. That went over big with our contacts. We never have seen a more intense bunch of people scurrying about--morale in China was obviously high, very high.

One might expect these contrasts, given that the US is in the grips of the far right while Communism certainly represents the far left. We went away believing that China has moved beyond Communism. It is something else. It is not Democratic, but for all the world we could not see how a different political system could have accomplished what the Chinese Government has these last two decades. Expect more to come. Look for China to level the economic scales with the West sooner than most projections indicate.

Is the American electorate well served by biased and incomplete reporting?
Of course not.

There is more, al Qa'ida and bin Laden. This one is tougher and touchier, since the US populace shares at least some of the blindness; most of us are in denial.

We cannot understand how a middle-class young man, well educated and having seen much of the world could volunteer for suicide terror missions. The explanation is actually there; we just have to dig deep for it. And when we find it, it stretches our credulity. Even those of us trained in the sciences--where we look hard for exceptions and anomalies--may be incredulous. We were in fact.

While most scientists work hard and objectively to stay current in their fields, is the media doing likewise? Most organs that claim to be balanced don't mean balanced beyond American borders, as if American interests are the only ones that count. Others are out largely beating the drums in lockstep with a "War President." Dehumanizing the enemy is our defense mechanism; we use it to avoid having to look into the mirror. It is rare that a media outlet sponsors the kind of effort it takes to dig down to the most fundamental levels on issues and their causes. It is too easy and lucrative not to. In fact, the media faces an inherent conflict of interest. Since it can only sell what the public will buy, and since the public is in denial, the media largely submits to being in that state, too.

In spite of its own propaganda, there are exceptions within its own ranks. A good hard look in the mirror has made some in the media see the other side of the coin. They surely know better than the rest of us. But that is not enough. Only those who grew up in the "other culture" can get down to the nuts and bolts of suicidal terrorism. Only they know what it feels like to be a an educated second- or third-class citizen under an oppressive regime. It is they who realize it needn't be that way. These are the people who emigrate, become journalists and the like, or terrorists.

We Americans have largely missed some important facts that bear on terrorism:

  • Heavy-handed dictatorships largely rule the Middle East. We support many of them with cash and arms.
  • People oppressed by such dictators, have only one place to turn, the mosques.
  • With such a huge disparity of power, terrorism becomes the only possible response by those who have none.
  • Terror is directed at the ruling classes first, then, since we are complicit foreigners, we come in for secondary terror. 9/11 caught America unawares, except for mid-level intelligence folks who knew well what was coming. That was a failing by the Administration. But in all honesty, the new president was no better informed and just as arrogant as the typical macho male American. Of course, he could have informed himself; given his responsibilities, he should have.
  • Terror often begins this way: The vulnerable young get a double whammy in the mosque. The local despot is backed up by the global despot, so what can I do? I can give my life--for the hereafter that beckons martyrs with virgins." It is not that simple, of course. It takes time to become that radicalized. But the young radicals have nothing but time. Their educations have prepared them for jobs that usually do not exist. So it happens.
  • To the young and vulnerable, martyrdom, even if it is not in the Qu'ran, becomes a legitimate response to both the local and foreign "tyrants."
  • This brings us to the punch line the media has neglected to use:

We must delegitimize terrorism in the Muslim world
before we can defeat it.

Otherwise there will always be a continuous supply.

As it is, the media is missing the point,
even editorializing for the opposite.

There are many good journalists in this world. There just are not enough with the courage to call it like it really is. So we ask once again:

Is The Media For Us or Against US?

Or is it both,
or something in between?

Will it ever do its homework?

Without our media, we can never have freedom and democracy. Without understanding all sides of issues, how can we vote intelligently? The media is our only real line of defense against despotism. When a moderator on TV insisted that a candidate answer yes or no to a pointed question, we looked in vain for a candidate with the guts to simply say: "It is a gray area that has both benefits and costs. As president, I would balance the scale and find a humane and moral compromise that Congress could agree on with me."


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