Participated in an interesting conversation yesterday between someone trying to make the point that the political culture of the Arab/Muslim world was far to the “right” of anything we Westerners can understand, that a majority of the public holds opinions that we would consider fascist, war-mongering and racist if it were a Westerner holding such opinions, and someone trying to deny the evidence as best he could, to preserve an image of the Muslim world that corresponded to what we liberals would like to hope existed over there.
As I listened to his responses, I realized that he kept coming up the plausible (and not-so-plausible) counter-arguments, basically anything that could deflect the evidence brought to bear. For example, the citing of a poll of Palestinian opinion immediately brought skepticism about its reliability. In fact, if anything, the poll is probably unreliable in understating rather than exaggerating the degree of radical “right-wing” attitudes (“what was taken by force can only be taken back by force”).
Al Durah Mural. Underneath: “What was taken by force can only be regained by force.”
(This is also what is written on the wall above the father and son at Netzarim Junction.)
As I thought about it, I realized that he was not at all interested in figuring out what’s going on, but only in defending his position (which was not so much a liberal position as a liberal projection). Now, he has an excuse: he’s young, and for him, every argument is a contest he needs to win. But this same technique also describes one of the main ways our journalists contribute to our being on rekaB Street: they’re not looking for real explanations, for real understanding, they’re looking for the explanations that support a “liberal” outlook — e.g., the Gazans voted for Hamas not because it’s a genocidal hate-mongering organization that promises to restore Palestinian and Muslim honor by exterminating Israel (let’s not talk about that), but because of Fatah corruption. They, like my young friend, are looking for the least implausible explanations, not looking for a real understanding.
CAMERA has an interesting list of resolutions for journalists in 2013 in which they suggest journalists cease to systematically misinform their readers about the Middle East conflict. As I go down the list, two things occur to me: 1) in your dreams will journalists stop doing this since it would make them too “pro-Zionist” (no matter how accurate most of the requests are); and 2) what an extraordinary list of examples in which journalists are so committed to getting the story wrong… repeatedly, consistently, perversely.
But since journalists consider themselves a force of nature, they just think we should learn to live with it.
Of course, that may seem okay to journalists when the only people they’re sticking it to are the Israelis. But… what about the Western public they’re misinforming? What about the Jihad they’re enabling?