I’m taking a Foreign Correspondence Class. It is absoultely awesome. In fact, today, I gave myself my own snow day and skipped every other class I had, except that one. I even spent more than 15 minutes scraping off the inch-thick block of ice that had encased my car so I could make it uptown.
Anyway. Every week, we have a question that our Professor posts on our online “discussion board” and we have to post our answers. Two weeks or so ago, the question was whether we feel American foreign correspondents have adequately covered the question “Why do they hate us?” After 9-11.
I must say, I have a little crush on my professor. He’s from Uganda, and it might be the accent. Or it might be his stories about war coverage he’s been a part of. He’s like James Bond. That doesn’t seem like the right analogy. But anyway. My point is, I have decided to not let this discussion board question get in the way of my adoration of him. 🙂
Here’s what I wrote.
“I agree that our post-9/11 media climate proved to be different than pre-9/11. Perhaps immediately following the attacks, we saw a surge of patriotism and community in media reports and broadcasts. But I also feel that as more journalists began to ask “why do they hate us?” the pendulum began swinging the other way – and many of those same American journalists began to answer that question themselves.
I believe that though the idea of “national security” has perhaps crippled the press at times, as we get farther and farther from 9/11, the media is putting less blame on the men actually in the planes that attacked us and, curiously, more blame on our government and our country – for not being diplomatic enough, or whatever the hot-button word these days is. The media has stopped asking “why do they hate us?” and started saying “I don’t blame you for hating us.”
Here’s my biggest question: why do we have to assume that the terrorists’ justifications (or whatever they’d offer) for what they did on 9-11 are rational? I absolutely CANNOT look at what they did and then suddenly think to myself gee, we must have made them mad; it must be our fault they did that. I absolutely detest that about the politics of American journalism these days – it’s politically incorrect to insinuate that this group of radical Muslims, though they explicitly admit their intentions to kill “infidels” killed us for any reason other than something WE did, so we turn the blame for the attack back on ourselves, or Bush, or any other person – who didn’t happen to be in the planes, by the way.
And no, I don’t believe all Muslims have that sentiment toward non-believers, and I don’t want to be misunderstood in that way. I realize these men were radical and do not represent the religion as a whole. I also realize that specifically “killing infidels” might not have been this specific group of men’s reason for the attack – but I still think that the fact that they publicly claim to seek that mission is WAY underreported. (See, even I’m a little afraid of being “politically incorrect!” But I digress.)
I kind of equate that kind of logic to something like looking at the crimes of an insane mass murderer and saying “hmm…we should spend our investigative energy trying to figure out what those victims did to provoke him.” Yeah that’s just an analogy, but it is not an exaggeration of what we are in fact doing right now. It isn’t!
The other point I’d like to bring up is the question of why we SHOULD ask “why they hate us.” What would we do with the answer? If the reason for 9-11 was indeed the fact that America is a country of LIBERTY – freedom of religion, for example, are we going to give that up once we figure that out? In other words, perhaps the reason those few violent, irrational terrorists hate us was merely the fact of who we are; and if that is indeed the case, why should we indulge that as a legitimate “beef” with our country?
And even if their reason is something legitimate; even if it turns out they’re mad because they feel we’re internationally “policing” beyond where we have a right to, do we think that if we fix that, terrorists are going to stop terrorizing? I don’t understand how we keep assigning rationality to people who are willing to do what those men did on 9-11. If someone is willing to kill themselves in order to kill a thousand innocent people whom they know nothing about, why do you think that once we “changed” what they didn’t like about us, they would stop? Crazy people are going to do crazy things. Non-crazy people asking them to “please stop” is usually not going to change that.
And the last question I have is, doesn’t asking “why they hate us” beg the question – “Do they hate us?” A group of terrorists might, but does that mean the world does? Out of everyone in the US., journalists should be the first ones to eliminate questions with un-proven premises, like this one.”
The worst part about the whole thing is the responses posted by my classmates. “We haven’t looked into that enough. The American media caved into the pressures of the Bush administration after 9/11.” Do you WATCH MSNBC?! And geeze..these are my colleagues! These are kids who have gone through 4 YEARS of journalism school!! How do they still buy that bullshit?
In other news, I’m thinking of moving to Australia.