Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Weird Journalism

I have long been interested in photo journalism and how it can change the tenor of a news story. Every so often I spot things in the media that make me wonder if someone is inattentive, stupid, or working on some hidden agenda. Take this screen shot from my computer today.



When you click on the photo, the caption reads: "Members of Iran's Basij militia take part in the Army Day military parade in Tehran, Iran April 18, 2006." If you don't bother to go deeper, it looks a lot like a Hamas protest. So why show guys in a annual parade who look like Hamas next to a picture about Bush and Iran? This leads me to wonder about who coordinated the page layout. The picture and the story don't seem to match and the subtle message seems to be that all of these people wearing green bandanas are the same; they are all out to get us.

Then there was this shot:



It's caption reads: "Iranian army members parade during a ceremony commemorating Army Day in front of the mausoleum of the late revolutionary founder Ayatollah Khomeini just outside Tehran, Iran, Tuesday, April 18, 2006".

It makes it look like Iran is gearing up for war with the help of Hamas. It sends all sort of messages. Granted, Hamas gets funding from Iran, but the two are currently in the news for very different reasons. And Hamas is less interested in terrorizing the US or helping Iran than getting a Palestinian State. This type of complexity gets lost when you throw shoddy journalism up on the web.

And can someone tell me why Bush will deny the validity of Sey Hersh's article in the New Yorker one week and then say all options are still on the table the next?

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

Why does it look like a Hamas protest, as opposed to any other group of islamist thugs? 

// posted by LTG

Anonymous said...

The green flag and bandanas as well as the black and white checkered head scarves are symbols of Hamas. The head scarves are also a symbol of the PLO. 

// posted by USWest

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, I don't see it. Bandanas are everywhere in the middle east. The green banner is a traditional banner of Islam. They are wearing headbands, not Kaffiyeh. Also, Hamas usually covers all but their eyes with cloth. I think they look like Hamas only because all militants in the middle east kind of look alike to us.  

// posted by LTG

Anonymous said...

Look around at photos since Hamas has won elections and you will see green bandanas, basball caps, and banners with faces uncovered. To the casual observer, they look the same as what the first photos portray.

In addition, the militancy of the photos next to a story that has to do with political statements sends the wrong message in my view. 

// posted by USWest

Anonymous said...

What does the writing on that green banner say? What language is it in? Would the answer tell us anything? 

// posted by Raised By Republicans

Anonymous said...

The writing wouldn't matter to the causal American observer. That is the point that I am getting out. You can study the photo all you want. But to the average person, just looking at it, would they get it confused. Actually, they may not even know enough about Hamas to know the difference, which reflects LTG's point above. It doesn't matter to the casual observer becuase to him/her all Islamists look alike. I may be over analyzing. But I watching this Iran thing closely because I am convinced they are going to try a pull a fast one on us and that they are already engineering people's perceptions. This is why I reacted as I did to the photos. And so long as we as a public ignore the complexities, as we did in Iraq, we will be easily engineered. 

// posted by USWest

Anonymous said...

OK, I think I get what US West is pointing out here. It's not that this IS a Hamas protest but that it LOOKS like one. And since the idea of propoganda is to demonize the "other" what could be more demonizing than only showing pictures of Iranians with either guns or waving "Death to ..." signs and chanting "Down Down USA" in badly accented English? 

// posted by Raised By Republicans

Anonymous said...

Thank you for putting it much more clearly than I did, RBR.
And in addition to that, you plant that idea next to headlines that have nothing to do with
terrorism or Islamists. That is how propoganda works! 

// posted by USwest

Dr. Strangelove said...

To answer an earlier query... if I am not mistaken, the grean banner is in Arabic and reads, "In The Name of Allah." But moving along...

Saying that the photo looks like a "Hamas" protest is not quite the point. The point is that it looks like what a lot of Americans will see what they might describe as, "another one o' them damn flag-burnin', terrorist, A-rab mobs." The point is to blur them all together, and alas, it happens very easily.

I will never forget when I heard a woman tourist in New York City interviewed on CNN just after the start of the Iraq war. She said she supported Bush and the war, explaining, "they hit our towers, we're hitting them back." (I don't recall the exact words, but it was something like that.)

Every time I wonder whether the kind of propaganda USWest talks about is real, I just think of that woman and then I KNOW it is. It's enough to make you cry.

Anonymous said...

Hamas wants a palestinian state? Really? All I've ever seen them do is kill jews. Could you find me some quotes wherein establishing the palestinian state isn't also tied to killing jews?
 

// posted by The Guy

Dr. Strangelove said...

There are many groups that believe a two-state solution is possible--that there can be a Palestinian state without killing Jews. But Hamas is not one of them. As The Guy so bluntly put it, Hamas still advocates killing Jews to get a Palestinian state.

Anonymous said...

I don't think Hamas advocates killing Jews per se. They advocate eliminating the state of Israel and believe killing Israeli civilians is a legitimate tactic. It remains to be seen whether Hamas will now work for a two-state solution or not. Hamas understands that people voted for them largely to give the finger to Israel, not to signal a shift to radicalism. Hamas knows, now that they are in charge, that they have a lot to gain by seeking a two-state solution. Power corrupts, sometimes for the better.  

// posted by LTG

Anonymous said...

You are going to see that Hamas will be forced to change as did the PLO before it. It was a resistance movement that just got settled with the responsibility of having to man a government. It wasn't prepared for that and in effect, it will be co-opted into legitimacy.

Most of those who voted for Hamas did not do it because they want to flush "the Jews into the sea" but because Hamas has been supplying vital services (Like the mafia once did in Italy) to people that the Fatah government has not been able to. They voted with their stomachs. And just as Israelis have changed their political landscape in these last elections, so have the Palestinians.

And before you jump on Hamas, there are elements among the Israelis that would like to flush the Arabs in to the sea as well. So I would be careful, Guy, of putting too much stock the rhetoric because that once again is a sign of failing to understand the subtleties. Groups will say a lot of things, write a lot of things to appeal to a base, as we well know from our own experience. The thing to watch is what they actually do.
 

// posted by USwest

Dr. Strangelove said...

USWest: I hope you are right that Hamas will change the way the PLO did (well, except for the Al-Aqsa "Martyrs" Brigade...). But as for now, Hamas does not merely talk or write about killing Jews. They actually blow up school buses.

LTG tries to make a distinction: he writes, "I don't think Hamas advocates killing Jews per se. They advocate eliminating the state of Israel and believe killing Israeli civilians is a legitimate tactic." In other words, Hamas advocates terrorism. And again, let me remind you that they do not merely advocate; they are terrorists.

Did the Palestinians vote for terrorism when they voted for Hamas? No, I agree with USWest that we cannot draw that conclusion. "Voting with their stomachs" (USWest) is probably a good explanation for the size of the Hamas victory, as is to "give the finger to Israel" (LTG). But is it wrong to feel outrage toward those who turned a blind eye to terrorism just for the sake of their "stomachs" or petty revenge? Hamas is not merely guilty of hateful rhetoric; they are guilty of mass murder.

I do not excuse Israeli rhetoric or callous military operations. But when USWest says that it is important to grasp the subtleties, I feel obliged to point out that terrorism is not a subtlety. Until Hamas stops deliberately attacking on civilians, I think "jumping on Hamas" is precisely what the international community must do. Because there is no excuse for terrorism.

Anonymous said...

I agree with LTG. I also agree that Hamas isn't a laudable organization, by far. I don't want to give the impression that I support Hamas. But I also don't want to be unfair in singling out Hamas for critique. And the word "terrorist" is still a difficult term for me. You know the old saying, "One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter." Hamas is an organization the way Shin Fein or ETA are organizations. Those are also using guerilla tactics that we now classify as "terrorist". What makes Hamas different is that it is, in addition to be political, religious. But look what happened to these organizations when they were put in the position of having to make decisions. So we do have several precedents for "reform".

I think, however, that we have this double standard that singles out Arab groups while seeming to ignore that not all terrorists are Arab and not all Arabs are terrorists. Again, I am careful of the rhetoric and the pictures that go with it.

What bugs me is the double standard that says if the group is Arab, it is automatically wrong and bad. What gets lost is that these guys are not out to attack Americans directly. Hamas didn't run into the WTC. I think it is important in this "war on terror" to distinguish between international terrorism and the domestic brand.

 

// posted by USWest

Dr. Strangelove said...

USWest... you are absolutely right that we must distinguish international terrorist organizations--specifically, Al Qaeda--from the "domestic brand." Domestic organizations like Hamas, Sinn Fein, and ETA have different histories and a different agenda.

It is unfortunate that Al Qaeda is also--predominantly--Arab and (self-proclaimed) muslim, because it makes it easier for people to mistake the two, and for unscrupulous politicians to blur the distinction. Nobody would have been fooled into invading Iraq if Osama bin Laden had been as white as Timothy McVeigh.

I would not be shy about using the word terrorist with Hamas, USWest--not when the shoe fits. The word is now being abused by the Right, being applied to far too much. Rather than shy away from the word, however, the Left should fight back and restore the word.

Let me explain what I'm getting at. Did you see "V for Vendetta"? I enjoyed the movie a lot. A crucial distinction, however: V was not a terrorist. To be sure, V looked like a terrorist on, but that was just his schtick. He blew up empty buildings. He used the threat of violence to get airtime. And he killed some police/soldiers in self-defense. But V did not harm civilians and was not trying to terrorize the population. Guerrilla warfare and violent political protest are very different from terrorism.

Anonymous said...

I'll point out some differences between Hamas, the IRA and ETA (not in anway excusing any of these groups). ETA's targets were largely Spanish government officials but they were notoriously sloppy about avoiding civilian casualties. The IRA's targets were gennerally either British government officials and/or property and the IRA typically gave warnings just before bombings to give police enough time to clear out civilians but not find the bomb. Hamas targets civilians intentionally, sees killing civilians as the tactical objective and - as with the recent bombings in Israel - absurdly calls it "self defense." At best this is bloody revenge against people tangentially related to Hamas' real opponents. At worst it is simply murder.

I agree with Dr. Strangelove on this one. I think it is a mistake to try to find nuance in a group like Hamas - so long as they keep calling suicide bombs "self defense." I would however welcome a moderating trend within Hamas. But Hamas  

// posted by Raised By Republicans

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