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Tuesday, August 01, 2006

What I can do

I can't watch the NBC Nightly News anymore. I love Brian Williams, and I grew up watching Tom Brokaw, but the current coverage of the War in Israel has sickened me. In its attempts to be "balanced" in its coverage, it has given equal time to Israeli and Lebanese casualties, and folks, the Israeli side of that equation just can't hold up. If you get your news only from Network TV, this is what you will learn:

War sucks. Wars should never be fought. Both sides in this war are right about some things, and wrong about others. Both Israel and Lebanon (?Hezbollah?) are inflicting civilian casualties. But Israel is clearly worse than Hezbollah (?Lebanon?). Why? Because Israel is suffering far fewer (civilian) casualties. Therefore, if we apply our moral equalizing lens to the situation, Israel is the bad guy, and Hezbollah is a bad guy, but not as bad, and Lebanon (man, how do you keep track of all this in a 15 minute news segment?) is the innocent caught in between. And as we know from Star Trek (the source of all morality), it is NEVER justifiable to inflict civilian casualties, even if it is the only way to destroy evil. Besides, yesterday's evil will undoubtedly become tomorrow's friendly Klingons. And...cut to commercial.

Honestly, how can a few pampered Israelis running to bomb shelters compare to hundreds of innocent women and children actually dying? Photo-journalism says the side with the most casualties will always win our sympathy and our support. Of course, Hezbollah knows this, and is working hard to make our news personnel into willing propaganda artists for terrorism.

So last night I switched off NBC and flipped over to Fox News Channel, and proceeded to clear off the table and load up the dinner dishes, when The O'Reilly Factor came on. All I can say is, THANK GOD FOR MICHELLE MALKIN. She was up there on my TV, MAKING SENSE. Saying all the things that were being left unsaid by the Network News, putting things in perspective, and taking the media to task for the ease in which they made assumptions, used semantics, and generally ignored facts in their rush to be balanced.

I'm getting my news these days from "right wing" sources. Debka, Bill Bennett, Robert Avrech (who's posting something every 20 minutes it seems), my mench Jameel, Treppenwitz, and others. And that works for me. But what can I contribute to the War effort? I'm not running over there to join the IDF. I go to shul and I daven and say Tehillim. I can give limited funds. Is that it? Is there no important role that I, a mild-mannered physician in Wisconsin, can play?

Actually, I think there is. In an earlier post, I mentioned that Israel is fighting a war on 3 fronts. Gaza, Lebanon, and the World Media. You can argue about how it's doing on the first two. But I don't think there's any question that it is doing poorly on the third. So maybe there's something I can do about that.

Now, I realize that the readership here is not large, and also I suspect that most of the people (let's not count the trolls) who come here feel similarly about Israel. So ranting and raving over here accomplishes little. Besides, Ezzie and Yourish and Malkin and Baleboosteh can keep track of the facts much better than I can and more eloquently to boot. And I realize that the reason you're all checking back here is that you're hoping I'll post more Caveman pictures.

So what can I do? I can fight the Media War in real life. I can talk to those who do get their news from the mainstream media. Who get "balanced" pictures and "sound bites" and are quickly becoming indoctrinated in Star Trek-like moral equivalence. Who haven't been shown the whole picture. Who haven't figured out that we are indeed in the middle of World War 3 and we'd better start acting like it or we will lose.

I can talk to my friends, my co-workers, the people who like and respect me, and tell them what I think about the War in Lebanon. And the shooting in Seattle. And the train bombing in India. And no, I'm not a right-wing nut job. I just have a little more perspective and I'm willing to help them connect the dots. These informal lunchroom discussions can make a difference. I just hope it's not too little and too late.


Rachel said...

As usual, you make my day a little brighter. Thank you for your honesty...to me, it reads just like a prayer.

Chana said...

What you said! My thoughts exactly. But I'm a SAHM a little SE of you.

I saw Michelle Malkin on O'Reilly - she rocks!

I can't stand Fox when it comes to any other issue besides Israel.

Ezzie said...

Mmmm... FOX... :)

Perfectly put post.

FWIW, I've always thought of/wanted my blog to cater to non-bloggers. A number of my friends/relatives read it, for example (and now a bunch made their own). For me, blogs are one of the best ways to fight the Media War in "real-life", as more and more people are turning to them. I was happily surprised that at the rally I was at last night, one of the speakers actually spoke about that for a minute - the more people are aware of blogs that are actually covering this stuff (thanks for putting the icon up again), the more they will see what really is going on.

Watch what might happen over the next two days with this Qana "massacre" - the blogs seem to have started to really look into it, and now it seems like it is all a setup by Hizbollah.

Woah, tangent. Anyways... it's all these little informal talks that make the difference. A HS friend (Bostoner Chassid, actually) was on the subway yesterday when some guy accosted him about Israel. He calmly responded to each point, and when the guy started getting belligerent, asked simply "How would you respond if your building in Manhattan were hit by a rocket? And the building next to you. And one a few blocks over?" The guy stopped talking, then just shook his head, saying, "Israel is murdering civilians." Some people you figure out are not worth wasting time on - most, however, are able to have intelligent discussion. And that's where we all need to make the difference.

It's never too little, and never too late. We just have to all keep at it.

Neil Harris said...

Great post. I've been speaking to people it the street and in stores about the war. As conveyed by Ezzie, the war has to be referenced in terms people can understand. What if Mexico or Canada shot missiles over the border? Most people stop and think when I ask them that.

Over the past 3 weeks, I've become a big fan of FOX NEWS. I even wrote them to say thanks.

fudge said...

yeah, but fox news is no longer considered 'serious' news by a large portion of the world; not even my journalism prof, who agrees with everything portrayed there, will call them a real news channel. you can quote fox news all you want, and you can watch it too, but still, i am hesitant to accept the suggestion that we only watch news broadcasts that tell us what we want to hear. yes, the media coverage of israel is horribly unfair. but if you don't know what they're saying, how can you begin to combat it? how will you understand what is shaping everyone else's perceptions - people who, nebuch, lend no credit to fox news because it is owned by a christian conservative who plays decidedly to that crowd?
so fox news agrees with us. hooray for them. what we need to watch carefully, however, is the message the rest of the world is seeing.

and on another tangent: does this predict a trend? imagine what a nightmare that would be - politicized news station, everyone listening only to the information they want to hear, living in their own delusions.

Ezzie said...

Two points: FOXNews gets more viewers than CNN and MSNBC for their political analysis shows, which is important on its own, but more important is the effect it has on the other companies - because FOX is there and will report certain aspects of the news, it requires the other stations to at the least give a cursory examination of the same stories. Otherwise, their bias would constantly get them scooped, and they'd lose money like crazy. For better or worse, news companies are trying to make a profit - and that means that having an 'opposing force' like FOX will keep them better in line (much like blogs are doing, even if it's on a small scale).

The people who only want to hear what they want already do so. The battle is over the hearts and minds of the people in between... and they're generally more interested in the truth than a certain bias.

Ezzie said...

[I actually had this discussion with a few bloggers almost a year ago - one of them is now starting The National Gazette.]

Nati said...

Lots of really well-stated points in your post. We just returned from Belgium (flying with kids - - no interest in doing THAT again anytime soon!). . . talk about biased news. Watching the BBC and the other European news channels, one would think that the only people in Israel are soldiers and the only people in Lebanon are women and children who are sick and hungry. Coverage of Israeli victims or Israelis in bomb shelters was scant at best. So after 2 weeks among Belgium's citizens, playing the same role you describe, I am totally with you on this one.

Baleboosteh said...

Great post as usual PT!

Oh, an I love the caveman photos!

cruisin-mom said...

great post p.t....I agree with everything you say. And Fudge...you are scarily (is that a word?) brilliant.

Kiwi the Geek said...

I totally agree, but I regret that I'm not as good an ambassador as I'd like on such issues as these. I often feel like I don't have enough facts and come across as an idiot, as if I haven't thought it through. I'm getting better though. Maybe it's just because my opponents are too stubborn and closed-minded, like the guy on the subway.

Jack's Shack said...

Good post. We are fighting the cyber war. I truly believe that. It may not be much, but it is something.

~ Sarah ~ said...

well said.
every little bit we do helps.


last night at my shuls pre tish abov BBQ, i met biyamin the guy who sold you his bass for $400, he sends his regards

Kiwi the Geek said...

Do you realize that the word I in the title isn't bold like you intended. The tags show in the page title, but no effect.

Mrs. Balabusta said...

I check cable news every few hours during the day and I have come to these assessments.

1. CNN never has anything good to say about Israel and is the first to put Arab "analysts" on the set.

2. MSNBC - should be called the "cautious" news station. Big names, big generals. Lt Col Oliver North kicked some major butt over there Tues noon. You will notice the anchors keep trying to get the generals and military to get back to the middle of the road, but the military aren't really interested- it's like trying to get the superbowl spectators to root for the umps.
3. Fox - Totally street spoken, not big on politicians, last night Bill O'Reilly had Condi Rice on and asked the tough questions - "Does Hisbolla consider the US a target?" and followed by "So why don't we help Israel wipe them out? Why equivocate at all?" I don't like O'Reilly, but I loved him then.

I think the networks are hard put to find "analysts" who disagree with Israel. Anybody who looks at the history and can see the whole board knows Hisbolla is no friend of the US, knows they will lie, and knows the French aren't going to help anyone (never have anyway).

But, if it bleeds it leads - and the 24 hour news circuit gets ratings from dead children - in fact if I understand correctly, will take dead girls out of ambulances and put them back in for the cameras to roll.

MSNBC Lester Holt admitted yesterday that Hisbolla "representatives" are censoring what they can show and can't show on their broadcast. To me that borders on making MSNBC complicit in the rocket attacks. You want to be neutral, move to a neutral location and get the hell out of the picture. If you are not part of the solution then you become the problem.

PsychoToddler said...

I agree with most of what you all are saying, especially if what you are saying is that you agree with me!

fudge, I think we should be cautious about getting our news from just one source, particularly if it is TV or radio. I don't believe there is such a thing as unbiased reporting. That's like a news ticker type thing. But even then, the choice of words that the reporter uses conveys some bias, eg "militant" vs "terrorist". So if you have in mind that no matter what you listen to or read or watch will be biased anyway, you might as well pick the reporters who are on your side rather than your enemies. Maybe it's not intellectually honest, but neither is the pursuit of "unbiased" reporting.

In my experience, Fox News channel is the best of the three, followed distantly by MSNBC, (although as Mrs B says, their current group of talking heads are pretty good),and lastly CNN which obviously has it in for Israel. Forget the BBC or any European outlets. They are about on par with Al Jazeerah.

I don't really care much for partisan politics and usually turn it off when they start talking about republicans vs democrats etc. But I think the Left's dislike for George Bush has become so vitriolic that they are incapable of supporting any stand that he takes, even if they would otherwise hold that it is good for the country. This is very unhealthy, and our enemies are quick to exploit it.

Finally, people have told me that the American News Outlets, early on, were surprisingly supportive of the Israeli offensive. (of course, now they aren't). This is being touted as evidence of their fairness and lack of anti-Israel bias. This is utter tripe.

Particularly early on, you would have had to have been an anarchist-terrorist-loving buffoon not to see that Israel was right and Hezbollah was wrong, and that any option other than forcibly disarming Hezbollah was going to lead to more bloodshed in the region. So big deal that the news media reported it this way. My 5 year old daughter could tell you that. The fact that they've given any credence at all to the other side shows how deep their anti-Israel bias is, and of course, now it is beginning to take over again.

PsychoToddler said...

Chana: Even if you are a SAHM, you must come into contact with individuals who may be influenced by the relentless anti-israel bias in the media? Hair dressors? Other parents?

If you don't, you NEED HELP! Get out there and talk to some grown ups! Keep your sanity!

Nati: I can't imagine what it must be like in Europe. Must be like the 1930's all over again.

Baleboosteh: do a google search for psychotoddler and cro magnon. Knock yourself out. Also add in Sean Connery.

Cruisin: Thanks for the compliment. College.

Amishlover: No Sh*t! Say hi for me! There's a great story behind that bass (and I think it's here on the blog somewhere...)

Kiwi: You are so FREAKIN anal. Yeah, I think the problem is that the titles default to bold anyway. No great loss.

Mrs B: Nice analysis. Maybe we can bump CNN off the favorites and put FNC up instead.

Anonymous said...

Bravo, PT! I've been talking (and arguing endlessly on message boards) for the exact same reasons, feeling discouraged that usually I'm usually the only person in the room who hasn't lost sight of what this conflict is truly about. I often find that I have to give a short course in Middle Eastern history in order to make my points intelligible for most people. This is what happens when you let a MTV/junk culture society take over your educational system. Anyway, I certainly needed the pep talk. Thanks again. ;-)

PsychoToddler said...

That's very true, Anonymous. I find that the people I talk to are unbelievably ignorant about the history of the Middle East (or American History, or European History, or the History of various religions...) despite the fact that the Middle East is in the news EVERY DAY.

Part of this may be related to what is not taught in school, and part due to the fact the the MSM does a very poor job of putting things in perspective, given the need to get those sound bites out.

When you can spend a few minutes and go over the history, people not only get very impressed with you, but they often can see that what you're saying makes a lot more sense than what they've heard elsewhere.

Jewish Blogmeister said...

Great post! I wish I had more time to keep up with all the news and broadcasts. The more you know the better prepared you are to deal with all the rifraf. All in all it's the one above pulling the strings and we can only hope he listens to our prayers and puts a quick end to all this tragedy and suffering.

Jewish Blogmeister said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
RR said...

All of the things you talked about doing are important. The blogging, the talking to people and telling them how it really is, and your prayers. Believe me, it's nice to know that there are so many people like you around the world who are on our side- even though, unfortunately, you're outnumbered by people who for some unfathomable reason choose to side with terrorists.

But hey, some Caveman pics would be nice, too!

fudge said...

mom: it's funny that you picked up on the cnn thing. even my journalism prof, who believed in getting news from as many and as varying sources as she could find, refused to watch cnn. she was utterly appalled by their bias and said they are if anything the opposing force to fox.

as for 'it bleeds it leads' - another motto we had to memorize.

it's funny how much of war has become how we cover it.

ball-and-chain said...

PT: The problem is that you have to be willing to lose friends to have that discussion. IMO it's worth losing friends over. Good luck. Israel needs places like Wisconsin because it has already lost the coasts of the U.S.
Over in LA, all my friends agree about Israel, but Bean and I no longer discuss anything else because friendships have become strained.

GoldaLeah said...

I have to admit -- I've secluded myself a bit from my Gentile friends, and I don't discuss the issue on, say, my listserv of mothers. I was provoked into responding on a listserv of writers/editors I belong to, and two Israeli members of that list quit thanks to the anti-Israel sentiment expressed.

I hang out with Jews and Israelis. I watch Fox news. I read Israeli blogs and newspapers. Most of my friends are doing the same.

Irina Tsukerman said...

I don't watch TV anymore, except a few Russian-programs. One of them is a weekly with a debate between a conservative and a liberal about the hot issue of the week, and the rest are news pograms. I find that TV info is usually old, and superficial, and prefer to read a variety of blogs/magazine articles for newer/deeper analysis. The problem is, however, most people still read/watch MSM and with that kind of background, I find it very difficult to make my point. For example, if someone is a regular NY Times reader, he or she is likely to think that this newspaper is the final word on everything out there. Most people are actually very unwilling to listen to other points of views, or if they do listen, it's the other problem - they refuse to choose sides and try to be fair to "everybody". By most, I mean most people I encounter.

Kiwi the Geek said...

You are so FREAKIN anal.

Hey, sometimes anality is a virtue. If I were working at a nuclear plant, you wouldn't mind... ;o)