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Old 09-26-2001, 11:42 PM   #1
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America the Ignorant

"America the ignorant"

from salon.com

After Sept. 11, Americans have rushed to educate themselves about Islam, the Middle East and foreign affairs. But how did we get so benighted in the first place?

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By Laura Miller

Sept. 27, 2001 | Almost as soon as rescue workers began sifting through the rubble at the sites of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, many Americans launched another search -- not quite as desperate, perhaps, but crucial nonetheless. Citizens scrambled for information about the places the killers came from and the ideas and beliefs that could drive men to lay down their lives for the chance to massacre ordinary American office workers. Foreign correspondents with expertise in the Middle East say their phones have been ringing off the hook, and virtually every newspaper in every town across the nation has run a variation on two basic stories: "What is Islam?" and "Why Do They Hate Us?" Adding to the shock of thousands of violent deaths was the bewildering information that the people who so passionately want us dead belong to nations and groups that many Americans had never even heard of.

Why are Americans so ignorant of what's going on in the world outside our borders, even when our own government is playing a key role in those events? That's a question that dogged Anne Kelleher, a professor of political science at Pacific Lutheran University in Washington state while she was lecturing in Ankara, Turkey, last year on a Fulbright scholarship. "I tried to explain to the teachers and students there why, during the U.S. presidential election, foreign policy wasn't front and center. For them, it's unfathomable that the most militarily powerful, the most politically influential country, with the most impact on the global economy, plus a culture that's transformed the world via its media -- how a country with that kind of far-flung influence can choose its leader with no attention to the issues that it faces worldwide." Kelleher cited a January 2000 Gallup poll in which Americans asked to rank the importance of issues in the presidential campaign relegated the U.S. role in world affairs to 20th place.

Ignorance of history, as well as of current events, can have dire consequences. President George W. Bush's use of the word "crusade" in describing his planned war on terrorism was a stunning misstep at a time when the U.S. badly needs to reassure the Muslim world that we aren't on the verge of a new holy war. If that's not disturbing enough, only a year ago the president's national security advisor, Condoleezza Rice, was talking nonsense to the New York Times and USA Today about Iran trying to spread Islamic fundamentalism to the Taliban and "doing all kinds of things with Pakistan"; Iran, a Shiite Muslim nation, is a foe of the Sunni Muslim governments of both Afghanistan and Pakistan. On Sunday, the Times reported that the "outline" of the U.S.'s war plan "often emerges from the private conversations" between Bush and Rice.

Eric Ransdell, a foreign correspondent for nine years in Africa and Asia and currently a documentary filmmaker living in Shanghai, China, blames the American education system for producing know-nothing citizens, people who in turn are unlikely to protest the decline in news coverage of foreign affairs. Recent surveys by such institutions as Harvard and the University of Maryland show that reporting on world events has dramatically shrunk in both the print and broadcast news media.

"For decades we've been reading about how American schoolchildren can't find Mexico or Canada on a map, and yet nothing seems to change," says Ransdell. "These people who don't know the difference between Switzerland and Swaziland then become the main consumers of news. And in poll after poll they tell us that they want less foreign news and more of what I call 'selfish journalism' -- which stocks to buy, sex and beauty tips, 10 steps to a healthier colon and so on. It becomes this horrible feedback loop where people are sent out of our schools in a state of complete ignorance of the rest of the world and then, maybe because they're embarrassed, clamor for even less information on something they know almost nothing about."

Orville Schell, dean of the journalism school at the University of California at Berkeley, says that while "Americans are ever more involved in the world and ever less knowledgeable about it," it's the bosses at U.S. media companies who deserve the blame. "The broadcast media has decided to cut back on foreign news coverage in its infinitely craven efforts to pander to the largest and the lowest common denominator. This last week we've seen what the broadcast media is capable of when they're let out of the constraints of ratings and the bottom line mentality. I'm hearing journalists saying 'Wow, this past two weeks we felt dignified again. We're able to do what we want to do and know how to do. We had the time and the resources and the suits were off our backs.'"

But even Schell can't claim that any more than an "elite" of American news consumers craves reporting on world events. "Other people would prefer just to read the ball scores," he concedes. Ransdell recalls, "When I was at U.S. News & World Report I heard about these focus groups we did with our readers where almost every time foreign news came in dead last in terms of what our audience wanted us to deliver. Mike Ruby and the other editors I was working for at the time all wanted more foreign coverage, more overseas bureaus and a bigger foreign news hole, but what could they do? The fact that as much foreign news finds its way into print and onto television as it does today is, frankly, a miracle given the yodeling ignorance of the American public."

Editors of Web sites, who can track the actual number of readers who click on each story, confirm that foreign stories simply don't draw readers. "Until the current crisis, our foreign news stories have generally attracted disappointing numbers of readers," says Salon executive editor Gary Kamiya.

This national indifference has its foundation in a lack of the most elementary facts. When Osama bin Laden emerged as the prime suspect behind the attacks, demand for maps of Afghanistan and Central Asia reportedly skyrocketed. Kenneth Davis, a writer who has found a niche for himself by filling in the gaps in readers' knowledge with his "Don't Know Much About ..." book series (including "Don't Know Much About Geography"), says such rushes are nothing new. "We don't usually know where these places are when the troops hit the beaches. It was no different in 1945, when people were scrambling to learn about Normandy."

The roots of Americans' global cluelessness are tangled. Davis traces a recent worsening of the problem "over the last 30 or 40 years" back to our educational system. "Geography is no longer taught in a lot of schools. It got morphed into something called 'social studies,' along with history and political science. As less actual geography was taught, we then had a lot of teachers who don't know geography." Although Davis feels geography is currently enjoying a revival at the elementary school level, most adult Americans were educated during the decline. "A vast number of Americans are utterly lost when it comes to knowing where we are in the world," he explains.

Davis also blames the traditional "dry, boring" method of teaching geography -- the old "principal products of Peru" approach -- for the disinterest many people feel in the topic. Combining geography with history and other subjects into a dumbed-down category called "social studies" may have been a well-meaning attempt to make it more interesting, but the truth is that many Americans are also sorely lacking in rudimentary historical literacy. Kelleher, who at her "midsize, midlevel, comprehensive university" sees a great many average American college freshmen, says, "You find that a large cross section of students, even when you mention major events of world history -- and I'm just talking about European history, things like the Renaissance -- will give you blank stares."

Some outsiders see American's lack of interest in world affairs as springing from our national character as well as our educational shortcomings. Jonathan Clarke, a former British diplomat who is a foreign affairs scholar at the Cato Institute and writes a syndicated column about foreign policy for the Los Angeles Times, observes that some of this disregard results from the country's "geographical isolation between the two oceans and with friendly neighbors. In Britain, you're up against foreign affairs all the time. In America, you can go about your business without relating to the rest of the world, at least on the level of detail. You have to have some reason to know about foreign affairs and most Americans don't need to." Not, at least, until Sept. 11, when a nightmare version of "foreign affairs" showed up at America's doorstep.

It's also true, says Davis, that a certain isolationist tendency "goes back to the beginning of American political history. Washington and Jefferson talked about the dangers of foreign entanglements." Clarke sees that vein of thought as a key part of America's identity: "The first waves of people coming to the U.S. and many of the subsequent ones were people fleeing conflicts. And so when they came to the U.S., they said, 'We don't want to hear about that stuff anymore. We don't want to be involved with choosing between, for example, Catholic and Protestant. We left that behind.' People don't want to carry with them the woes of Cambodia or wherever. The U.S. is an oasis, a cultural escape from quarrels that, when you get to the U.S., seem a bit petty. When the former Yugoslavia broke up, we said to them 'Come on, grow up. Your differences are not that significant.' Americans think they are beyond that sort of thing."

But not, as we have bitterly learned, beyond the reach of those conflicts. In fact, the U.S. has long been deeply involved in the political affairs of the regions that the Sept. 11 hijackers hail from. Past U.S. actions have contributed to conditions that have allowed terrorism to flourish. In Afghanistan, for example, the U.S. withdrew from the region entirely once Soviet troops left in 1989, ignoring pleas from Afghans for help in getting their war-devastated country back on its feet. In the resulting anarchy, the Taliban took over, and Afghans continue to resent the U.S. for letting them bear the brunt of Western efforts to contain communism.

"I remember when that happened," says Clarke. "We had people in the British diplomatic corps going to the Americans every day saying you can't just walk away. They got absolutely no response."

One of the ugly ironies of Osama bin Laden's declared war on American citizens is that he is, in a way, calling us on one of our points of pride. Although many Americans aren't fully aware of their nation's policies, and the impact of those policies in the Middle East and Asia, if ours truly is a government "of the people, by the people and for the people," then aren't we responsible for its actions?

If more Americans do decide, in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, to get up to speed on geopolitics, they're in for a rude awakening. Vivienne Walt, a South Africa-born U.S. citizen currently living in Paris and covering international news for a variety of American newspapers, sees Americans' understanding of their role in world affairs as hobbled by political naiveté. "Americans have an extremely positive view of their country and political system," she observes. Unfortunately, though, most Americans aren't paying close enough attention to object when U.S. policy goes against that view. There's a big gap between what many starry-eyed Americans perceive to be their nation's noble role in world affairs and the routine self-interest that guides most governments' foreign policy -- including our own.

"One of the great grievances about America is that they're supporting the Saudi [regime]," says Walt. "The Saudis themselves feel that America is supposed to stand for democracy, yet here they are propping up the totally repressive government they live under as long as it supports their economic interests. Here's this huge power built on notions of freedom and democracy, yet they are living in an awful country with a terrible government and there's no American support for change there." (Most of the hijackers involved in the Sept. 11 attacks appear to have been Saudis.)

Walt thinks Americans get a bad rap for having the kind of provincial outlook common in other Western nations ("if you go to some little town in Burgundy or in the heartland of France or the middle of England, people are exceptionally parochial"), but she nevertheless feels that "America sets itself up for its own fall. It proclaims freedom and democracy as central to what it stands for, so when they're propping up someone horrible it's very glaring. The French support the worst people in the world, but no one makes a fuss about it."

Most observers agree that once the American public can be convinced to pay attention to problems in other countries, their concern is genuine. "When they do get exposed to the issues," says Walt, "Americans seem to care very much. They get intrigued and want to help. In France, people are so blasé and cynical." But even that practical impulse has its drawbacks. "Americans like straight answers to problems," says Kelleher. "They're the activist problem-solvers of the world. If there's a problem out there, Americans think it should be fixed. And Americans like a situation that can be fixed in the foreseeable future. Look at terrorism: Does it lend itself to that kind of fix? No." The complicated, delicate, sometimes centuries-old political conflicts of the Middle East seem custom-designed to exasperate an impatient people with little interest in the past.

In the past, the American public's response to the maddening complexities of geopolitics has been to turn away, leaving the nation's diplomatic elites to craft and execute U.S. foreign policy in a nearly scrutiny-free zone. That attitude now seems woefully outdated. With their own safety on the line, will American citizens finally give geopolitics the attention it deserves? Clarke hopes so. "If you look back to the most ill-informed action in U.S. foreign policy over the past 50 years," he says, "I'd have to say it was the [Gulf of] Tonkin Resolution, and it was the elite who did that. All the guys you thought would take a more measured approach didn't. So you can't lay all the blame on ignorant Joe Six Pack."

Kelleher sees the response to the current crisis as "going in two different directions. Some moderate, well-meaning people want to get their minds around the issues in the region. The second reaction will be a strong 'Let's bomb the Middle East. This is Christian vs. Muslim. Why bother to understand the people and why bother working with all the nations in the region to build a political position and strategize with them?'" She calls this second reaction "almost a glory in ignorance. It's a pride in not understanding complexity in political issues," arising in part from a long-standing anti-intellectual strain in American society.

Now, with the 21st century off to a shaky start, that prejudice may be one more dangerous luxury we can no longer afford. "When you start asking questions," says Kelleher, "like Who are we going to bomb? Are we going to land ground troops? What are the ramifications of these actions? Who do we alienate? And the answer is the very people we need in order to effect an anti-terrorist policy: Arabs -- to have to think through that is irritating because you need to know something, and people do not like to be confronted with their own ignorance."

What do you think?

Melon

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Old 09-27-2001, 05:15 AM   #2
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It's a pretty harsh article, but that's the impression I get from Americans too. Not the ones here in Free Your Mind but most Americans that I have spoken to. Some think that Malaysians 'still' (still? like we ever did) live in trees! Seriously. I have a New Yorker friend who was disappointed in his peers at Harvard (!) for not knowing enough about world events.

On the other hand, I do know some Americans who are conscious of foreign affairs, among them U2Bama and that is why I respect this guy. There are others; just can't name them now.

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Old 09-27-2001, 05:50 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally posted by foray:
Some think that Malaysians 'still' (still? like we ever did) live in trees!
Naw, man I heard US corporations chopped those trees down ages ago.
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Old 09-27-2001, 08:45 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally posted by foray:
On the other hand, I do know some Americans who are conscious of foreign affairs, among them U2Bama and that is why I respect this guy.
Thank you VERY much, foray. I can't tell you how encouraging it is to hear that this morning in particular. I try to be conscious everything, and form my own opinions accordingly. I also try to debate my points in the appropriate manner.

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Old 09-27-2001, 01:51 PM   #5
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I agree - I have had to actually get out a map and show some of my coworkers where Afghanistan is. When I was talking about support from the former Russian republics I got "why are we worried about that - they're from europe and this is the middle east"!!! Ummmmm.... they share a border? Did you even know about that war? jeesh

I think it is scandalous how little our students are expected to know about world events, and yet ask any 11 year old boy to name all the pokemon, and I bet he could...


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Old 09-27-2001, 06:54 PM   #6
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One small personal antecdote melon. My neice spent the 2000/01 school year teaching teaching English/History in an American high school. She was shocked by the insular cirriculum.
Just a couple of months ago hub was saying his guitarist(who does a lot of reading, ex Jehovah Witness, you'd get on well with him I think) went into a rave about the deliberate "dumbing down" of our populations.(I don't mean individuals, at a policy level)

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Old 09-27-2001, 07:59 PM   #7
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cass, that is an interesting anecdote, and I've believe that the U.S. educational curriculum has been dumbed down for decades as well. I will tell you my probable theory for this as well.

It was very interesting blind luck that, one day, in doing research for work in the university library, that I came across this 1947 book (I was fascinated that this book had not been checked out since 1968!). I wish I remembered the title of it...

Anyway, it spoke on the issue on the role of patriotism in education within the context of the emerging threat of communism (it was the start of the Cold War, you know). This very scholarly work advocated that the indoctrination of patriotism into American schoolchildren was of such utter necessity that, even if it meant "rewriting history" to give the U.S. a positive light in all instances. It also advocated dumbing down education, as "free thinkers" generally are not rabid patriots. It justified such reactionary ideas with the statement that the Soviet Union was already doing this with their students to make them rabidly pro-communist and anti-capitalist.

Whether the leaders of America actually read this book or not, I doubt we'll ever know, but I think they took many of these ideas to heart at least at a subconscious, protectionist level. What has given me an excellent perspective in all this is the fact that my parents grew up in a very transitional time in history, the late 1960s to mid-1970s. From what they have told me, the emphasis in their education was on individualism, and many of the teachers, for my mother at least, were very liberal. Hate liberals or not, their emphasis is often on individual thought, rather than collective thought.

But this proved to be a problem in regards to "national security," as these "free thinkers" were rabidly resisting the trends of their parents--racism and segregation, war and drafts--and turning America into a mass anti-government protest.

I think it was, at this point, that the conservative leadership decided to take this more reactionary plan of action as well. Realize also that, from 1968 to 1992, there was only one four-year Democratic term, Jimmy Carter, and he wasn't exactly the bastion of liberalism. Of course, even if you take Bill Clinton into account, he was not liberal whatsover; more of a leftist centrist on social ideals and a rightist centrist on economic policy.

Getting back to the topic at question, I also think that education hit its lowest point under Reagan, who, very much, ideologically "bribed" the education industry with higher salaries and increased university funding--that is, at the expense of making higher education vastly unaffordable to the common man. I will never forget the story I heard from an old boss of mine. When we was working toward college (late 1960s), he worked all summer and had all the money he needed for an entire year of private college education. When I work a whole summer, I can't even pay for an entire semester of public college anymore.

Anyway, money will corrupt any mind, and most previously "liberal" professors became rabid Reaganists. Those college educated during the 1980s are now those who are in charge of educating our youth, not so much at the elementary level anymore, but at the high school and university levels, where it counts on fixating lifelong ideals. Combine that with a general apathy towards politics from their parents, a group-oriented approach to learning that arose out of the 1980s (replacing the individual oriented approach), and an attitude that often labels "questioning authority" as "deviant" or "hyperactive," and we have what's wrong with the American educational system.

Of course, this is a very concise theory of it. I could write a whole book on the origins of American decline in education, but I don't have the time to research it fully.

And how did I make it out of the educational system the way I am? Parental involvement and encouragement, which I think is far more important than just shipping your children off to school and letting the teachers do their work blindly. Get involved.

Melon

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Old 09-27-2001, 10:55 PM   #8
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Just curious to see if anybody here has read "Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your US History Textbook Got Wrong"? Essentially it argues that the textbook publishing industry is to blame for the dumbing-down of the history curriculum in high school.
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Old 09-28-2001, 06:33 AM   #9
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Big brains on this forum!

That was a very interesting article. Coming from an American source, this was the closest I have read so far to the kind of news coverage and questions being asked here in Europe. I strongly agree with the statement that the "soft" journalism of the US is a problem. Sure, it keeps the viewers happy, but at what cost?

We're getting more of it here too, but at least we still have a real choice.

The question is, will it ever change back? If one network was to change its approach to a harder one, with more in-depth analysis, would people switch to another channel?

BTW, I'm not talking about roundtable discussions with a panel of big egos who like the sound of their own voices, but everyday news programming.
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Old 09-28-2001, 01:29 PM   #10
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this is such an intellectual forum, im curious as to what you think about this:

Let The Hague decide

By GEOFFREY ROBERTSON
Saturday 29 September 2001

"Infinite Justice" made no sense as a brand name for an operation to attack Afghanistan, because human justice is both finite and fallible.
More importantly, the tag - dropped in favor of "Enduring Freedom" - begged the question, which America and its allies must address, of exactly what "justice" they propose to afford their prime suspect.
The "Wanted: dead or alive" saloon-bar poster invites lynch law. Righteous anger requires that Osama bin Laden be treated according to international law. That law, it must be acknowledged, justifies breaching state sovereignty - the refuge of scoundrels like former Chilean president Augusto Pinochet and former Yugoslavian president Slobodan Milosevic - when force is necessary in self-defence or to punish crimes against humanity.
The International Court of Justice declared in 1949, in a ruling sought by Britain when its ships in the Corfu Channel were attacked from Albania, that every state has a duty to prevent its territory being used for unlawful attacks on other states.
In 1980, after the hostage taking at the US embassy in Tehran, the same court ruled that Iran was responsible for a failure in "vigilance" and a toleration of terrorism. It follows that the right of self-defence (preserved in Article 51 of the UN Charter) permits the US to resort to force for the limited purpose of doing Afghanistan's duty, once that state refuses to prosecute or extradite bin Laden and to close down his camps.
But America's legal right is severely qualified: the military exercise must have justice as its sole objective - by arresting terrorist suspects, gathering evidence and destroying weapons and training camps. On no account must it target civilians.
The precedent which places the severest legal limit on the US was established by its own protest against Britain's sinking in 1837 of a US steamboat, the Caroline, which was aiding rebels in Canada. Both governments agreed self defence must be based on a necessity which is "instant, overwhelming, leaving no choice of means, and no moment for deliberation".
A more modern and more permissive legal justification for an armed response is provided by the emerging human rights rule that requires international action to prevent and to punish crimes against humanity.
The September 11 atrocities, like the 1998 bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, precisely fit the definition, which covers not only genocide and torture but also "multiple acts of murder committed as part of a systematic attack against a civilian population". It was to punish such crimes in Kosovo that NATO breached Serbian sovereignty, and these principles should apply to any Afghanistan intervention. But this means the US must acknowledge that organised terrorist groups (including those it has supported, like the Contras) as well as states, are capable of committing such crimes. And to avoid any doubt about its mission's legality, it should seek Security Council approval in advance.
Whatever basis America and its allies advance for their "war", the $64,000 dollar question is whether they are entitled not only to hunt for bin Laden but to bring down the Taliban. This wider purpose, signalled by Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair, only becomes lawful if Taliban forces attack a Security Council-approved mission to arrest bin Laden.

So long as that US-led force confines itself to doing what the local government ought to do, any attack upon it directed by that government entitles the allies to strike back - i.e. to declare a "just war" and to overthrow the Taliban.

But this all depends upon whether, at this initial stage, the US and its allies are preparing to breach Afghan sovereignty with the legitimate objective of bringing Osama bin Laden to trial in a court that can guarantee him justice. This issue must now be honestly addressed, because the plain fact is that a New York jury trial, with a death sentence upon conviction, will not provide a forum where justice can be seen to be done.
A New York jury will be too emotionally involved in events to consider evidence dispassionately. (Those accused of IRA crimes in Britain were never tried in the cities they were alleged to have bombed.) It may be doubted whether any American jury could put aside the prejudice against the "prime suspect" created by their media and their leader's demands for his "head on a plate". His formal execution would be regarded by most US allies as grotesque.
The only "guilty" verdict which could persuade the world of bin Laden's guilt will be closely and carefully reasoned, delivered by distinguished jurists, some from Muslim countries, at a court established by the UN in a neutral location. There is just such a court in session at The Hague, dealing fairly and effectively with crimes against humanity committed in the Balkans and Rwanda.
The Hague Tribunal affords all basic rights to defendants, in trials before three international judges and appeals to a further five, some of whom are Muslims. It has developed reasonably fair procedures for evaluating the kind of hearsay evidence that may be necessary to prove terrorist conspiracies, and has protocols that protect electronic intercepts and other fruits of intelligence gathering.
The Hague Tribunal was set up by the Security Council, under its power (in Chapter VII of the UN Charter) to defuse threats to world peace. There is no doubt that the September 11 outrage and its consequences pose such a threat.
Security Council support for the US is at its zenith: not even China, the most obsessive defender of sovereignty, would oppose an American request to extend the remit of the Hague Tribunal (or establish another body on the same model) to try bin Laden and his ilk. Some such "Lockerbie solution" must urgently be put in place, if the present Enduring Freedom operation is to have an objective which conforms with international law. What hope is there if the lawless alternative of assassination is ordered by the leader of the free world?
It would have been so much easier had the International Criminal Court already been in existence, with a mandate to deal with terrorist crimes against humanity. This would have obviated the problem President Bush now faces from demands to produce proof of bin Laden's guilt.
Such "proof" should not and cannot be provided by a politician as part of a diplomatic exercise: it is the function of a prosecutor, who obtains his indictment - the warrant for arrest and trial - after presenting prima facie evidence to a judge. But the creation of the International Criminal Court, supported by 120 countries including the United Kingdom, France and Russia, as well as Australia, has hitherto been opposed by the Pentagon and by right-wing Republicans, fearing that the court might one day indict an American soldier.
This self-indulgent isolationism may no longer prevail, if their nation comes to realise that punishing its enemies requires international cooperation. After all, we owe the idea of international criminal justice to former US president Harry Truman, who insisted on the Nuremberg trial against the opposition of then British prime minister Winston Churchill (who wanted the Nazi leaders shot on sight). He did so because "undiscriminating executions or punishments without definite findings of guilt, fairly arrived at, would not sit easily on the American conscience or be remembered by our children with pride".
The "American conscience" once cooled the British desire for revenge and created a court whose judgment stands as a landmark in civilisation's fight against racially motivated terror. Its legacy requires the Taliban Government to extradite bin Laden - for the crimes of 1998 in Africa as much as 2001 - but only permits the use of force if those who deploy it can promise him a fair trial. Without that guarantee, Operation Enduring Freedom will become the cry of the Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland: "sentence first - trial (posthumously) later".

Geoffrey Robertson, QC, is author of Crimes Against Humanity - The Struggle for Global Justice, published by Penguin.




[This message has been edited by zoomerang II (edited 09-28-2001).]
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Old 09-28-2001, 02:40 PM   #11
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I'm surprised that no one else was dismayed by the attitudes expressed by the journalists in this article. Essentially they're acknowledging that they NEVER cover foreign affairs but then blame the American public for not being interested. Above all you can sense the contempt with which the media holds the American public. Is it any surprise that they dumb down their coverage? Is it any surpise that Americans don't look to the three major Networks for news anymore? And they're basing their decision not to cover foreign affairs on "focus groups" and "polls?" Of course the lowest common denominator will always appeal to us all but the media has an moral obligation to do more than that.
My favorite part of this article is when the journalist blames the "yodeling ignorance of the American public" for his piss poor job of covering anything other than trivia. Sorry fuckhead, it's because of worms like you that there IS an ignorant American public.

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Old 09-28-2001, 02:46 PM   #12
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Well, you missed one point, Matt...

Most don't watch the news anymore. The average age of people watching the news is around age 60. Hence, all these commercials for Depends and Geritol during the news. And, yes, this does cover CNN, along with NBC, CBS, and ABC.

So how could the news media contribute to an "ignorant American public" when that same public doesn't even watch the news?

Melon

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"He had lived through an age when men and women with energy and ruthlessness but without much ability or persistence excelled. And even though most of them had gone under, their ignorance had confused Roy, making him wonder whether the things he had striven to learn, and thought of as 'culture,' were irrelevant. Everything was supposed to be the same: commercials, Beethoven's late quartets, pop records, shopfronts, Freud, multi-coloured hair. Greatness, comparison, value, depth: gone, gone, gone. Anything could give some pleasure; he saw that. But not everything provided the sustenance of a deeper understanding." - Hanif Kureishi, Love in a Blue Time
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Old 09-28-2001, 04:43 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by melon:
Well, you missed one point, Matt...

Most don't watch the news anymore. The average age of people watching the news is around age 60. Hence, all these commercials for Depends and Geritol during the news. And, yes, this does cover CNN, along with NBC, CBS, and ABC.

So how could the news media contribute to an "ignorant American public" when that same public doesn't even watch the news?

Melon

Do I sense a chicken-or-egg dilemma here?
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Old 09-28-2001, 05:07 PM   #14
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Old 09-28-2001, 05:09 PM   #15
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No...the chicken-egg dilemma is simple.
The egg, obviously an analogy for an unborn chicken, always comes first. Where did this egg come from? The "proto-chicken," the evolutionary ancestor that later spawned the chicken, but was not part of the chicken species. So the "proto-chicken" gave birth to the egg that harbored the world's first chicken.

And to solve the other question, "Does a tree that falls in the woods with no one around make a sound?" Of course it does. Your presence here or there isn't going to affect the processes that makes it emit sound waves, and just because no one is there to receive these sound waves doesn't mean that they weren't emitted.

I drain all the fun out of everything at times!

Melon

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"He had lived through an age when men and women with energy and ruthlessness but without much ability or persistence excelled. And even though most of them had gone under, their ignorance had confused Roy, making him wonder whether the things he had striven to learn, and thought of as 'culture,' were irrelevant. Everything was supposed to be the same: commercials, Beethoven's late quartets, pop records, shopfronts, Freud, multi-coloured hair. Greatness, comparison, value, depth: gone, gone, gone. Anything could give some pleasure; he saw that. But not everything provided the sustenance of a deeper understanding." - Hanif Kureishi, Love in a Blue Time

[This message has been edited by melon (edited 09-28-2001).]
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