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MeFi jumps the political shark

Woke up and both cable modem and cable tv were out. I've barely looked at my mail and I got only a glimpse of the news (bin Laden tape) on Curtis and Kuby radio this morning before some weird electrical thing interefered with the station. The only email I've looked at so far is from someone who sent me a link to this MetaFilter thread about the Spirit of America/Television initiative. Only on MeFi can they take an action that is meant to support the troops and help the Iraq people and call it propaganda. I used to love MeFi. I can barely look at it anymore. And, of course, there's the ever present August ready to shoot down anything that is vaguely pro-American or will help make American soldiers look good in any way. You people suck. I don't care if you hate Bush, really. That's your prerogative. It still is a free country despite your Aschroft/Big Brother rants. What bothers me is when people take an issue like this and turn it on its head so it turns out to be A Bad Thing. And the comments about how al Jazeera is a legitimate voice [It is mostly independent, and it is definitely trying hard to be part of mainstream world journalism, NOT some sinister force of darkness that many Americans seem to think it is.] leave me unsure as whether to laugh or cry. It must be hard work to live your life in such a complete state of negativity. I've had my last look at MeFi, which is a shame. I'm sure Matt - while he is a liberal (but not a flaming asshole liberal) - did not intend for MeFi to become what it is today - a Democratic Underground for people who think they are political intellectuals. Right. Got a lot of mail and news to catch up on. Just had to get that out of the way. Update: Even Iraqis know that al Jazeera is completely biased. But since when does the left pay any attention to what Iraqis think? The anti-war protesters seem to know more about what Iraqis feel than Iraqis themselves do. [thanks, Meryl]


Michele, to harken back to yesterdays post, what was it in your closing costs that added up to 13K? Here in flyover land, that amount would be incredible. Does it include 6 months of property taxes in advance? Or are the banks there just mugging the lenders?

OK Michele, take a moment to think about this, too. What is wrong with using propaganda against our enemy in a time of war? Basically, we're just extending PSY-OPS to help win over Iraqi public opinion. Although the Marines say they just want a fair forum to tell the news, what's wrong with injecting some propaganda too? The purpose of war is to get the enemy to do what you want. Adding in a good PSY-OPS campaign will hopefully make that job easier and will save some bloodshed. Frankly, I wouldn't be upset if we took Al-Jazeera off the air completely, either by jamming their signals, bombing their stations, or shooting down their satellites. This is a war, you know, and I think they're helping the other side too much. Then you can replace them with a fair and balanced news network, and screw any AWC whiners that cry about "censorship."

Correction to my first post: Are the banks there just mugging the borrowers? DOH! Grammar, my bad.

How about pro-American, anti-terror comments from actual Iraqis?

Brothers, these people [the kidnappers] want to take Iraq back to the middle ages because they live in darkness and are unable to see the light which is spreading in Iraq. These people use to work for crime during the Saddam era and now they are continuing the same job as before. (Bashar xxxxi, Arbil, Iraq)

Islam forbade terror in everyway against peaceful civilians. Any act which contradicts this is an insult to the teaching of the prophet Muhammad. (Haithem xxxx, Iraq)

You shouldn't shut out other opinions just because you don't agree with them. If you just listen to people that share your own view points, how do you expect to come up with a reasoned and informed beliefs?
Also, seriously there's a touch of pot and kettle about this post isn't there?
It must be hard work to live your life in such a complete state of negativity. What, as opposed to the permanently upbeat assessments that constantly spring out from this site?
a Democratic Underground for people who think they are political intellectuals as opposed to the erudite commentary on this site such as You people suck.
Whatever, I like Metafilter because if you filter out the knee jerk anti-Bush sentiment there is some great stuff there, and I like this site too, because if you filter out all the anti-left rants there is some insightful commentary.

My general impression is that al Jazeera's existence is a good thing - even a partly free and independent press is progress in that part of the world. Of course, the New York Times is free and independent; it doesn't mean it's unbiased or accurate, and al Jazeera has a ways to go to be the NY Times.

But, of course, we're not talking about shelling al Jazeera's HQ, tossing its reporters in jail or even jamming its signal, just setting up another outlet to offer a competing point of view.

Propaganda? Sort of. But the truth is always the best propaganda.

yes, truth is the best, but who's hearing it.

Michelle's act allows truth even if you are skeptical to be heard.

Yes, setting up radio & TV stations with the express purpose of telling your side of the story is propaganda.

Except for AA and GoreTV that's just the "TRUTH"

If we set up TV stations whose sole purpose is to tell our side of the story, that is propaganda and the Iraqis will likely look upon them with as much disdain as they currently have for Al Jazeera.

If we do this, it needs to be an outlet for the same independent news entities that we have access to here in America. Setting up a US Army propaganda network in a place where there's already much distrust of Americans would be extremely counter-productive. And wholly apart from the efficacy issue, if Iraq is to be a free country then the Iraqi people deserve to be offered the same news we receive.

Still trying to find out how they came up with proces on stuff. With a little price shopping Im sure they could drop the amount of money needed down.


Did you read MeFi when Operation Give was highlighted there? It got to be quite nasty and was one of the reasons I basically stopped going there.

There was a lot of cool stuff on MeFi - but I started losing interest when it turned the way it did - seemed like every post ended up with a rabid political slant, and after a while you just get tired of it.

I wish people would realize two things.

1. No matter who is elected in November - THE WORLD WILL STILL EXIST! Whoever gets it will inherit the problems that existed on 1 Nov, and better have some sort of definite plan for dealing with them (that better involve more than "We'll let the UN take over" on everything from Iraq and Afghanistan to economic issues here in the US) and be able to EXPLAIN that plan clearly, concisely, and with a minimum of political babble.

2. We're still going to have to live with each other after Nov. 2 - so burning down the house (metaphorically) to take posession of it isn't going to do one damn bit of good in the long run.

A little civility and politeness goes a long way - it'd be great if people would remember that, and not be nasty to those of the opposite political bent on-line simply because you're anonymous and don't feel the heat of it.


What's the beef with Al Jazeera? That they have the gall to actually show dead bodies? That they have the gall to oppose a unilateral occupation? -- oh wait, I forgot our "coalition" with Micronesia. Clear Channel is doing its best to stifle opposing opinions in this country, but that doesn't mean the rest of the world is going to buy it. This war is hell. People are dying and being blinded and dismembered every day, and this aspect of the conflict is completely absent from the "liberal" media thanks to a gag order from the Pentagon. One would have to be blind to believe the people would follow Bush with dead soldiers and mercenar - er - contractors on TV every night. I don't want to see TV stations propagating anti-US sentiment or violence, but "bombing their stations" (you guys loved that when Clinton did it, didn't you?) and silencing independednt voices will do more harm in the long run. People who understand freedom of speech can grasp this; you don't have to agree with it, but you have to allow it.

The beef with Al Jazeera isn't that they show "dead bodies" but that they give everything the same sort of spin you do. Examples of this sort of thing, from you: the Coalition is between the United States and a few tiny, insignificant countries that we forced to obey us because we are huge bullies -- ie, "Micronesia," very cute; outrage that people are "dying and being dismembered" and so on "every day," yet this is somehow 100% the fault of the United States of America --

-- oh never mind. I forgot: I'm arguing with a zombie.


Are you disputing that people are dying and being critically injured every day? The US in fact bullied several countries, including Micronesia, into the "coalition," while openly castigating Security Council nations that dared to oppose a unilateral (that's what it is-the troops in Iraq are 95% American) invasion based on disputed at the time - and demonstrably false in retrospect - intelligence. Syria was the one country that would not accept a payoff, if you recall, and they have been tacitly added to the axis of evil of late. My other point was that the American people would not approve of this occupation (to the tune of about 40% in recent polls) if the hundreds of bodies and the thousands of mutilations and injuries were shown on TV and in the papers EVERY DAY. Do you dispute this? I'm not trying to be cute, and I can't consider myself a zombie when I am presenting the facts that the administration-coddling media chooses, like yourself, to blatantly ignore.

I read an article recently about how the right likes to seize on small, insignificant points in one's ideas and construct their own version of one's argument. By ignoring my main points and focusing on a few minor details that got your attention, you have done just this. As a Karl Rove bonus, you even worked in a little name-calling. Congratulations!

an article on the courage of al-jazeera:
When US forces recently demanded that a team from the Arabic TV station al-Jazeera leave Falluja as a condition for reaching a ceasefire with the local resistance, it came as no surprise at the network's headquarters in Doha. Reliable sources there say that coalition officials threatened to close down the al-Jazeera bureau in Baghdad earlier this year and last week sent a letter accusing the network of violating the Geneva convention and the principles of a free press.
Since the "war on terror" began, al-Jazeera has been a thorn in the side of the Pentagon. "My solution is to change the channel," Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt said this month in Baghdad, "to a legitimate, authoritative, honest news station. The stations that are showing Americans intentionally killing women and children are not legitimate news sources."

The trouble for Kimmitt is that millions of people in the Middle East disagree. Al-Jazeera has become the most popular TV network in the region - with a daily audience of 35 million - precisely because it has shown the human carnage that US military onslaughts leave in their wake. If it became a "legitimate, authoritative, honest news station" of the kind that routinely censors the realities of US military operations, it would lose its audience.

The al-Jazeera reports of US snipers firing at women and children in the streets of Falluja have now been corroborated by international observers in the city. Perhaps it is natural that a military force should seek to suppress evidence that could be used against it in future war crimes trials. But it is equally natural that a free media should resist.

Democratising the Middle East may have been the neo-cons' case for the conquest of Iraq. But on the ground, the US is acting against the flowering of Middle East media freedom, which al-Jazeera initiated.

The station was launched in 1996, by disenchanted BBC journalists, after Saudi investors pulled the plug on the Arabic TV division of the BBC News service. Since then, it has spawned a plethora of competitors such as EDTV, Abu Dhabi TV, the Lebanese Broadcasting Company and, most significantly, al-Arabiya. Like al-Jazeera, al-Arabiya has been banned by the US-appointed Iraqi governing council for weeks at a time for "incitement to murder", after airing tapes of Saddam Hussein. Two of its journalists were shot dead by US forces at a US checkpoint in March.

Last November, George Bush declared that successful societies "limit the power of the state and the military ... and allow room for independent newspapers and broadcast media". But three days earlier, an al-Jazeera camera man, Salah Hassan, had been arrested in Iraq, held incommunicado in a chicken-coup-sized cell and forced to stand hooded, bound and naked for up to 11 hours at a time. He was beaten by US soldiers who would address him only as "al-Jazeera" or "bitch". Finally, after a month, he was dumped on a street just outside Baghdad, in the same vomit-stained red jumpsuit that he had been detained in.

Twenty other al-Jazeera journalists have been arrested and jailed by US forces in Iraq and one, Tariq Ayoub, was killed last April when a US tank fired a shell at the al-Jazeera offices in Baghdad's Palestine hotel. It was an accident, the Pentagon said, even though al-Jazeera had given the Pentagon the coordinates of its Baghdad offices before the war began.

As the invasion was getting underway, aljazeera.net was taken offline by a hacker attack mounted from California by John William Racine III. With a maximum tariff of 25 years available, the US attorney's office agreed a sentence of 1,000 hours community service.


Al-Jazeera has a track record of honest and accurate reporting, and has maintained a principled pluralism in the face of brutal and authoritarian regimes within the region, and increasingly from those without. This is why it has been vilified, criminalised and bombed. It is also why it should be defended by those who genuinely believe that successful societies depend upon an independent media.