" Evil Flourishes When Good Men Do Nothing " -- Edmund Burke
You could also turn that phrase and say that evil flourishes when good people say nothing.
During the past 24 or so hours many Americans have faced their pseudo-Hamlet moment. Instead of struggling with the issue "To Be or Not To Be", many Americans are struggling with the decision of whether to speak or not to speak. And as one of them, it has taken me a day to decide whether I would write this post.
After all, this is still the land that believes in free speech and political discourse, Right?
Yesterday afternoon I watched the live coverage of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's speech on CNN and to my chagrin the speech was scheduled during the "CNN Newsroom" segment anchored by Kyra Phillips and Don Lemon.
While I respect both of these journalists, you could not have asked two more blatantly biased news anchors to provide analysis of the speech. Listening to those two I kept hearing myself saying. "OK So You Don't Like Ahmadinejad and You Don't Want Your Viewers to Evaluate His Speech For Themselves -- We Get It, We Get It! "
Don't get me wrong I'm no fan of the Iranian President. But these days I trust the media ( that did not question the build-up to the Iraq War ) about as much as I trust Ahmadinejad, or for that matter, the Bush administration. It would have been so nice if Christiane Amanpour or Michael Ware would have been available to provide serious analysis. Instead CNN viewers were left with the Lee Bollinger cheering section.
As I said to a friend, Columbia University President Lee Bollinger's comment might well be true but his timing was simply inappropriate. Is that the example that he wants to provide for the future diplomats? Does anyone still want peace?
Of course Ahmadinejad was evasive but have you asked Bush about Blackwater lately?
Of course Ahmadinejad's comment about homosexuality in Iran was silly but Bush recently stated that Saddam Hussein killed all the Mandelas.
Yes Ahmadinejad attempts to stifle free speech in Iran. In the US, those that disagree with Bush administration policy are "swift boated", accused of being unpatriotic ( ask the Dixie Chicks), or slandered. And if you're a CIA agent you just might get outed.
Yes, Iran has a terrible record on human rights. In the US we're still struggling with the New Orleans forced diaspora and the Jena 6.
Ahmadinejad keeps asking for more research on the Holocaust and the Bush Administration
fails to respond to genocide. ( as did the Clinton Administration in the case of Rwanda ). And I'm still not sure whether Bush believes in global warming, which has the potential of killing us all.
I'm not excusing any of Ahmadinejad's behavior but I am not excusing any of the actions of Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld/Rice either. I wish the media would stop trying to stage global debate like an old western -- good guys in white hats, bad guys in black. That just doesn't work anymore - not in the movies and definitely not in a discussion of international politics.
For more on this issue read Ian Williams' article " AlterNet: MediaCulture: Hypocrisy Surrounding Ahmadinejad's Visit Was Stunning "
other posts on this topic:
How Does A Peace Process Begin?