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Throw me in that briar patch

Mark Kleiman wonders why "right-wing bloggers" (his term) are upset that the murder of Nicholas Berg was not shown by the American media.

What am I missing here?

* Al Qaeda thugs murder an American on camera as a publicity stunt.

* The mass media mostly refuse to give them the free publicity they want, not showing the snuff clip the terrorists released.

* Right-wing bloggers object, thinking the media ought to do what the terrorists wanted them to do.

Well, Mark doesn't quote or link to any of these "right-wing bloggers," so it's difficult to respond to his question with specifics, but perhaps what "right-wing bloggers" are upset about is the double-standard. Graphic photos of American abuses at Abu Ghraib prison are given prominent play, but Al Qaeda's terror is sanitized. It is proper to report on the prison abuse by U.S. forces, yes. It's also important to remember why U.S. forces are there in the first place.

[UPDATE: I just want to add, in case it isn't obvious, that I'm not saying that the latter justifies the former. The two are unrelated. I'm talking only about the editorial decisions by the media, not about the incidents themselves.]

And perhaps what Mark is also missing is that his premise is likely wrong; showing it would not be "what the terrorists wanted them to do." Either the video was primarily intended by the terrorists for an Arab audience or for an American one. To the extent that the video was intended for an Arab audience, the American media showing it wouldn't be relevant to Al Qaeda's wishes. To the extent that it was intended for an American audience, it would be, I think, an attempt to demoralize or intimidate us. But I don't believe that showing it to us would have that effect; I would suspect that it would have the opposite effect. While widespread violence in Iraq might convince the U.S. to pull out, targeted violence such as that will only make us more determined to stay there and eliminate those responsible.


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Comments (6)


I think what is missing here is Mark Kleimanís humanity. He is so full of hatred for the Bush administration that he dismisses the cold-blooded execution of a fellow American as just a publicity stunt. The only thing about this disgusting and evil act that upset him is that it took attention away from the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal.

Mark Kleiman:

Richard and I never met one another, nor corresponded. He has no factual basis whatever for what he says.

He completely misreads what I wrote: either deliberately or stupidly.

I have repeatedly referred to what those terrorists did as "murder." It seemed superfluous to add that I disapproved of it.


Iím sorry Mark, but you made your bed, and you are going to have to lie in it. There is nothing wrong with my ability to read or my intelligence. However, there is a lot wrong with your inability to express outrage at this cold-blooded murder because it didnít fit in with your politics.

How dare you use the term publicity stunt. Would you characterize the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal as nothing more than a hazing incident? A cold-blooded, vicious murder is NOT a publicity stunt. Do you not understand how insensitive it is to use such language to characterize this most evil act? No, I donít think that you do. And there is where the problem lies.

Classic Liberal:

The media in general seems opposed to showing Americans being murdered by foreigners. They seem to fear that Americans will get upset with the murderers and demand justice or retribution instead of reflecting on how awful America is. The same thing happened after 9/11, footage of people jumping from the WTC was rarely shown.

Carol in California:

The arabs throught they were sewing up the endgame.

And, in their book, they're gonna lead by the sword and cut heads off. They want the West to know that's coming; as soon as victory is in their sites.

The people in Spain don't get this. But Americans do. And, the violence isn't very different from what the Japanese used to greet our soldiers fighting in the Pacific. The Japs used the same violence wherever they went. It's inbred in the culture. (Until it's knocked out.)

Roosevelt and Churchill discussed dropping the atomic bombs on Japan (as soon as they were developed), because there was no other way to cure the Japanese of their savagery.

These lessons still apply.

willy blue:

To see a picture of a WTC jumper, goto this blog. Scroll down to "The Eternal Question" You can also see the murder of Nick Berg in photos. It's a poster made of stills. Gruesome and disturbing, but not as much as the video with sound.


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