Friday, April 07, 2006

Ineffective Communication (I)

President Bush discussed (Democracy in Iraq with Freedom House) on March 29, 2006. An Iraqi-American lady, attending the speech, pinpointed what she called a ‘big gap that crosses that ocean’. Shmeem Rassam, the lady’s name, is a significant figure in Iraq. She is one of the Iraqi intelligentsia. I can recall when she was a very active TV producer and a sophisticated journalist before she went into exile. Such persons were unwanted in a society which Saddam was working hard to create. A society which rejects liberals like Shmeem Rassam. She is a real Iraqi patriot since she had never abandoned, in exile, the Iraqi people’s cause. She came back to Iraq after 2003 and participated in establishing the Iraqi governmental TV (Iraqi Media Network). There is a lot to be said about this wonderful lady, but let’s go back to what she called the big gap.

Addressing Mr. Bush, she said:
“These are beautiful messages (referring to the president’s speeches), yet there's a big gap that crosses that ocean. It never gets to the Iraqi, to the simple man, Iraqis facing despair, disillusionments, all kinds of things. I speak to Iraqi friends and families on daily basis. This is what their message is. We hear of these things, but we don't see it. It doesn't get to us… It doesn't reach them in any kind of media, unfortunately. So how can we do that? I've been wondering about this, and you are the only person, I think, who can maybe do something… Talk to someone, talk to the Iraqi, relay that message that we are honest, we have great beliefs, and we want to do something.”
Very sincere words, asking the President to fill this gap. A gap which I can describe as a ‘media space’ for which two different ways of thinking are struggling. The first is the American one; the second is the Mideastern.

In the Mideast, we are obsessed by ‘conspiracy theory’. I do not know how it became a dominating way of thinking, but it is there in every Iraqi mind. So it is easier for the anti-Americanism to take control of this media space, since it knows how to address Iraqis, Arabs & Muslims. This space is just like no-man’s-land in which one side works hard on placing mines. This side consists of different media means which insinuate anti-American terms. It is the Arab nationalism lingo which we have heard for decades. A demagogic language based on an idea of hating and eliminating ‘the other’. The other is the cause of every unpleasant event descended upon our nations.

When Ayatollah Khomeini says that US is the ‘great Satan’ it demolishes all what the US achieved of many years of work to win minds & hearts of the Iranians. And it is a matter of pride, for peoples of this region, when President Bush calls (Iraq-Iran-N.Korea) the axis of evil. In the same way, Saddam or insurgents should be respected and glorified since they can harm the Americans (the other); no matter how more times they harm their own people.

This anti-American ideology focuses on harming rather than serving, to be feared rather than respected. An Iraqi columnist, Al-Sabah newspaper, wrote:
“It seems that all what we yearn for is to defeat the US, no matter what would happen to our people. So we are talking about the US being defeated in Lebanon & Somalia, but no one ever asked about what happened in those countries after the ‘US defeat’…”
The writer scorns the perverted way of our thinking. Words of such journalist and hundreds like him could be easily wiped out by a half literate cleric delivering a vehement religious sermon. Any opportunist adopting a radical Arab nationalism speech can blow up lot of hard work.
I try to trace the language used in Arab media, and I can say that there is lots of offensive terms are used. As an example, when Jill Carroll released she said, in the first hours, that her kidnappers had treated her in a good way. This catchphrase kept on rolling in the news bar of Al-jazeera TV for hours as if someone trying to say that we, the kidnappers, are good people. Nobody paid attention to the fact that detaining an innocent human is against any religious, humanitarian, moral values. The image of good slayers is being reinforced deep in the unconscious of the Iraqis, Arabs, and Muslims.

Another TV channel, Al-nahrain, broadcasted something about a discussion taking place, in Japan, dealing with the Japanese troops role in Iraq. The astonishing matter was the news film, from the TV station archive, accompanying the script. It showed a bunch of demonstrators in Samawa, where the Japanese are posted, throwing stones at the Japanese and angered individuals punching, kicking Japanese armored vehicles.

Baghdad TV of the Iraqi Islamic Party edits its news like this: “Now to another issue, the armed operations against the American occupying troops of today caused the death of (xx) Iraqis….” though the editors know that large numbers of Iraqis are killed by insurgents and ordinary criminals.

Even the BBC/Arabic editors, one can smell their bias. I had several questions about their work. An opinion article about the BBC/Arabic policy, of two parts published in Al-Sabah newspaper recently, drew my attention to other matters. The article entitled “Mounting Trojan horse, Lawrence of Arabia is a general manager of the BBC” was written by Jumaa Abdullah Mutlak.

To be continued…


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amazing post!! I cant wait to read the 2nd part. Keep writing!!

8:42 AM  

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