Saturday, May 31, 2008

A Provocative Piece

For once, when anti-Muslim/anti-Arab hatemongers in the US lay their ignorant, xenophobic cards on the table, wouldn't it be refreshing if the media (in this case NPR) simply called it out for the racist ideology that it is? Sadly, as Arianna Huffington has pointed out in her latest book, Right is Wrong, the establishment media (such as NPR) have gone to great lengths to accommodate and normalize the most extreme views of the right wing:
"A key to understanding the fanatical Right’s takeover of the Republican Party and how these ideas spread to the rest of the country is looking at the role of the media—not the Fox News pseudo-newsmen or the talk radio blowhards—but the respectable, supposedly liberal media. Without the enabling of the traditional media—with their obsession with “balance” and their pathological devotion to the idea that truth is always found in the middle—the radical Right would never have been able to have its ideas taken seriously."
So when the venomous Michele Malkin and the Little Green Brownshirts Footballs blog attacked Dunkin Donuts for featuring Rachel Ray wearing a scarf that looked like a keffiyah, it would have been great for NPR to put such anti-Arab/anti-Muslim activism in context. Given all the Arab/Muslim bashing in the media, is it any wonder that US torturers at Gitmo have included anti-Islamic tactics in their repertoire, that a Marine was filmed singing an anti-Islamic song, that a US soldier used a Quran for target practice, and that a Marine in Fallujah was evangelizing the locked-down residents of that city with "Christian" coins?

Instead of just naming the anti-Keffiyah attacks as another example of the far-right's strategy of expanding the general Islamophobia that pervades the US, NPR treats it as reasonable, or at best subjects it to some slight ridicule as if it's just harmless overreacting. And so on Thursday's ME we get Robert Smith trying to be funny: "conservative commentators noted that the look was popularized by fashion icon, Yasser Arafat. Perhaps they have uncovered a vast donut conspiracy...." Jamie Tarabay follows up on Thursday's ATC, sadly opening the piece with
"Rachel Ray is one of Dunkin Donuts most prominent spokespeople...there's a provocative piece of black and white clothing draped around her shoulders in one online ad...."
Provocative piece of black and white clothing? I'm sorry but what's "provocative" about it, unless you are walking in lockstep with a bunch of hardcore pro-Zionist, Islamophoic rightwingers? Tarbay's piece does include some criticism of the anti-keffiyah attacks, but overall it presents this latest far-right action as deserving balanced, mainstream consideration. Not surprising really; that was the same premise that underlay the really disturbing NPR "Intelligence Squared" segment I heard in April on whether radicalism dominates Islam (imagine them doing a similarly inflammatory slant on Judaism or Christianity).

3 comments:

big!pink!fuzzy!bunny! said...

Rachel Ray?! Dunkin' Donuts?! For F's Sake! These jingoists are sure desperate for entertainment. And timid milquetoast NoPR dare not grow testicles and call 'em on their Red Scare redux.

(ducks and covers)

Porter Melmoth said...

Indeed, f!b!, it's fiddling while Rome burns (and Gaza implodes). Peter Ustinov as Nero, plucking his lyre off-key in 'Quo Vadis' is a metaphor most applicable. Dubya's latest show biz gigs fit like a glove.

PS: Nero at least had the good sense to stab himself. With a little help, I might add.

nathan said...

When NPR runs stories gently poking fun at some extremism or failure in the mainstream press, that, more than anything else, makes me cringe. After all, NPR is supposed to be the borderline-communist alternative. The fact that rather than calling out Fox News on its ridiculous "terrorist" comment about Rachel Ray, instead it just gently takes a chance to call Yassar Arafat a "fashion icon", boggles the mind. It was like a few months ago, when NPR ridiculed Osama Bin Laden for dying his hair black in his latest video release: I've got news for you, Bin Laden, who had failed kidneys in 2001, is dead as shit... that's why it's a grainy video with no specific statements in it. That not one journalist, even on the "left", will look into the story beyond the mainstream Right editorializing, boggles the mind.