Monday, June 04, 2007

The Prism

When there is a threat of violence or a violent event there seem to be several reasonable responses. The first is a short term reaction seeking immediate protection and evasion. That makes sense to me. The second, obvious step is to figure out why the violence is happening and considering if there are reasonable ways to prevent it.

With NPR and it's enthusiasm for US Government announcements of "unthinkable," "devastating" and "chilling" plots being "foiled" we definitely get the first reaction--FEAR! The message is "Be afraid, but count on the government to protect you." I thought I was going to choke if I heard Dina Temple-Raston on Saturday hourly bulletins tell me one more time that New York Police Commissioner said this plot should remind US citizens to be vigilant and "look at their world through the prism of 9/11" (I heard this rubbish broadcast at least 3 times that day).

You can hear the excitement in Temple-Raston's voice as she recounts these "home-grown" terrorist plots. On Morning Edition today - noting that this group supposedly sought weapons and aid from the Caribbean - she said "Now we actually have a problem within our hemisphere, and I think that’s what people are going to start focusing on." (It's the imperial "we" in this case!) Talk about speaking in the voice of the authorities.

I hate to break it to Temple-Raston, but we've had a problem in this hemisphere for a long time and it's address is 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington 20500 and Washington DC, 20301. But we never hear a serious consideration on NPR of the underlying injustices and atrocities committed by the US government that motivate people who are willing to take up terrorist or political violence. Isn't that the reasonable next step to understanding extremist anti-government behavior or alleged behavior?

Do I think there are possible terrorist plots? Yes. Do I think law enforcement should be countering them? Sure. But do terrorist plots or supposed plots mean that the US government is blameless for the crimes that motivate extremists--obviously not. And until news outlets like NPR cover the crimes of the US they are doing us all a disservice.

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