Monday, July 28, 2008

The Art of Distraction

(graphic is from NPR's web site)

This morning, as I listened to Jennifer Ludden's moving story of an Iraqi refugee finding work, support and kindess in Billings, Montana - I had the odd experience of finding myself seething. How dare NPR run this kind of folksy, feel-good story about one Iraqi refugee while it does virtually nothing to report on, investigate and expose the criminally negligent US response to the Iraqi refugee crisis that its invasion and occupation created.

I'm happy that there are people of goodwill who will help out an Iraqi refugee in the US, but good God, where is the attention to the 4.7 million Iraqi refugees displaced by this war of choice? Where is the focus on the heartless and inadequate assistance and resettlement that the US has provided for this humanitarian mess of its own making? It's not as if the problem has gotten better since the UN statistics were released in September of 2007; Amnesty International issued a scathing report on the Iraqi refugee crisis just this past June.

I was angry because I was being had. Like a good pickpocket, NPR is trying to strip us of informed outrage. It wants to distract us with a story that is notable for how little it represents the experience of most Iraqi refugees and how little information it contains about the scale of the problem and who is responsible for creating it. It takes advantage of the humanity and decency of listeners, trying to leave us feeling moved and reassured about a case that is the exception, while - of course - leaving us less informed than ever.


Porter Melmoth said...

Thanks for reminding us of one of NPR's directives: to cheat, trick, spin, obfuscate, persuade, confuse, distort and propagandize over a vast array of topics in fair and balanced (oh, and don't forget 'intelligent') style.

You see, propaganda can be painless - and fun, too!

Anonymous said...

Very well articulated, MYT Words. That was not unlike a story I heard some time ago on the local news about some soldier adopting a developmentally disabled Iraqi kid from an abandoned orphanage.

It plays well with the Americanos belief in themselves as generally decent and kind, whilst sweeping under the rug everything else about the sordid history of US imperialism.

I wasn't just seething, MYT, I felt rather queasy to my stomach, and I reached for some maalox.

NPR is a hopeless waste of air time. As long as the same political appointees, I mean people, remain there, propaganda is all we can expect from them.

I wish there were some way to hold them accountable, other than writing letters to the Ombotsman--usually answered with form letters.

Buzztree said...

As an addendum to the above, I note that tonights ATC newsreader used the term "Iran's continued drive to build a nuclear weapon," or something along those lines.

It's one thing to repeat this fiction on a news program, another on the actual news "report."

Life As I Know It Now said...

I only believe about 1/4 th of what I hear on NPR or BBC anymore. I don't like to hear it at all but my husband still listens quite a bit. It's beyond maddening because I know so many people listen to these "shows" and believe everything they hear. They feel informed much more than the people who watch tv news but they aren't. Big ego trips galore is all it is, not news.