October 21, 2007

The Sound Byte Media

When I was young I remember hearing people ask, “Did you see the news last night?”. I am fortunate to remember, barely, a time before cable news. With war so common in the last 50 years the 24 hour news networks provide content to the most influential in society. The evidence of this is in the commercials. Notice that CNN is broadcasted with luxury cars, designer drugs and financial firms as their advertisers.

Coming with the age of the 24 hour news channel is the age of the internet. The fore-mentioned question has been replaced with “Did you hear about (some specific story)”. The internet has made people more and more aware of the world around them. It has also necessitated a new type of filtering. Citizens of the digital world are even more required to submit everything they hear to their own internal sense of Truth. Our politicians, however, are quite far behind in this process. Politicians still expect people to believe what they are told at face value. Unfortunately, this style of talking to the public still works for a majority of Americans.

An example of this is clear in President Bush’s treatment of President Ahmadinejad. When the Iranian president spoke to Columbia University, he said many things. The television media concentrated on very few. Among them was his assertion that the nation of Israel should be “wiped off the map”. If one were to listen to the address at Columbia, they would find that he was not talking about physical destruction. He meant quite literally political destruction. Literally interpreted “wiped off the map” refers to the changing of the political boundaries on a map. He believes that the west was unjust in their forcefully forming, and funding of Israel after World War II. He stated that the Palestinians have been put in an untenable situation because the west, primarily England and the U.S., have armed the Israelis, giving them an unfair political and military advantage. Whether or not you agree with him, we must admit a fair point for debate when we see it. I was most disturbed to hear my President interpret his comments so as to hint that he said “If we had the ability we would Nuke Israel.”

Most people can tell you only a few things about the President of Iran. Not many can even pronounce his name. You will hear that he denied the holocaust. You will hear that he executes homosexuals as well as women who speak there mind. You will hear that he wants to destroy Israel. Whether or not any one of these things is true, it is quite dangerous to believe them blindly without any tangible evidence. It is the same as believing that President Bush invaded Iraq to steal all the oil. The world is not as simple as our sound byte media would have you believe.

Sen. John Kerry lost an election because the Republicans were able to convince millions that he was a flip-flopper. They even went so far as to bring ninety-nine cent sandals to the national convention and wave them in the air. Honestly, I thought it was pretty lame and simple minded, the stunt embarrassed me as a human. Seriously though, isn’t the ability to dynamically react to complex situations desirable in the leader of the free world? Should not the Commander of the worlds most awesome military power be capable of changing his mind based on information contrary to his original premise?

If our great country is to succeed in the new millennium, we must have a higher reverence for the Truth even if means not fully understanding a situation. We must be prepared to look at a situation, and consider whether we have simplified too much to feel comfortable with it.

Shine Forth

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