April 17, 2003

Brick to port!

These are the responses to the comments on the earlier post. Had to do this since the comments window is too narrow to make for easy reading. Thank you.

Rileen: The problem with appearing as a leftist is that, with his kind of experience he should be able to convince people that there is never a just war or a clean war, without appearing to be anything as suffering is universal if shown in a way that makes people feel it too. Here the problem is that the suffering that people go through is not given adequate factual representation, it is always lost in the crowd of emotions. That, in a way makes it easier for most people to disassociate with it, because then you can always say they did not suffer as much as I did and this where the moral and the preemptive clause for this war and all the wars to follow will be based on.

To be very honest, I believe that the leftist line of thought is a spent force. Not because of its intentions, but because of the fact that it never bothered to adapt to a changing world. You go to Kerala and you see that the same leftists are one of the most corrupt and rich of the politicians there. What they have in common is just the rhetoric and this is what the writer gets identified with when he goes overboard on the emotional. What is funny is that the leftist line of thought still interprets every situation that develops, especially economically, very well even today. But the language has not changed, nor has the ideology through time.

Again, why the need for facts? Because the main argument that is thrown back at you regarding all this is that these people might just be setting right the mistakes made in the past. If you counter that with an emotional outburst that uses the word imperialist 50 times in just one paragraph, you are doing the same thing that the chaps who use the word pinko. And you cannot walk away saying you cannot convince people because if they do not approve any war will stop ultimately.

Why is Chomsky hard to read and limited in numbers as far as readership goes? That is because he is not your quintessential leftist. The case he makes is most often too strong to wilt under any kind of bluster or factual dissection. There is hardly any emotion in it and you cannot be ambiguous once you have read it. Of course it is not very palatable and quite bitter compared to the nice and rosy versions that propaganda machines blare out.

There are lots of people who do with pictures what Chomsky can do. You do not even have to check the freelancers for that. This week I had seen a picture in the Reuters photo bank that we get at work which showed the marines looting a palace. As you could have guessed, it never made it to any of the media in the west, while all the nice pictures got plastered all over town.

To add a few points to what TRex has said: One is that as a journalist you are not expected to write "I belive the coalition slaughtered so many people". It needs to be substantiated or attributed to formal figures or numbers from a source that should ideally be credible so that if the figures you were given was wrong they can be pulled up. When Blair said that the two Royal Marines where "executed" no one bothered to ask him where the proof was. It won a huge propaganda point for him and he was not pulled up for it even when their unit's commander said they were killed in action. The media did not pull up so many of these lies and when all you have to make your case is just swathes of text mired in emotion, it makes good for reading but nothing as far as convincing people goes, since shorn of the emotional content the article still says nothing.

It really does not take long exhaustive arguments. The same thing that the chap has said in the article plus facts can be done in a single page than the two pages that the article finally went into. There is a rather curious angle on the WMDs that no one bothers to ask. Which was that Blair had said he was shown convincing evidence about their existence. If that was the case then why is the evidence still not being made public? I do not think they are scared now Saddam will use them. Now, that took just two lines right?

Trex: Convincing the masses. If you think any media is neutral, it is wrong. Everyone has their slants, but it is not quite the same as manipulation which is what politicians often do. Media does educate, otherwise there is really no reason to carry human interest stories in a space where you could easily put in a semi -nude babe and sell some more copies and ads.

The way media views itself: That is a sad scene. it is a pure business now. Earlier it used to be something where profitability was second in line as far as priorities go, now it is first in line, which is why you get TOI and HT peddling more and more entertainment than news and the rest of the crowd is following suit. it is not totally gone yet, there are "patches of resistance" as the yanks would say it, but we are on that part of the circle where things would get real bad soon, before being reborn (hopefully).

Cold factual arguments can alter perceptions, but not all the time, just like spewing rhetoric does not cause people to change all the time. It is like they say "horses for the courses". Ask any yank about Fidel Castro and he would say he is a bloody commie dictator. So how do you convince him there is another side to the story? Lecture him on the virtues of socialism? That would only harden his stance. But, has anyone tired telling him how they have a much better public health system? it is nitpicking, I agree, but at times you need nitpicking as a lot of people get away with a lot of things when they are not questioned and made accountable in the right way.

We talked about the military might, now how do you show an example of it? Just mention figures. Even with the precision weapons the amount of Iraqis killed would roughly end up somewhere near that was killed in 911. But that is never done, to compare the figure with 911 and tell them that when people die in other places due to Americans, they do have an equal right to be pissed, the military might or not.

A majority of Americans think that Saddam and AQ are brothers in arms. Why? Because Bush and Blair keeps mentioning them in the same sentence, and that is why you had such a huge support for the war. Liberation really does not sell a war in the America, but terror does. And no amount of passionate arguments would stand up to he image of the plane crashing into the towers. It sends a chill down my spine when i see it even now. so you can imagine what it would do to them.

The market of the fence sitters and confused and undecided is a pretty large one and open to a kill......: Well said and cannot agree more with it.

Trojan, yes that is the most curious thing, because every time I end up rubbishing every blog including mine as rubbish a genuinely good argument like this takes place that forces me to eat my words. And I do not have a problem when people contribute too, since I do not belive I am right most of the times and it helps me to approach the problem from a different angle to see if it puts the things better across in a better way. To put it simply, I am just only too happy and grateful to have you guys here.