Tuesday, May 01, 2007

"Simple Explanations"... for Stupid People?

I'm often accused of being overly defensive of Americans and overly cynical of the mainstream media. Perhaps somewhat foolishly, I poke fun at the nationalism of a few of my close colleagues at work by saying stuff like "I'm not Chinese, I'm from Hong Kong" or that kind of thing (the reality, is that I view myself as being Canadian first).

That said, in reading and watching the news abroad, you begin to get a greater appreciation for the level of quality that the Wall Street Journal strives for. Certainly their stories aren't always free of bias but at least they strive for accuracy and facts first versus the likes of the New York Times and to a lesser degree, the Washington Post who write stories framed within their world view and then arrange the facts accordingly (or even sometimes irrespective of the facts). I had a bit of a disagreement, not so long ago, with a China blogger / journalist over what constituted bias after a surprisingly inaccurate comment by a journalism professor no less.

But if you thought they were bad (and granted, many do not), the international press is far far worse. I figure it just comes down to plain jealousy - the US can do no right - as the world's only superpower, when it uses this power, it is accused of being imperialist, but when it does not, it is accused of being isolationist. Further, from the Chinese context, I have found that my one colleagues views are not that unique - that the reason China has not industrialized is because of "the man" in the form of Europe and the US (ok fine, he didn't really phrase it like that), keeping it down. My uncle even went so far as to suggest that the killings of Chinese workers recently in Ethiopia were the result of the CIA who were attempting to disrupt China's own imperialist ambitions in Africa - because of "jealousy" (i.e. if Halliburton can't have it, no one should).

This however really scrapes the bottom of the barrel. Milenio is a newspaper in Mexico that apparently put out an ad with the picture of Uncle Sam + Mirror = picture of crazed Seung-Hui Cho holding a gun (the mass killer at Virginia Tech). At the bottom is the text "Such a complex world needs a simple explanation" - to which I can only wonder, that if it's really that complex if you would really want stupid and possibly insane people to be interpreting it for you. Following his hate filled rant, I'm not clear whether Milenio is in fact suggesting that Cho was because of American values? Or perhaps it's about the US Military?

I mean, there were a number of articles easily debunked immediately following the massacre that proclaimed that this was uniquely American because of America's "gun culture" as if the US brought this on itself. Of what I saw of his diatribe from NBC's ill advised broadcast, (other than the fact that we know he was totally insane), it could have come from any number of unhinged "activists" decrying the corporatization of America, multinationals, race and class wars. Maybe that's what the Milenio was saying? As per usual, the Wall Street Journal did a decent piece on some of the numbers being pushed by both sides of the gun control debate (unfortunately on the other side of the pay wall).

Update: Fred Thompson makes some points on American popularity abroad. Why current American political leaders don't say stuff like this beats me. Hat Tip: Instapundit.

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