Journalism

Kerry-ann Mendoza on Gaza


Kerry-ann Mendoza gives a brilliant interview here – some key points are:

1. The attacks on Gaza are effectively an ongoing genocide not a war.
2. The ineffective Hamas rocket attacks are the only way the Palestinians in Gaza had to engage the Israelis and the attention of the world and get some concessions
3. There is no moral equivalence between the two sides, Israel is an occupying and oppressing power. As far a right to defend themselves exists it is the Palestinians who have that need and that right.
4. The ‘two state’ solution is not going to happen and everybody knows it. There is no Palestine there is only Israel in which Palestinian people are disenfranchised and discriminated against.
5. It is laughable to call Israel ‘the only democracy in the Middle East’ it cannot be a Jewish state and a democratic state.
6. The only just solution lies in a secular state with equal rights for all its inhabitants.

What Kerry-ann says is rational and obviously true but we don’t often hear the truth articulated so plainly. Cenk Uygur is a largely sympathetic interviewer but he still tries to frame the conflict as one in which both sides are to blame, to some extent, for the intractability of the situation.

Media Disinformation and Political Discourtesy

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Disturbing. The Daily Mail runs a story with headlines that imply the ‘pro-Russian’ activists in East Ukraine are anti-Semitic on the basis of a few leaflets but in the story itself we are told that the person who purportedly signed the ‘order’ flatly denies doing this. The denial is much more credible than assertions that the documents are authentic and yet on the basis of this obvious set up John Kerry condemns the East Ukranian activists. The article is worth reading as a fascinating example of how allegation and invective have taken the place of evidence and analysis in mainstream media reporting and among high level politicians in the west. To elucidate, more than seems decent among rational folk, people who are given to issuing fascistic orders, in writing, are not given to repudiating them the next day.

Also very disturbing in the article is Obama’s comment the day after reaching agreement with the Russians to work together to defuse tensions in East Ukraine: “Late last night, President Barack Obama said he was sceptical about Russian promises to de-escalate a volatile situation in Ukraine, and said the United States and its allies are ready to impose fresh sanctions if Moscow doesn’t make good on its commitments. ‘My hope is that we actually do see follow-through over the next several days, but I don’t think, given past performance, that we can count on that,’ President Obama said at an impromptu news conference at the White House a few hours after the end of the meeting in Geneva. ‘We have to be prepared to potentially respond to what continue to be efforts of interference by the Russians in eastern and southern Ukraine.” Under which definition or understanding of diplomacy or common courtesy do you reach an agreement with anyone and then make public aspersions on their reliability.

Stones and Glass Houses

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The story is about the tweets of a 17 year old ‘Police Youth Commissioner’, one of those token jobs set up so that the System can boast that they are listening. The picture comes from The Daily Mail which asks:

Is this foul-mouthed, self-obsessed Twitter teen really the future of British policing? Youth crime tsar’s sex and drug rants

Paris Brown, 17, boasted about her sex life, drug taking and drinking
In one Tweet she wrote: ‘I really wanna make a batch of hash brownies’
And she also said: ‘Everyone on Made in Chelsea looks like a f****** fag’
Appointed to change perceptions of young people
Keith Vaz MP says she must be removed from her £15,000 post immediately
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2305118/Paris-Brown-Is-foul-mouthed-self-obsessed-Twitter-teen-really-future-British-policing.html#ixzz2Pyg0j7XE
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

I posted this comment on Facebook. Reposting here because of some thoughts on social media that are worth following up.

Paying a 17 year old £15000 to ‘represent young people’s views on policing’ seems pretty stupid but the demonizing of this young woman is unfair and an example of media hypocrisy. Her comments are not ‘deeply racist’ or ‘deeply homophobic’ they are ‘superficially racist and homophobic’ and connote impoliteness rather than hatefulness. I know what hateful racism is and this is not what Brown expresses. Her tweets offend aesthetic rather than moral sensibilities and it’s important to distinguish between the two.

Then there is the nature of social media. I use Facebook and blog and post to forums, I don’t really ‘get’ Twitter but I understand that the new social media, in general, facilitates a kind of ‘brain dumping’; you say what’s on your mind without a lot of self censorship. Some of us self censor because we want to appear intelligent but we can all say things that are going to make us look stupid or are going to be misinterpreted by others and this doesn’t just apply to the younger generations. I’m not sure that this is a bad thing; there is a sense in which brainstorming rules apply and a key rule is don’t be afraid to say stupid stuff because if you’re inhibited, you’re likely to miss some really creative ideas. The thing is that when we get into social media we, to greater or lesser extents, agree to ‘glasshouse’ our minds and for any of us to be safe we need to stop throwing stones.

Rebecca Meredith writes in the Huffingdon Post:

Everyone loves social media – and everyone makes mistakes – but we should probably start reminding teenagers that saying horrific things on the internet will be viewed exactly the same way by employers, and by society, as saying them in person.

‘Horrific’ is ridiculously strong for what Brown wrote and possibly employers and society need reminding that saying something on the Internet is not and should not be viewed as the same as saying it in person to a person.