the Oregonian Blows

There was a piece in the Oregonian awhile back that I want to comment on by Jerrold Kessel and Pierre Klochendler in the Sunday August 20th Opinion section. In the Oregonian this piece was titled "Television's victim-dominated war coverage skews the picture" (it was also titled " Zooming in on victims" in the International Herald Tribune.

I am unable to find it on the web now and probably without it my commentary will not make as much sense but ....

the article was essentially whitewashing the Israeli invasion of Lebanon by complaining about a supposed excessive focus victims. Anyway, here is what I wrote as a reply at the time:

Among the refuse that is the usual fair in the Oregonian's "Opinion" section, Sunday's piece "Television's victim-dominated war coverage skews the picture" is particularly repugnant.

Kessel and Klochendler suggest that the goal of reporting is "to help viewers make up their minds whether they ought to cry or not" by understanding the "image[s] on the screen within a broader context of developing events". Let us remember that when we view images of three feet long coffins draped with Lebanese flags, as happened in Qana, or when we are told of terror so intense during a Hezbollah rocket attack on Haifa as to cause 75yr old David Mazen to have a heart attack while attempting to reach a bomb shelter.

And who does K&K believe we should identify with if it is not (simply) the "victims"? Perhaps it is the Israeli tank operator as he sights (wrongly) suspected enemy targets and the Hezbollah militia who launches a nearly unguidable rocket into the middle of Haifa?

No, identifying with the victims does put one on the right side of this conflict. In identifying with the victims we could be appropriately outraged at the actions of the state of Israel which eventually killed over 1000 innocents throughout Lebanon. With such outrage we could easily determine that the invasion and bombings were completely inexcusable in response to Hezbollah's killing of 8 soldiers and kidnapping 2 and demand Israel to stop. In identifying with the victims we could be immediately incensed at the actions as Hezbollah fired unguided rockets into the middle of Haifa, terrorizing civilians which is a war crime. With such outrage we could easily determine that when Hassan Nasrallah threatened Tel Aviv he ought to be tried as a war criminal.

K&K believes that we cannot come to this understanding by identifying with the victims. But it is natural for people to empathize with other people; to do otherwise, especially willfully, is inhuman.

Tags: Israel, Lebanon, Media, Oregonian, reporting (all tags)

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