Friday, July 01, 2005

The Media's Brazen Image

I have never read an article in Time Magazine which made me as angry as this one from their most recent issue (July 4, 2005).

The story is a "profile" of an Iraqi suicide bomber. Yes, you read correctly. It is a complete interview with a man whose greatest desire in life, as of printing, was to strap bombs to his chest and kill Americans. Time might refer to it as news, but I call it the purest of propaganda.

Because certain MSM outlets, like Time, hide their true meaning and intentions behind "media friendly" terms and phrases, allow me to translate some relevant portions of this article for you:
While some suicide bombers in Iraq have left behind videotaped testimony, Marwan is the first to tell his story before carrying out such a mission. He spoke to TIME in Baghdad on orders from his commander. The interview was the result of weeks of reporting on such insurgents in the hope of learning more about the identities and motivations of those behind the scourge of terrorism in Iraq. A jihadist group passed word that it would send one of its recruits to meet with us. Marwan was unaccompanied; we were not provided with any information about where he lives, works or trains. And out of concern for the safety of TIME's staff, no attempt was made to track his whereabouts after he left. During a three-hour interview, he talked freely of his motivations but did not divulge any specifics about a prospective strike. He seemed articulate and candid, though he insisted on being photographed wearing a mask over his face to conceal his identity and chose a pseudonym, using the common Iraqi name Marwan and a historical one, that of Abu Ubeida al-Jarrah, a 7th century general who conquered Syria for Islam. The sincerity of his desire to make himself a "martyr" was attested to by several figures-- a member of his organization, al-Qaeda in Iraq; a Baghdad-area commander of an insurgent unit that provides logistical support for al-Qaeda bombers; and a Sunni imam who is sometimes brought in to counsel bombers during their premission spiritual "purification"--whom TIME consulted through Iraqis with contacts inside the insurgency. His account provides a rare glimpse into the mind-set and preparation of one aspiring suicide bomber.

Translation: We really only care about getting the "scoop." We don't care that this man is obviously a blood-thirsty killer. We don't care that he wants to kill our men and women in uniform. And we really don't care that he's on the loose and ready to strike the men and women protecting us over here dead. We're just looking out for our own hides, and wanted something to print that would let these butchers tell "their side of the story."

But perhaps the purpose of this article was to cast a better light on this man and those like him. Maybe I read it wrong. Maybe there was supposed to be something noble about him and his religious zeal. Hm, let's see how this section translates:
But there is at least one aspect of the immediate future that Marwan does not want to contemplate: the collateral damage he may cause to fellow Iraqis. In the recent spate of bombings, many of the victims have been harmless bystanders. "I pray no innocent people are killed in my mission," he says. "But if some are, I know when they arrive in heaven, Allah will ask them to forgive me."

If he could choose, Marwan would like his operation to be a car bombing targeting U.S. soldiers or Iraqi security forces far from any civilians. But if he is ordered to strap on explosives and walk to his target on a downtown street, he will do so. "We don't get to choose the mission," he says. "That is up to Allah." In fact, the decision will be made by a field commander of al-Zarqawi's group. Marwan hopes he will be chosen for a high-profile hit, the dramatic, headline-grabbing kind that al-Zarqawi is said to direct personally. Although Marwan has never met the terrorist mastermind, he reveres him as a great Islamic hero.

Translation: No, I don't want to kill any innocents, and by innocents I mean only those who haven't been tainted by the Satanic Americans. But if killing Americans means killing innocents, and Allah commands me to do it through my leaders, then by-golly, who am I to question that? I don't really care if innocents are killed with Americans, but it makes me feel a little bit better to think that I do on some level.

Disgusting. Absolutely disgusting. Time Magazine, you have completely crossed the line with this. How totally irresponsible. Does this count as offering "comfort and aid" to the enemy? I'm willing to say so.

As a concluding note, many people talk about fostering understanding in these situations. They want to distinguish between the political attackers, the foreigners, and the religious zealots. Even though Time wants to portray this man as a "concerned Iraqi" fighting for his independence, his words clearly show him to be another Islamic radical. And let's be mindful of the god these people worship. Does this sound like a god whose worship we want to understand?
"It doesn't matter whether people know what I did," he says. "The only person who matters is Allah--and the only question he will ask me is 'How many infidels did you kill?'"

It doesn't sound that way to me. Not at all. Shame on you, Time Magazine.

1 comment:

megan said...

Since when did telling both sides of a story become a bad thing? Our soldiers are killing people over there, too; while you may beleive they are doing it for the "right" reasons, this bomber probably beleives he's killing for the "right" reasons too, and really, is there a "right reason" for killing, anyway?? I applaud Time and the writers of the story for doing what JOURNALISTs are SUPPOSED to do: get the story, and get out. It's not their job to catch him, arrest him, or do anything else to him... they're telling a story, becuase that's what news outlets do. Good for them.
-Megan