Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Al Jazeera Uses a Former CIA Station Chief to tell us About Muslim life in the US

I have just about given up reading Al Jazeera for my daily dose of news and analysis.

In recent months Al Jazeera has moved to consolidate its place alongside the corporate news agencies.

That feel of a counter source for news is about gone.  Al Jazeera is now mainstream enough not to offend American sensibilities of the ruling kind.

And I guess it was inevitable.  The Emir who funds Al Jazeera is hardly a radical lover of truth.  See his position on Bahrain and of course, Libya, and it is hardly surprising that Al Jazeera is contaminated by politicized interests.

Being bought and paid for is a problem in all walks of life.  I cannot pretend that I will call every spade a spade even here on the blog.

But I am not pretending to be a reliable news source that is critical of mainstream media for essentially stereotyping and ignoring so called 'middle east' issues.

That is what Al Jazeera aimed at when it started.

It was the Arab Spring that raised Al Jazeera's credibility among the American and British rulers and eased their way into being another CNN or BBC.

Obama made a comment that he was watching Al Jazeera to keep informed on the protests in Tunisia and then Egypt's Tahir Square.

Mainstream American media, like their ruling class, was mostly caught sleeping while Al Jazeera was reporting live.

The endorsement from Tom boosted the appeal of Al Jazeera but it hardly moved any cable carriers to stream the channel into American households; there are few US cities, about two or three at most, where Al Jazeera is carried by cable operators.

This did not stop the drift to blatant ass-kissing.  Al Jazeera began cozying up to the empire and the drift is hardly hidden.

Take for example having one Robert Grenier, a former CIA Station Chief, writing an opinion column entitled "The Two Faces of Muslim Life in the US".

A header description of the column reads:
"While assimilation of Muslim communities in US society is laudable, a creeping Islamophobia is undermining it."

And so we need a former CIA operative to confirm that it is "laudable" to seek assimilation into America (like Al Jazeera) but those pesky and unnamed Islamophobes are making the going rough. 

What utter nonsense.  This is pandering journalism.  The kind that postures, sycophantically even, to get inside the establishment.

This kind of news analysis sits well with what CNN or the New York Times would serve up for its middle or the middle readers.

The entire piece is based on the assumption that there are good Muslims and bad Muslims out there - the good ones are trying real hard to get ahead in the supposed venerable meritocracy but some not so nice scaremongers are not playing along.

What crap!

This thinking is at odds with opinion polls that find Islamophobic sentiments well seated throughout the American nation and its leadership.

Islamophobia and the more accurate racist hatred of anything that looks Islamic/Muslim is hardly an accident caused by scaremongers/Islamophobes (read right-wingers).

And even if it was (which it is definitely not) who the hell needs a former CIA operative who worked in various guises over 27 years (including being the director of a CIA counter terrorism center) to lay it on thick for us.  Is this man a reliable source?

This sh*t is more than irresponsible it is downright patronizing.

The only thing worthwhile about the opinion piece were some of the comments.  A couple even lightly questioned the credibility of the author.

But one in particular was in response to the usual American drivel about the US's greatness and the hard work ethic to advance.  The response by Ari Lee called the greatness into question by telling of the loneliness of American life and its emptiness:
"I am an immigrant and after spending my 20+ years in US I have to state that what you are saying is a common delusion of a well to do American. Most people who work hard get just enough to survive till next payday. Most of them rent or live in dilapidated trailers all their life, because they simply can’t afford to buy a house. Many of them don’t have any medical coverage and can’t afford to go to see a doctor or a dentist. Practically all of them die alone, abandoned by their relatives and their grown up children. Of 5 countries where I have lived America is the loneliest place. The real drama here is not the discrimination against your religion (in fact Americans are remarkably tolerant this way) or some obvious threats to your life but the fact that this lonely, self-centered, heart-deprived life is not worth living. Muslims who contemplate coming to this country should not fear being beaten or killed – America is generally safe place – but they should fear for passions of their heart, for flame of their spirit for bonds and unity between their people, their children, their wives and brothers, for the music of the Sky and Earth. Because in this regard America is Death itself."
Having lived in the US for three decades myself this comment struck a chord for me.  I used to wonder about all that fun that is portrayed on television and in movies and the friendships and associations that tell of an informed people engaged and living life to the fullest.

Truth is it is a fabricated myth - a downright lie.

The US is a lonely place made up of individuals at odds with their humanity.  I am not saying that there are not good people there who will stand up for what is right.

I am saying that the aura of a people who have better and more engaged lives than the rest of us elsewhere is a purposeful fabrication meant to obscure the meaninglessness of existing inside a vacuous capitalized life.

It is hardly surprising then that a former CIA operative would skirt the larger disease to point at mere symptoms while still applauding the supposed meritocratic character of American life and its contrived democracy.

For him it would be unthinkable to trace the genocide of Indians and the holocaust of slavery to explain the system of racism that values everything in American life.  He would not be thinking that his white ass cannot see why Muslims are primarily the victims of racism.

Muslims do not belong in the US not because of Islamophobia but because of racism.  Islamophobia is an unwieldy term that soon runs out of usefulness when we try to explain why brown/black skin people who are not Muslims are targeted nonetheless.

Does anyone really think that those Marines pissed on dead Afghan bodies because they were Muslim?

The average American knows nothing about Muslims or Islam.  Their reaction to a Muslim threat is merely a refashioning of the same kind of racist impulse that led to the near-extermination of Indians and centuries of slavery and Jim Crow.

How many schools in Arizona do you think teach Islamic Studies to the general population?  If there was such a thing the legislators would extend the ban on Chicano/Mexican American Studies to incorporate a banning of the Qur'an in public schools too.

The US is a racist state and its problems are about racism - the rest is just symptomatic.

If Al Jazeera is even serious about offering an alternative to the corporatized news system it would not posture the pandering drivel of Robert Grenier as news analysis?

I am, however, afraid that Al Jazeera could care less as it machines itself into a greater media foothold in the US.



Kweli said...

I've been reading here stealthily. I'm really glad you wrote this. I still listen to Al Jazeera every morning online, if only because of the reporting on Syria and the "in-depth" investigative reporting that is usually either in Asia, Latin America or Africa.

And you are right about the direction Al Jazeera is moving. I can't say much now, but I really appreciate this post.

Ridwan said...

Thank you for your comment brother Kweli.

Peace to you.