Thursday, December 14, 2006

Word have more power than bombs

Glenn Greewald posts on the press as a necessary adversary to the government a topic timely to a discussion I've been having with Jack's Shack in the comment section of this post.

In discussing what to do about Iran, Jack favors forceful intervention while I favor diplomacy. He makes many of the same arguments I've heard before. We can't let Ahmadinejad get away with his swaggering grandstanding and his reprehensible convocation of a Holocaust Denier's conference. He evokes the lesson of Chamberlain and Hitler, but as I pointed out to him, the world has changed a lot since 1938. We have the technology to communicate in ways that weren't even dreamed of then. I remember before the internets when it took three days to get news here, about something that happened in China. But in this communication age, words now have more power to effect change than bullets and bombs will ever have.

As Glenn points out, the NYT did their job on the Holocaust denier's conference. They reported their claims as patently false. That's what they're supposed to do. Not uncritically report both sides of the issue as if both had equal weight, but to report what both sides say and then offer evidence as to which side has more veracity in their claims. This is true when they report on Tehran and it's true when they report on the White House. Had they done their job four years ago, we wouldn't be in the mess we're in right now.

It's one of those obvious truths that often escape notice. An uncritical press is by nature biased and of no more worth than Pravda. An adversial press is objective when it lives up to its ages-old mission as a watchdog over our governments. Similarly, a vocal population can change public policy a whole lot more effectively than brute force.
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5 Comments:

Blogger Jack's Shack said...

He evokes the lesson of Chamberlain and Hitler, but as I pointed out to him, the world has changed a lot since 1938.

Not as much as you would like. You don't refute any of my arguments, all you do is claim that the Internet and assorted technology has made it easier to communicate.

That is great and it is true that it has made some difference.

But in the end it hasn't stopped anyone from being shot, bombed or otherwise hurt.

The people that do that most consistently wear uniforms. They are police, they are soldiers and they are often our friends and family.

As I pointed out cultural differences tend to make some words meaningless.

The reason I pointed out Chamberlain is that history proved that his route brought massive death and destruction.

It is not enough to claim that the NYT did their job. Fine, we have a free press.

In far too many countries the press is not allowed to report the truth and all that happens is the promotion of propaganda.

I have seen the end result of those who have been shot/blown up.

Try explaining to their loved ones why some fish wrap didn't stop the bombs.

It is not nice, but it has to be a combination of diplomacy and force.

5:19:00 PM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

And I'm saying Hitler wouldn't have succeeded today because of the technology we now have to communicate. Look at the coup against Chavez that only lasted a day. That was ended by cell phones. The people, the street rabble, called each other and rallied and forced his release. That wouldn't have happened in 1938 either.

But for the sake of argument, let's say you're right. From whence does this force come? We can't send troops. They're tied up next door at the moment.

Are you suggesting we start a nuclear confict? We're not the only ones with nukes. There are hundreds in the hands of people who don't necessarily have our best interests at heart. Are we going to bomb half the planet to be safe? What possible hard armament do you know of that will stop an idea -- good or bad?

8:24:00 PM  
Anonymous romunov said...

Conference is about revision, not denial. It's only you who's in denial.

Who benefits?

1:39:00 PM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

You don't believe the Holocaust happened Romunov? That surprises me.

1:50:00 PM  
Blogger Jack's Shack said...

Romunov,

A mind is a terrible thing to waste. Try using yours.

2:11:00 AM  

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