What I get for whining
After my last blog (below) whining about the dehumanizing process of finding a literary agent for my book, lo and behold I got a serious nibble this week from an interested agent. Not only does she want to read the entire manuscript for Professor Komagum: Finding peace and losing my sanity in Uganda, she wants an exclusive submission. This means that she doesn't want me to send the manuscript to any other agents while she examines it. It's not a done deal, but it is very promising. I'll keep you updated.
Has 9-11 taught media the value of Peace Journalism?
Part I (Part II will appear next weekend)
As we look back at the first 10 years after 9/11, one can’t help but wonder if the media has learned any lessons. Would we respond to another terrorist attack with the same facile, xenophobic coverage, or would we offer our viewers and readers a more nuanced view, one that, in the words of the old hippie anthem, gives peace a chance?
While the immediate coverage of 9/11 was almost universally praised, many agree that the media in the weeks and months after the attacks was characterized by reflexive vitriol. These statements made in and by the media, compiled by Accuracy in Media in 2001, appear shocking in retrospect:
"There is only one way to begin to deal with people like this, and that is you have to kill some of them even if they are not immediately directly involved in this thing."
--Former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger (CNN, 9/11/01)
"The response to this unimaginable 21st-century Pearl Harbor should be as simple as it is swift -- kill the bastards. A gunshot between the eyes, blow them to smithereens, poison them if you have to. As for cities or countries that host these worms, bomb them into basketball courts."
--Steve Dunleavy (New York Post, 9/12/01)
"America roused to a righteous anger has always been a force for good. States that have been supporting if not Osama bin Laden, people like him need to feel pain. If we flatten part of Damascus or Tehran or whatever it takes, that is part of the solution."
--Rich Lowry, National Review editor, to Howard Kurtz (Washington Post, 9/13/01)
"Time to take names and nuke Afghanistan.”
--Caption to cartoon by Gary Brookins (Richmond Times-Dispatch, 9/13/01)
"At a bare minimum, tactical nuclear capabilites should be used against the bin Laden camps in the desert of Afghanistan. To do less would be rightly seen by the poisoned minds that orchestrated these attacks as cowardice on the part of the United States and the current administration."
--Former Defense Intelligence Agency officer Thomas Woodrow, "Time to Use the Nuclear Option" (Washington Times, 9/14/01)
"This is no time to be precious about locating the exact individuals directly involved in this particular terrorist attack.... We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity. We weren't punctilious about locating and punishing only Hitler and his top officers. We carpet-bombed German cities; we killed civilians. That's war. And this is war."
--Syndicated columnist Ann Coulter (National Review Online, 9/13/01)
These are just a few of hundreds of such hateful, irresponsible statements trumpeted by the media post-9/11. Before airing such statements, the media would have done well to take a deep breath and consider peace journalism. One of the tenents of peace journalism is to avoid airing inflammatory statements, and if they must be aired, to analyze them critically. Not only were these statements disseminated, they were met by nothing but nodding agreement by the public and media.
Aside from being inflammatory, the coverage was often superficial, painting terrorists as one dimensional, cartoonish bad guys. The important question is this: Did this inflammatory reporting feed a cycle of violent retribution, and indeed contribute to a societal culture that demanded war? We will examine those questions next week in Part II of our look at 9-11 and peace journalism.
--Follow me on Twitter @PeaceJourn