Sunday, February 14, 2010

Trapping PD

In mid-December, 2009, the House of Representatives passed a bill making it possible to prosecute the owners of transmitting satellites, not just the TV networks, for spreading anti-American propaganda from and in the Middle East. The bill, which clearly targets channels such as Hizballah's Al-Manar or Hamas' Al-Aqsa, will require the president to present an annual report on anti-American incitement in the region.

Although it still needs the Senate's approval, the bill has been a matter of discussion for quite some time. The irony is that Arabsat, for instance, is the "carrier" for both, Al-Manar and Al-Aqsa, while it is also the conveyance for America's Alhurra TV (read more on the details and possible ramifications on Layalina Review and on Kim Andrew Elliot's blog).

The question, of course, is not just whether the coverage falls under "Clear and Present Danger" (to justify the breach of the First Amendment), but also whether the US is becoming increasingly intolerant of any criticism. Public diplomacy is being flushed down the drain, while the Americans are seen - once again - as trying to impose their own rules and laws, based on their likes and dislikes, on people they are desperately trying to reach out to.

Double standards? Too many contradictory messages.

Not only is this confusing and frustrating for the Arab public, but it also provides one more reason to distrust and dislike America: not only for the terrorists that were supposedly targeted by the bill, but also for the countries that are considered to be American allies (another irony, since Egypt and Saudi Arabia were the ones to take up pro-active measures in response to the bill).

Yes, propaganda is bad. But imposition and oppression of rights is not better, either. If the bill becomes law, American PD - around the world - will suffer a major blow. Instead, extra efforts should have been made in reaching out to the local public with a message that truly appeals to them, and with a strong argument that would confront and discredit the "terrorist propaganda", instead of fueling it.

Here is Al Jazeera's take on the matter (the satellite network will also be affected by the legislation). The entire first half of The Listening Post this week deals with the issue.



Need to watch Al Jazeera. Even if just once in a while...

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2 comments:

  1. It is very sad...
    The city on the hill (presumably)...
    The beacon of freedom and democracy, hm-hm...
    Will anyone believe that once those words really meant something and mattered?
    It seems like the US is losing out or, rather, I would say some politicians think it is losing out ideologically, politically and philosophically... (you name it...)
    History indeed repeats itself and indeed first as tragedy and then as farce.
    I have a feeling some big shots in the Congress or in the Administration are Brezhnev's (or, probably, his Red Eminence Suslov's) reincarnations or, as it would probably be more fashionable to say these days, avatars. It's like good old Soviet days are back again with censorship, the only one "true" party line, etc.
    I am sure Senator McCarthy would have his day now and not without reason. It's like Cold War time again and a couple of decades till Gorby shows up...
    Has anyone already introduced a bill to start jamming "hostile" radio stations? Sounds familiar?
    The whole "Free" world deplored such practices and vehemently criticized them then, and rightly so. Come on. Where are fighters for freedom of expression now? Or, in line with the Orwellian (anti)logic, "our" freedom of expression is freedom but "their" freedom of expression is not freedom but "clear and present danger"?
    It reminds me of circular logic in discussing (and exonerating) the use of the A-Bomb by the US in August 1945...
    I think the HoR has made a huge step in promoting the totalitarian agenda worldwide, good intentions notwithstanding...
    Too sad...

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  2. I cannot but agree with all that you said! I'm afraid we're reaching the point where the US is blaming other dictators of having "free-speech-o-phobia", while they're doing the same themselves. Or at least so it seems. Really hope they won't get to the point of total absurdity of the '50s. Really...

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