Sunday, July 18, 2010

Some Sunday goodies to chew on...

This week's Listening Post did a great job - again - in covering the most recent media scandal: the firing of CNN's senior Middle East editor Octavia Nasr over her Tweet re: Ayatollah Fadlallah's death. And of course, there's more "good stuff" to go with it in the episode, too.



This story was, indeed, more than just outrageous. What I find even more interesting, though, is the fact that the British Ambassador to Lebanon Frances Guy had a somewhat similar experience - although not one that would result in her being recalled back home - which went largely unnoticed. Here's what BBC reported on the matter:


Under the title "The passing of decent men", Frances Guy wrote that: "When you visited him you could be sure of a real debate, a respectful argument and you knew you would leave his presence feeling a better person."
She also indicated she felt lucky to have met Ayatollah Fadlallah.
Her blogpost has been taken down by the Foreign Office, though it can still be read in full on Ayatollah Fadlallah's website.
Mrs Guy has now written an apology on her blog to clarify that: "I have no truck with terrorism wherever it is committed, in whoever's name. The British government has been clear that it condemns terrorist activities carried out by Hezbollah and I share that view."
She had not directly praised Hezbollah in the blog. As ambassador she has met political representatives of Hezbollah, with the blessing of the Foreign Office, something which had incensed Washington. The US does not differentiate between the military and political wings of Hezbollah.

This is clearly a reflection of a much bigger problem: the attempt to paint everything in black or white, and a failure to realize that circumstances can - and ofter are - much more complex.

And here's another video, from TED: a talk by Ethan Zuckerman on global online communications and the value of "xenophilia". Of course, being open and listening to not-so-comfortable ideas might sound counter-intuitive, but unless there's an effort to do so, the great potential value of online communications risks being ignored and wasted altogether.



Enjoy!

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