Monday, August 25, 2008

The Pity and the Shame

I'm even less inclined to watch, listen or read the news from "traditional" sources than I was before the Olympic Games in Beijing. How hypocritical is it, for a network or newspaper to heap praise on a authoritarian nation, while at the very same time heaping scorn upon a democratically-elected politician for not criticizing the very same autocracy the media outlet couldn't portray flatteringly enough? It should make any reasonable fellow or fellette nauseous, or at least, feel shameful. And a failure to acknowledge and condemn this contemptible hypocrisy is just as bad as the President of the United States traveling to China and making barely a peep about Beijing's human rights violations.

How noble, the mainstream media is attempting to seem in the wake of the Games. How blind, how dumb, they hope their viewers and their readers are. Praise and wonder give way to cynicism and criticism, and we're to forget the past. During the Olympic Games, only a few brave commentators - compared with the total number - dared mention the plethora of broken promises of the so-called "People's" Republic's Communist masters. Now, these media hypocrites have donned their white hats and portray themselves as arbiters of justice, Protectors of the Human Way. A pity, though, that their timing wasn't better. A shame, it is, that they sacrificed their morals - or professed values - for continued accreditation.

By and large, China got away with pretending to be one thing in the eyes of the world while actually being something quite different. Sure, as those brave souls whose moral compass never wavered have pointed out, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is largely to blame. President Bush, too, deserved to be called out for not speaking out when he could - when he should - have. But as I myself pointed out in a recent letter to the editor in the International Herald Tribune, and as I reiterate here, the mainstream media, the networks and newspapers, the journalists we turn to for our daily recommended intake of (mostly) bad news, deserve just as much - if not more - of the blame.

Now, Americans are being told to watch out - China's economy is soon to pass ours. We're informed that the era of Olympic dominance by the United States was brought to an end by China's unprecedented gold medal performance, and that this, along with all the other signs, indicates that America's decline is continuing at a steady pace. For years now, magazines the world over, not just in North America, have declared that the future lies with China (even though the vast majority of the country's population lives in some semblance of poverty). A sort of romantic aura now surrounds the People's Republic of China, an undeserving modern heir credited with an ancient civilizations' many accomplishments.

While the media is largely to blame, we the people are also fairly responsible. We choose our news sources based on our individual or familial ideologies, and generally stick with them through thick and thin. We rarely question the mainstream media, as we rely on it much too much to direct the lives we live (usually, by way of our accepting their fear - "info" about "Global Warming" or "Terrorism" or "Big Oil"). We fail to remember that when the New York Times shares with us "All the News That's Fit to Print" for a daily edition's price, it is not we who decide What Is Fit to Print, but unelected editorial staffers and journalists, who are accountable only to their shareholders (if even), and not the public at large.

Only the Chinese people themselves will ever be able to claim credit for future democratic evolution of personal and political liberty in their land now, especially since the media of the West, and the democratically-elected leaders of the Free World, failed not only those in the People's Republic they had a chance to immeasurably help before and during the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, but their own citizens. As for China's performance in the Games, well...the Chinese people can be proud of their fellow citizens, but their country's victory in the gold medal standings - and 2nd place in amount of total medals won, behind the U.S.A. - belongs not to the Chinese people at large, but their unelected government.

A pity, isn't it, that the mainstream media - domestic and international - doesn't point that out as much as it could?

A shame, isn't it, that we don't care enough that this is the case?

1 comment:

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