Journalism

Insight from the Outside: Seeing the USA from Pravda and Al-Jazeera’s Eyes

September 08, 2010

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Living in America, one doesn”€™t tend to pay attention to the rest of the world. Among the many reasons the world hates Americans is the fact that we know the world hates us but are generally too lazy to bother investigating why. We”€™re witnessing the twilight of an empire but are still nestled snugly enough within the empire’s bosom that we remain myopic and arrogant.

A massive delusion spawned from this arrogance is that if we continue to feed the rest of the world enough slogans, brand names, reality shows, and dance music, we”€™ll melt their anti-American hatred by attrition and convert the globe into little satellite states of bling-waving couch potatoes with weight problems, cognitive deficits, and an undying love for our unique notions of consumerist freedom.

Dumbed-down to the point where we accept borderline-retarded ghetto concepts such as “€œplayer-hating”€ to explain why foreigners dislike Americans, we swallow the dangerous delusion that the only possible reason they hate us is because they want to be us but haven”€™t yet managed to get their shit together.

One can”€™t entirely dismiss envy as a motivating factor for anti-American hatred. But what seems more dangerous is to ignore the possibility that billions of people thousands of miles away from us hate America for the oldest reason in the book”€”they”€™re fundamentally different than we are.

“I expected Al Jazeera to be little more than sand-scorching Quranic hate-speechifyin”€™ against all things Western. Instead, I found what appears to be the most truly objective major news organization currently in existence. I didn”€™t expect to see a sympathetic news story about Hurricane Earl that didn”€™t include the word ‘karma’ or the phrase ‘Allah’s retribution.’”

The main problem with most American news is that it’s being reported by Americans. You only get the requisite “€œtwo sides”€ to every story”€”the left side and the right side. A prolonged fight for the country’s soul has only resulted in a distinct and possibly incurable national split personality. Perhaps it’s the inevitable result of our two-party system, but American political discourse has devolved into a bipolar puppet show between conjoined twins arguing about which twin is using too much toilet paper. The endless partisan clucking is depressingly predictable in its memes, talking points, and blind, sickening groupthink. One side is peanut butter and the other is jelly, but it’s the same boring sandwich every frickin”€™ day. The pretense of a free press creates the illusion that we”€™re getting the full story, but we can”€™t ever get the full story if we”€™re the only ones telling the story, capisci?

The international media introduce an entirely different dimension to the concept of “€œtwo sides to every story,”€ one that redefines the sides as “€œAmerica”€ and “€œEveryone Else.”€ In practical terms, I believe it’s more valuable to understand why others hate us than to continue pretending they”€™re ever going to love us. So I decided to put down my daily PB&J sandwich and venture out for a bitter plate of hummus and a steaming bowl of borscht. Sometimes your enemies can teach you more than your friends are ever willing to disclose, so I set about to peruse a pair of English-language websites”€”Pravda and Al Jazeera English“€”representing regions traditionally thought to be America-hostile. Since America seems incapable of effectively diagnosing its own problems, let’s venture behind enemy bylines to see what these evil scientists thousands of miles away think of the patient’s condition.

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