28 June 2011

The Fiscal Experiment: Al Jazeera Swings And Misses

The typical reaction of My Brethren upon hearing that Al Jazeera had done a brief news report on Puerto Rico is: "Al Jazeera? What the hell is that? Terrorists?"
My Brethren know I'm right.
So in the vomit aftertaste of Obama's "Wham, bam, that's all you got folks?" sprint past San Juan, We get a look through Middle Eastern eyes (a key point, people) exposing what the U.S. of part of A. is really about.
And Puerto Rico? It's merely the backdrop for the ongoing exposé
Don't make the mistake of thinking that "The Fiscal Experiment" is focused primarily or even mainly on Puerto Rico. It is not. Even in the sense of "blaming gringos for Our problems," the piece makes its most powerful points, not against U.S. of part of A. imperialistic practices, but against Republican conservative ideologies and their underlying push to violence. 
Now why would an Arab news service, renowned for taking "objective" stands, be doing this? Because they see clearly what We ignore: that the ideology battle is the key to future power. In essence, whoever frames the debate best, wins.
If you haven't seen "The Fiscal Experiment," give yourself 25 minutes to do so. You'll see students protesting at the University of Puerto Rico and police forces manhandling them. You'll see government workers protesting or hurt by job loss and the government being portrayed as manhandling them. You'll hear only one government official being interviewed--the feckless Kenneth "What? I'm Wanted By The F.B.I.!" McClintock--and being asked point blank how the (non)administration he serves is manhandling the poor by cutting services and support to them.
You'll see drug addicts being tended to on the streets. (Disclosure: Mrs. Jenius has participated numerous times with Iniciativa Comunitaria in what the reporter from Al Jazeera called "Search and Rescue" missions in the streets of San Juan. Search. And Rescue.) And you'll hear, several times and from the very beginning of the piece, how much "the Republican ideology" is to blame for Puerto Rico's economic, political and social ills.
Asides: Reporter Zeina Awad did toss into her questions to "Future F.B.I. Informant" McClintock the notion that maybe by reducing corruption, We'd have more money for social services. Possibly näive, but certainly worth discussing at length, not as a pinprick moment. And calling Puerto Rico's independence movement "small but strong" is like calling the dodo "alive and smart."
Time and again, Awad and Al Jazeera make it clear that Puerto Rico under (non)governor Luis "The Larva" Fortuño is but a reflection of U.S. of part of A. policies, a mad doctors' laboratory specimen. The Larva is defined clearly, described as a conservative Republican, "a rising star" in the party because of his policies, a "member of the powerful National committee" and most ludicrously, called (on the Al Jazeera "Faultlines" webpage) a "hawkish fiscal conservative," making it very clear--without a doubt-- that the target is not The Larva and his incompetence, because he is portrayed as a puppet of larger Republican interests.
And "hawkish" comes from the Vietnam Era, describing an ideology that favored force over negotiation in the realm of diplomacy and realpolitik, a stance that saw war as a legitimate and preferred method for solving certain issues. The ludicrousness of using this term is that it, along with the reporting, undermines any pretense Al Jazeera and Awad may have that this piece is about Puerto Rico. It's an attempt to blunt the rising wave of Republican "might makes right" propaganda, of Republican governors and senators and Fox News and "pundits" framing issues and forcing the discussion to "either/or" actions, seeking always to centralize power away from democracy and towards a smaller band of despots.
Why does Al Jazeera give a fig about this? Because the "might makes right" ideology is the predominant political reality of the Middle East, and if the U.S. of part of A. embraces it fully, the region knows it will become the target of the "might" making their part of the world "right." The rise of fascism--and that is what We are seeing--predicates grabbing more power, and what other region in the world has so much to offer in a power grab?
* Europe? Allies and major clients of the U.S. of part of A.
* South America? Aside from land, what else is there to grab?
* Asia? An ally and two huge opponents with nuclear weapons make this suicidal.
* Africa? Perfect for a land grab and plenty of resources, but what is the "jewel" in this region. The Middle East (covering largely Northern Africa and Southwest Asia), because it has huge amounts of oil controlled by small countries with weak armies. (Remember "Desert Storm"? The Middle East does. Very well.) And furthermore, at the very heart of this viewpoint is the certainty that the ideological clash of the 21st century is not political (communism versus democracy), but religious, Islam versus Christianity.
Now you are sitting there thinking, "What the hell, Jenius? This is just a measly news report on Puerto Rico and you just turned it into a salvo of World War III!" Here's My response: Watch other reports by Al Jazeera. I'm willing to bet My left kidney you've only seen one, if any. Notice how often issues that don't seem to relate to ideological discussion are linked to ideological stances. Note how certain points are repeated and hammered to the point of inanity...and if it makes you think of Fox News, you're getting it. The difference? Fox News focuses on the U.S of part of A. only, while Al Jazeera properly looks at the world as a whole.
Al Jazeera failed to produce a worthy report because it didn't focus on Puerto Rico on Puerto Rico's terms, choosing to focus on the Republican party through a Puerto Rico lens. Their best choice would have been to focus primarily on Our economic history and how U.S. of part of A. policies have consistently favored their interests--economic, social and political--rather than Our own, in a pattern that used Our lack of unity to crush dissent and routinely yield whatever power We had. As the framing of an ideological debate, Al Jazeera could have shown its viewers around the world that "The Fiscal Experiment" didn't begin with The Larva crawling into La Fortaleza, but with American troops wading ashore in 1898. All The Larva did was willingly participate in the acceleration of centralized power-mongering and expanding corruption, a pattern so common to the Middle East that entire books have been written to explain it to Westerners. 
We don't get it; they do. They definitely do. But they failed to get that message across, using Us as the canvas. 
Swing and a miss. Strike one.

 The Jenius Has Spoken. 

[Update: 11 July 2011: Here's Al Jazeera's take on the Republican hero Ronald "Bonzo" Reagan. Think I'm wrong about their angle of attack? Try to find a similar takedown of Bill "No Inhale-No Intercourse" Clinton...]

[Update: 12 July 2011: "I don't think anyone can contest that Glenn Beck has the ability to reach tens of millions of people and to convince them, and as Israel finds itself in an intellectual battle for its own story, as Zionism continues to be under attack, we need to understand how to make sure that our truth is heard ... and anyone who can help us with that is more than welcome," (Israeli Parliament member Einat) Wilf said." And what party/ideology does crybaby Mammon--uh, Mormon--Beck(less) represent? Uh-huh. From CNN.com.]


Apt Posit said...

Not rare and brilliant.

And now more can learn, and realize that THESE messengers are also, in fact, funded.

Hmm. About, toward, in...whose favor?

Good angst, G The J.

alittle more thought coming

GCSchmidt said...

Will be waiting... Thanks.