Saturday, March 31, 2007

All Fear, All the Time

Once again the Pensacola News Journal is trying to scare the crap out of its readers. "Terror Suspects Not Welcome," reads this morning's boogeyman headline.

This is the second time this week the paper's front page headline story offers only empty calories for the mind.

In today's 'news' story Michael Stewart is given by-line co-credit. We're sorry to see that. It's beneath him. Possibly, Michael can be excused for having tried to lend a little gravitas -- way back on an interior page near the end of the article -- with a few reassuring facts from the U.S. Marshall Service and city police.

Otherwise, the "news" being reported is based on interviews with a total of seven -- count 'em, seven! -- local citizens "in the west side neighborhoods of Warrington and Myrtle Grove."

One of the interviewees is identified as a bartender. As for the rest, we aren't told what they do or why we should care what they think -- which naturally raises the suspicion that they were collared for a quote around the same bar.

"Some are angry. Some are scared," the lede reads. For all we're told about the others, it could have added, "most are witless, confused, and want another beer."

The PNJ is doing its readers no favors by pandering to popular ignorance and fear. This is precisely what Zbigniew Brzezinski warned against last week in an insightful article titled, "Terrorized by 'War on Terror.' ":
The "war on terror" has created a culture of fear in America. The Bush administration's elevation of these three words into a national mantra since the horrific events of 9/11 has had a pernicious impact on American democracy, on America's psyche and on U.S. standing in the world. Using this phrase has actually undermined our ability to effectively confront the real challenges we face from fanatics who may use terrorism against us.
* * *
Constant reference to a "war on terror" did accomplish one major objective: It stimulated the emergence of a culture of fear. Fear obscures reason, intensifies emotions and makes it easier for demagogic politicians to mobilize the public on behalf of the policies they want to pursue.
Apparently, News Journal editors hope not only "demagogic politicians" will profit from a culture of fear. Bad newspapers can do it, too.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

BE afraid. Be very afraid...

You can't change the Qur'an. Perhaps you better learn a little bit about it befor you tell me there is no reason to fear!

009.005
YUSUFALI: But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the Pagans wherever ye find them, an seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war); but if they repent, and establish regular prayers and practise regular charity, then open the way for them: for Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.

PICKTHAL: Then, when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them (captive), and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush. But if they repent and establish worship and pay the poor-due, then leave their way free. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.

SHAKIR: So when the sacred months have passed away, then slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captives and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush, then if they repent and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, leave their way free to them; surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.

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Diana said...

Demagogy (Demagoguery) (Dema from Dímos, "people"; and agogy from ägein, "to lead") refers to a political strategy for obtaining and gaining political power by appealing to the popular prejudices, sportsbook, fears and expectations of the public — typically via impassioned rhetoric and propaganda, and often using nationalist or populist themes. http://www.enterbet.com

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