Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Influencing Western Media

Ramzy Baroud of Aljazeera.net asks this question in a column in the Arab News:
How can Arabs influence Western media, combat its inherent bias and grotesque misrepresentations of the Arab and Muslim world?
Baroud's description of two different failed attempts at communication sounds reasonable:
One group was "uncompromising". It refused to acknowledge that a Western audience has an entirely different frame of reference and thus cannot subscribe to an Arab or Muslim argument that simply conforms to what is accepted and what is not in an Arab society.

The other group just wanted to "fit in". Intellectuals of this type told the media what the media wanted to hear. They preferred to draw the audience's applause, rather than risk its taunts and heckling.
Unfortunately, Baroud leaves the realm of reason soon after, and it becomes clear that the message he's seeking to get across is not mutual understanding, but justification of terrorist atrocities. Baroud is too slick to use the word "Zionist", so he speaks of "Israelis" and "Israeli-sympathizers" who are "...swarming American news networks". Baroud doesn't quite drool, but there's definitely a wild gleam in his eye.

Ramzy, you seem like a nice guy, so I'll give you a couple of hints to help you improve your image. First tell Hezbollah and Hamas to stop the babyhunts. Westerners tend to see men who deliberately target children as cowards. Sneaking over a fence, entering a seven-year-old's bedroom, and murdering her is not considered a manly pursuit over here. And this whole suicide bomber thing is another big loser for you guys. Ditto slicing off the heads of bound captives - again, the manliness issue.

You've also got a major branding problem here, message-wise, see you're not really talking about selling the Arab and Muslim world (nice try, though), but rather that portion of it which indulges in babyhunts, cowardly murders, meeting Allah in public places with a flash and a roar, that sort of thing. It just doesn't go over well in this market. I'd suggest a few years of involuntary commitment, maybe some radical treatment, and then we'll talk, 'kay?