The infinite cluelessness of the news media, Harry Potter, Star Wars and some writing links

Yesterday I posted how infuriating I find it that all those self-styled experts immediately jumped to conclusions that the horrific terrorist attacks in Norway had an islamist background, especially since it turned out that the killer was a muslim-hating, rightwing, fundamentalist Christian. That sort of jumping to conclusions crap could even be found in the normally sane German news media, which is a far cry from the propagandistic evil of Rupert Murdoch and Fox News. I also posted that I didn’t even dare check out international news sites, because knowing the US and UK media they could only be worse.

Well, here’s some proof: This an an opinion piece from the Washington Post by a conservative commentator named Jennifer Rubin in which she uses the terrorist attacks in Norway as a jumping off point to blather about the importance of the war on terror and why the US needs a ridiculously bloated defence budget. Now I find it problematic that Ms. Rubin uses a horrific terrorist attack that killed almost a hundred people, perhaps more, as an excuse to talk about her political hobby horses. Besides, she definitely jumped to conclusions with regards to a possible islamist background, but then so did lots of journalists and self-styled experts.

Of course, it quickly turned out that everything Ms. Rubin wrote in her column was utterly and completely wrong. So what does she do? She writes a second column that is a classic fauxpology. Oops, I was wrong this time, but islamist terrorism is still a threat and besides there was a bomb explosion near the US embassy in Georgia (which according to the linked article is very likely not due to islamist terrorism either – she should at least read her own paper) and anyway, it’s not as if blonde Norwegians are a big threat to American lives, even though one turned out to be a huge threat to Norwegian lives. Well, a rightwing Christian fundamentalist Norwegian muslim hater is likely not a huge threat to Americans, true. However, the US has plenty of rightwing Christian fundamentalist muslim-haters of its own and these might well become a threat. Never mind that the Oklahoma City bombers were rightwing nutcases very similar to the Norwegian terrorist.

I’m not the only one who was disgusted by the kneejerk muslim blaming of the alleged experts paraded through the media. Charlie Brooker says more or less the same thing in The Guardian. Now I pretty much never agree with Charlie Brooker, since he always trashes the TV shows I enjoy and praises those I hate. Nonetheless, I totally agree with him in this case. Apparently, he is a better political commentator than TV critic.

Nor is it just Europeans who noticed the exceptional cluelessness of the international news media with regard to the attacks in Oslo and Utøya. Here’s Glenn Greenwald saying pretty much the same at Salon. He also adds the disturbing tidbit of information that at least as far as the US news media (and not just Fox News either, but also the normally sane New York Times) is concerned, only muslims can be terrorists these days, while any non-muslim who commits an act of terror with the intent to kill a whole lot of people is nonetheless not a terrorist according to the current US definition of the term. I suspect that the RAF, the IRA and its protestant counterparts, the Oklahoma City bombers, the Unabomber and the Christian fundamentalists who blow up abortion clinics in the US will be very relieved to hear that they are no longer considered terrorists in current US parlance, because they happen to have the wrong religion.

And now enough of political bitching. Have some links:

Proving that the Washington Post actually publishes good articles, here is a nice one on Harry Potter and Mythopoeia.

Think Progress offers another interesting perspective on Harry Potter, when Alyssa Rosenberg discusses the role and suitability of Harry Potter and Katniss Everdeen as figureheads and symbols for revolutionary movements in their respective worlds. Found via Tor.com.

Also at Tor.com, Ryan Britt complains that Star Wars is aimed more and more at children these days and has become a joke.

I’m not quite sure what to make of this. On the one hand, I have never been able to understand the appeal of neither Lego Star Wars nor The Clone Wars. And I have never viewed Star Wars as a story for children (never mind that there are plenty of non-child friendly moments throughout the series), but as a story that appeals to children and adults alike. Nonetheless, all the complaining that Star Wars has become childish reminds me of the many long-time Doctor Who fans who complained that the new series was ridiculous and aimed at children, because it featured farting aliens and references to contemporary pop culture. Never mind that Doctor Who had always included elements that appeal to children and teenagers. Quite often these embittered long time fans strike me as people with fond childhood memories of a franchise, whether Star Wars, Star Trek, Doctor Who are something else, they have grown beyond. As adults, they want their favourite childhood franchise to become something “meaningful” like The Wire or The Sopranos, without realizing that it never was that kind of thing at all.

At Inkpunks, Wendy Wagner discusses the necessary balance between large scale epic and small scale personal storylines, using Dune as an example.

Damien G. Walter does not believe that flash fiction is the future of SFF. I’m not the world’s biggest flash fiction fan or writer, but I’m still glad about all the paying markets for flash fiction opening up. Because more markets for flash fiction means more possibilities to sell the comparatively few flash fiction stories I have written.

Over at the Pegasus Pulp blog, I posted a new round-up and dissection of indie publishing related links.

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2 Responses to The infinite cluelessness of the news media, Harry Potter, Star Wars and some writing links

  1. Kaz Augustin says:

    Ref Norway. It sounds callous to say but, yes Virginia, terrorist attacks not related to Islam occurred BEFORE 9/11 and, believe it or not, terrorist attacks not related to Islam will continue to occur AFTER 9/11. I love all these people who jump on the bandwagon and say, well if guns were sold openly then we wouldn’t have had this happen. As if guns are not sold openly in various European countries. I believe each Swiss house contains at least one weapon, due to their “people’s army” thing.

    What we found particularly interesting from the Czech news is that blonde blue-eyed Christian boy went to Prague to buy some weapons and grenades about 18 months ago. He was very unhappy about the result of the trip and the gun dealers the Czech police recently hunted down and spoke to said that they were too unnerved by him to actually sell him weapons, so they turned him down. He left Prague empty-handed. Wouldn’t have been the case if he sauntered into his local Wal-Mart. If it *had* been the US where he bought his weaponry, he may just have been able to bring his timetable forward a bit. Now, isn’t THAT an interesting thought?

    • Cora says:

      Yeah, the news media, at least in the western world (I haven’t checked Al-Jazeera or Press-TV or the Asian satellite channels, so I don’t know what their reporting was like), behaved really disgracefully in this case. It’s also interesting that plenty of countries with a history of domestic terrorism completely seem to have forgotten that history and only focus on Islamist terrorism these days. Britain completely seems to have forgotten the IRA and the various protestant groups. Germany is entirely focused on possible Islamist terrorism as well, even though the overwhelming majority of terrorist attacks in our country were either rightwing or leftwing politically motivated. The only cases of Islamist terrorism we had since 2001 were a failed bomb attack a few years ago and some fellows arrested in the planning stages. The last successful terrorist attack on German soil loosely connected to Islam (PLO or Hisbollah as far as I recall) happened more than twenty-five years ago.

      The tone in the US media seems to have shifted towards spotlighting the growth of rightwing extremist movements all over Europe (which is a huge problem, but hardly a new one) and the fact that these extremists are reacting to Muslim immigration. In short, they’re indirectly blaming those multicultural and liberal Europeans and the Muslims again. And of course, none of those journalists and experts seems to have noticed the many nasty and dangerous rightwing extremists and Christian fundamentalists the US harbours. Never mind that the Norwegian terrorist was inspired by a couple of rightwing nutcase US-bloggers of the sort that honestly believe that Europe is in the process of being overrun by muslims.

      I didn’t know about the Czech connection, but it’s very telling that the guy was so obviously off-kilter that even East European gun dealers wanted nothing to do with him. I kind of hope that US gun shops or Wal-Mart would have had as much sense, though I’m not holding my breath. The American stance on gun control and the way that they respond to every single tragedy caused by some jerk with a gun by crying for even more guns is completely irrational IMO. Never mind that it is possible to buy or own guns in many European countries. I live in a rural area and I could easily get a firearm via joining one of the local hunting and marksmanship clubs. However, the social control usually works and those clubs are more about socializing and drinking than about shooting at anything that they manage to weed out the sort of person who only cares about guns and shooting pretty easily.

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