How do people who are not anti-Semitic come to behave, think and speak in anti-Semitic ways? Why do well intentioned people who enjoy all the advantages of living in free and prosperous countries come to question and even revile the protectors of their good fortune? It has a lot to do with the way the media presents the world to us.
As individuals, we experience the world around us through our five senses. On a cultural level, the media are our eyes and ears, the lens through which we experience the world beyond our immediate experience. We depend on the media to bring us an undistorted representation of that larger world so that we can understand and adapt to it.
Many people of many political persuasions complain about the media lens’ distortions, which, they all feel is biased against them. The news media often point to this widespread disapproval as a good sign. “After all,” they say, “If no one is happy with us then that must mean that we are doing a good job, that we are fair.”
But the very concept of fairness may be the problem. Fairness and its often silent partner “evenhandedness” are the fulcrum by which the media’s good intentions are flipped into the upside-down world of moral relativism and political correctness. The media’s job is not to find the mid-point of competing political agendas, but to report the news regardless of how that plays out for or against any particular group’s interests. In the name of “fairness” our media too often aim for a sort of "average" position between opposing groups. Whether those opposing groups are political parties, cultures that are competing for survival or warring armies, the "mid point" between them is seldom anything but a barren no man’s land. The sort of fairness that we find routinely in the media is, at best a morally blind position based on reporting both sides equally credibly and credulously. The reason that no one seems to be satisfied that we are not getting fair and honest representations of events is, simply, that we are not.
This tautology of universal offense is one of the hand-maidens to the most dangerous public delusion in Western Civilization: moral relativism, which holds that no set of values or opinion or culture is superior to any other. This radical variant of multiculturalism, which refuses to judge other cultures by our own (or any) standards, dominates much of the media and academia.
It seems safe to say that in all of human history there has never been a conflict in which both parties were exactly as right (or good - or nice) as the other. In truth, the morally neutral approach actively undermines the side with the most moral clarity and confers an unfair advantage on any side that is less democratic, ethical and open. So why is the media intent on making believe that all causes are equal?
Leaving aside the reporters and outlets who are anti-Semitic and virulently pro-Arab, there is still a very strong anti-Israel bias to the mainstream media (and academia) that is directly traceable to this pernicious moral relativity. How does a measure whose avowed purpose is the elimination of bias become the source of bias and distortion? It is in the very nature of moral relativism- It Is a willful denial of real differences and denial can only ever deepen any crisis. Without trustworthy media, the more tolerant and open the culture, the more paralyzed and defenseless it is. Honesty in reporting requires, not blank indifference to cultural and moral values, but a firm grasp on the consequences of ideas and actions. Truly fair reporting does not present the average between two sides in a dispute; it finds the real center of gravity, based on the best estimate of the moral values of each side and presents the relationship as accurately as possible.
Nowhere is this problem of moral relativism more acute than in the Arab-Israeli conflict. The Arabs have no compunction against making wild accusations. They make claims of humiliation, land theft, collective punishment, apartheid and massacres that never happened against Israel. Even though they have been exposed In many notorious fakes (al Durah, Jenin, Gaza Beach Kfar Qana…) they persist becausee the tactic succeeds. It succeeds because when the media tries to find the "evenhanded" center point between those wild inaccuracies and the honest, reasoned, compassionate apologetic approach of the Israelis, they invariably throw up their hands and say, “Who are we to judge?” or “One man’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter” and find some way of reporting the events that put them half way between the wild lies and the halting attempt at truth. The Palestinians and their supporters are enraged because their outrageous accusations are softened a little and the Israelis are exasperated because they have once again been reported to be war criminals when they are nothing of the kind. The “fair" version is skewed far out of the real center point that Israel's integrity and earnest search for evidence is rewarded with labels like– apartheid, pariah and even Nazi. She winds up being tried and convicted in the kangaroo court of the "evenhanded" media of disproportionate response, massacres of civilians and collective punishment. All too often Israel and her supporters neglect to appeal this injustice and through their inaction the accusations stick.
Of course, this tendency to settle for the morally blind “geographical” measure of the center-point of a dispute, while pointedly ignoring the moral and cultural dimensions of it, is not just a media disease. In the culture at-large the uninformed, the morally weak, the self-loathing, and the politically immature flock to organizations and ideas that feed from this same trough. Sabeel, International Solidarity Movement and the various Israel divestment proposals (Academic, Methodist, Episcopal, Presbyterian) all lean on this central distortion of reality to support their activities. While it is true that some of these are motivated, at least partially by good intentions, many are moved by insensate Jew-hatred dressed up in genteel clothing. almost all have some mixture of the two.
Under normal circumstances, Israel's lack of self defense and the rest of the world's general disinterest in correcting the media is a mere disorder in judgment that might pass for generosity of spirit – Israel and the Western democracies are strong and can afford to be self-critical; Arab and Muslim countries have great difficulty dealing with modernity and need a break. But under current conditions of waxing global Jihad, the current media (and academic) approach is backfiring – disguising Jihadi aggression through (polite) under-reporting, encouraging that same aggression by a disproportionate self-criticism that registers as weakness, failing to hold the Arab world and their western abettors (journalists and their dupes) to any standards, undermining genuine moderates who really do want to live up to modern standards, and paralyzing Western capacities to resist Jihadi aggressions. The moral inversion whereby Israelis and Americans are spoken of as “state-sponsored” terrorists resisting Palestinian or Iraqi “freedom fighters” has catastrophic consequences for the Western world and any human being interested in Liberty.
The situation could be improved dramatically if the media would just be honest and accurate. Instead of contorting themselves, obfuscating their stories and persecuting their readers/listeners/viewers with evasive and inexact politically correct jargon, they should forget about balancing their spin on the news to keep everybody equally dissatisfied and concentrate on the facts and the realities. That will make those who most deserve to be unhappy the unhappiest.
Kate at Small Dead Animals (welcome SDA readers!) linked here with this quote added:
"In any compromise between good and evil, it is only evil that can profit. In that transfusion of blood which drains the good to feed the evil, the compromiser is the transmitting rubber tube." - Ayn Rand
My thanks to Kate- this is a great quote!