Saturday, June 05, 2010

Why I Hate Politics, News, and the People Who Generally Talk About Them

Thousands of TV segments, news articles, and blog posts have been written about the Gaza flotilla disaster, and I've yet to see a single one - from the mainstream news to the personal blog - that is anything close to fair and balanced. And I'm not at all surprised.

OK, I'm a little surprised that Boing Boing's coverage is entirely one-sided. But Jon Stewart at the Daily Show is at his usual form, as were hundreds of similarly left-leaning talking heads. Fox news, Michelle Malkin, and hundreds of right-leaning talking heads were also at their usual form.

I'm fairly certain that very few people have seen or read opinions from both sides, except when those opinions are briefly quoted out of context in order to mock and ridicule them. But, even those who write the one-sided pieces, and therefore have read or seen in entirety the articles that they quote out of context in order to mock and ridicule, can not find a single thing with which they can agree on the other side. Isn't that odd?

How is it that a few million people see only cowering civilians, wooden clubs raised in self-defense, and a suffering ruins of a civilization that desperately needs relief, while an entirely different few million people see only trained terrorists using lethal weapons, and a well-fed population whose lack of certain amenities is purely political showmanship?

Isn't it odd that so many millions of people can dismiss EVERY statement, picture, video, argument, and piece of evidence as obviously wrong, completely unjustified, and so absurd that it is worthy of mocking and ridicule? Isn't it odd that these same millions believe every single piece of evidence that supports their own position, entirely support every argument on their side, and find not so much as a strain of credibility in their own positions?

Isn't there one thing you can see that your side did/does wrong, that should be acknowledged and corrected?


Adam said...

Politics is the mind-killer, argument is war, facts are soldiers and if you concede a point you are aiding and abetting the enemy. If you admit that an argument your side made is not entirely sound, then you are opening fire on your own soldiers. Don't be a traitor.

Thunder said...

I am in complete agreement with you Yehuda. Unfortunately controversy and extreme opinions sell.

Any organization or entity (business, religious, etc) that puts itself and it's goals above humanity does not deserve my respect. Indeed, it attracts my loathing and disgust.


Paul said...

Do you remember dashing off anti-Bush jokes while blogging about your last visit to the US? I do. I didn't say anything while you were indulging in your own bouts of "mocking and ridicule"—it's your blog—but find it odd that you are decrying it now.

Other than that, I do enjoy your posts.

Yehuda Berlinger said...


I didn't say that I don't have political opinions, or opinions in general. Just that I strive not to believe everything that support them, no matter how strained, and to disbelieve everything that contradicts them, no matter how well evidenced.

There exist facts that have a lot of evidence to support them, and are from well-reasoned, unbiased research.


Unknown said...

I agree wholeheartedly with your points, yehuda. Including the last comment. But would qualify it, in a way that you might agree. Even if one would be occasionally guilty of filtering incoming information to suit pre-conceived ideas, this would not be incompatible with decrying the tendency, in both oneself and others. I know that I bring a bias to whatever I hear, and that this may sometimes lead me to error. But I'm aware of the problem, and I wish more people would start being so.

Dug said...

Paul spoke of a certain degree of hypocrisy in Yehuda's post. You can not be associated with one side or another in an argument and still see the shortcomings of one or both sides, that's hardly a bad thing (or even rare). Are we not supposed to have opinions? The Bush administration went out of it's way to polarize politics in the US, after they had already been polarizing since Clinton got elected in 1992. I don't think that's an opinion. They called it "energizing the base".

I would take more issue with Yehuda's post of a few days ago, where he listed several instances of media manipulation done by the Palestinians. None by the Israelis? I doubt it very much. Not to say that Yehuda's examples weren't valid (or not, I'm not a student of the Arab-Israeli conflict by any stretch), but there's a better question to ask.

Is the blockade doing what Israel wants it to do? If not, are the costs of lifting the blockade going to be too high? For the current cabinet in Israel, almost certainly, as they've painted themselves into a corner (as most far-wing governments do).

Read Nicholas Kristoff's column in the New York Times today, and tell me that it isn't a balanced and fair account of the situation. Those of you who only listen to Fox News or only read Mother Jones are excused from this exercise.

Yehuda Berlinger said...

Actually, Dug, I didn't specify the Palestinian side as being the only ones who manipulate the media. It works both ways. In the case of the Gaza flotilla, I'm sure there are parts of the IDF video that are not being shown.

As far as the blockade goes, many pro-Israelis point to the daily reign of terror and missiles and support the blockade 100% in its entirety, while many pro-Palestinians point to the dilapidated conditions and "rights" of the Palestinians and support the blockade's dissolution 100% in its entirety.

I support the blockade - it has reduced the number of civilian deaths greatly - but I'm also willing to call out against needless suffering and questionable provisions of the blockade.

For instance, the argument against allowing building materials for a million Gazans is because Hamas might (read: will definitely) steal much of them and build bunkers. While I agree that that will happen, I don't think it's right to just leave it at that. It's too much of a problem to simply disallow all building material, and I think Israel is not working hard enough to find a solution to that.

As for Nicholas Kristoff's column (which I had already read, by the way), it's true that it's more balanced than others. I don't fully support his ideas, however, because he does not put enough emphasis on sticky points, such as the return of Gilad Shalit, and a commitment not to use violence against civilians or to seek Israel's total annihilation.

Remember that world opinion is flaky and fragile. Israel does all the right things - withdraws from Gaza and Lebanon, for instance, and only receives missiles, wars, and condemnation anyway.