A different demimasque’s “Perceptions” – less philosophical but timely:
Well, if Jordan Eason’s letter put you off CNN’s veracity, we now have a Reuters admission that in its very blandness makes us doubt their sense of proportion: “photo editing software was improperly used on this image. A corrected version will immediately follow this advisory. We are sorry for any inconvience.” When speaking of the importance of their profession, few reporters consider shields of people or papers a mere “inconvenience.” Pajamas Media discusses “Reutersgate”; they have many, many updates, but Helen’s colleague, Richard, is seen as “taking point” in his Parallel Universe.” They also link to a pre-Qana essay from National Journal by Neil Munro, “Real or Fake”. Munro summarizes an earlier incident: “…the caption was wrong, the pose was staged, and the picture was, in essence, untrue.”
Our hearts are pulled by the death of a child. Terrorist propaganda counts on that (as did Saddam’s parade of baby coffins). Surely such a pull is a sign of a nation’s health. And it is also healthy to dismiss conspiracies. Megan McArdle’s response on Instapundit seemed commonsensical. After all, as Ralph Peters said (I hope this is close) on BookTV yesterday, “In the Middle East never blame on a vast and effective conspiracy what can be explained by passionate incompetence.”
But, we don’t like to be gulled. And the intensity of our reactions are often in relation to the intensity of our feelings – both from who betrays us, as well as how. If we are conned in a get rich quick scheme, we figure, hell, I should have known better – that person was using my greed. If we are betrayed by an employee who has been given trust & responsibility, we become mistrustful. The rules of war help maintain that trust – as do those of journalism.
I doubt these reporters & terrorists realize how profound the effect of these stories is – how much we feel betrayed. Looking at the news shortly after Qana, I saw a young, muscular, healthy man telling us he had been sitting & smoking in the doorway of the house when the bomb hit; he was not hurt, but the house full of women & children was demolished. I turned to my husband and said, this is a bit odd. Why wasn’t he hurt, why didn’t he run in? I have become suspicious. My husband turned to look at me, worried I’d become too cynical. And, indeed, the tragedy was a tragedy; children did die. No matter how much we may accept the necessity of death in the midst of war, our heart should, must, go out to such a child, to such parents.
But in the end, we are beginning to find that the reporters & those on the scene were abusing our sympathies. Sympathies abused are sympathies steeled. A civilization that doesn’t feel sorrow at the death of a child – even a child is on the other side in a war – is not healthy. It is also likely to feel fewer compunctions about unleashing powerful weapons.
After each betrayal, our trust lessens, trust of institutions that could be useful, could be important. Pajamas Media has some understandable triumphalism. But if we feel (and many of us do, often) betrayed by the msm, the ACLU, the international NGO’s, the UN, we, too, have lost.