Wednesday, July 25, 2007

On The Economist

I love the subtlety of the Economist. A great newspaper by all means, the editorial is where it displays the great bias and arrogance. While the articles it carries are usually balanced, well researched and interesting, the paper also manages to convey veiled references delegitimizing anything which challenges it's Liberal, pro-American vision of the world developing in a linear, secular path to modernisation. The current issue has chosen it's focus on favourite pet hate, the Islamic government of Iran. No fan of it myself, I do however find the tone at times condescending and at others, downright insulting yet it also displays something else. It is a perfect example of how violence, occupation, attacking Islam [the religion] and support for Israel are rationalised in Western societies, calmly and eloquently in a way suitable for polite conversation.
Fully supportive of American efforts to reshape the Middle East, the paper manages to provide respectability for the regimes which kowtow to the United States, while rabidly attacking those opposed. Granted, it gently chides these "moderates" for democratic shortcomings and human rights abuses, but since these are the Sahib's man-servants they can't surely be expected to be as effective at the White Man's game? In fact it is almost with affection that the paper watches how they are trying to emulate their masters, like a child emulating their parent without fully understanding the purpose of the movements. No, the greatest criticism is reserved for those native 'savages' who dare resist the White Man. These people, biting the hand that feeds them civilization are the ones who are 'irresponsible' in their actions. If moderately successful in their resistance, these savages are elevated to enormous stature and attributed terrifying and far reaching capabilities. The nature of their lives is barbaric simply because it is not the same as the Sahib, they reject his lifestyle, his gods and his handouts. They become a bogeyman to scare the very people the Sahib is oppressing and should there be educated natives, newspapers such as The Economist provide an intelligent and articulate rationale for the presence of the White Man on their lands. He's here to save you, if you learn from him you too will be allowed into the golf club with him, play "the big man" and maybe even have a photo opportunity with Him. It goes without saying that these hand reared intellectuals then become the "moderates" the media love referring to.
For the Economist, any form of Islamic government, in fact, any form of government which is not 'Western' in structure and essence is not good enough, "Iran is a self-proclaimed theocracy." is a sentence which is supposed to carry all the condemnation necessary. It is like saying "Bob is a self-proclaimed rapist." no further accusation is necessary. It also willingly ignores the nature of America's involvement in the region through the "moderates" by imbuing them with their own independent will, at least for the sake of the article. Should Iran go nuclear, then the region runs the risk of becoming a "cat's cradle of nuclear tripwires.". Why would this happen? The why is because these same "moderate" countries which take their orders from Washington are the ones which would be "compelled to follow suit" by developing nuclear capabilities. Ostensibly Egypt, Saudi Arabia and perhaps Turkey are revealed and portrayed as rational and independent actors in the region who now mysteriously find Iran a bigger threat than Israel and naturally feel it necessary to defend themselves from it. The Economist neglects to tell you that these countries cannot develop toilet paper without the go ahead of the United States and that it is precisely the United States which would be responsible for this "cat's cradle" of nuclear tripwires. Like much of the mess that is the Middle East, the Economist willingly ignores the crimes committed by the countries it holds in such high esteem within the region. In doing so it has become an accomplice in, and an apologist for, those crimes. To paraphrase from their own article, the Economist is "a self-proclaimed Liberal newspaper" - no more elaborate condemnation is necessary for me. The discerning of it's readers already know the gravity of such a charge.
PS. I do still think they are a great newspaper.


Anonymous said...

oh, the resultant ironies of having been educated by the white man. not too comfortable with that, are we, wassim?

Wassim said...

You would love that things were simple and I was just plain old anti-western wouldn't you? You probably even fancy yourself as a moderate of some sort. My my, I'm so sorry to disappoint you.