Shut Down al-Jazeera
Ralph Peters makes a controversial argument this morning.
MAGINE if, on D-Day, the Nazis had been al lowed to place camera teams on Omaha Beach Ã¢€” with our suffering soldiers forbidden to interfere. What if, on top of that, the Germans had invented American atrocities against French civilians Ã¢€” and our own officials defended their right to do so in the name of press freedom?
That’s the situation with al-Jazeera in Iraq. Staffed by embittered exiles and pan-Arabist ideologues Ã¢€” the last Nasserites Ã¢€” al-Jazeera is so consumed by hatred of America and the West that the network would rather see Iraq collapse into a bloodbath than permit the emergence of a democracy sponsored by Washington. Despite his slaughter of a million-and-a-half Muslims in wars and campaigns of repression, al-Jazeera cheered for Saddam during Operation Iraqi Freedom, inventing Iraqi victories. Its staff reacted with horror to the fall of Baghdad Ã¢€” and suppressed film clips of celebrating Arabs. Since then, al-Jazeera has glamorized Islamic terrorists (who, were they ever to come to power, would close al-Jazeera and butcher its staff) while portraying the Baathist campaign of murder and sabotage as a noble freedom struggle. Al-Jazeera is so bigoted and morally debased that its reporters and producers delight in Coalition casualties, in dead Iraqi doctors and engineers and (above all) in dead Kurds. Al-Jazeera not only encourages the assassination of American soldiers, but pulls out all the stops to excite anti-U.S. hatred throughout the Arabic-speaking world.
The response of our own officials in Iraq? Al-Jazeera is only exercising freedom of the press. Isn’t that why we fought to bring down Saddam? This is idiocy, a perverse political correctness based upon a rejection of common sense. Press freedom is a treasure of our civilization, but it’s also distinctly a product of our civilization Ã¢€” one that doesn’t always export well. It works in our society for numerous reasons. First, despite undeniable excesses, there’s a fundamental respect for facts in our media. Second, our press is not rewarded for encouraging mass murder. Third, we have libel and hate-crime laws that work. Fourth, the great majority of journalists take pride in the standards of their profession Ã¢€” despite popular notions to the contrary.
We also have healthy, vigorous, combative competition. In the end, the members of our media keep each other honest. One should never underestimate the jealousy journalists feel toward one another as a factor in exposing fabrications. The glee with which reporters unmask the sins of more successful colleagues is an unappreciated virtue of the profession.
Al-Jazeera has no such controls. It’s Pravda without the truth Ã¢€” in living color. As long as the network glorifies its host, the Emir of Qatar, and avoids anything beyond the most lightweight criticism of select Arab leaders, it’s allowed to incite hatred, assassination and genocide.
He’s got a point. The mere fact that al-Jazeera calls itself a news organization does not make it so. Stopping them from broadcasting enemy propaganda isn’t the same as trampling free speech.
Unfortunately, al-Jazeera is a very small part of the Islamist propaganda machine. The most important element are the mosques and madrassas, which have so far proven beyond the ability of even host governments to moderate.