Monday, April 2, 2007

Clash of Trivilizations

Clash of Trivializations
Letter to Dallas Morning News
Mike Ghouse April 2, 2007

It is refreshing to read the editorial about “Clash of Trivializations”. News media is certainly dumbing us down and merely giving what they want. As an American it is offensive to me to watch the Beck's, O’Reilly’s and folks of the same ilk who assume that we do not have the capacity to think.

All we have to do is, sit down with a pad and write down, if they ever present another point of view, if they do, is that presented by an equally intelligent person or a dumb one to reinforce their point of view.

Have we ever asked our president, “do they hate us for our freedom or is it really they hate you and not the Americans?” The simple test of democracy is our ability to seek and understand another point of view.

This piece is a rare gem and I appreciate Morning News for publishing it, and I do hope they give the space for rebuttals.

Mike Ghouse

Clash of Trivializations

06:37 AM CDT on Monday, April 2, 2007

On his radio program Le Show, satirist Harry Shearer airs a feature called "News Outside the Bubble," in which he comments on important stories underplayed in the U.S. news media. The idea is that Americans live in a hermetically sealed zone that keeps relevant information from crossing our minds and informing our judgment.

Last week's editions of Time demonstrated why it's the newsweekly of choice for the Bubble Nation. In its three international versions, Time's cover centerpieced a report on the Taliban roaring back in Afghanistan.

On its American cover? "Why We Should Teach the Bible in Public School."

Are the news media dumbing Americans down or merely giving people what they want? Either way, the public remains ill informed and insufficiently curious about the world beyond our borders. America's painful experience in Iraq should teach us how little we truly understood about the complexities of that nation and its culture before our invasion.

Harvard political scientist Samuel P. Huntington has controversially warned his countrymen that we risk exacerbating a "clash of civilizations" by failing to grasp the fundamental differences among cultures and instead assuming the rest of the world is like us.

In this context, it's easy to see why Americans might be puzzled, even offended, by Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah last week calling the U.S. occupation of Iraq "illegitimate." Aren't the Saudis our allies? And why in the past two weeks did Pakistan, which gets billions in U.S. aid each year, strengthen Gen. Pervez Musharraf's dictatorial powers?

These allied governments might be behaving badly. But it's also possible that they're acting in America's best interest. Maintaining stability in oil-rich Saudi Arabia and nuclear-armed Pakistan – and keeping anti-Western Islamic forces out of power there – is extremely important to U.S. interests.

Americans, idealistic by nature, must appreciate that there's considerably more gray in the world than black and white. A more realistic Middle East policy would seek to understand the differences not only between Islamic and Western civilizations, but also among the nations within the Islamosphere – and to work with those differences to strengthen America's hand.

But first, we have to burst our bubble.

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