attrocious behavior

From: Mike Cole (
Date: Mon May 03 2004 - 20:48:24 PDT

David, Eugene et al who have been discussing the situation in Iraq. I have not
engaged this discussion because I am uncertain how to contribute usefully. The
situation is one which I forsaw, taught against, and of course, was run over by.

Just two points of potential value.

1. As a professor of communication for the past 25 years, I have been stunned over
and over again by the extent to which my students, the "top 12 1/2%" of high
school students in my state are in a state of incredible ignorance about the world
beyond their immediate environment. Without going into detail, my conclusion is that
they believe the picture of themselves and their country held up to them by the
media. But in using the term media, I do NOT mean the major networks or newspapes.
Despite the fact that they are COMMUNICATION students, they cannot see beyond
Friends, Buffy, and the Superbowl.
   When the Iraq crisis was pushed to the brink of war I was teaching a course on
reading the news. My students could not identify where Iraq is in the world, could
not explain why the US was pressuring Turkey, did not know why the French were
involved, and, generally speaking, did not know ANYTHING about the situation that
would allow them to have an informed, never mind critical opinion. They also did not
appreciate being made aware of any of the circumstances of the situation.

2. Tonight, on the PBS Newshour (available, i assume, at or some such address.,
there was a program with Ray Suarez that made me proud of the American media. Seymour
Hirsh, a retired Marine bigwig, and an Arabic news channel person discussed the situation
in terms that made very clear the bottom to top and top to bottom cesspool of US culpability.
No holds barred, not excuses.

Given our slide into becoming our enemy, noted in this discussion, I was heartened to see that
not all voices of resistence in the media have been silenced. And give a thought or two to
Don Hewitt of 60 minutes, who others have tried to ease out of his position. He has managed to
make the most watched program in the country say the unspeakable routinely for many years and
hold onto his ratings. No mean trick.

Not worth a lot, but perhaps not worth nothing.

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