Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Bomb Bomb Assad, Plus Thousands of Civilians

An old friend posted a link to a story from the Onion today, which satirically imagined the managing editor of CNN.com explaining why Miley Cyrus's performance at the Video Music Awards was their top story today: it was a cynical move to get more web traffic.  It wasn't one of the Onion's better efforts.  (This one was better.)  Those who clicked through the Cyrus story and related items like the accompanying "Evolution of Miley" slideshow have only themselves to blame.  Still, it is possible to read about Miley Cyrus and the violence in Syria, Egypt, or elsewhere.  At least I think it is; I don't turn to CNN for serious news coverage anyway.  And I still can't be bothered to see what Cyrus did at the VMA the other night.

A mutual friend, someone I've known for almost as long, commented: "It's really a pathetic commentary on American homo sapiens that far more will weigh in on Cyrus than what's happening in Syria."  Someone else wrote "Miley's sexy dance was shown on the 'celeb news' in Germany, too. It was very awkward to watch, but I don't see how it needs to be international news... Then again, we also get more updates on Syria and even on the fire in California than we do 'in case you give a shit what American stars do in their spare time, here are some clips.'"  (I don't think that appearing and performing on a professional awards program counts as "spare time" -- it's part of the job.  But whatever.)

I'm hoping my friends aren't mistaking a piece from the Onion for real news.  I'm sure of the person who posted this link, not so sure about the second person.  She can put her mind at rest, though.  Judging by what people I know post to Facebook, artery-clogging recipes, exhortations to "like" Jesus or children with cancer, inspirational quotations, cat videos and cute Obama pictures far outnumber any weighing-in on Miley Cyrus.

When I travel I sometimes watch a little CNN on the hotel TVs.  Last time (before this month) I was in San Francisco, in September 2012, CNN's evening coverage devoted a couple of hours to Syria.  The gay anchor, what's-his-name Anderson, did a story on the possibility of private citizens legally supplying weapons to the rebels, which he clearly favored.  Right-wing wackette Erin Burnette was also, as I recall, very concerned about Syria.  From what I see in media-watch media like FAIR, the corporate media have maintained a fairly steady drumbeat of Syria coverage.  More recently, Obama has floated the possibility of the US government arming the rebels, and that has hardly escaped notice by the corporate media.  Democracy Now!, not a corporate program but a lefty/liberal one, has reports of Syrian casualties almost daily. The US government has been steadily supplying anonymous government officials to accuse Assad's regime of using chemical weapons, though actual evidence has been sparse, and I'm skeptical of the new claims for just that reason.  So I think it's ridiculous to accuse the US corporate media of ignoring Syria in favor of celebrity antics.  Maybe they haven't covered Syria 24/7, but by that standard, my friend herself would be guilty of not weighing in on Syria enough on Facebook.  For shame!  The Flying Spaghetti Monster will be ashamed of her in the world to come.

So, what would be a preferable alternative?  From the viewpoint of a non-elite US citizen, I don't know.  Should I be writing to the corporate media to urge them to provide more US-friendly propaganda about Syria, or to take an editorial stand in favor of US intervention?  If so, I refuse.  I'm open to suggestions for constructive actions that citizens or the government could take, but I haven't heard any.  Who is gullible enough to believe that Obama cares at all about the plight of the Syrian people?  (I was going to include Vladimir Putin in that question, but Putin doesn't matter here: he's a bad man, but he's not a US politician.)  Who is gullible enough to believe that a US intervention would have a good outcome -- for the Syrians, I mean, not for Obama's approval ratings or for the bank accounts of profiteers?  Plenty of people, to answer my own rhetorical question, and I find that a lot more worrisome than the numbers who are concerned because a twenty-year-old young woman danced suggestively on MTV.  The US is not and never has been interested in the welfare of people in the countries we attack, despite our humanitarian protestations.  Arming the rebels, who as far as I know are not good guys either, would be the first US step but it wouldn't be the last.  Remember when we were just going to impose a "no-fly zone" on Libya?  Obama was able to avoid any US casualties there, which is all that matters because only US military lives are of any value.  The Libyan civilians who died?  Who cares?  Not most American "progressives."

So when John Kerry -- not a person for whom I have any respect -- gets all stern and serious about the evil acts of Assad, I know something bad is going to happen.  Probably not for the US, though.  Anyone who gets behind the Obama gang on this discredits themselves.  If anyone has any serious ideas how to help the Syrian people without supporting a US or UN or (Cthulhu help us) NATO intervention, I'd be interested in hearing them.  But I don't see any point at all in griping because Miley Cyrus got some coverage.  Better that than the latest batch of foreign policy "experts" doing a CNN roundtable on any subject.  Let them talk about Miley instead.