16 October, 2009


Journalists who criticise powerful interests can be attacked for their .bias., for revealing their prejudices. On the other hand, as we will see in the examples below, almost no-one protests, or even notices, the lack of balance in patriotic articles reporting on the experience of British troops fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, on the credibility of British and American elections, or on claims that the West is spreading democracy across the Third World. Then, notions of patriotism, loyalty, the need to support .our boys., make .balance. seem disloyal, disrespectful; an indication, in fact, that a journalist is .biased..

The media provide copious coverage of state-sponsored memorials commemorating the 50th, 60th, 65th anniversaries of D-Day, the Battle of Britain, the Battle of Arnhem, the retreat from Dunkirk, the Battle of the Atlantic, the 25th anniversary of the Falklands War, and so on. Even the 200th anniversary of The Battle of Trafalgar was a major news item. Remembrance Sunday, Trooping The Colour, Beating The Retreat, the Fleet Review are all media fixtures. The military is of course happy to supply large numbers of troops and machines for these dramatic flypasts, parades and reviews.

On June 11, 2005, senior BBC news presenter, Huw Edwards, provided the commentary for Britain.s Trooping The Colour military parade, describing it as .a great credit to the Irish Guards.. Imagine if Edwards had added:

.While one can only be impressed by the discipline and skill on show in these parades, critics have of course warned against the promotion of patriotic militarism. The Russian novelist Tolstoy, for one, observed:

The ruling classes have in their hands the army, money, the schools, the churches and the press. In the schools they kindle patriotism in the children by means of histories describing their own people as the best of all peoples and always in the right. Among adults they kindle it by spectacles, jubilees, monuments, and by a lying patriotic press.. (Tolstoy, Government is Violence . Essays on Anarchism and Pacifism, Phoenix Press, 1990, p.82)

Edwards would not have been applauded for providing this .balance.. He would have been condemned far and wide as a crusading crackpot, and hauled before senior BBC management.

When the Archbishop of Canterbury recently offered the mildest of criticisms of the invasion of Iraq in a sermon in St Paul.s Cathedral, the Sun newspaper responded: .Archbishop of Canterbury.s war rant mars troops tribute.. It added:

.The Archbishop of Canterbury yesterday hijacked a service honouring the sacrifice of British troops in Iraq . to spout an anti-war rant..

The Archbishop.s crime was heinous indeed, as the Sun explained:

.In an astonishing breach of convention, he then accused politicians of failing to think enough about the war.s human cost.

.Speaking from the pulpit of St Paul.s, Dr Williams said:

It would be a very rash person who would feel able to say without hesitation, this was absolutely the right or the wrong thing to do, the right or the wrong place to be. The conflict in Iraq will, for a long time yet, exercise the historians, the moralists, the international experts. Reflecting on the years of the Iraq campaign, we cannot say that no mistakes were ever made..

We would be interested to see Williams. case for arguing that invading Iraq might have been the +right+ thing to do. It could hardly be more obvious that invading was .the wrong thing to do. . it resulted in the virtual destruction of an entire country. It was also a monumental crime and not a mistake.

The Sun.s article was archived under .news/campaigns/our_boys.. As Tolstoy would have understood, the Sun is in fact a bitter class enemy of .our boys.. It is a rich man.s propaganda toy parading as a trusty pal of .ordinary people..

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posted by u2r2h at Friday, October 16, 2009


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