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Western media propagating "dangerous lies" after 9/11: Fisk
By Jamshed Bokhari
|Robert Fisk addresses audience members at George Mason
Fiarfax, Virginia: Robert Fisk addressed a diverse capacity crowd at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, on September 10, commenting on media coverage of the war on terrorism within the Western media on the eve of the September 11 attacks on the U.S.
Staring out over well over 1,000 attentive audience members spilling into the hallway outside the meeting hall, the U.K.-based Independent’s Middle East correspondent began by asserting that September 11, although a horrendous crime, did not change the world.
Even though the events of that day were horrific and tragic, Fisk commented that Western media and journalists after September 11 have been propagating "dangerous lies" in the aftermath of the attacks.
The main theme of Fisk’s speech concerned Western media’s complicity with the present U.S. administration in propagating the official U.S. government’s line in the conflict.
Commenting on the lack of wholehearted questioning of the administration and stifling perverse comments by administration officials, Fisk asserted, "Very few reporters address these issues."
Providing an example of the media’s complicity with the Administration, Fisk stated that after the 1991 Gulf War, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, who had not been vacated from power, became a non-issue to the U.S. government, which the press quickly imitated.
Audience members listen to first-hand accounts of events in Palestine and Afghanistan.
Although still in power, and although U.S.-led coalition forces did not oust him, for the press, following the then president George Bush’s (senior) administration’s lead, the fact that Saddam Hussein remained in control, became a non-issue.
In that light, Western media is again following the present U.S. administration’s lead concerning the non-capture of Osama bin Laden. "Osama bin Laden has been air-brushed out of the picture," he asserted, and, like Saddam Hussein, has "turned into a non-person," alluding to the point that Bin Laden, whether dead or alive, due to and the U.S.’s failure to get him, no longer matters in the "war against terrorism."
In addition, in following the U.S. administration’s lines, basic journalistic principles are being left on the wayside, as civilian deaths in Afghanistan, as a result of the U.S. bombing campaign in the beginning, have gone unreported.
And instead, "In following that we are liberating them [Afghanis], we do not mention the fact that we are killing their relatives," Fisk said.
The climate within U.S. President George W. Bush’s administration, doggishly repeatedly in the press, is that it is "wicked to even suggest there are reasons for 9/11" let alone "what these reasons are."
The "sin was to connect Arabs with the land they live in and suggest reasons," Fisk lamented.
Turning to Bin Laden, Fisk stated that his "influence in the Middle East comes from his words, not his actions." His words on U.S. forces in Saudi Arabia and the Palestinian conflict "rings true among Arabs who have been humiliated by the West."
A capacity crowd, spilling into the meeting room’s hallway, listens attentively to Fisk.
This is where Bin Laden gets his popularity, without which, the actions of September 11 would have unanimously brought to Arab minds the actions of a man who should belong in an insane asylum.
It is "difficult to convince Arabs [in the Middle East] that the attacks on New York and Washington were acts of terrorism, when Sabra and Shatila are not classified as such," Fisk pointed out.
Fisk commented that Western media fails to ask the "whys" in the Middle East, because the answer to which is uncomfortable to both assert and admit: that both U.S. policy and media are biased towards one country in the Middle East: Israel.
Fisk, however, also criticized Arab states, pointing to the lack of democracy and development and a propensity towards dictatorship and one-man rule, and the media, with their lack of intellectual and deep debates on issues, as well.
"While the U.S. wants to blame Arabs [for 9/11], but doesn’t want to talk about the reasons," Fisk noted, "Arabs want to talk about the reasons, but not accept that Arabs did it."