[Reader-list] Whatever happened to those good old freedom fighters?

Lehar .. lehar_hind at yahoo.com
Wed Dec 4 01:03:35 IST 2002

makes you chuckle .. and THINK.
( from the ol' aussie daily..)

Whatever happened to those good old freedom fighters?
By Gwynne Dyer

The Age: October 29 2002 

The media have rewritten the rules on the coverage of
so-called terrorism, writes Gwynne Dyer.

Rule one: When covering terrorist attacks, do not
discuss the political context of the attacks or the
terrorists' motives and strategy. Two generations of
comic books and cartoons have accustomed the general
audience to villains who are evil just for the sake of
being evil - so, calling the terrorists "evildoers"
will suffice as an explanation for most people. 

Rule two: All terrorist actions are part of the same
problem. Thus you may treat this month's Bali bombing,
the sniper attacks in Washington, and the
hostage-taking in a Moscow theatre as all related to
each other in some (unspecified) way, and write
scare-mongering think-pieces about "The October

Rule three: All terrorists are Islamic fanatics. On
some occasions, as when Basque terrorists blow
somebody up, it will be necessary to relax this rule
slightly, but at the very least any terrorists with
Muslim names should be treated as Islamist fanatics. 

No journalism school in the world teaches these rules,
and they didn't exist two years ago. Yet most of the
Western media now know them by heart.

Consider, for example, the terrorist seizure of the
theatre in Moscow last week that ended with the death
of about 50 Chechen hostage-takers and more than 100
hostages. Two years ago, the media coverage of these
events, even in Russia itself, would have given us a
lot of background on why some Chechens have turned to
such savage methods. Didn't see much of that last
week, did we? 

Nothing about the long guerrilla struggle that
Chechens waged against Russian imperial conquest 150
years ago. Nothing about the fact that Stalin deported
the entire Chechen nation to Central Asia (where about
half of them died) during World War II. Nothing about
the fact that Chechnya declared independence
peacefully in 1991 and that both the Chechen-Russian
wars, in 1994 and 1999, began with a Russian attack.
In fact, nothing to suggest that this conflict has
specific local roots, or a history that goes back past
last week. 

Instead, the terrorists were presented as pure evil,
as free of logical motivation as the Penguin or the
Joker in the Batman movies. Hardly anybody mentioned
the fact that more than 4000 Russian soldiers and at
least 12,000 Chechen "terrorists" (anybody resisting
Russian occupation) have been killed since President
Vladimir Putin sent the army back in to the Chechen
republic in 1999. 

The Chechen men and women who seized the theatre have
Muslim names, so they must be part of the worldwide
network of Islamist fanatics who are driven by blind
hatred to commit senseless massacres (or so it says in
the script here). 

If you like being treated like an idiot child by your
leaders and your media, you are living at the right
time. The number of people hurt in terrorist attacks
is far lower than in the '50s and '60s, when national
liberation wars in countries from Algeria to Vietnam
took a huge toll of civilian lives. It's not even as
high as in the '70s and '80s, when a new wave of
"international" terrorists bombed aircraft and even
attacked the Olympics. But the world's leading media
see the world through American eyes, so the attacks on
the United States on September 11, 2001, have utterly
distorted people's perceptions of the dangers of

In fact, the way terrorism is now being covered
closely resembles domestic TV coverage of violent
crime in the US, which has gone up 600 per cent in the
past 15 years while the actual crime rate fell by 10
to 15 per cent (depending on the crime). It has
enabled the Russian Government to smear the entire
liberation struggle of the Chechens as terrorism, and
Israel to do the same to the Palestinians. But the
truth is that most of the struggles we
(retrospectively) see as justified involved a good
deal of terrorism at the time. 

The controversy that is now starting up about the
tactics the Russian authorities used in freeing the
Moscow hostages is just the media barking up the wrong
tree as usual. The real question is whether Russia
should be occupying Chechnya. But, in the present
media environment, we will not hear much about that.
So just to check out your sympathies, here is a list
of conflicts in which the eventual victors made
extensive use of terror (high-tech or low-tech): 

o RAF Bomber Command's campaign against German cities.
o US nuclear weapons on Japanese cities.
o The Zionist campaign to drive the British out of
Palestine, 1946-48.
o Algeria's independence struggle against France.
o The Mau Mau rebellion against British rule in Kenya.
o Vietnam's independence war against French and US
o Zimbabwe's liberation war against white minority

If you approved of more than two, you are obviously a
terrorist sympathiser. Turn yourself in to the nearest
police station. 

Gwynne Dyer is a London-based journalist, author and
film maker.

A Cowboy, Indian, and Muslim joke

By Unknown.

At a small terminal in the Texas Panhandle, three
strangers are awaiting their shuttle flight. One is a
Native American passing through from Oklahoma.
Another, a local ranch hand on his way to Ft. Worth
for a stock show. The third passenger is an Arab
student, newly arrived at the Texas oil patch from the
Middle East.

To pass the time they strike up a conversation on
recent events, and the discussion drifts to their
diverse cultures. Soon the Westerners learn that the
Arab is a devout Muslim. The conversation falls into
an uneasy lull.

The cowpoke leans back in his chair, crosses his boots
on a magazine table, tips his big sweat-stained hat
forward over his face. The wind outside blows
tumbleweeds and the old windsock flaps, but no plane

Finally, the Native American clears his throat and
softly, he speaks: "Once my people were many, Now we
are few."

The Muslim raises an eyebrow and leans forward, "Once
my people were few," he sneers, "and now we are many.
Why do you suppose that is?"

The Texan shifts the toothpick to one side of his
mouth and from the darkness beneath his Stetson says,
"That's 'cause we ain't played Cowboys and Muslims

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