Sunday, January 25, 2009

WHY DO THEY HATE US? Foreign Correspondent Students in J467 Respond

Because journalists have been asking the wrong question


Reaction from Emily Mullin
The question, “Why do they hate us?” is almost inherently ethnocentric in its nature. Americans could not believe what happened on Sept. 11, 2001. Our country had been attacked, our family members killed. The notion that a small group of men had so easily walked past airport security, brought down two skyscrapers and killed thousands of people was unfathomable. We are America, how could this happen to us? Many people wondered.

And for a short time, there was no line separating ideology in Washington. Almost everyone agreed; those killed in the terrorist attacks would be brought to justice. Journalists nodded their heads in agreement. The media, for a time, was subservient to the Bush administration. Reporters sided with the government and with the sympathies of the American people, but worst of all, they stopped asking the tough questions.

In a way, I think American foreign correspondents – and even domestic journalists – dropped the ball on the War on Terror. No mainstream news network has been able to properly answer the question so many of us have posed, and I think it is probably because it is the wrong question to be asking.

Instead, the American media should have been asking, “What have we done to warrant a terrorist attack on our soil?”

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… Because we don’t recognize the effects of our own foreign policy

Reaction from David Flores

Media coverage of anti-Americanism isn’t lacking in superficial acknowledgement; Americans are inundated with videos of protestors burning American flags and effigies in the streets, yet a deeper understanding of the reason for this hatred and its implications is seldom investigated.

In July of 2007 a Washington Post reporter addressed these sentiments:

“There is another major reason for anti-Americanism: the accreted residue of many years of U.S. foreign policies. These policies are unknown to most Americans. They form only minor footnotes in U.S. history. But they are the chapter titles of the histories of other countries, where they have had enormous consequences.”

In terms of getting at the ‘why’ of anti-Americanism, journalists would go well to address the ignorance that the Post reporter refers to. It is not enough to simply acknowledge said hatred; as John C. Merrill writes in Global Journalism:

“In the modern world, journalists must take various cultures into consideration…Common sense too often defers to nationalism and personal ethnocentrism. Among other intercultural scholars, Novinger stresses the need to know and respect other cultures and their rules.”
This extends to the American audience, who needs to know the circumstances that breed this hatred, thus addressing the “why.”

… It’s not so much why, but who?

Reaction from Michael Hess
I spent almost four of the last five years out of the United States. I worked on base, but lived and socialized outside the gates in the community. Old friends say I adopted a European attitude. I defend myself by saying it's not an attitude - it's a perspective.
The first question one would have to ask is: Who are the people who allegedly hate the United States and its way of life so deeply that they would want to cause harm to its people?
Do first world countries hate us or are they frustrated by some of our policy and ideology? The French may hate that McDonald's is taking over their country one street corner at a time, but I don't think they'd retaliate with violence.

Do people in Middle Eastern countries hate us? I've traveled all over the Middle East. They may like the American individual, but don't like our government or president and that’s common ground between many Americans and the rest of the world.

Do Iraqis hate us? That’s a complicated issue. No, at least not the ones I talked to. Will they retaliate when American service members kill family members and destroy property? Wouldn’t you? An Iraqi acquisitions agent who spoke very good English told me that his living conditions were better under Saddam. “At least I had electricity and water then. At least my kids could go to school,” he said.

The questions I’d ask would be based on who I was asking. I didn’t ask the Iraqi salesperson, “Why do you hate us?” I asked him, “Is it better now than before?” If I could sit down with Osama himself, I’d first ask him if he planned it and then ask him where he’s been hiding and then finally ask the why’s.

Image by Britannica

… Because media interpretation creates people’s reality

Reaction from Gregory Stephens

Why do they hate us? It’s quite simple actually. Perception often takes place of reality, especially when from afar, such as from other parts of the world. Stories have aired in innumerable quantities that show U.S. soldiers ignoring societal customs, desecrating religious buildings, and various other activities deemed “morally incomprehensible,” such as Abu Ghraib. However, the actions of a few are outweighing the good deeds of many, as unfortunate as that is. Because of that, a good portion of the world thinks that we are exactly like those who negatively represent us in the press.

Another reason we are so negatively looked at is the “throne” America sits on. America, under questionable leadership from both political parties, has assigned itself the position of world police, toppling regimes and overthrowing governments that don’t represent what “the West” feels is a fair government. While we may overall be correct in the long-run, it appears as if no thought was given to the residents of those countries, who now live in a lawless area and are treated as the enemy because they look like the enemy.

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