Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Media Abuse in Iraq

Since arriving in the United States, after spending the last year in northern Iraq, my wife and I have been standing up in restaurants, cafeterias, and airport waiting lounges, and speaking out about the abuse of the international media regarding Iraq. Without fail the message we have shared has been warmly received as those listening break out in heartfelt applause at what they hear. One lady at a Denny’s in Amarillo was sobbing at her table and my wife went over to talk to her to see what was the matter. The lady nodded to the ten-year old girl sitting at the table with her and said, "Her Daddy’s in Iraq and all we have heard from the media is negative and it has been so hard. Thanks for speaking to us."

I am the director of an international NGO (non-government organization) which has rebuilt schools and drilled water wells in both Kurdish and Arab villages in northern Iraq. In the course of the last year we have been absolutely appalled by the distortion of the media’s reporting.

As my wife and I have now begun to stand in public to speak about our experience, it is clear to us that the American people really want to hear the truth, and sense they are not getting it through the media. The truth is there is a tremendous amount of good happening in Iraq today that never gets reported. Instead the media seems to look for the few malcontents who will say they liked things better under Saddam Hussein. Let me assure you these people are in the minority. In the meantime work goes on to restore schools, hospitals, electricity, water availability, roads, etc. Here is the real story of courage and the American spirit at its finest that never gets told.

It is obvious that we have entered into a new era with 24 hour media around the world spinning the news and trying to shape the way people think. But could it be that Americans are starting to see through the lies of the media. Possibly CNN and CBS overstepped themselves in dragging America and the U.S. military into the mire over the incident at Abu Garab, trying to make what happened look like it was indicative of the Army and the government as a whole. Remember how long the media played the angle that the prison scandal would run up the ladder? Yet the truth was there were very few people involved. What happened at the prison was wrong, we all know that, but what was worse was to put those pictures on worldwide television 24 hours a day for two solid weeks and proclaim to the world that this is the United States military. Nothing could be further from the truth. In rebuilding schools, I have worked closely with the U.S. Army this past year and have watched them exhibit extraordinary patience, kindness, and sensitivity to the Iraqi people. We can all be proud of the way they have conducted themselves.

Many times we have had friends in Iraq tell us that the hooded terrorists being interviewed by the media are not from Iraq, but from Yemen, or Egypt, or Saudi, or somewhere else outside the country, but they are definitely not from Iraq. How do they know? The same way we know if someone is from Boston or Texas. Accent. Yet CNN and the BBC make the terrorists appear to represent the sentiments of the Iraqi people and this is not true. The deception and the damage comes in as people around the world watch the interview but obviously cannot tell the difference in the accents. CNN realizes the rest of the world doesn’t know the difference, and so they are able to pass off international terrorists from outside Iraq, as though they were representing the Iraqi people. The result is that the world is misled into thinking Iraqis are against America whereby everyone becomes discouraged. And yet the truth is the overwhelming majority of Iraqis are grateful to the United States for liberating them. It appears the media is deliberately lying to, and misleading the world, trying to dishearten people regarding anything connected with Iraq.

The international media has done nothing to encourage the Iraqi people to take ownership and responsibility for rebuilding their country. Instead they have constantly undermined Coalition efforts to help the Iraqi people, even spinning good things in a negative way. In my opinion this war could have been over a long time ago if it had not been for the media. They have incited violence and encouraged the international terrorists at every turn and in every way possible. Thousands of people have now lost their lives because the media has fed the fire to keep the war going. The fact is that the international media, led by CNN, the BBC, and Al Jazera, has innocent blood on its hands.

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