May 6, 2010

TV Creates Its Own Enemies

the bomb came from A, the attack on America came from B

Contessa Brewer on MSNBC, about the Times Square Bomber:

"...there was part of me that was hoping this was not going to be anybody with ties to any kind of Islamic country because there are a lot of people who want to use this terrorist intent to justify writing off people who believe in a certain way or come from certain countries or whose skin color is a certain way. I mean they use it as justification for really outdated bigotry."

Contessa is an awesome name.  Oh well.

It's safe to assume who she was hoping the bomber was going to be was a white guy from Nebraska.  And the easy criticism here is that she is a leftist nut, so I'll leave it to others who make their living that way.  

But the missed criticism is the second part of her quote.  "...there are a lot of people who want to use this terrorist intent to justify writing off people who believe in a certain way..."  That's all her.  I understand she meant airplane pilots flying with only the right wing, but that's the whole point: she is not aware that form of her criticism applies equally to herself.

Which brings me to the second point: how many airplane pilots does she really think are going to use this incident as an excuse to hate Muslims?  Those that hate Muslims don't need an excuse; those that don't hate Muslims are unlikely to be suddenly converted to Islamophobia.

"Those certain people" are other TV pundits.  That's her whole world. That's why it seems to her like "a lot of people" will manipulate this story.   The 30 or so pundits on either side that constitute her entire social and intellectual universe will most certainly use this incident to mouth off for the next trimester, but the average American barely cares at all.  (Not a good thing either, and had it gone off a different story altogether.  But.)

When you watch TV, especially the news, understand that they are merely arguing with themselves.  This isn't "lose Cronkite, lose middle America."  These people do not represent America, they are not in touch with America at all.

But, sadly, scarily, and certainly, they provide the language and framework that you will adopt wholesale.  The intellectual problem isn't that some Pakistani nut tried to car bomb the Lion King, the problem is that our understanding of it will come from a gated community of idiots.