Danny Taggart's Blogarama

A more-or-less daily dose of news, politics, techmology, and any random thoughts that pass through my head.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

US expels terrorist TV network

Shawn Macomber talks about the State Department's designation of the al-Manar TV network as a terrorist organization. He describes some of the typical fare on al-Manar, worthy of Borat no doubt:
    The popular game show, "The Mission," allows the home viewing audience to cheer on contestants as they "recapture" land stolen by the Jews. For every correct answer a contestant answers about the American-Zionist conspiracy, he or she (Oh, who are we kidding here? He!) moves that much closer on a giant map to Jerusalem. In between singing the praises of suicide bombers and denunciations of Jews, the show's host manages to get in some of the standard game show chit-chat. The first contestant to reach 60 points stands atop the holy city and receives a check for $3,000 while the Hezbollah anthem plays in the background -- "Jerusalem is ours and we are coming to it."
Now, I find it difficult to believe that Hizballah actually generates revenue by airing this hogwash in the US. It's value is primarily to provide an indoctrination channel for potentially disloyal American Muslims. However, these people are few, and the chance that they would be incited to anything by al-Manar's programming is small. Therefore, I believe that the negatives of al-Manar are clearly outweighed by the sardonic entertainment most Americans would get by watching it.

In all seriousness though, it seems like an unnecessary move. Why should we be afraid to let the terrorists have a channel to spout their crazy ideas? This kind of reaction only serves to reinforce the idea that the terrorists are fighting us in the realm of ideas. Let's dispel that notion by letting Americans see exactly what lunatics these people really are. Masking the face of evil allows the government to present an ideologically sanitized version of The Enemy, but it does not serve our purpose in the War on Terror. It is essential, as the saying goes, to know thy enemy.

Although I'm not sure the First Amendment applies in this case (al-Manar is a foreign organization), I find the reasoning behind the State Department's decision somewhat disconcerting.
    The Department of State condemned al-Manar broadcasts on December 9 when deputy spokesman Adam Ereli said it airs "disgusting programming that preaches violence and hatred" and ideas antithetical to American values.
Hmm, I thought the reason, according to the Patriot Act, was that al-Manar "incite[s] to commit...a terrorist activity." What's all this business about "ideas antithetical to American values"? Of course incitement to terrorist activities is antithetical to American values, but so are many other noncriminal forms of speech, depending on how you define American values (wow, can't believe I just said "noncriminal forms of speech"). Who knows what media the government will consider tomorrow as preachers of hatred? It's exactly these kinds of official statements that make me nervous: the ones in which the government's current action is completely justified, yet use language potentially leading to completely unjustified actions.