October 31, 2007

But He's Our Sonofabitch


In the way of visual analysis, I offer you the comment of one Zafar Sadik posted at SajaForum in response to last week’s Newsweek cover.  (His conversation between “trainees,” I believe, is keyed to the equally dramatic black-and-white photos inside the print edition.  I couldn’t find those images on-line, although I have linked below to the unrelated photo gallery that is running with the web version.)

Could Newsweek’s cover story have anything to do with the US’ new program (after all previous ones have failed) of installing Benazir Bhutto as the new savior of Pakistan. She went to Harvard don’t you know, she’s secular, she will save Pakistan. But wait didn’t we hear all this from the Bush administration about Parvez Musharraf only 6 years ago. Wasn’t Parvez so cute, he went on Jon Stewart and sipped tea during Ramadan. He’s so secular, we want that man.

But then it didn’t work out. But never mind let’s try out Benazir. She may be a “kleptocrat in hermes scarves” as one of the few newsmagazines with a knowledge of history+memory of Pakistan’s past (NOT Newsweek), but as Nixon once said “He may be a sonofabitch, but he’s our sonofabitch.” (about Suharto I think).

And as soon as the Benazir rescue mission is launched, along comes Newsweek with another ridiculous pandering story designed to assist the mission. No doubt most of the “facts” are true, but the slant, the angle, the positioning, the photos, all designed to evoke certain emotions in the American public– that will produce a phone call to their Congressman. Go nuke go. Go blitz go. This is not journalism (except in the Judith Miller brand of prostitution to Bush administration) ….

PS Here is day 1 of training camp at Pakistani “Jehadi camps.”

“When you see the western cameraman, throw your hands up like this and bare your teeth just so.”

(eager trainee): “Bhaisaab, what if it is a white lady, sometimes they also send those.”

“Then you try to personally intimidate her, that may even get you the cover.”

(eager trainee 2) “Shall we have sticks? Or Kalashnikovs?”

“For AP, sticks. For CNN, always Kalashnikovs. For Newsweek, always bring the jehadi child with you, with a headwrap (never mind that he is from Orangi Town, everyone must wear headwrap). Oh and make sure to always wear white salwar, photographs well…”

Newsweek article

Newsweek slideshow

(image: … working on it.)

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Michael Shaw
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