OxBlog

Sunday, March 30, 2003

# Posted 2:50 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

'OUTRAGE SPREADS IN ARAB WORLD' is the headline of a story in today's WaPo. As usual, this sort of article is a collection of absurd anti-American quotes combined with implications that the Arab media is at fault.

As for me, I think this sort of outrage is all talk. You can always find Arabs who hate America. The question is, what are they doing about it? Not much, as far as I can tell.

The problem with the media -- including top-notch papers such as the WaPo -- is that journalists have fixed expectations of what the news will be, and they won't abandon those expectations unless something truly dramatic happens. (And even then, they sometimes forget what they have learned.)

This isn't a simple matter of liberal or conservative bias, but of journalists -- especially those who cover foreign affairs -- having simplistic expectations of how non-Americans react to world events. On the bright side, at least the journalists' expectations are more realistic than the professors'...

UPDATE: The WaPo has not just one, but three separate articles on the backlash theme. The other two are here and here.

The first of the two illustrates my point perfectly. It is about a Saudi couple named Leila and Mohammed. She is a physician who wears tights sweaters and stiletto heels. He is a businessman who does import-export. They are enraged by the invasion. Leila goes to anger management classes and tells the WaPo correspondent she may just have to become a suicide bomber.

This is what the media calls a backlash. Upper-middle class Saudis who make empty threats to abandon their pampered lives. Did I mention that Leila and Mohammed are also very, very angry about what Israel does to the Palestinians?


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