A few days ago, I argued that nonviolent resistance is not always an effective option in our day’s conflicts thanks to the corporate media’s dereliction of its duty to report war’s human toll and cited the ironfisted way Israeli troops tend to deal with even peaceful protests by Palestinians. I wrote
Palestinians who stick flowers into IDF gun muzzles are likely to catch a gun butt or rubber bullet in the face. So their options are a lot more limited than those of protesters in Western societies, where law enforcement and officialdom fear bad press.
Well, I just came across a picture-perfect illustration from recent news of both my specific example and the broader observation about the MSM.
The indispensable Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) reports that Mairéad Corrigan-Maguire–a Northern Irish peace activist whose work in bridgebuilding between Roman Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland won her a Nobel Prize (shared with cofounder of the Community of Peace People, Betty Williams) in 1976–was shot with a so-called rubber bullet by the IDF while peacefully protesting against Isreal’s infamous, illegal and widely condemned apartheid wall in the West Bank just a few weeks ago.
Summarizing Robert Naiman’s insightful analysis on the incident (which deserves to be read in its entirety), FAIR observes:
Democracy Now! reported that Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire and others nonviolently protesting Israel’s "apartheid wall" were "shot Friday by Israeli troops" using rubber-jacketed steel bullets. But "there’s nothing on the websites of the New York Times, the Washington Post, or the Los Angeles Times, not even a wire story."
I’m pleased to see that Naiman makes some observations strikingly similar to my own.
Those who blame the Palestinian people for their fate, attributing it to Palestinian violence, and faulting the Palestinians for not emulating Gandhi, King, or Mandela (whose role in the "armed struggle" is always conveniently elided for the purpose of this comparison) should periodically ask themselves, when Palestinians do engage in nonviolent protest, and are subjected to brutal repression as a result, how come the mainstream U.S. media don’t pay any attention?
Wouldn’t this be a precondition for a successful nonviolent protest strategy? That people find out about it? Imagine if U.S. news organizations had not reported on lunch counter sit-ins in the South, Freedom Rides, or the Montgomery bus boycott – and the repression that resulted. What if no-one reported on the deaths of Evers, Goodman, Schwerner, Chaney. Would these protests have been as effective?
A comment from Dameocrat observed (emphasis added)
Many pro-israel advocates(not just likudniks) like to demonize the Palestinians for using violence instead of passive resistence, but what they don’t say is that Israelis shoot Palestinian protesters, and don’t respect the rights of Palestinian protesters, these groups also object to such Gandhian, MLKish, tactics as boycotts, and traffic disruption.
Think of all the times you’ve seen American pundits denounce attempts at non-violent protest by Arab nations, such as economic boycotts of Israel. They have it both ways, denying Palestinians (and now Lebanese) any right to defend themselves militarily while criminalizing all non-military forms of resistance, as well. But I digress.
And the predictable pro-Israeli media blackout (aside from Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now) of this scandal has been complete. It’s rare that you get a more shockingly stark example of media bias and how it enables militarism. Naiman rightly asks,
And if a Nobel peace laureate is shot at a non-violent protest using weapons paid for by the U.S. taxpayer, isn’t that news?
I’m reminded of a line by The Clash, "If Jesus Christ were alive today/He’d be gunned down by the CIA." And it wouldn’t even make the news. Unless the gunman hired was a Muslim. Or an anti-war protester.
Again echoing a frequent lament in this blog, Naiman points out an important political reality from which war-peddling pitbull pundits like Steyn work so hard to distract the public: A sizable portion of the hostility fueling the terror that pundits cite as justification for their own advocacy of violence springs inevitably from our government’s consistent support for, to use W’s turn of phrase, "evil doers".
A great deal of ink has been spilled about how the United States is perceived in the Middle East. Too little of that ink has addressed whether the perception of the United States might be the predictable result of unjust U.S. policies, and whether changing some of those policies might be part of a strategy for changing the perceptions.
Hence my previous analogy to "law & order" hardliners in domestic politics, who peddle counterproductive social policies and then perversely cite the additional problems they’ve help to cause to justify yet more harmful and short-sighted measures. Political parasites that feed off unrest and suffering, they are reminiscent of the "ambulance-chasing lawyers", except the latter rarely actually contribute directly to the carnage that sustains them professionally.
I see a strong parallel with War on Terror hawks like Steyn. They inveigh incessantly at the supposed savagery of Muslims–in some cases using Islamphobia as a professional meal ticket, making a mark for themselves in the zeal with which they slur Islam and Muslims–and regularly exagerrate the threat posed by Muslim extremism while they do all they can to keep Muslims and Westerners locked in needless conflicts by opposing sane policies and defending every divisive prejudice or doublestandard against Muslims.
You really have to wonder about the sincerity of their outrage over the violence sometimes given how very good all these conflicts and tragedies are for business.