It happened just a few days ago. My brother was lying on the bed, casually perusing the latest infamous issue of Time, whose cover story was on one specific detainee’s interrogation at Guantanamo. Needless to say, the techniques used on this man who, overnight, became the twentieth hijacker instead of Zacarias Moussaoui, were appalling. Suddenly, I heard a chuckle. I turned to the source of this unexpected sound and found my brother shaking his head, the corners of his mouth twitching upwards, forming into a smile and pointing at a page in the magazine, asking me if I read what he held in his hands. I craned my neck to see the article in question and sure enough, I nodded in the affirmative. It was the article on whether nuclear plants in America are actually safe. He went on shaking his head, saying that if any so-called terrorist would really want to attack, all he needed was this issue for some guidelines. It was exactly what I thought: here was a thoroughly investigated piece of journalism, packed with an imaginary under-attack scenario, testimony of guards concerning poor security, a map showing locations and numbers of nuclear power plants, broken down, state-by-state, all across America. It was a ‘terrorist’s’ dream come true.
It is not the first time I am reading something like it. Numerous times, I have come across make-believe, emotional stories describing in painstaking detail how an ‘Islamist’ can easily unleash a biological attack in urban America, ram a plane into the White House or kidnap prominent members of society. There are even somewhat real reports, which seem to be all but that, claiming that paintball games, smuggled baby formula and Muslims-turned-Jehovah Witnesses-FBI-wannabes are all products of Islamic terrorism. Usually, I laugh them off, not just because they are silly, but not at all what Muslims in their present crumbled state are capable of in the least. They rank right along the ridiculously color-coded warning alert that has Americans scrambling in fear, screaming Bin Laden at every dark-skinned guy and supporting the burning of Qurans.
Yet, today, every giggle, laugh or smile dissipated as anger coursed throughout my body at what I was reading. In plain print, I read what I could not have ever fathomed – Al-Jazeera was forced to shelve its documentary on the porous borders in the southwest. What ever happened to freedom of press that Mr. Bush intends to spread in the Muslim world? Remember democracy, guys? That slogan for which you have bombed and killed –” oops, accidentally killed –” hundreds of thousands of civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq?
Everyone knows the Mexican and even Canadian borders do not have stringent security measures. Even a layperson like me has once watched a report on CNN about it. Log on to the Internet and you will find everything about it there. Why, then, is Al-Jazeera’s investigation considered confidential when the public has every right to know –” wasn’t that the American motto?
Here is my concern now: an American news organization can freely choose to print a detailed story on security at nuclear plants, but an Arab news channel cannot broadcast a documentary on lax measures at the border? Another question for the folks out there: an American occupation force can run a propaganda television network in a ravaged non-American country, but an Arab channel cannot report on American news?
What about the fact that the United States considers that the audience of Al-Jazeera, a non-religious, pioneering state-independent and, care to say, democratic news organization, are potential terrorists. Easy for the world’s militarily superior power to say that without any criticism leveled at it. So, now, maybe, they will introduce a little column in the ‘Entry to the US-Visa Application’ form: Are you a viewer of Al-Jazeera? Answer yes or no. A no gives you permission to proceed filling the rest of the lines and circles; a yes will land you in the free world’s secret jails, maybe a one-way ticket to Gitmo, where they will serve you some delicious meals straight from their newly published cookbook. What a ravishing way to spend your summer!
I’ve got another question; it is about aiding and abetting the enemy. A certain Mr. Simcox of the Minuteman Corps thought if he would let Al-Jazeera film their patrols or assist them in their report, he would be doing just that. So, he thinks an independent channel and/or its Middle Eastern civilian audience are the enemy; he cannot have a person use the documentary to spot a tiny little gap to enter into his country bear heavily on his conscience now, can he. Did it ever occur to Mr. Simcox and his fellow patriots, Mr. Renzi and Mr. Bonner, that if their government and their country’s news organizations can sniff around Arab countries, concocting and spinning to their whim, why is it that when the role is reversed, association with independent Arab journalists is an absolute no-no?
The sickening windowless room that the US has situated itself in, admiring itself self-righteously, soundproofing itself from any censure and whining over news unfavorable to its image, goes against every value it claims to stand for. Then again, the world already knows that. But, I’ll just take a wild guess here and say that that is one subject of a documentary you will never see on Al-Hurra, the US-sponsored ‘freedom’ channel in Iraq.