Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A few good men?

The outcry against the current Wikileaks document dump seems to me to be a similar line of reasoning as Jack Nicholson's character in A Few Good Men. Apparently we can't handle the truth. We need people acting on our behalf outside the rules we are expected to follow ourselves. These people should have no public oversight or scrutiny of their actions. Secretly we want it that way ... because we can't handle the truth.

The diplomats and politicians want to give us easy to digest black and white versions of the world. There are good guys (France, for example) and bad guys (France, for example if we go back a couple of years). The leaders of the Free World are all nice guys and girls. They are competent, honest, hard-working. We can rest easy at night, and sleep soundly in out beds. Because if we knew the truth ...

The world is full of grey. The leaders of the so-called free world are often corrupt, vain, stupid, inappropriate, paranoid, etc. Toppling Saddam didn't create a wonderful secular democracy overnight ... and has allowed Iran to gain more regional influence than some of its neighbours would like. Pakistan has some serious problems, which include the possibility of nuclear terrorism. China and North Korea sometimes don't get along. The U.S. bullies and bribes other countries into doing stuff they don't want to do. The U.S. sometimes does negotiate with terrorists.

The thing is ... none of these are revelations. Unless you are the kind of person who takes press releases from the White House at face value. And that is the crux of the matter. Too many journalists and commentators have been asleep at their desks doing just that .. letting the obvious lies, half-truths, and diplomatic double-speak get reported uncritically. Or worse, actually helping to formulate and disseminate those lies.

It is not the job of politicians and their PR-people to tell us the truth. It is supposed to be the job of journalists to ferret out that truth and expose the grayness of the world. Not only are most journalists not doing that, many are actually attacking Wikileaks for making that job possible. Even now the mainstream media (particularly television) spends more time reporting the spin coming from the White House about the leaks than the contents of the leaks themselves. It's as if the majority of them have no idea how to analyze and write about evidence, so they resort to regurgitating the press releases from officials ... once again reporting on auto-pilot.

The lesson here is that not only can we handle the truth, but that many of us already knew the truth. It turns out that the cynics among us were pretty much on the money. Who would have guessed? It's the majority of the media who seem to have no idea what to do with the truth.

Let's hope a few more people have now had the wool pulled away from their eyes, and that maybe a few more journalists start to question the official line on a regular basis.

No comments:

Post a Comment