Monday, January 31, 2011

Egypt: A Message to be Feared

I'm nervous.

Oh, I should be nervous about the snow but I'm simply resigned. I give up. I have assignments lined up for the kids to do if they are home for the day.

I'm nervous about Egypt. I've been watching the news and we've gone from a democratic movement to a radical Muslim uprising. The frame has changed. The administration of this country wants us to think one way- not the other.


I'm keenly aware of framing in the news media. I teach it to my classes. I can help them argue for anti-piracy laws or against them. How to make an image that will resonate for the American public. It's not hard. We're fairly easy game to media manipulation.

The "Muslim Brotherhood" is now the headliner. And yet Mohamed ElBaradei, a lawyer who headed the International Atomic Energy Agency and won the Nobel Peace Prize, is the leader of the opposition. A secular figure.

A man, not a religion.

Still, we hear about religion, poking at our fears about holy wars where our buildings come tumbling down.

Why? What is the President trying to convey? We've supported a non-democracy for over 30 years. Are we the least bit ashamed of that? Or was the peace in the region worth the trade?

A few million people in Cairo would disagree.

And yet, it is the disturbing instability of the entire region that must give us all pause. Far deeper than pro-democracy, anti-dictatorship, pro-Muslim, anti-American... this is a conflict that goes back to the birth of mankind. Whether or not American becomes involved any deeper than it is, is not the point.

The way it is being presented to us? Please. Listen carefully. There is a message in there I think we all should fear. Not about Egyptians, or Muslims or who is right or wrong... but the way we are being tugged into this issue.

Like I said, I'm nervous. Very nervous.


Blogger Rev. Bob said...

Cui bono? To whom the good? Who benefits if I believe this? That's the question to ask of anything you see, especially on the media. When Bush was relaxing ownership rules so that Clear Channel Communications could own all the radio stations in a town, did your local Clear Channel station report that story? Of course not. Will Andrew Breitbart doctor his videos? How will RupertVision report a story? Those are the easy examples. The airwaves and cablewaves and satwaves are full of harder examples. Maybe we need a course on defending yourself from the media.Gee, if only I knew a teacher who could teach that course.

4:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't condone the violence but it's good that citizens are standing up to a leader that has done very little for the people of Egypt. Egypt is probably the most progressive and closest thing to a democracy in all the Arab world. In my travels, I found that Egypt was the least regiously radical of all. Women are not required to cover their hair, don't require male escorts, can drive cars and vote unlike a lot of their Arab neighbors. Hope that loser prez gets transitioned out for the better.

3:38 PM  
Blogger Sue J said...

I've been fascinated watching this play out over the past week or so. It is such a complicated region of the world -- our history here in the US doesn't prepare us at all to understand what is happening there -- or what might happen.

Today it seems the protests were peaceful, and -- importantly -- that the army kept it that way as they sided with the protesters. I think we are all watching nervously to see what tomorrow brings.

I'm also fascinated with the effect of first person reporting via Twitter. How will that change the ability of officials to mold "the message"? What do you think?

7:34 PM  
Blogger Sara said...

Sue, that's exactly what I talked to my class about yesterday. With the ability to have immediate information, obama's administration has no ability to control the message.

and yet, as Bob pointed out, you have to be careful about what you see. it's still just a small picture.

but information is rapidly coming out. and it's making our government... change.

8:26 AM  
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10:49 PM  

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