Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Civil War? Got Civility?

Huh? NBC has felt the 'need' to announce, in some sort of official and weighted way, that it will break with the official terminology of this callous White House and bravely go where no major network news crew has gone before -- and call the war in Iraq a "civil war" from now on. Huh? Dear news groupies, viewers and readers, that's a publicity stunt, I'd say, and it reveals, more than anything, how wimpy the major news organizations are. Reporters don't need permission, and they don't need declarations of independence from the Bush administration or any administration to report as accurately as possible. This whoopla reinforces the very American idea that labels and slogans and packaging on the tube are more significant than matter-of-fact reporting. Now there is a debate raging that implies, with great irony, that the words hurt more than the sticks and stones.

And what of the implication, now overt and insistent as offered by the White House, that the Iraqis are responsible for all of thier problems? Would Americans feel responsible for all of our problems if we had an occupying military gunning around in Humvees, taking up fortified positions, sniping away at us from pock-marked street corners from Boston to San Diego?

We'd better put ourselves (or at least the American military and lack of diplomacy) back in the equation and deal with the substance of the situation instead of distracting ourselves (yet again) with stagey and demeaning debates about labels. No matter how foreign, no matter how packaged and televisonized, this is a lot more than a war of words.

And to me, it seems ultimately and entirely UNcivil. Look at what is happening in Iraq. The photos show what it is. It is barbarism.


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