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The (genocide-enabling) ‘NYT’ confesses that 1000s of slaughtered Yemenis were just too much to get our heads around

Middle East
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Today The New York Times published a piece by Max Fisher that addresses the question many have raised about Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance– “How One Journalist’s Death Provoked a Backlash That Thousands Dead in Yemen Did Not.” It is fascinating. It is like Christmas came early for anyone interested in New York Times propaganda.

Here are some of Fisher’s points:

It’s not that we can’t care about a million deaths, psychologists believe. Rather, we fear being overwhelmed and switch off our own emotions in pre-emptive self-defense.

For years, Saudi leaders may have unknowingly benefited from this effect.

How is any individual American, even one in government, to process thousands of cholera cases provoked by Saudi-led measures in Yemen — particularly when the United States assisted those measures?…

Understanding those events on an intellectual level is difficult enough. But understanding them on an emotional level may simply be beyond us.

The murder of Mr. Khashoggi is different. It is relatable, particularly to the men and women running American foreign policy…

[W]hile few considered the war in Yemen to be laudable, some, particularly those hawkish on Iran, considered it at least understandable.

As a result, debate on the alliance tended to polarize.

But there is less to debate about the murder of a journalist….

The United States and Saudi Arabia had been brought together by a series of common enemies: Iran and the Soviet Union in the 1980s, Iraq in the 1990s, jihadist groups in the 2000s. An entire generation of Middle East specialists came up knowing and working with Saudi colleagues.

So the New York Times is making it all about the inability of well-intentioned Westerners including themselves to wrap their heads around large numbers of dead children. Except they had no difficulty doing this with Syria when Assad and Putin were bombing Syrian cities.

People lied about Yemen because they didn’t want to admit the US and its allies do the same things that Russia and its allies do. US officials like John Kirby lied because otherwise they would be admitting US guilt in war crimes.

The most interesting question is why the New York Times felt it necessary to publish this piece at all. After all, it is mostly fringe people who are talking about this.

There are various possible answers and I suspect they are all true.

First, outsiders actually manage to exert enough pressure to have influence. Maybe the Onion really did embarrass the Times with its story about the press applauding Trump’s new “tough stance” on Saudi Arabia and Khashoggi:

“[W]e appeal to the leaders of Saudi Arabia to restrict their extrajudicial murders to Yemeni people who don’t have any public platform,” said President Trump, adding that the White House would not sit idly by as the Saudis caused the deaths of innocent people unless they were Yemeni children in a school bus or a group of Yemeni people attending a wedding.

Second, the Times might actually feel guilt. There is probably dissension in the ranks. Among columnists, Nicholas Kristof tries to be morally consistent (he doesn’t always fully succeed with Gaza, but tries more than most), Thomas Friedman is a cringe-making joke and Stephens is a cold blooded hypocrite. The New York Times leadership probably feels especially stupid, pulling out of a conference in Saudia Arabia over Khashoggi when it was fine to go despite Yemen.

Third, and more importantly, the New York Times always plays this role, trying to portray the Western elite as fundamentally civilized, but with endearing human foibles that occasionally lead them astray. Like not knowing what to make of the fact they were complicit in genocide. It is the job of the New York Times to do this. There are some “scandals” that fit within their parameters — did a particular politician break the law by colluding with Russia to win an election? But some are too big: Is it normal for Westerners to collude in crimes against humanity? And this horse manure will work with people who want to believe it. In particular, many of their readers will swallow it whole.

Donald
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9 Responses

  1. Donald
    Donald
    October 19, 2018, 3:08 pm

    Phil included a link to my stupid NYT letter. This weakens the point. The point is that anyone with the slightest ability to notice the obvious would have seen the hypocrisy in the Western reaction and the people at the NYT surely know this with or without my one letter. There are a lot of people I have seen online who spotted this more or less simultaneously— that Western journalists and pundits and politicians were upset that Khashoggi, who was one of their own, was murdered while not caring about the genocide in Yemen. I saw Friedman being chewed up by some of the commenters after one of his own pieces.

  2. eljay
    eljay
    October 19, 2018, 3:59 pm

    … So the New York Times is making it all about the inability of well-intentioned Westerners including themselves to wrap their heads around large numbers of dead children. Except they had no difficulty doing this with Syria when Assad and Putin were bombing Syrian cities.

    People lied about Yemen because they didn’t want to admit the US and its allies do the same things that Russia and its allies do. US officials like John Kirby lied because otherwise they would be admitting US guilt in war crimes. …

    Fisher / the NYT are so obviously full of sh*t it’s not funny.

    • Donald
      Donald
      October 19, 2018, 6:15 pm

      Yeah, it is beyond a joke. Rather than admit complicity and try to make up for it with an all out campaign to end American support for genocide, they post an analysis excusing their own moral idiocy.

  3. JWalters
    JWalters
    October 19, 2018, 8:09 pm

    Why this admission now? I’d estimate the NYT is following orders, and they’re pre-emptively cleaning up their trail to the Yemen war, because MBS’s flameout will bring attention and possible scrutiny.

    It’s not a change of heart. The NYT is still ignoring many truth tellers. Israel’s crimes are still being kept off the front pages. The capture of America’s political process is similarly ignored.

    For example, ignored are the glaring facts that Trump’s policies on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are exactly what Israel wants, and exactly what self-declared Israeli-firster Sheldon Adelson gave Trump $35 million to do. I believe these facts DO ring bells throughout the journalism community. But they are PREVENTED from reporting on them by the owners (and donors). And naturally this prevention too is not reported.

    But this system of secrecy did not count on the internet. It’s becoming impossible to ignore the obvious. There may be a tipping point, where virtually everyone stops struggling to hold back the tidal wave of facts, and goes with the wave. Even MSNBC reporters will write books of insider stories. Some may already be keeping notes.

  4. HenryL
    HenryL
    October 20, 2018, 3:11 pm

    Whether the Times falls a bit to the left of center or a bit to the right is of little consequence. Its policy is to support the billionaires, the mega corporations and above all the imperialist enterprise. Israel and Saudi Arabia function as outposts for control of irreplaceable resources and geography. Israel is the main U.S. military base in the Middle East, much more important than the Naval base in Bahrain or Incirlik in Turkey. Israelis are the foot soldiers. Saudi tyrants and Israeli “democrats” are the lance tip for U.S. corporations and banks, including one big sink and one lesser sink into which to sell vast amounts of made-in-America weapons. And to carry out policies, like the war on Yemen, that the U.S. prefers to hold at arm’s length. Only moral outrage from the U.S. people – linked to action – will change bloody U.S. policy and the Times’ support for it.

  5. unVet
    unVet
    October 20, 2018, 3:57 pm

    “A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic.” – J. Stalin

    • Citizen
      Citizen
      October 21, 2018, 8:38 pm

      Hence the importance of Ann Frank & Ahed Tamimi & Rachel Corrie.

    • Eva Smagacz
      Eva Smagacz
      October 22, 2018, 8:07 am

      Wisława Szymborska’s poem

      “ A Large Number”

      Four billion people on this earth,

      But my imagination is still the same.

      It’s bad with large numbers.

      It’s still taken by particularity.

      It flies in the dark like a flashlight,

      illuminating only random faces

      while all the rest go blindly by,

      never coming to mind and never really missed.

      But even a Dante couldn’t get it right.

      Let alone someone who is not.

      Even with all the muses behind me.”

      156/169

  6. ZShaw
    ZShaw
    October 21, 2018, 4:41 pm

    How considerate of the NYT to act as psychological gatekeepers.

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