The above-America lobby

Posted: Sep 21, 2001 12:00 AM
The unprecedented attack on New York and Washington has caused some extraordinary media patriotism in the last week. As we rub our eyes with disbelief and appreciation when Peter Jennings announces that Bush's speeches quoting the Psalms will resonate strongly with many Americans, and on David Letterman's show, Dan Rather pledges to line up in support of President Bush, we see how America has suffered a massive blow that's galvanized nearly everyone. But America is a democracy with a diversity of opinions. While the vast majority rally around the flag, there are still those who seemingly would rather burn it. The nation mourns the loss of more than 5,000 of our innocent brothers and sisters, yet some, believe it or not, are complaining that the media are to be faulted for joining in the national sorrow and rage. Whiny complaints on the left are taking many different forms. Dara Williams of the News Watch project at San Francisco State University argues for stricter quotas: "There are people who can put into context what's been going on in the Middle East who are not white men." She must have turned the channel every time Colin Powell gave a press briefing. She must have been in the other room when Congressman Charlie Rangel was speaking. She must really believe someone out there cares about this kind of polemical nonsense right now. Here's another strange San Francisco bird, John McManus of, who insists we all live in a country where government must be relentlessly questioned and never cheered. "The press shouldn't say we're at war. It should say the administration says we're at war." Saying that America's at war "does the ideological dirty work of the administration." Since this latest attack on America produced more than double the toll of Pearl Harbor, these people should be asked what the world would look like had the media declared that Franklin Roosevelt really wasn't a legitimate American leader. Was siding against Hitler doing FDR's "ideological dirty work"? Oh, but Mr. McManus isn't done with his doozy of an analysis. "There's still a dismissal on the part of the press that the Arab world has legitimate grievances against the United States. There's a tendency on the part of the media to look at this as if the United States is an innocent party set upon by people who have a grudge with each other, and it got hit with a stray punch." Tell the families of innocent airline passengers and World Trade Center employees that they were just collateral damage by innocents with "legitimate grievances." Finally, there are the left-wing crackpots at Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), who worship Noam Chomsky and regularly equate the United States with terrorist nations. They also believe that the attacks were just "blowback" for supporting the mujahideen against the Soviets, propping up the Shah of Iran, and running an embargo against Saddam Hussein's Iraq. FAIR's Steve Rendall aches for anchors to bring on historians "to explain why resentment of the United States runs so deep among so many in the Middle East." Rendall also demands the anchors balance out the president and Congress during this time of national crisis. Never mind that virtually all of America is united behind its government. "Where are the experts who might take Martin Luther King or Mohandas Gandhi seriously?" he whines. "The peace experts? You might think that's a joke, but there are people who study these things as seriously as war." Sorry, but that is a joke, a joke unworthy of comment. Once again, we witness the radical left, which has never liked America, going so far as to plead for balance from the Arab terrorist "community." Once again, we witness them howling when news stars talk like they actually live in America and enjoy its freedoms and its bounty, even now when they cry over their fellow New Yorkers who are nothing but a curtain of ashes. All these radicals seem to care about is who will cry for the starving children under the embargo of Saddam Hussein? (Hint: It ain't Saddam Hussein.) Surely, the media are doing something right when this Blame America First crowd accuses them of "pandering to the public's appetite for revenge." In this conflict so far, our media have not succumbed to the above-America lobby, that the high calling of journalism is all about alienated "independence," somehow above being a neighbor or a citizen. They have suffered with all of us, and they are welcome in our saddened homes. Maybe if it had been the Golden Gate Bridge and all its passengers destroyed by terrorists, these radicals in San Francisco (and elsewhere) would feel differently. But somehow I doubt it.