The American air attacks on what was, according to Iraqis, a wedding party has been getting some run in the press in recent days. The military stands by its contention that the “party” was a safehouse for smuggling in foreign insurgents and that they were fired upon from the location.
Whatever happened, this will probably continue to be a fairly big story, because like the prison abuse story, the court martial story and any other negative information coming out of Iraq, the America press will propagandize this situation in an out-and-out effort to turn the American public against both the effort in Iraq and, subsequently, against George W. Bush. Jennifer Harper’s opinion column on this issue in today’s Washington Times is a perfect analysis of this situation. The prison abuse story, for example, continues to lead because the press won’t let it go.
What’s amazing to hear are the stories related by an American serviceman named Jeff who managed to get through to Rush Limbaugh yesterday and was put on the air. The transcript and a downloadable MP3 of the conversation are available here. The most interesting quote from this young man was his comment about the differences in how the conflict is depicted in the American media versus what he actually saw in his one year in country.
RUSH: Okay, so you’ve had a chance to compare the media you’re seeing here versus the American media, bits and doses or whatever that you got over there. What’s your impression of news reporting about what’s happening in Iraq from your stateside vantage point?
CALLER: I told a lot of people at my hometown church the same thing, Rush. I have been more scared of Iraq watching it from the news over here than I ever was over there — and I was in quite a few little skirmishes, lots of firefights, about 75 hostile raids and I have never been so scared in my life watching it over here on this news. It’s not near as bad as people think it is.
And regarding the attack on the alleged “wedding party,” the man had some insight. Here Jeff describes the two rules during the conflict: 11:00 P.M. is curfew and you shouldn’t shoot at coalition forces. Apparently, getting married was one of those times the people felt there should be an exception:
CALLER: That was the rules for all Iraqi citizens…and every time they’d have a wedding… Every Thursday is wedding night in Iraq for some reason. Now, they will have them on other days but every Thursday we would have to react to all kinds of gunfire and when we would get out on the street, in their celebration. They’d just take shots at us, too. One particular small firefight we got into was with a funeral procession. They love to have their weapons at their celebrations.
Now the black helicopter types and the asshats over at Democratic Underground would probably shrug off this call, and the man’s stories, as just some false propaganda dreamed up by Rush and his connections in the Bush White House-Vast Right Wing Conspiracy. You know, let’s get some young guy to come on the air and tell some fabricated stories about the “good” side of Iraq. My guess is that the folks running Limbaugh’s show checked the guy out as much as they could and tried to verify that he was who he said he was (he didn’t give his full name, service affiliation or details of his unit on the air, as one would expect).
The terribly frustrating part of all this is really how little of this will be spread throughout the media, and how the major players would just pooh-pooh anything that comes out of a conservative talk radio show as lies and fabrications. This is the crux of Ms. Harper’s piece and it’s something all of us who believe in that cause in Iraq suffer with every day. Limbaugh certainly has a large audience, and Jeff’s stories will no doubt be discussed among the already-converted. Getting the story to the wavering is what’s really crucial.
I believe that people are tired of the prison story and are tired of the negativity coming our of the press on Iraq. Perhaps the media’s insistence on harping over the bad news will eventually wear people down to the point where the majority say enough, and just stop listening. Maybe that’s the way things are right now. I believe that people tend to live their daily lives filtering out as much negativity as they can, so maybe the efforts of the media won’t work in the long run.
But, unless we hear more stories like Jeff’s, unless we see more positive coming out and appearing on the great blogs and sites that provide this information, the battle for people’s hearts and minds will be as crucial at home as it is in Iraq.