Thursday, June 08, 2006

Zarqawi Death: Michael Berg Turns Tables on Media

Zarqawi Death: Michael Berg Turns Tables on Media

As the poet John Donne said, any man’s death diminishes me. It doesn’t bring my son back, and this will just bring a new cycle of revenge killings."

- Michael Berg

The Jordanian government made sure they got the justice they sought for the hotel bombings within their borders that their native son Abu Musab al Zarqawi orchestrated and supported. President George W. Bush is claiming all the glory in the hope that he will regain some popularity in the polls.

This morning when MSNBC's daytime anchor Randy Meier interviewed Michael Berg, father of 26-year-old Nick Berg who was beheaded in Iraq, I was struck by what seemed like a defensive nationalist stance on behalf of the network by its own anchor. I wish I had a video because that would speak volumes. Meier actually recoiled and retaliated, cutting Berg short on his comments when Mr. Berg commented that he understood how the parents and family of Zarqawi feel today, having lost a son. Meier quickly interrupted, as if he was responsible for acting as a right-winger in a hot-button political debate rather than an interview with the father of a lost son. Meier said:

"With all due respect, I doubt that Zarqawi’s family is going through what you went through. Since Zarqawi is now deemed a martyr by his family members and they are rejoicing in his death. I don’t think that they are feeling anywhere near the type of grief that you and your family felt."
My goodness. What an arrogant statement! I looked at an MSNBC on-line story which tells both sides and, for all intents and purposes, refuted the need for the overly (and odd) defensive manner in which Randy Meier conducted himself. The article shows the contrast between family members who privately grieve and publicly proclaim martyrdom for their lost son.

The mainstream media seem to have lost all sense of the meaning of morality and humanity when they speak of "values" issues from the perspective of two narrow issues: abortion and homosexuality. This interview between Randy Meier and the father of a son who was executed by al- Zarqawi was not handled with any moral deference to the man who lost his son whatsoever. When that man raised the possibility that another family might be mourning today, he was cut off. As a human being with values that lead me to see how war affects millions of innocent lives, I sat back and marveled at the moral hypocrisy of the American media.

The focus in the media that is put on human values is perverted because of the Bush theology to which so many misled people subscribe. Bush theology has nothing to do with real religion or faith. It is only a religion of nationalism and empire. I believe Randy Meier acted unprofessionally this morning. He showed, on behalf of his network MSNBC, that his network is more than willing to turn their heads away from objectivity when they are presented with a moral values challenge that throws Bush theology for a loop. To me, it seemed that Randy Meier acted more like an apologist for war giving a poor schmuck who lost his son some pity-air-time than an objective network anchor.

I think NBC/MSNBC should take a close look at their media strategy. Sensible people are watching. One voice from the right side of the blogosphere (who misspells Mr. Meier's name) asked a question for which the answer seems so obvious:
It’s easy for the cable anchors to criticize the extreme statements of Michael Berg. But the important question is, why, on this day, did they feature him at all?
Perhaps someone will remind this young Einstein that Mr. Berg's son died at the hands of al-Zarqawi.

Think of what happened just yesterday when we saw Brian Williams on the Nightly News giving plenty of prime time coverage to the controversy occurring on their own network when Matt Lauer hosted an interview with the offensive Ann Coulter, who took some of the ugliest pot-shots against 9/11 widows that I'd ever seen or heard. Shouldn't we ask why she was featured at all on a professional network - and why her filthy statements echoed throughout the primetime cycle?

We'll remain a morally confused people as long as truly decent and kind Americans are shut out, belittled, or cut off in public when a real challenge to the tilted civility balance is presented. Mr. Berg lost his son Nick to a man who engaged in murder. That murderer, Zarqawi, was the target of state-sanctioned vengeance. Mr. Berg proclaimed "Not in my name and not in my son's name." This statement rings of something so Christian in its nature that I am stunned when I think of our own society with so many Christians out there supporting what we have done in Iraq. The $25 million bounty on Zarqawi's head offered to some unsavory someone in the Middle East will surely be rendered unto Caesar by the Christian American taxpayer while they give their consent to continuing violence and human torture by their silence.

Mr. Berg pointed out that Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld had called Zarqawi's tactics "sadistic and medieval" while completely forgetting his own sadistic and medieval tactics used at Gitmo, Abu Ghraib, and God knows where else. Sometimes I think we've lost our minds here in this nation.

A dozen Zarqawis will come to take the place of the one. This war in Iraq, never even officially declared, is not in the best interests of the United States. The cycle of violence will continue because the "enemy" is embroiled in what they consider to be "Holy War" and the Bush administration's answer of violence for violence has not been a sufficient appeal to the hearts and minds of the only civilized people who could turn things around - the Muslims themselves. Our troops should come home now. There is nothing left to justify the reasons for our nation's military action as cited in Public Law 107-243 in October, 2002 (passed in the days when legislators made the grievous mistake of trusting in the President's honor and ability).

The Canadian Mounties uncovered a massive terrorist operation in their nation without removing one freedom from the Canadian people. The Bush administration has stolen many of our freedoms and taken our nation to an unnecessary and unjust war. In what is supposed to be the most powerful and just nation on the face of the earth, the contrast should shock you - and cause you to weep with shame.

* Cross-posted at American Street