Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Both News Media and U.S. Government Should Live Up to Higher Standards

As Newsweek continues to feel the ire of many Americans, it’s important to pull back and remember, whether or not the Quran flushing story is true, our nation has committed acts of torture against prisoners. Newsweek was terribly wrong in publishing as fact what was essentially a rumor. They deserve every bit of the public ire as we have noted.

But, as we have also noted, the incidents of torture both at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere have not been fully explained and demand a full congressional investigation.

Many conservatives have argued that Newsweek has blood on its hands because its report led to riots and deaths. But what I question is, if this allegation had proven true, would these same commentators have said America has blood on our hands? Highly unlikely. If we believe that the volatility of radical Muslim culture is so sensitive that American media can be directly blamed for inciting riot, shouldn’t we also believe that our government can be directly blamed for spawning violence through uses of torture?

In reality, final culpability rests squarely on the extremist Muslims who commit acts of violence. But we simply can’t give these radicals more excuses to kill in the name of hate. They use every report of abuse as a reason to take to the streets and commit violent acts. And the rest of the anti-American world uses our abuses as “proof” that these violent acts are legitimate.

We must live up to a higher standard. That goes for both our government and our news media.

UPDATE: Some conservative columnist have implied that Newsweek would have been wrong to publish the story even if it were true. How about a better idea. How about living up to a higher ideal and not committing deplorable acts against prisoners to begin with?


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