The president was at the U.N. Wednesday wasting his breath reminding 180-some nations of terror threats. Nations who don't much care about terrorism because they still labor under the misconception that most terrorism is directed at Israel and the United States and not them.
Spain and the Brits will tell you different. So will Indonesia and Australia. And the Iraqis have a terror tale as well.
I think we're all used to hearing about some guest on Al-Jazeera spinning the typical Arab fantasy tale of wild plots by the West designed to humiliate or murder or emasculate Arabs. It's standard paranoia that people have come to accept as truth — sadly enough.
But as I was watching Bush dutifully warning about terror, I noticed an Al-Jazeera story. It was an announcement that Al-Jazeera is launching a children's channel.
Imagine Al-Jazeera for kids. Oh joy.
They call it "edutainment" and Al-Jazeera Children's Channel "will help develop self-esteem, respect their traditions and values, appreciate people around them and develop a passion for learning."
Silly me. I was thinking Big Bird in a vest bomb. Bert and Ernie and their favorite hobby: building roadside bombs.
I could be wrong. It could be a positive contribution to life on the planet. One hopes.
But I watch Al-Jazeera. It's slick, polished, professional. It's sometimes obscenely obsessed with America and Israel, paranoid, and given to exaggerations and complete misinterpretations of real events all designed to malign and demonize us.
So while I'd like to think it will be Mr. Rogers in Arabic, I'm afraid we're going to see hatred institutionalized in children's TV.
In a way, it's a big test for the Arabic satellite media. These guys have had enormous impact over the last few years, and quite a number of Arab intellectuals have spoken up to condemn the prevailing Arab media attitude that democracy is bad if the Americans are for it. That maybe, just maybe, Arabs would be better off choosing their own destiny and giving up mindless and deadly hatreds.
Let's see if Al-Jazeera has grown up or is stuck in its old ways.
That's My Word.
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