Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Afghanistan and the American Right Wing View on Media

Living and working in Afghanistan provides for some interesting experiences. None perhaps are more interesting than the conversations you can have with people from all over the world. And among those, some of the more interesting are with some of my fellow Americans.

As could be expected, most of the people working with the military in Afghanistan lean to the conservative side politically. They talk about things like “the left-wing media” and say things like “if you are under 30 and conservative, you have no heart. If you are over 50 and liberal, you have no brain.”

These statements are others of their ilk are not only ignorant, they are completely hypocritical considering the current problems of Afghanistan. These people need to poke their heads out of their myopic little holes, see the greater world around them, and stop making mountains out of what they believe are American problems.

For whatever reason, conservatives believe the “media” is an anti-military, anti-American, Communist machine. Besides the painfully ignorant fact that they only define “media” as cable television, they fail to appreciate the ability of people in America to write, say, or broadcast what they want. Americans are not jailed, beaten, or killed for blogs, videos, or tweets as they are under oppressive regimes. Many conservatives are too busy complaining and bitching about the problems they believe are with a small segment of the America media to acknowledge that American problems are not truly problems.

In Afghanistan, there is no freedom of press. If the Taliban doesn’t like what you write, they kill you. There are few Afghan media voices here documenting corruption, writing about the atrocities of the Taliban, or even telling the stories of everyday Afghans. Most of the press here is international. Few Afghans have running water, no less the ability to go online and blog, tweet, or create a youtube video. There is little press, no less conservative or liberal leaning.

There is an index called the Press Freedom Index put out annually by Reporters Without Borders. In its latest release, America was ranked 47th. Meanwhile, Afghanistan is currently ranked 150th. Syria is ranked 176th, China is ranked 174th, and Saudi Arabia is ranked 141st. What does that tell you about the Afghan freedom of press?

So before American conservatives can talk about what cable station is liberal and why it is un-American for its Globalist outlook, they should talk about the freedom of Afghans to say or broadcast what they want. They should help build successful media networks here instead of complaining about what they think is a problem back home.

Americans should be all about freedom, right?