Monday, March 06, 2006

Headline Dissonance

This is a lazy media criticism post, but what the hell! I saw this headline/link in El Wapo:

Iran's Khatami Says Islam Is the Enemy West Needs



Perhaps I'm totally off-the-mark on this, but when I read a line like that I think that some Iranian politician (in this case the ex-President) is making some statement about how Islam is needed to counterbalance the US or the EU or somesuch. Basically a bloviating statement about how Iran is some new Mideast superpower and with nukes they can finally stand up to the West, etc. etc. I assume this because I'm somewhat educated on the issue and Iranian leaders make statement like that all the time. But it turns out that's not what this story is about at all, is it?

Khatami, speaking at a government conference promoting interfaith dialogue, said the West was largely responsible. Islam was being cast as the "enemy of humanity" by governments reverting to the polarized worldview that divided the planet for 50 years after World War II, he said.

The West "needs an enemy, and this time it is Islam," Khatami said. "And Islamophobia becomes a part of all policies of the great powers, of hegemonic powers.

"We are not very far from the era of the Cold War that inflicted a lot of damage on the world."


This scapegoating is ridiculous (not like many government of the countries in question haven't done PLENTY, especially Iran, to make them untrustworthy), but it is totally at odds with the headline. The headline suggests some sort of normative assessment by Khatami that the West "needs" Islam as an enemy, that it Ought to have Islam as an enemy. But he's actually saying that the West SHOULDN'T have Islam as an enemy, but they've chosen to. I'm not going to get into the merits of this argument, because right now it's Monday and I'm lazy. My point is this is really a bad headline and gives a horrid impression, especially when there's multiple sensitive international issues at stake (terrorism, Iran and nukes, and Danish Cartoon Wars, etc.). And especially when Iran is threatening to cut off oil. Absolute sloppiness, and not in a way that benefits anyone.