You are viewing a read-only archive of the Blogs.Harvard network. Learn more.
22 July 2004

Al-jazeera at the DNC…

What more does anyone know about Al-Jazeera‘s presence at the DNC?  They are apparently working with the BBC to provide broadcasting.

They had signs up in their skybox, but someone (unknown) took them down.

And given that Condi Rice, the White House, the Wall Street Journal,
and others on the right of the political camp have decried Al-Jazeera’s
“bias”, do we think that they’ll get to cover the RNC?

Posted in DeeEnCee on 22 July 2004 at 11:52 pm by Nate

The Protesters

So one of the big news stories here in Boston is about the protesters and whether they have an adequate/appropriate space to conduct their protests.

Has anyone asked whether it really matters?

Seriously.  The protesters are not going to convince the delegates
of anything.  You don’t get to be a delegate in the Democratic
party if your opinions are easily malleable, subject to change if
someone, like a protester, contends against them.  The protesters
are not going to convince other protesters, who are all pretty
committed to their opinions already (otherwise they wouldn’t be
protesting).  They’re not really going to convince the public,
because the public will be largely absent the whole thing.

What the protesters want is a few of those cameras trained at the
larger event, a little exposure, a few minutes on television, and the
resultant “controversy” that it all indicates.

The press at large will likely report that the protesters outside the
Fleet indicate that there is controversey over the Democrats’ stances
on various issues, like abortion, gun control, gay marriage, tax
policy, the war, and so forth.  There might even be controversy
within the ranks of the Democratic party.  And they’ll report this
because they’re bored with the script that the DNC (and later the RNC)
will present of unity and cooperation.  But the media will be
following its own script, as it largely does in these things. 
Reporters almost always act as if there is contention in every
occurrence, “two sides to every story,” equal and opposite conflict in
all of human affairs.

But there’s not.  And this reportorial trope leads to some
ridiculous circumstances, such as when reporting on the Holocaust and
including the voices of Holocaust deniers as legitimate.

This is not to say that the protesters don’t have legitimate things to
say.  They do have some legitimate, contendable viewpoints in our
political life.  But what they really hope to accomplish is
unclear.  Opinions probably won’t change, the Democratic party
opinions and platform won’t change, and their media exposure will be
coopted into one of two scripts.  Either the protestors are
slightly nutty, slightly (or more) extreme, slightly out-of-touch, OR
the protesters indicate a serious threat to the Democratic party
establishment because they can’t be controlled, and they represent
significant dissent.

Yes, the portrayal that gets played up in any particular media outlet
will likely depend on whether it’s broadly supportive of the Dems or
not.  So Fox News, for example, will likely subscribe to the
second view.  But the smartest commentators will see the game for
what it is AND call it.  If you see that from any reporting, then
it’s time to begin asking questions about why and what it means.

If you want to see this sort of falsity in action, head on over to
Boston Common on Sunday morning.  There, across from the Paulist Center Chapel,
protesters from Operation Rescue and the “Christian Defense League”
will picket the church.  Why?  Because it’s where John and
Teresa Kerry go to church when they are in Boston, since it’s the Roman
Catholic church closest to their home on Beacon Hill.  But the
church can’t stop giving Eucharist to Kerry just because there’s public
pressure to do so; excommunication is a formal legal process in the
church’s canon law, such that a huge matter like cutting a person off
from the Sacraments cannot happen solely at the discretion of a priest
or even a bishop alone.  Also, I’d be suspicious if the members of
the “Christian Defense League” were not primarily fundamentalist
Protestants of some sort, and so their voice in the matter should not
count.  They’re less eligible to receive the Eucharist than John
Kerry is.

So I ask in a sense of honest inquiry, what will the protesters (of all
stripes) get?  Some public exposure, sure, but will it really
benefit them?

Stay tuned for some thoughts about the life of politics, via M. Weber.

Posted in Politicks on 22 July 2004 at 11:26 am by Nate

Shocking, just shocking….

The convention delegates seem to support gay marriage at a much higher level than the general population.

Duh.  They’re Democrats.  And, unlike the ticket, they don’t
have to get elected against an incumbent “war president” who’s made
cultural issues the focus of the election.  What’s truly appalling
is that he and his party have succeeded to the extent that one can no
longer address economic disparity issues without being called a “class

“Class” has become the dirty-word, third rail of American national
politics.  And yet, we know that one of the most predictive
indicators of people’s political beliefs (apart from a candidate) is
socio-economic class.

Posted in Politicks on 22 July 2004 at 11:15 am by Nate