Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Inadequate Hearting And Minding

Hearing Gwen Thompkins' and S.S. Nelson's reports this morn from E. Africa and the Afghan-Pak border respectively, I couldn't help but detect some classic American earnestness in action. In all their torrent of words (Ms Gwen seemed to use ProTools to morph her voice to squeeze into its allotted slot) I learned much less than a more mature and concise reporter such as Ofebia Quist-Arcton or Philip Reeves would give (both of whom I've praised in the past, and who are 99% BBC and 1% NPR in their journo genetics). It sounds strange to say, but I find that American reporters (not just uNPR-oids) in these and other locales just don't 'get it'. I'd need a thesis to explain, but hell, I've learned more about the Sudan from the film 'Khartoum' and Robert Young Pelton's 'The World's Most Dangerous Places' (various editions - I'd recommend it for any on the ground research of trouble spots), and of the Afghan Pak frontier from Kipling and Olaf Caroe's seminal 'The Pathans', not to mention old National Geographics - than I've ever gotten from US NPR-niks. (Plus, bumbling around Peshawar as a tourist - way before today's troubles - was pretty cool; I've never heard anyone on NPR really capture what an incredible city Peshawar is - or the region, for that matter...)

In my opinion, Americans make pretty poor hearts-and-minds imperialists, while they obviously excel in the military/industrial version (at least ostensibly - recent evidence shows 'Fiasco'-level flops there, too.)

In WWII, my recently late dad fought for a Marshall Plan-innovating, UN-assisting, peacemaking USA. I still foster that ideal.


  1. Port, I wanted to express my condolences. And what an admirable tribute, the ever-resolute rejection and non-adherence to hack media - You-Know-What definitely included.