Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Methinks the Elephant Doth Protest Too Much

Just when I thought the Livingston County Press & Argus was back to being a good, solid community paper, this morning's editorial reminded me that they are still marching in lockstep with Rep. Mike Rogers' orders.

Earlier this month, the P&A ran a story about opposition to Rogers' energy video from a national Arab-American group, which was concerned about its stereotypical images of swarthy, scary Arabs. It was pretty straightforward news piece, with comments from the group and responses from Rogers.

Since Arab-Americans make up less than 2% of the 8th District, this story didn't get much traction. Pro-Rogers voters automatically dismissed the complaints, and anti-Rogers voters weren't a bit surprised.

It was interesting, then, to see an editorial in today's P&A devoted entirely to defending Mike Rogers' energy video.

The scene in the video that is drawing the ire of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee depicts cartoon versions of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, former Russian leader Vladimir Lenin, and a man wearing an Arab headdress [skip]

Rogers said the particular clip is meant to highlight regimes that are using oil profits to purchase militaries and weapons or to fuel radicalization efforts. "It's to point out that people like Hugo (Chavez) and countries like Saudi Arabia and Russia have taken that money and have done things that aren't in our best interest," Rogers said.

Not to be nitpicky, but Lenin died in 1924. The Soviets had no petroleum industry at that time, and they sure as heck weren't exporting anything (other than revolutionary ideals). Why not show helpfully-labeled pictures of Putin and King Abdullah, if that's who you're trying to identify?

(Silly me! Iconic images of the Red Menace and anonymous Arabs come in handy when the goal is to manipulate emotions.)

It's disappointing that the largest paper in the county is spending its editorial column inches rehashing a story that's nearly two weeks old. The editorial ended with a bit of patronizing advice:

Groups like the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee serve a great and high purpose in our society; however, organizations can run the risk of trivializing real issues when they protest something minor without considering the message as a whole.

This group poses no threat to Mr. Rogers -- or his message -- at all. My guess is that Mr. Rogers is disappointed that his spiffy "Energy Independence Plan" has received zero attention... other than this ADC protest, the only response has been the chirping of crickets.

With the election less than three months away, Mr. Rogers is just itchin' for some press coverage. His buddies at the local paper are happy to oblige, and served up a hot, steaming plate of lo-cal outrage in this morning's paper.

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