Saturday, May 21, 2005

Jari Sedergren brings up a point that I’ve observed over and over again in Finnish society: namely, that Finns hide behind their language to conceal their bigotry (and I translate):

“The world has so many places where religious feelings have more meaning than here [where we value] orderly hot dog lines and the Winter War. All of you in the blogistan who mock the Pope could sometimes remember this, though anonymity and the Finnish language will pretty much protect one from the most personal attacks. Humorous writing I can certainly understand, but in my opinion the unnecessary insulting of religious feeling is something to be condemned.

“It is our fortune that Catholics don’t read comments on the Finnish blogistan, for example, during the [recent] exchange of popes. They might have cause for some anger…”

But he writes this in connection with the recent Newsweek fiasco regarding the purported desecration of the Koran by US authorities. And then, quite predictably for a Finnish welfare-state academic, he indulges in some spurious conspiracy theories:

“…No western editor is writing about the fundamental question of whether Newsweek was pressured by the United States government to change its stance. From the press’s point of view the situation is already embarrassing, but to quiet from this kind of essential factor says a lot to someone like me who’s studied propaganda a lot. The press fears something in western countries, too. In other words, the asking of essential questions."

He then goes on at length quoting an editorial from the Helsingin Sanomat on the subject, pretty much parroting the usual anti-American, bigoted conclusions of the “Hesari”.

What gets me, though, is not that this welfare-state academic believes that the press in the western world might be constrained by pressures from the US government (a laughable concept to begin with! - he obviously hasn't experienced the scandal-feast that is American media), but that he doesn’t turn around and ask the question in another way: does the western press, in Newsweek’s use of unattributable material, - see themselves in the mirror, in their own practices? And couldn’t this be the very reason for their silence: that as one of their journalistic brethren has been caught red-handed in the act of news fabrication, editors the world over tone down their criticism, since they’ve all most likely engaged in some of that in the past.

The Newsweek fiasco also reminded me of an incident a few years ago in Bethlehem, during the Intifada. A bunch of Palestinian terrorists had barricaded themselves inside a Christian church, and early news sources reported that they had started using pages from a Bible they found there… for toilet paper. What was most interesting to me at the time was how quickly this detail disappeared from subsequent news reports of the stand-off, as the EU negotiated a deal for their release. These were, after all, Palestinians we were talking about, and they tend to get preferential treatment in the western press.

When it suits them, the press will “manage” the truth. Perhaps this is something the good doctor Jari “I’ve-studied-propaganda-a-lot” Sedergren should keep in mind.


Blogger Sedis said...

I wrote: "Lehdistön näkökulmasta tilanne on muutenkin jo nolo, mutta vaikeneminen tästä oleellisesta seikasta kertoo ainakin minun kaltaiselleni propagandaa tutkineelle paljon."

Your translation: "From the press’s point of view the situation is already embarrassing, but to quiet from this kind of essential factor says a lot to someone like me who’s studied propaganda a lot." Now, this bolded characterisation was not mine but only yours.

Did you add it to your translation only to be able to use this characterisation: "the good doctor Jari “I’ve-studied-propaganda-a-lot” Sedergren"?

4:12 PM  
Blogger Finnpundit said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

4:31 PM  
Blogger Finnpundit said...

Ah, yes, I can see that I made a minor translation error. Yet claiming "I've-studied-propaganda" sounds equally silly, especially when your conclusions tend to be influenced by Finland's home-grown propaganda in the first place.

The average American tends to be very savvy in sniffing out a sales pitch: they have to be, to survive in a consumer society. Thus to claim special knowledge and education in an ability to ferret out propaganda, - well, excuse me, but for an American that would sound as ludicrous as telling a Finn they need to study to be able to ski.

4:32 PM  
Blogger Sedis said...

To me, it doesn't look a minor error but a personal insult. My dissertation (political history) is about propaganda and censorship but I was not stressing that point, and didn't mention it. But you used your own mistake ridicule me in your jocular ending. We do practice skiing.

Another misunderstanding. I was certainly not "parroting" Helsingin Sanomat: I even characterized this head article to be "the most fierceful attack ever against U.S.A. in that paper"

We all make mistakes, but if you are ridiculing people, please, think twice before you write.

4:59 PM  
Blogger Finnpundit said...

Point taken, and I do apologize for any hurt feelings. However, take it all as the exasperated reaction of someone who's aghast at the incredible amount of anti-American bigotry in Finland.

Finns should be prepared for a reaction, and sometimes it's not going to be pretty, or all that friendly.

5:07 PM  
Blogger Sedis said...

"Finns should be prepared for a reaction, and sometimes it's not going to be pretty, or all that friendly."

I believe we are ready for that. But leave your guns to sheriff's office before you enter at town.

5:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

6:37 PM  
Blogger Finnpundit said...

Why? Guns might be necessary when confronting an enemy.

I reiterate an earlier post: the welfare states of Europe had a role in creating the climate that led to 9/11.

7:18 PM  
Blogger Sedis said...

OK. Let's keep the guns. It was only a peaceful proposal. [That's how it goes, cowboy...]

Welfare states always have a role. Not like others, that one is positive.

2:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bigots this, bigots that, bigotry there (not in the USA, of course), bigotry here (in Finland, of course)...

Black and white, good and bad, right and left...

There's no middle ground? Are you helping the situation? Do you really want it to change, or are you just pretending so. Basically you're quite happy now because you think you are part of some elite that have seen the light. You feel better by pointing out all the mistakes Finns do? Well, keep on feeling good, because we'll make mistakes in the future too. But so will other countries as well, even your beloved USA.

7:25 AM  
Blogger Finnpundit said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

2:52 PM  
Blogger Finnpundit said...

It's not a case of who has a better system, it's a case of who is exploiting whom. And the fact is that the welfare states of Europe are exploiting the American worker-consumer who support their welfare states.

The exploitation is compounded by welfare states policies against the developing world. Instead of lowering barriers against the developing world, thus sharing in our wealth, welfare states insist on putting barriers against those poor states.

Contrast that to the American worker-consumer who, for example, has single-handedly lifted hundreds of millions of Chinese people out of poverty. America also transfers wealth to countries like India through sheer force of outsourcing labor. And all of this without having a negative impact on growth rates, or employment rates.

In addition to that, America continues to be the nation where the majority of the world's R&D is done, most notably in biomedical research. The entire world freerides on all the results of this research, without taking on any of the risks.

We could go on and on. The big challenge is to break free of the mental constraints imposed by the welfare state, and start thinking about the effects of the greed of welfare states on others. Foreign aid is a smokescreen: it really doesn't do much, except foster corruption and cronyism and, - not inconsequentially for the welfare states - a form of dependence on state authority.

Welfare states deserve... to be destroyed.

9:36 PM  
Anonymous Jussi said...

"Welfare states deserve... to be destroyed."

No they don't, but people with 'lord of the flies' mentalities should be put in padded cells - which is where they belong.

3:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Contrast that to the American worker-consumer who, for example, has single-handedly lifted hundreds of millions of Chinese people out of poverty."

Singlehandedly? Hey, tell us more! Who is this person, what is his (her?) name, and what does s/he do in his/her spare time?

3:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Andrew Sullivan, no lefty he, about the Koran controversy (related to the Newsweek "fiasco", as you put it):

CONFIRMED: The fire behind at least some of the smoke:

The U.S. military for the first time on Friday detailed how jailers at Guantanamo mishandled the Koran, including a case in which a guard's urine splashed through a vent onto the Islamic holy book and others in which it was kicked, stepped on and soaked in water.

The Abu Ghraib official's reference to someone throwing down and stepping on a Koran as part of an interrogation "Pride and Ego Down" technique now makes much more sense. A few caveats about this Pentagon media push. It's very odd that most of the incidents acknowledged occurred after new guidelines were given. I'm dubious that only one minor incident occurred before. It's odd that only one individual was interviewed for this report. The "pissing down an air-vent" incident sounds just bizarre. Yeah, sure the wind caused your pee to drift into a prisoner's air-vent. It sounds like something some schoolboy would come up with. The soldier whose pee drifted was later discharged. Lastly, the way this was released late on Friday evening suggests to me that it's part of a strategy to deflect attention, minimize what occurred and urge the press to move on, rather than a genuine attempt to get to the bottom of this. Maybe we'll never know the full truth. This minimal amount of information seems to me to be the perfect Pentagon solution: they haven't outright denied anything; they've provided a handful of minor examples of abuse as a minimal concession; and the strategy now is to accuse the press of exaggeration and the detainees of lying.

4:19 PM  
Blogger Finnpundit said...

Andrew Sullivan lost a lot of credibility when he decided that the war in Iraq was okay, but Bush's anti-gay marriage stance was not. Still, he remains an interesting thinker, albeit a chimeral one.

In the long run, if it comes down to believing the word of the Pentagon, or believing the word of the detainees, I'd choose the former, since the only information we have about all of this in the first place is through the Pentagon. And none of the information released has been beneficial to the Pentagon.

Sullivan is being very silly if he thinks the "poor" detainees don't have a political agenda.

9:17 PM  

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