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.