On the cover of the latest issue of Newsweek you'll find the image of a young Middle Eastern boy-against a stark white background-holding an automatic weapon. Above him are the words: "The Next Jihadists."
Inside, the article begins: "Ammar will tell you he's proud to be carrying a gun. His father was a brigadier in Saddam Hussein's Army, a man who saw combat in his country's several wars, and from an early age Ammar had accompanied him to the shooting range. 'I got used to the sound of guns then,' Ammar says."
Most Americans won't bother reading this or any other article. However, the cover image will be more than enough to provoke knee-jerk reactions about towelheads raising their kids to wage war.
Anyone who makes time to actually read the NewsWeak article might encounter this quote from Hassan Ali, a sociologist at the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs: "These children will come to believe in the principles of force and violence. There's no question that society as a whole is going to feel the effects in the future."
What if NewsWeak had opted to instead present the image a young American boy holding any number of weapons? Imagine that above this tow-headed, lily white lad were these words: "The Next Imperialists." Or perhaps even: "The Next War Criminals."
To find Ammar-like quotes, NewsWeak need look no further than a January 2004 New York Times fluff piece about American snipers ("In Iraq's Murky Battle, Snipers Offer U.S. a Precision Weapon"). "Most snipers are familiar with firearms even before joining the armed forces," the newspaper of record explains, going on to discuss two snipers who "grew up on farms, and both owned their first rifles before they were 10. They fondly remember hunting deer as youngsters." Fondly?
Factoids are important so here's one from the National Center for Health Statistics: "Every two years, more Americans die from gunshots than there were American soldiers killed during the entire Vietnam War." Toss in a few mentions of violent movies and sadistic video games, paint ball, war toys, street gangs, and the endless parade of U.S. military interventions, and you'd almost have yourself a NewsWeak cover story. All that would be missing was a pull quote from someone-anyone-with a PhD blabbing on about how the brutal American culture would lead its children to "believe in the principles of force and violence."
Journalism sure is easy, huh?
Mickey Z. can be found on the Web at http://www.mickeyz.net.