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World opinion is worthless

Tuesday, Aug 1, 2006

If you are ever morally confused about a major world issue, here is a rule that is almost never violated: Whenever you hear that “world opinion” holds a view, assume it is morally wrong.

And here is a related rule if your religious or national or ethnic group ever suffers horrific persecution: “World opinion” will never do a thing for you. Never.

“World opinion” has little or nothing to say about the world’s greatest evils and regularly condemns those who fight evil.

The history of “world opinion” regarding the greatest mass murders and cruelties on the planet is one of relentless apathy.

Ask the 1.5 million Armenians massacred by the Ottoman Turks;

or the 6 million Ukrainians slaughtered by Stalin;

or the tens of millions of other Soviet citizens killed by Stalin’s Soviet Union;

or the 6 million Jews murdered by the Nazis and their helpers throughout Europe;

or the 60 million Chinese butchered by Mao;

or the 2 million Cambodians murdered by Pol Pot;

or the millions killed and enslaved in Sudan;

or the Tutsis murdered in Rwanda’s genocide;

or the millions starved to death and enslaved in North Korea;

or the million Tibetans killed by the Chinese;

or the million-plus Afghans put to death by Brezhnev’s Soviet Union.

Ask any of these poor souls, or the hundreds of millions of others slaughtered, tortured, raped and enslaved in the last 100 years, if “world opinion” did anything for them.

On the other hand, we learn that “world opinion” is quite exercised over Israel’s unintentional killing of a few hundred Lebanese civilians behind whom hides Hezbollah — a terror group that intentionally sends missiles at Israeli cities and whose announced goals are the annihilation of Israel and the Islamicization of Lebanon. And, of course, “world opinion” was just livid at American abuses of some Iraqi prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad. In fact, “world opinion” is constantly upset with America and Israel, two of the most decent countries on earth, yet silent about the world’s cruelest countries.

Why is this?

Here are four reasons:

First, television news.

It is difficult to overstate the damage done to the world by television news. Even when not driven by political bias — an exceedingly rare occurrence globally — television news presents a thoroughly distorted picture of the world. Because it is almost entirely dependent upon pictures, TV news is only capable of showing human suffering in, or caused by, free countries. So even if the BBC or CNN were interested in showing the suffering of millions of Sudanese blacks or North Koreans — and they are not interested in so doing — they cannot do it because reporters cannot visit Sudan or North Korea and video freely. Likewise, China’s decimation and annexation of Tibet, one of the world’s oldest ongoing civilizations, never made it to television.

Second, “world opinion” is shaped by the same lack of courage that shapes most individual human beings’ behavior. This is another aspect of the problem of the distorted way news is presented. It takes courage to report the evil of evil regimes; it takes no courage to report on the flaws of decent societies. Reporters who went into Afghanistan without the Soviet Union’s permission were killed. Reporters would risk their lives to get critical stories out of Tibet, North Korea and other areas where vicious regimes rule. But to report on America’s bad deeds in Iraq (not to mention at home) or Israel’s is relatively effortless, and you surely won’t get killed. Indeed, you may well win a Pulitzer Prize.

Third, “world opinion” bends toward power. To cite the Israel example, “world opinion” far more fears alienating the largest producers of oil and 1 billion Muslims than it fears alienating tiny Israel and the world’s 13 million Jews. And not only because of oil and numbers. When you offend Muslims, you risk getting a fatwa, having your editorial offices burned down or receiving death threats. Jews don’t burn down their critics’ offices, issue fatwas or send death threats, let alone act on such threats.

Fourth, those who don’t fight evil condemn those who do. “World opinion” doesn’t confront real evils, but it has a particular animus toward those who do — most notably today America and Israel.

The moment one recognizes “world opinion” for what it is — a statement of moral cowardice, one is longer enthralled by the term. That “world opinion” at this moment allegedly loathes America and Israel is a badge of honor to be worn proudly by those countries. It is when “world opinion” and its news media start liking you that you should wonder if you’ve lost your way.

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