CSotD: The Spin Cycle Continues

Jimmy Margulies (KFS) opens today’s conversation with the plain truth, in a situation in which truth seems anything but plain.

The emergence of bigotry and hate in the wake of this sort of tragedy is predictable: It was obvious as soon as the towers fell on 9/11 not only that Muslims would be targeted by bigots but that Sikhs would be swept into the whirlwind because of how they dress.

This time around, as the nurse says, we’ve got twins, which not only skews any discussion of the initial horror unleashed by Hamas, but also of any commentary about Israel’s response.

Certainly, there is genuine hate, though it’s hard to assess how much these loud-mouthed bigots represent anything more than themselves. Then again, I don’t know how many people were in Ford’s Theater watching the play the night one demented extremist was also present. Does it matter?

Numbers don’t always make a lot of sense anyway, even if they tell us something we wanted to hear.

This graphic has popped up on social media, and it’s comforting, unless you take a second look at the word “progress” and then probe the actual survey.

Steven Colbert famously joked that reality has a liberal bias, but anything invoking “progress” seems like a knee-jerk backlash against the revisionism of the MAGA agenda and should make one wary: The notion of “Data for Progress” is ridiculous on its face, since data has no purpose unless someone finds one for it.

We’re so swamped with polls that you’re naive to take any of them seriously without doing a little examination. In this case, it’s a “survey of 1,329 likely voters nationally using web panel respondents.” And then weighted.

Which means that, instead of a survey of people who still own landlines and don’t mind taking polls, this is a slightly nudged survey of on-line people who like the group well enough to have volunteered to take their polls.

That works for internal quality control: I’ve volunteered to answer such polls for my NPR station. But it’s clearly no way to measure broad-based opinions.

It’s too bad, because I’d dearly like to believe that most Americans would prefer to see a cease fire, and, like Anne Frank …

But I know how it turned out for her, and, besides, even when I was a naive kid, I thought putting daffodils in rifle barrels was a gesture but not a solution.

I’m more inclined towards Ella Baron‘s picture of young idealistic people who make extreme statements because it is how they handle the pain of being forced to face a world that constantly contradicts the values they were taught to believe in.

Which puts us back in the audience at Ford’s Theater, because compassion for their reactions does not solve the greater issue.

Though lack of compassion does offer Gary Varvel (Creators) an opportunity to turn the current crisis into a crisis he would prefer to address.

I question how someone so public in his Christian values squares this cartoon with Leviticus 19:33-34, not to mention that, if the Egyptian border had proper security, little Joshua ben Joseph’s family would have been deported back to Israel and he’d have been killed by Herod.

Tom Stiglich (Creators) at least bases his scattergun attack on “MSM” on something that really happened: The rush to report an alleged Israeli air strike on a Gaza hospital that turned out to be a misfire of a missile from a Palestinian group.

Which, BTW, Tom, was not Hamas. Pot, meet kettle.

Stiglich is right, however, that the media — and not just the ones he hates — ran with the initial report of an Israeli rocket.

Some have corrected it, some have chosen to hide behind having said “according to,” which, like “allegedly,” should alert readers to be cautious, but, depending on what you wrap it around, can easily become a fig leaf that doesn’t cover much.

I’ll let Oliver Darcy sort things out at Reliable Sources, but IMHO this comes back to both reporters and consumers needing to maintain a healthy sense of skepticism.

And not just a toxic one.

I did get a kick out of Darcy’s quote from Columbia Journalism School professor Bill Grueskin, who noted that “newsrooms often find it easier to correct a misspelled middle name than a collapse in verification standards on a major, breaking-news story.”

I wouldn’t have laughed if I hadn’t been raked over the coals for adding a second N to “Donely” by an editor who saw no need for a correction later when she mishandled a fatal shooting.

The real media story is about an unwillingness to offend, and we’re seeing political cartoonists having to apologize for being unclear rather than for their actual attitudes, which may be why Zapiro — who is no shrinking violet — used two labels and a text block to make sure his intentions were clear.

It may not do him that much good, since the term “war crimes” is bound to offend those who disagree. Or who choose to.

I’m impressed with Christian Adams’ approach, in which he notes the growing calls from world leaders for a moderate response and the ensuing reaction from Israel.

By using the entire flag and not just the Mogen David, Adams clearly invokes the government and not the religion, while he doesn’t imply damage or injury to those leaders who attempted to stand in the way, but, rather, that they were totally ignored.

Even using a faceless tank maintains a distance between personalities and policies that should insulate him not just from those who consistently fail to get it, but even from those who look for reasons not to get it.

Juxtaposition of the Day

Alan Moir

Joel Pett — Tribune

An interesting contrast, because, at first glance, Moir’s cartoon is so common an observation as to be meaningless. Back a half century ago, we were noting that George Washington was a terrorist in the eyes of Great Britain. But he’s set it up to ask you about those “two kinds of people,” which would lift it above the usual, if people were actually going to sit there contemplating the matter.

Pett has, IMHO, a more practical view of his readers and so spells it out in four panels, even adding that (God willing) to emphasize the moral righteousness with which these things are hashed out.

And always have been, for ever and ever, Amen.

4 thoughts on “CSotD: The Spin Cycle Continues

  1. I see Adam’s cartoon as more a statement of safe condemnation.

    They stepped in to stop the tank after it had already passed them but are showing as if they tried to stop it.

    The tank can’t see them and they aren’t even facing it to look at the crimes the tank is committing.

    1. If the cartoonist had added footprints over the treadmarks to indicate they tried to stop the tank after it had passed, I’d agree.

      But the way the image is presented, the tank passed through them as if they weren’t even there.

      1. I thought about that as well but it seems to me that the artist didn’t draw any footprints anywhere so I took the assumption that doesn’t require a suspension of physics.

  2. Yes, one man’s hero is another man’s villain, depending on which side you’re on. Unlike works of fiction the world isn’t so easily divided into “good guys and bad guys”.

    If anything, the real problem is the way modern wars are fought. Long gone are the days when one army would square off against another army on a battlefield. Cities are the new battleground and rockets are the new soldiers, with innocent civilians being the ones who die.

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