Sheth gets it right at Salon: We’ve found it hard to watch a lot of the cable coverage of the Boston bombing.
We’ve found it hard to watch some of the usual cable suspects with their usual trademarked bluster. But then, we were also disappointed by the way Daniel D’Addario began a piece at Salon.
In his piece, D’Addario explained why we hear so much misinformation after such an attack. But sure enough! In this, just his third paragraph, he authored a very shaky claim about the misinformation:
D’ADDARIO (4/16/13): False information also spread yesterday. There was former congresswoman Jane Harman on CNN, warning of additional attacks because “A signature of al-Qaida is simultaneous attacks.” Never mind that we still don’t know who was behind the bombing. The New York Post cited 12, rather than the two deaths first confirmed by officials. And the question of just how many “unexploded devices” there were in the city of Boston hung over the day, as this Examiner piece extrapolating from a Bloomberg News tweet proves.“A signature of al-Qaida is simultaneous attacks?” You know us—we tend to check.
We can find no record of Harman making the quoted statement on CNN. D’Addario links to a British news report, not to a transcript. That report seems to be quoting Harman from a BBC program, although the source of the statement attributed to Harman isn’t clear.
D’Addario accounced the source as CNN. He assumed the quoted statement was accurate and that it had been presented in full context.
Is that true? We have no idea. For what it’s worth, here’s something Harman did say on CNN on Monday afternoon. In fairness, she specifically said that we don’t know if the bombing was done by al Qaeda:
TAPPER (4/15/13): What's going through your mind as you watch these events unfold?Is that what D’Addario was quoting? If so, he wasn’t quoting accurately. Indeed, he himself was spreading false information, even as he complained about the way false information gets spread.
HARMAN: Well, I'm concerned. A signature of al Qaeda, if this may be al Qaeda—and we have no proof yet—or some associated organization, is near-simultaneous attacks. And yes, there were at least reported so far several bombs that went off along the route of the marathon. But there may be other things at other sporting events or in other cities that are high targets. I'm looking at Peter Bergen, who is sitting across from me, and he's nodding.
Our journalistic practices tend to be very poor. That said, we will recommend Falguni Sheth’s commentary at Salon. The headline: “Where does the hate come from?”
We don’t agree with everything Sheth said. Did the bombing even come from “hate?” She can’t exactly tell you. Some conduct simply comes from the realm of the crazy/insane.
But as he started, Sheth captured something which bothered us as we watched some commentators:
SHETH (4/16/13): Yesterday’s news of multiple explosions going off near the end of the Boston Marathon route was heart-stopping. That such a joyous event—attended by tens of thousands of families, of international visitors and athletes—could be so violently disrupted by such heinous evil was unfathomable. The tragedies are made all the worse by the realization that for some, it was a memorial in the name of the children and adults who died in the Newtown massacre. And even as I empathized with yesterday’s victims and their families, I shudder to think that they experienced what countries around the world treat as a fact of their quotidian existence.Sheth goes on from there. But as watched some commentators, we were struck by the number who betrayed no earthly sense that innocent children die in these ways every day, all around the world.
It isn’t that pundits are required to note that fact. To our ear, some commentators conveyed the sense that the bombing death of an innocent child has never occurred before.
“No more hurting people,” an eight-year-old child had told the world, back when he was only seven. Such innocent children get hurt very badly all around the world. Who knows? If Boston’s innocent child had lived, he might have tried to address that state of affairs some day.
Sheth worried that our own behavior around the world could be producing the hatred exhibited Monday. That’s always possible, of course, although we have no idea who conducted Monday’s bombing, or why they did so.
That said, Sheth spoke to realities we found ourselves thinking about yesterday. And he brought in Dr. King, with his great admonitions.
We will openly challenge one passage from Sheth’s piece. In this passage, he is discussing mistreatment of prisoners at Gitmo. Then, he swerves to a strangely unrelated concern.
Good lord! How we love being tribal!
SHETH: Naji’s story, told to his lawyer by phone, was published in one of the nation’s leading state organs [the New York Times]—a newspaper that often reproduces uncritically the government’s interpretation of the War on Terror. That fact gave me hope: that perhaps the American public might be open to entertaining the obvious, that these prisoners have been held unjustly for years. I even fantasized that sympathetic Times readers might be able to leverage an outraged collective political will to impel the President to release these prisoners from their cruel and endless confinement. This would be the spirit that Dr. King insists we must embrace in order for violence to end.Many schools, all over the country, already have armed guards. The Times reported on a community in the Ozarks which has decided to go with armed teachers. To read that report, click here.
Yet, 24 hours after the appearance of Naji’s Op-Ed, the Times also published the news that a school in Missouri, under the direction and approval of its school board, had trained its teachers to carry guns in their school. This policy was thought to be a solution to the violence of the Newtown shootings that occurred last November.
Sheth may not agree with that decision. But in a piece where he pleaded for greater global understanding, he was quick to swerve off the road to announce what people simply must decide to do, many miles from the street where he lives.
Yesterday, we were thinking about the topics Sheth raised. But good lord, how we love being tribal!