(On Screen): In the midst of a firestorm about the blatant bias in its reporting of political events during the last two years, the BBC has an article about an American named Faith Fippinger, reported from Florida. It is extremely sympathetic to her, and paints her as a wonderful person who is being crushed under the thumb of the mean, nasty, bullying Bush administration. And it shows that the BBC's bias continues in full force.
It includes this picture of her, along with an interesting caption:
The picture was carefully chosen (as, indeed, was Fippinger herself); she looks frail, distraught. She looks to be about as unformidable as it's possible to be. She's weak, defenseless, or at least that's what the image seems to imply. No threat to anyone; just a sweet harmless old lady who faces ruin for no reason at all. "Fippinger will now probably lose her home, her pension, even her freedom." She's a victim.
We're all supposed to be sympathetic to victims, right?
Here's the first paragraph of the article:
Sitting in her modest two-bedroom home on the west Florida coast, Faith Fippinger begins to cry as she talks about the prospect of going to jail.
Only then does it talk about why all this might land on her, but only after ladling on still more reasons why we're all supposed to sympathize with her:
This spring, the 62-year-old retired schoolteacher decided to travel to Iraq as a human shield.
To many she is a humanitarian, but in the eyes of the US Government she is a criminal.
She's old! She's a retired schoolteacher! She's a humanitarian! But the nasty old US government wants to put her in jail.
Even-handed this ain't.
There were a lot of "human shields" and I assume they're all in the same boat. But rather than talk about them collectively, the BBC's reporter selected one, and appears to have tried to choose a "poster child" most likely to inspire sympathy.
The less-than-subtle message is that this is the beginning of the great Republicanazi crackdown on dissent. Fippinger is portrayed as being in legal peril because she opposed the war, and soon they'll come for all the other dissenters:
Supporters argue that she was simply exercising her right to freedom of travel and speech and accuse the Bush administration of trying to make an example of her.
And that, my friends, is baloney. It is not why she's in peril, and this doesn't represent the first stage of the long-rumored conversion of the US into a police state.
There's a deeper message in the BBC's article, and it's one which resonates in much leftist thinking: it's that intentions are more important that acts.
That Fippinger broke the law is beyond dispute. But the point the article tries to make is that she was doing so because of noble motivations, and thus should not be punished because she meant well. Such people would see a major distinction between Fippinger and John Anthony Walker, because Walker's main reason for selling out the US was money. But Fippinger is a veritable living saint, whose motive was an opposition to war. (Just look at that face; how could we punish such a sweet old lady?)
After a group of academics released a much-ridiculed study which purported to explain the pathological psychology that lay beneath "conservativism", Dennis Prager wrote an excellent article which analyzed "What makes a liberal?" He was using the term "liberal" as it is used today in the US, which refers to a general locus of attitudes and political positions which are nearly the opposite of the traditional meaning of the term. (That paradox caused me to write an article where I proclaimed that in modern American political parlance I was considered "conservative" because I was a liberal.) In it he comments:
The second major source of modern liberalism is narcissism, the unhealthy preoccupation with oneself and one's feelings. We live in the Age of Narcissism. As a result of unprecedented affluence and luxury, preoccupation with one's psychological state, and a hedonistic culture, much of the West, America included, has become almost entirely feelings-directed.
That is one reason "feelings" and "compassion" are two of the most often used liberal terms. "Character" is no longer a liberal word because it implies self-restraint. "Good and evil" are not liberal words either as they imply a moral standard beyond one's feelings. In assessing what position to take on moral or social questions, the liberal asks him or herself, "How do I feel about it?" or "How do I show the most compassion?" not "What is right?" or "What is wrong?" For the liberal, right and wrong are dismissed as unknowable, and every person chooses his or her own morality.
Which is part of why many