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Monday, April 09, 2007


Anti-Americanism on display in Iraq?

Coverage of the huge (more on that in a minute) anti-occupation rally in Iraq has been fairly limited on TV today; it's been vastly exceeded by the "preview" coverage of the Anna Nicole Smith paternity case (preview because the actual news will come out tomorrow). Nevertheless there has been some. CNN in particular insists, and persists, in calling Moqtada al Sadr "anti-American" and describing the rally as "anti-American." Nothwithstanding the fact that at least one American flag was burned, and some people walked over an American flag, there is nothing to indicate either that this rally is "anti-American" or al Sadr "anti-American." Both are anti-occupation, which is quite a different thing. al Sadr tells Iraqis not to cooperate or work for the Americans, not because they're American, but because their occupying his country. He wants Americans to get out of his country, not because they're Americans (I'm sure one day in the future he'll be delighted to see American tourists), but because they're occupiers. One of these days CNN and the rest will understand that. Probably after the revolution.

On the size, we have the usual talk of "thousands" in some cases, and "tens of thousands" when there's an attempt to be slightly more specific. AP, to its credit, does at least cite an Iraqi source, but then quickly attempts to counteract its credibility:

Brig. Abdul Kerim al-Mayahi, the Najaf police chief, said there were as many as 600,000 in the march, although other estimates were significantly lower.
Note the "some people say" nature of this sentence. Who made those "other estimates"? The same person who says that only 50,000 Iraqis have died because of the invasion? Obviously I wasn't there, and there aren't any aerial shots of the demonstration that I've seen, but this, from the AP report, is certainly indicative of the size of the march:
Iraqi soldiers in uniform joined the crowd of marchers which stretch for at least three miles and was led by a dozen turbaned clerics, a Sunni Muslim among them.
A march "at least three miles" long does not consist of "tens of thousands" of people, it consists of hundreds of thousands of people.

Questions of the size aside (although they're hardly irrelevant), could there possibly be a bigger story in the U.S. today? The U.S. is spending hundreds of billions of dollars, thousands of Americans are dead, the country is deeply divided, political races (one of the mainstays of media coverage) hinge on the war, and here we have probably more than a half million Iraqis in the streets demanding the U.S. get out. Shouldn't the news of that event, and a discussion of its significance, be the dominating item in the news today? Apparently not, based on the media coverage I've seen.

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