Thursday, July 20, 2006

Lebanon, the media, and discord all around

Is it just me or has the Canadian media completely lost its mind? Criticizing the Canadian government for not being as quick as other nations at getting their citizens out of Lebanon. Other nations; like France and Britain, who are just across the Mediterranean; and the US, who have the entire globe at their disposal. Other nations who, despite being much larger than Canada, do not have as many people to get out.

"Canada should have anticipated this because of the tension in the area," the media speculates. We see stories of families separated, Canadians showing up for a ride out and finding they aren't on the list. The criticism is against orderliness, but there is also criticism for going in alphabetical order.

Now, I have a rant brewing here, but before I go into it let me first say that I empathize with the people who are there stranded. Especially those with young children or those who have separated family members. I empathize. It must be tough. But here's my rant ...

Give me a break. If the Canadian government should have anticipated this, why didn't you? And yes, the panic must be almost unbearable, but that's the type of situation it is isn't it? Not to be cold-hearted, but how is this the government's fault? And do you realize that the US is actually charging their people for the ride out? Your ride is paid for by the Canadian taxpayer! Is this how it works? Our citizens can live anywhere they want, and when there is trouble we'll bail them out? I'm not saying we shouldn't bail them out, but let's have some perspective.

Of course, if I was stranded in a city being bombed, perspective might not come that easy. So these folks can be forgiven their frustration and even their criticism. But the media? Let's have some objectivity. They talk and talk about Harper polarizing the media/government tensions and making the media out to be the enemy but they play into his hand over and over. Do they think we are all this stupid? Maybe most of us are. I'm not. I'm more liable to vote the opposite of what the media tells me to, that's how little I trust them.

The thing that sickens me about all this is that it reminds me of Rwanda. Remember that scene in Hotel Rwanda? People desperate to get out and only the foreigners are evacuated? It all is diplomatically justifiable and understandable but it leaves you feeling like puke inside, especially when you know what ended up happening there. Well, the main difference I can see here is that we don't know what is going to happen in Beirut yet. I'm not suggesting genocide will happen, of course not, but many civilians will die, and all we can talk about is getting Canadians out.

Of course we should do our best to get people out, but are we supposed to just buy this assumption that Canadians are the only ones we should be concerned about? As one man on CTV (giving credit where it is due) just said with a note of sadness in his voice, all things considered "Canadians in Lebanon should be thankful they are Canadians."

Its an awful situation, pure and simple, and I suppose if I want to give the media the benefit of the doubt I'll say they see it as their role to light a fire under the government to get it done. Perhaps if they didn't things would be even slower. I don't know. I just don't see how we are supposed to buy this line of thinking that we can go anywhere in the world we want to, put ourselves in harms way, and then get mad at our home country when they don't make things better right away. I'm not saying they shouldn't try to rescue people, I just don't think you can be so demanding. Its like if I jump into a well, I should expect the fire department or whoever to come rescue me, but I shouldn't blame them if it takes them awhile to find me and get me out. Am I totally off base here?

Maybe we're all just mad at each other because when it comes to the Middle East we don't know who to blame anymore. It is a seeminglly perpetual conflict; our world for all its tolerance and globalization is no less conflicted; and there is as little hope as there has ever been. So here on the sidelines we are like brothers and sisters whose parent's are fighting: we just want them to get along, we don't know who to side with, and we have no recourse to reconcile them ... so in our angst we take it out on one another and yell amongst ourselves.

If nothing else I guess this venting makes us feel a bit better in the short run. Maybe that outlet and that spark is the best thing the media can give us in such dark times. Having said that, now that I've said my piece, I don't feel a whole lot better.

I can't blame the folks in Lebanon and Haifa for how they are feeling. I hope they get out soon.

Better yet I wish the life-takers would give it up already and trade the swords for plow-shares.

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