Friday, August 04, 2006

Draining the moral outrage wells

Many columnists have noted that if the media conditions of today were available in 1942, the US would never have won World War II. Every tactic would be dissected on CNN and Fox News, every battle plan would be reviewed in the court of public opinion, every image of dead Germans or Japanese would whittle away at the resolve of Americans to win the war that had to be won. Indeed, the lazy moral equivalence of "each side has committed atrocities" that permeates so many news reports today, and the immoral comparison of the two sides' efforts would hamstring the US's efforts to ensure support for the war.

Dan Henninger notes the damage that 24/7 media coverage of war does to the public debate. The most notable insidious comparison today is the number of Lebanese civilians killed being mentioned in news stories and reports right with the number of Israeli civilians killed, without explanation that Israel has undertaken huge efforts to avoid collateral casualties whilst Hizb'Allah's purpose in its battleplan is to ensure civilian deaths. Thus, Henninger notes:

. . . a world in which people get fed streams of awful images to drive political conclusions produces a familiar effect: They eventually become inured to the images. Human wells of moral outrage are deep, but not bottomless. If emotional outrage is the basis on which they are expected to make judgments about politically complicated events like Lebanon, many will turn away, rather than subject themselves to a gratuitous, confusing numbing of their sensibilities. This is not progress.

No comments: