Sunday, June 20, 2004

A question of faith

The recent UN report on WMDs in Iraq has all sorts of spin attached to it, depending on what parts you read, what parts you didn't. Some reports on what the UN came up with were more accurate than others but don't take it from me -- read the report yourself and judge for yourself.

My personal interest in this story stems from this misleading story published by the World Tribune News -- a story with a headline that's guaranteed to attract attention, but with no actual content to back up the headline. But yet, it made the airwaves, specifically on Rush Limbaugh's show, where he trumpted on air that "There’s a piece in the World Tribune today—one of the papers in the United Kingdom—exactly as theorized on this program early on," he said on his radio show. "It’s unconfirmed, but it’s a story that many of the weapons of mass destruction are at present buried in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon."

I did a little more of my own digging on the World Tribune since in general, for a news organization, it seems rather shoddy and haphazard work. To slap such a wrong headline on a story is nothing short of irresponsible and perpetuates the idea that media is biased. Yes, there is very much a liberal slant to most media, but news flash: conservatives do it too. You can read more about what the World Tribune really is here, but in general, just poke around a little bit and you'll see that even the National Enquirer is a more reliable source of information.

But. Back to Rush. On his website, he had transcripts of the phone calls he took regarding the above article (unfortunately the transcript has disappeared off the front page and I'm not masochistic enough to become a member of Rush's fan club and look for it -- you'll just have to take it on faith that I'm accurately reporting here) and one caller said re the article that the liberals won't believe it until they get an exact address of where the WMDs are.

And I had to stop right there. Did they actually read the article or just the headline? And in response to the caller's snide comments about the unbelieving liberals, my response is, So what? When you declare war on another sovereign nation based on a certain intelligence and perceived threat, when you pre-emptively do so without the support of much of the world community, when you embark on a mission that will eventually cost hundreds of American lives and thousands of Iraqi lives, what is so wrong with demanding proof? Must we always believe our politicians, regardless of party affiliation, and take it on blind faith? Or rather, as members of a democracy, isn't it our right and obligation to demand the facts and explanations?

A friend once told me he believed the president because the president has intelligence we don't have access to. That very well may be the truth, but given the high cost, given the questions raised, what is the president waiting for? For George W. Bush, he could shut up a whole bunch of yappering liberals and handily win re-election if he just showed us the proof. The fact that more people were concerned about the cigar affair Clinton had the bad judgement to enter into and not the blood price being paid on Iraqi soil is nothing short of stunning. If we can say that having an affair with an intern and lying to one's wife and child makes for a lousy president, what do we say about a president who tells a story that costs more than just hurt feelings? Who do we hold accountable and why is it wrong to not do so?

There will always be the 'left' truth and the 'right' truth and what we really need is somewhere is in the middle. Each type requires a certain amount of blind faith and allegience to the standard bearer. Sometimes though, it's good to break away and ask. And more importantly, read beyond the headlines and do some of your own research. You'll be surprised what turns up when it's no longer just a matter of faith.

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