More on Berg Murder
Matthew B. Stannard of the San Fransisco Chronicle has a thoughtful piece on the Berg murder.
He quotes me on two points, the first having to do with the point of the murder:
‘ One motive, said Juan Cole, a professor of Middle East history at the University of Michigan, is to frighten Americans, especially the nongovernmental groups and the population of some 25,000 civilian contractors — mainly security personnel — working in Iraq who provide a sizable armed “auxiliary” to the U.S. military and the Coalition Provisional Authority.
“The reason this video was made was an attempt to destroy that auxiliary, ” Cole said. “It’s not going to scare the U.S. troops out of the country, and it’s not going to get rid of the CPA. But there are a lot of (nongovernmental organizations) and contractors that are going to decide this is not the time to be doing business in Iraq.” ‘
and he reports a debate among journalists and others in the information field about how much attention we should give such incidents:
‘ But Brigitte Nacos, adjunct professor of political science at Columbia University in New York, said the media also needed to recognize that terrorists were using them to get their message across, to spread fear and to recruit members . . . “I’m not saying the traditional media ought not to report on this,” she said. “My concern is … once you have reported it, especially on television, it is played and replayed, and I think that magnifies the impact. I think that there has to be some restraint. I’m not talking about censorship … but there probably is a limit where you say that’s enough.”
Opinion on where the media should draw that line varied among the experts . . .
Cole, who writes the influential Web log “Informed Comment,” said the benchmark should be the number of people affected by an individual terrorist act — a formula that he said should have relegated the video story to two paragraphs well inside a daily newspaper.
“(Berg’s slaying) was done in order to get on the front page of the New York Times, and the New York Times should resist that temptation,” he said. “I think we should be very careful about giving a lot of space and a lot of attention to what is essentially a monstrous, horrendous publicity stunt.”
But other experts said the American media had a responsibility to cover the video in a significant yet proportionate way — even if that meant risking being used by the terrorists to further their agenda. ‘