Earlier this week Al-Hurra news chief Larry Register turned in his letter of resignation, largely over his division's seeming inability to tell "news" from "Islamist propaganda". Al-Hurra's less than critical coverage of Iran's anti-Holocaust Conference came in for a lot ofa attention and criticism. But their almost fawning deference to Hezbollah probably didn't help.
This is an issue at the end of the week because it very neatly intersects with the insanity that's been going on in Gaza. There's a degree to which Register was in an impossible situation. In order to be credible, any US public diplomacy effort has to - in a crude sense - speak the same language as the Muslim world. This doesn't mean that they have to always tell Muslims what they want to hear - not even Al Jazeera does that. But they have to more or less play in the same reality as the Muslim world, reporting and explaining events within the same basic worldview. But that worldview is pathologically anti-Semitic, wallowing in a morass of insane conspiracy theories, seething resentment, and vicious hatred.
We're talking about societies in which huge - huge - swaths of people believe that either Israel or Bush or both were responsible for 9/11 - and now witness Hamas insisting that Fatah is a secular force trying to destroy Islam. How you even begin talking to such societies without embracing some pretty odious neuroses is a difficult - we would argue structurally impossible - challenge. Which isn't to say that the US should defer to those neuroses, which would gain it nothing.
What it does mean is that the US should examine again whether military and diplomatic sacrifices should be made in the hopes of "finding common ground" on such terms.
[Cross-posted to Mere Rhetoric]