A recent article in the New York Times underlined the double standard at the heart of mainstream news coverage of the conflict in Syria—and of unrest back home in the United States.

Under the headline “A Faceless Teenage Refugee Who Helped Ignite Syria’s War,” the Times tells the story of bold teenagers whose acts launched the uprising that will likely lead to the end of the long-running Assad family dictatorship in Syria:

That war’s brutality has made it difficult to recall, let alone celebrate, the uprisings’ beginnings.

While the article may well represent events accurately, both the writer and the parent newspaper seem unable to situate the meaning of those events in Syria in the larger dynamic of freedom and democracy worldwide.

The article is based on interviews with unnamed witnesses and participants in the initial acts that led to the wider uprising. It tells of the teenager who impetuously spray painted a public warning to President Assad that he would be the next leader toppled in the Arab world’s spreading democratic ferment—and the arrests and torture that followed, with demonstrations and uprising on their heels.

Only later do we read, almost in passing, of another act of public vandalism by the same young man—a more serious one.

It was not just the graffiti: the cousin had set fire to a new police kiosk the same day in another act of lashing out.

The overall tone of the article is that the young man is a brave figure, to be admired. And, of course, that is correct. The problem is this: how would the New York Times react to a teenager in New York setting fire to a new police kiosk? How would it react to graffiti sprayed on the wall of the New York Times’s new headquarters building?

More, how does the paper salute the burgeoning revolution right here at home, by youths (and seniors alike) sick and tired of the corrupt establishment of which The Times itself is very much a part? Answer: it pays the most minimal lip service, but more often than not treats democratic revolt at home as a rather pathetic thing. It pays far too little attention to the steadily-mounting array of constitutional threats from our home-baked national security state. It pays far too little attention to the abuses foisted upon the population again and again and again by a corporate oligarchy that limits our range of electoral and policy choices.

And that is why we must be very, very suspicious about the enthusiasm which the American establishment exhibits for rebellion abroad—very selectively, only in certain countries, and not in others: in Iran, but not (until the uprising had already succeeded) in Egypt. In Syria, but not in Saudi Arabia. In Libya, but not in Bahrain. In the Middle East, but only the most tepid kind….here at home.

Either we want real democracy and freedom of expression, or we don’t.

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Matt Prather
8 years ago

tip: “Manufacturing Dissent”

documentary on the media and Syria

8 years ago

The “we” that counts, that really makes policy and drives the big picture in Amerika does not want “real democracy”. Orwell’s 1984 is now in full bloom.

8 years ago

You have started with the assumption that people in this nation know that they are not free, that their media is entertainment and not meant to inform but act as propaganda, that their political power is largely symbolic and thus irrelevent. People don’t know these things. And when it is pointed out, many of them refuse to believe. Push the point and they are willing to commit violence upon you, because you are threatening their world view, and have nothing of hope or joy to replace it with that doesn’t require pain and suffering (aka revolution).

I make no such assumptions, though I am aware that I’m not free and the media is propaganda and that I am largely powerless.

Despite this I am happy to read your post. Found it through C&L. Thank you!

8 years ago

Like the media has time to even act outraged at Stop and Frisk or the 100 mile deconstutionalized border of the USA or even say our privacy rights that most of their parent Corporations helped (some still do) and assisted in violating our 4th Amendment Rights (and many still do via permission from immunization, thanks Senator Obama) to the FACT of unaccountable governments to an international conspiracy to commit acts of TORTURE, when out of 54 Nations cooperating with the US and the ONLY person behind bars is the man who revealed the crime ring.


So, anyway… when is dancing with the starz on?

8 years ago

Evoking the ‘anonymous guy’ of Tiananmen Square me thinks?

8 years ago

We need more great journalism like this to overturn the path towards Tyranny that we are currently on!! Thanks.

General Wesley Clark explaining the PNAC plan: US will attack 7 countries in 5 years by Wesley Clark ( US 4 Star General ) –

In 2000 there were 7 countries without a Rothschild owned or controlled central Bank. (Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan, Libya, Cuba, North Korea, Iran). Now in 2012 there are only 3 left. (Cuba, N. Korea, Iran)

Rebellion and Expression: Power to the People. –

Keep after it. Great job!

boxers horses
boxers horses
8 years ago

boxers to baker: “well-planted jab.”

horses to whowhatwhy: “keep rustling up these observations and don’t rein ’em in.”

roger morris
roger morris
8 years ago

Media double standards. Holding my breath expecting NYT :CBS etal investigation of mail revealed by

dated December 24, 2012 sent by Britam Defence’s Business Development Director David Goulding to Dynamic Director of the firm Phillip Doughty, who is a former SAS officer:


We’ve got a new offer. It’s about Syria again. Qataris propose an
attractive deal and swear that the idea is approved by Washington.
We’ll have to deliver a CW to Homs, a Soviet origin g-shell from Libya similar to those that Assad should have.
They want us to deploy our Ukrainian personnel that should speak Russian and make a video record.
Frankly, I don’t think it’s a good idea but the sums proposed are enormous. Your opinion?

Kind regards

CW.Chemical Weapon.Outsourced terror

8 years ago

Well put, Mr. Baker. Er, wait…I AM Mr. Baker. (I think my point is that we’d love to hear from readers–especially the 99 percent of you who love our stuff but never say anything. Remember, while we dig it when you use your own name, you don’t have to. Use a moniker–just don’t claim to be me!

8 years ago
Reply to  Russ

Good work Russ.

Found you here through C&L.

Good team!

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