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I came upon this in the New York Times, which seemed appropriate to the
general tone of the discussion.
May 12, 2002
Global Village Idiocy
By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN
JAKARTA, Indonesia ‹ During a dinner with Indonesian journalists in
Jakarta, I was taken aback when Dini Djalal, a reporter for The Far Eastern
Economic Review, suddenly launched into a blistering criticism of the Fox
News Channel and Bill O'Reilly. "They say [on Fox], `We report, you decide,'
but it's biased ‹ they decide before us," she said. "They say there is no
spin, but I get dizzy looking at it. I also get upset when they invite on
Muslims and just insult them."
Why didn't she just not watch Fox when she came to America, I wondered? No,
no, no, explained Ms. Djalal: The Fox Channel is now part of her Jakarta
cable package. The conservative Bill O'Reilly is in her face every night.
On my way to Jakarta I stopped in Dubai, where I watched the Arab News
Network at 2 a.m. ANN broadcasts from Europe, outside the control of any
Arab government, but is seen all over the Middle East. It was running what
I'd call the "greatest hits" from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: nonstop
film of Israelis hitting, beating, dragging, clubbing and shooting
Palestinians. I would like to say the footage was out of context, but there
was no context. There were no words. It was just pictures and martial music
designed to inflame passions.
An Indonesian working for the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta, who had just visited
the Islamic fundamentalist stronghold of Jogjakarta, told me this story:
"For the first time I saw signs on the streets there saying things like,
`The only solution to the Arab-Israel conflict is jihad ‹ if you are true
Muslim, register yourself to be a volunteer.' I heard people saying, `We
have to do something, otherwise the Christians or Jewish will kill us.' When
we talked to people to find out where [they got these ideas], they said from
the Internet. They took for granted that anything they learned from the
Internet is true. They believed in a Jewish conspiracy and that 4,000 Jews
were warned not to come to work at the World Trade Center [on Sept. 11]. It
was on the Internet."
What's frightening him, he added, is that there is an insidious digital
divide in Jogjakarta: "Internet users are only 5 percent of the population ‹
but these 5 percent spread rumors to everyone else. They say, `He got it
from the Internet.' They think it's the Bible."
If there's one thing I learned from this trip to Israel, Jordan, Dubai and
Indonesia, it's this: thanks to the Internet and satellite TV, the world is
being wired together technologically, but not socially, politically or
culturally. We are now seeing and hearing one another faster and better, but
with no corresponding improvement in our ability to learn from, or
understand, one another. So integration, at this stage, is producing more
anger than anything else. As the writer George Packer recently noted in The
Times Magazine, "In some ways, global satellite TV and Internet access have
actually made the world a less understanding, less tolerant place."
At its best, the Internet can educate more people faster than any media tool
we've ever had. At its worst, it can make people dumber faster than any
media tool we've ever had. The lie that 4,000 Jews were warned not to go
into the World Trade Center on Sept. 11 was spread entirely over the
Internet and is now thoroughly believed in the Muslim world. Because the
Internet has an aura of "technology" surrounding it, the uneducated believe
information from it even more. They don't realize that the Internet, at its
ugliest, is just an open sewer: an electronic conduit for untreated,
Worse, just when you might have thought you were all alone with your extreme
views, the Internet puts you together with a community of people from around
the world who hate all the things and people you do. And you can scrap the
BBC and just get your news from those Web sites that reinforce your own
A couple of years ago, two Filipino college graduates spread the "I Love
You" virus over the Internet, causing billion of dollars in damage to
computers and software. But at least that virus was curable with the right
software. There is another virus going around today, though, that's much
more serious. I call it the "I Hate You" virus. It's spread on the Internet
and by satellite TV. It infects people's minds with the most vile ideas, and
it can't be combated by just downloading a software program. It can be
reversed only with education, exchanges, diplomacy and human interaction ‹
stuff you have to upload the old-fashioned way, one on one. Let's hope it's
not too late.
> Date: Sat, 11 May 2002 22:16:28 +0200
> From: "Kenneth Van Oost" <Kenneth.Van.Oost@village.uunet.be>
> Subject: TV- entertainment promotes non-democratic feelings
> This is a multi-part message in MIME format.
> - ------=_NextPart_000_0021_01C1F939.7F5F7920
> Content-Type: text/plain;
> Content-Transfer-Encoding: quoted-printable
> Vincent, this is the promised article, just a translation. Further info =
> the analyse I have not.=20
> The connection between watching entertainmentprograms and the =
> of uncertainty- feelings, is mush clearer than previously supposed.
> This is the conclusion of an investigation done by VUB- docent M. =
> Suprisingly is that not so mush the newsprograms are the cause for those
> uncertainty feelings.
> " We could conclude that watching easy entertainment programs for a long
> time, points to a tendency to seclude oneself from the ( hostile and =
> rous) outside world, and thus to search for an easy form of relaxation/ =
> sion/ relief."=20
> The outside world is perceived ( more and more) as a strange and =
> environment, which must be avoided. According to Hooghe has the tendency
> to put everything under a jolly/ pleasant/ funny/ amusing spell =
> political and cultural consequenties.=20
> What for me raises the question, to what programs were the Dutch =
> for the last ten years that a guy like Fortuyn could get so mush support =
> And by the way, Vincent, to some people, the media is one of the causes
> he was mudered. The media made of Fortuyn someone he really wasn 't....
> Hope you enjoy this,
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