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questions for the arab news

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We’ve had a lot of excellent comments in response to John R. Bradley of the Arab News. We’ve also had a few comments that simply expressed anger. Now, there’s nothing inherently wrong with expressing anger. But since, in his second comment, Bradley threw out a challenge to engage in a “constructive debate,” let’s try to bring this discussion back on track in case he decides to visit again. (I suspect he won’t, because I don’t think he really is interested in a contest he will surely lose.)

Joe Katzman has authored a good set of rational questions to anchor the debate, and I’m going to repost them here in the hope that Mr. Bradley will try to respond. I for one am very interested to hear his answers.

The questions:

(1) Let’s start with this one: what do you see as the core mission of the Arab News?

(2) How does that mission relate to your paper’s envisioned style of coverage of the following issues:

A. Political liberalization in Saudi Arabia beyond better treatment of non-Saudis
B. The Arab-Israeli conflict
C. Coverage of political Islam in other areas of the Arab world

(3) You said some interesting things in “Why ‘freedom of expression’ is such a slippery term”. For instance:

“These readers were to be pampered, not challenged; dissension was gradually replaced by conformity. As with British and American politics, every mainstream newspaper editor on both sides of the Atlantic sprinted toward the middle ground. The result was a colossal lowering of standards, a wholesale abandoning of principles.”

Please explain the ways in which the Arab News challenges, rather than pampers, the conformist majority views of Saudi culture. So far, I can’t say I’ve seen much of that.

(4) Indeed, catering to racist prejudices via articles by David Duke and Lyndon LaRouche (presented as mainstream American opinion, no less!) certainly strikes me as conformity and pandering to the basest human impulses. Do you view those articles in a different light? If so, how do you view them and what was the thought process behind running them?

(5) In your “freedom of expression’ article, you also wrote this about the media’s post 9/11 reaction: ”There has been absolutely no cultural sensitivity. There has been absolutely no respect for Islamic law. There has been absolutely no sympathy for the necessity in this part of the world of employing the honorable tradition of patient diplomacy.“

A. What kind of cultural sensitivity did you want them to show? Can you give us an example of an incident or two that was particularly lacking in this regard?

B. What kind if respect do American and British newspapers owe to Islamic law (or Catholic canon law, or any other aside from their host countries’)? What would you have accepted as evidence of ”respect for Islamic law“?

C. Why is patient diplomacy a necessity in this region? What would ”sympathy for this necessity” from the media look like? For that matter, what do you believe the USA should have done post 9/11?

——————————

The ball is in your court, Mr. Bradley.

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