Monday, December 01, 2003[posted by jaed at 12:15 PM]
If the NYT diid not exist it would be necessary for anti-Americans to invent it
Normally, I don't go in for Times-bashing, except when utterly obligatory. It's a prominent newspaper, it has a decided point of view, I don't always agree with that point of view... whatever.
Today, however, the NYT has a story concerning a battle between American soldiers and Saddam Fedayeen. And what headline does the NYT choose for its story?
46 Iraqis Die in Fierce Fight Between Rebels and G.I.'s
There are subtler semantic pressures in this headline as well, of course. Who's called American soldiers "G.I.s" - which is no longer a technically correct term, the army no longer uses the "General Infantry" designation - since Viet Nam? (Subtle, very subtle.) Other scholars will need to analyze what that out-of-place apostrophe is doing there. Perhaps it's a drool mark that accidentally got transcribed onto the computer system.
And, of course, reading the headline you wouldn't know that the 46 people killed were all attackers, all among the Saddam Fedayeen. It's easy to get the vague impression that innocent Iraqi bystanders were killed by those Viet-era "G.I.s".
But these things are fairly trivial and not startling to anyone who reads the NYT daily; for this newspaper, Iraq is Viet Nam and Americans are almost always doers of evil. I doubt the headline writer even thought about these things; they're part of the background cloud of assumptions, and solidly embedded in the rhetoric used.
However: Rebels? Rebels??? Not even the French go that far toward romanticizing Saddam Hussein. What's next, heartrending reminiscences of Odai's childhood?