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Lost in translation
by Travus T. Hipp
Jan 09, 2010 | 871 views | 0 0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Much of the ignorance that marks American knowledge is of world geography and foreign affairs. During the Vietnam War a small radical news service offered alternative reporting from Southeast Asia, mostly of drawn tactical battle reviews translated from Pathet Lao broadcasts by Laotian American activists of a vaguely Maoist persuasion. Regardless of the political slant, the detailed coverage of the conflict was vastly more accurate than the U.S. network propaganda offered every night back on the home front.

Forty years later America is still short on both accurate translation and understanding of the motives and methods of our enemy: Islamic radicalism and its causes, as viewed by the adherents of Jihad. Our talking-head media continues to express amazement that the best educated and most sophisticated of Islamic youth are joining the anti-American resistance overseas and launching themselves on self-sacrificing missions against our homeland. Nobody explains the relevant history of the Middle East and the Christian crusaders, nor the parallels between the massacre and destruction of those times and our several current wars against various Arab Muslim countries.

Fortunately, there appears to be a spokesman for Jihad whose lectures and vision have propelled him to world notice, mostly because he speaks fluent English, having been raised in New Mexico and thoroughly Americanized in his education. His name is Al Awlaki, and he is currently holed up somewhere in the mountains of Yemen where he preaches to the faithful over the Internet, streaming his sermons, posting on Facebook and other social media as well as selling DVD and CD versions in every continent, where they are played at mosques and schools as educational tools.

And they’re right! English is, by dint of centuries of imperialism, the language in which history is made these years, and being able to offer eloquent explanations for the movement of Islamic resistance to the West gives the entire conflict a new perspective.

Think back to the racist days of yore, a mere 50 years past, when the lynching of "Negroes" was still practiced and black people were separate but unequal in every phase of society. When Martin Luther King, Jr. and other civil rights activists began campaigns of self-defense and protest the white media ignored the content of the demonstrations and focused on the riots and violence. Editorials and radio comment all decried the actions, but few cared to publish the thoughts and writings of the movement.

Despite the accusations of direct involvement in the Christmas panty bomb attack over Detroit, there has been no evidence offered that Awlaki is either part of al-Qaida or any other action group within the overall insurgency.

Now might be the time to open a real conversation between adversaries by giving Awlaki a platform for his arguments, particularly here in the U.S. where we never hear the other side.

Perhaps Fox News and Rupert Murdoch might live up to their motto: "Fair and Balanced" by giving the Jihadists an hour following Glen Beck every evening.
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Lost in translation by Travus T. Hipp


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