a plateful it is

The level of profoundness and incisiveness, let alone plain vanilla veracity is about at the same level as elementary school Scholastic Book Services paperbacks. Banal, slightly generic, and with lots of pablum serving drivel and spittle. Its the New York Times reporting on the Middle East. Some on the right get their hair on the backsides up and sweaty over the musings of a Thomas Friedman and the left-liberal bourgeois slant, but its all reverts to an old formula of Orientalism in a hipper, media savvy mode that transposes Gerome and Courbet’s paintings into new contexts. The bottom line is that stereotypes are reinforced and the difference between the colonized and colonizers is more evident than ever.

–The streets of Aleppo, Syria, were a sun-bleached, beat-up mix of edgy activity on Thursday. Everyone here knows that Bashar al-Assad is trying to send troop reinforcements to stage an assault on the city. In a northeastern neighborhood, civilians looked on as Free Syrian Army rebels manned checkpoints and choke-point barricades made out of burned vehicles. There was word of government helicopters above the western stretches of the city, but elsewhere the skies were empty of the warplanes and gunships that have flown over Aleppo in recent days, creating a sense of eerie before-the-storm calm. Here and there, cars raced, in apparent panic, flashing their lights, the drivers waving at each other to turn and follow; the odd clatter of gunfire added to the confusion. All week, minibuses crammed with civilians and tiny Chinese-made vans loaded with stoves, refrigerators,
Read more http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/newsdesk/2012/07/2.html#ixzz24Wu5b023

(see link at end)…“This will only end when the Syrian regime falls,” said Abu Hamad, 45, a commander on the Sunni side with a long beard and new black Nikes. “We are waiting for Assad to go; he’s the head and when he’s gone” — he pointed toward the Alawite area — “the tail will die as well.”

These two poor, adjacent neighborhoods have been defined by volleys of gunfire since at least the 1980s, when Syria occupied Lebanon and Sunnis resisted. In both areas, faded posters honor fighters killed long before Syria erupted 18 months ago….

—It was past 11 a.m., and Abdullah was finally waking up. The night before had gone late, he and his friends challenging and daring and fleeing from the feared mukhabarat, Syria’s secret police, who for the past five months have been bent on crushing dissent here in Homs. With a few hours of sleep behind him, Abdullah rolled off his mattress and began tapping out details of their exploits on his laptop. The clashes had been fierce and lasted hours, past the muezzin’s call to prayer at dawn. “We won’t bow to anyone but God,” the protesters declared. The mukhabarat replied with tear gas, buckshot and bullets.—Read More:http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/04/magazine/syrias-sons-of-no-one.html

But the civil war next door has changed the dynamic. Damascus is only a two-and-a-half-hour drive away, and each side here now invokes Syria to explain the intensified attacks and counterattacks that have become increasingly common here over the past few months….

The new NYT correspondent for the Middle East is a case in point; he covers the world’s hottest conflict yet knows nothing about the region, the people, the history or the language. In a certain sense he’s perfect for the job! White middle class values that can be shaped and transmitted; he can be tidied off to be fed the State Dept. foreign line and polemically transmit the view that mainly articulates the Saudi/American axis. But then it has to be remembered, first and foremost, that the Times is not about news, its about entertainment. Cave worked for Rolling Stone, and is part of secular pop culture, well placed to pen yuppie/hipster chic about these wild new/old frontiers. The NYT is part of the industrial entertainment complex, the same one that could take Otto Dix art and bullshit it down to a comedy like Cabaret.

…The Alawites, a Shiite offshoot to which President Assad belongs, say they feel more threatened. Ali Feddah, 30, a spokesman for the main Alawite political party in Lebanon, accuses Syrian rebels of coming into this city to “practice against us.” In an interview on Saturday in a windowless office behind a clothing store on the main street of the Alawite area, Jabal Mohsen, Mr. Feddah predicted that the fighting would escalate because Sunnis had been provoking Alawites with insults.

“Things are bad and getting worse,” he said, folding his hands, revealing a missing finger. Militants guarded the door. A picture of his brother, killed recently here, hung on the wall. “Fighting in the streets is not something we want to be dragged into.” …Read More:http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/24/world/middleeast/syrian-war-plays-out-along-a-street-in-lebanon.html?ref=middleeast

But in judging Cave or anyone else responsible for projecting an image to a mass market, we should recall the old white plate experiment. You hold up a white plate and show it to your test group asking them to describe what they see; one says he saw a black spot, another says it must be a target for shooting practice and someone else added the suggestion that the plate in question was dirty or damaged.

experimenter finally posed the question as to whether anyone saw a white plate? ….

It is conceivable, there was a small black spot, and its plausible to use it as practice for duck shooting, but basically it was a white plate. Which means why do we see only the dirt in a guy like Cave who whatever he writes will draw ire or praise but leave few indifferent. At least he is there, and trying and likely reflects a version of the white plate that can be seen. But then there are many shades of white and whiter shades of pale….

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