MSM Hungry for the Blood of Somali Pirates

Political science professors Sonia Cardenas and Andrew Flibbert survey the bloodthirsty media reaction to African pirates for CounterPunch (5/22/09):

Across countless blogs and media outlets, here and abroad, thousands of people have called unequivocally–often in blunt, colorful language–for killing Somali pirates. “Kill the Pirates” was the headline of a Washington Post op-ed on April 13 by Fred IklĂ©, a defense expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. As Jonah Goldberg wrote in the Los Angeles Times, “Shoot the pirates, problem solved.” The mainstream media has described today’s pirates as savage enemies of humankind, with pundits even saying that if it were not for political correctness, international law and human rights, we could eliminate this scourge. In his blog, Amitai Etzioni of George Washington University blames piracy itself on “a radical interpretation of human rights,” which discourages capturing and trying pirates for fear of violating their rights. He proposes instead a “007 license” with shoot-to-kill permission for commercial ships. Even before the latest incident, Robert Farley and Yoav Gortzak wrote in the December 2008 issue of Foreign Policy, “nobody likes pirates, and nobody–legal niceties aside–really minds too much if you shoot them.”

Considering that “the hatred is obvious,” Cardenas and Andrew Flibbert think the more important “question is why”: “Why the willingness to bypass legal procedures normally extended” to even those committing “other transnational crimes that are arguably more disturbing and reprehensible, such as the trafficking of children for sexual exploitation, or drug cartels” or even “private mercenaries that fuel armed conflict and take thousands of lives?” One facet of their answer is dubbed the “Disney Effect”: being that “military action is indeed a quick, dramatic and satisfying morale-booster” that “makes for good soundbites and masquerades easily as derring-do, the stuff of Hollywood”–all of which is far too subtle analysis for a U.S. press intent on forcing all African conflict into a “tribal” framework.