Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Foreign Media Superiority: Signs of Decline

If you read this week's issue of Time, or at least glanced at the cover story by Fareed Zakaria,you will know that America is in decline. We all know it. The signs are all around us. From the resurgence of domestic fascist and racist elements that have been absent since America became a superpower in the post-World War II era to the increasing erosion of American culture and soft influence globally, not to mention the economic growth of India and China, it's pretty obvious that America is losing its hegemonic status, if it hasn't been lost already.

It's really strange where this shows up the most. One could say that the relative impotence of the United States to respond to crisis in Libya or Japan - the sort of thing that America just did because it could for the last fifty years - is a good indicator of a downward slide.

The signs of decline are evident in more subtle ways however, like the coverage of news in the United States. If you were to watch cable news, you really wouldn't know that much about what is going on. Glenn Beck's bold and messy reaction is outpaced by the analytic approach of Rachel Maddow, but both have the feeling of individuals so immersed in the mess that they cannot look at the elements that are taking us down objectively.

That's where Al Jazeera English and Russia Today come in. Both networks have been taking their coverage of the United States into cracks and corners that even many liberal Americans just wouldn't like to go. Russia Today has made many reports on the endless poverty of the country's Native American population, even sending reporters out to the isolated reservations of South Dakota. Unlike Canada, where the CBC has regular programs on the indigenous population and their struggles, the American media acts as if the first Americans are dead. They only ever pop up in presidential speeches or racist Rush Limbaugh tirades.

Al Jazeera recently covered the issue of endangered wolves in the United States and did an amazing job of it. More so than any sort of conservative propaganda could, you are able to empathize with the farmer Druska and her husband Richard, who make their living by feeding America. A couple thousand wolves is alot more than it sounds like and I can empathize personally with the farmers, as while growing up in Seattle I had a pet cat lost to a small pack of coyotes that had their way into town.

With the Environmental Protection Agency's offices located in a distant Washington D.C., where most food is found conveniently packaged and the thought of its origin completed wiped from the consumer, it becomes clear where the gulf of experience arrises from.

There is an organization called Wolf Haven which does make homes for grey wolves, and it would have been good to have heard from them in this report in order to give an element of civil society as a bridge between rural farmers and the bureaucratic state. Check out their website and provide your thoughts.

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