Editor: Are the media the message? Marshall McLuhan’s 1967 declaration was incomprehensible but provocative at the time and seems all too true today. Television networks are owned by corporations that have — of course — corporate mindsets. That means that the bottom line is profit — not accuracy or relevancy, and shock and awe are among the devices used to attract audiences. Good news just doesn’t do it. And straightforward reporting and thoughtful editorializing don’t do it either.
But it’s not just the media. We Americans deal with a new kind of violence — global and local. Sometimes it’s international terrorism, which appears to be the new norm in warfare; sometimes it is local — random rage coupled with irresponsible access to weapons. At times, as it appeared to be in San Bernardino, California, it’s a combination of the two. We feel perplexed and offended — even 15 years after the 9/11 attacks and 17 years after the Columbine slaughter — to be subject to surprise attacks.
Among the many negative consequences of this new age of anxiety is that we play the blame game. We blame President Obama for not solving these monumental problems with speed and resolve. Alas, in contrast, we have Donald Trump, a top Republican contestant for the presidential nomination, proposing an outrageous solution — banning all Muslims, including citizens, including veterans, from this country.
I would like to be comforted by words of certainty from the president about how to deal with these problems but since there are no quick fixes, I am comforted by his prudent and strategic approach to them. Quick fixes — such as the Iraq War — may not be fixes at all. Prudent reflection and consultation with experts are a far better path to reasonable solutions.
December 13, 2015