Monday, August 27, 2012

Fast Food Invades and Overtakes Baghdad?

There is something deeply disturbing about an Associated Press report that's popping up all over online -- here, here and here to cite three places.  From its opening statement ("Baghdad's embattled residents can finally get their milkshakes, chili-cheese dogs and buckets of crispy fried chicken. Original recipe or extra spicy, of course.") to questionable descriptive phrases (" stuffing their faces with pizza"), the article's an embarrassment.

It's also xenophobic in accepting western, non-Iraqi values as the norm.  There's also something really sad about the invasion of fast food being treated as a good and humorous thing when, in the US, we've seen not only lawsuits but initiatives (including from First Lady Michelle Obama) to combat the damages of fast food.

This perspective, this reality, is no where to be found in the article. They'd claim otherwise and point to these two paragraphs in the last section of an overly long press release:

Health experts are predictably not thrilled about the new arrivals.
“The opening of these American-style restaurants … will make Iraqis, especially children, fatter,” said Dr. Sarmad Hamid, a physician at a Baghdad government hospital. But even he acknowledged that the new eateries aren’t all bad.

 "Experts" becomes one -- Dr. Sarmad Hamid.  And that's after 26 paragraphs raving over fast food.  26 paragraphs raving, 2 opposed.  Raving attributed to no one and presented in that omniscient voice, that expert voice journalists love to wrap themselves in -- and one lone voice opposed. 

How they justify that is beyond me unless AP truly thought it was composing ad copy for McDonalds and others. 

I get that it can get old covering Iraq -- I really get that -- and I get that sometimes journalists are looking for a different twist and just want to have some fun.  Good to look for a new twist but might I suggest that they take that urge to have fun and journal with it instead of trying to work it into journalsm?  And let's not forget this AP story is only 'new' if you're just now learning of a country called Iraq.  Otherwise, you've seen four waves of this story over the last nine years.

As the waves have rolled in, Iraq has become more and more a country of orphans and widows.  Which is all the more reason for responsible journalism.  It shouldn't be AP's role to glamorize fast food in Iraq.

Depleted Uranium and White Phosphorous are the Agent Orange of the Iraq War.   Fast food may end up being the equivalent of DDT. 

Bonnie reminds that Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Vouchers" went up last night.   On this week's Law and Disorder Radio,  an hour long program that airs Monday mornings at 9:00 a.m. EST on WBAI and around the country throughout the week, hosted by attorneys Heidi Boghosian, Michael S. Smith and Michael Ratner (Center for Constitutional Rights) topics addressed include an update on Julian Assange, a discussion of the Cuban Five with attorney Martin Garbus, a discussion on global warming with professor Eleanor Stein  and a strong conversation on the International Criminal Court with attorney Roger Wareham.

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