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Letter to BBC's Steven Eke on "Chavez tours Russia to

 
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SteveUK2



Joined: 19 Oct 2005
Posts: 280
Location: UK

Post Post subject: Letter to BBC's Steven Eke on "Chavez tours Russia to Reply with quote

Dr Mr Eke,
I read your recent article "Chavez tours Russia to boost ties" (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7636989.stm) with interest. In your article you directly state that two particular politicians are anti-American. Namely Igor Sechin and Hugo Chavez.

The relevant text is:

"Igor Sechin is a deputy prime minister, one of Vladimir Putin's closest associates, and strongly anti-American."

"Mr Sechin has been the most visible face in Russia's recent contacts with the equally anti-American president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez"

Hugo Chavez may hate the current US government and what it is trying to do in Latin America, but he certainly does not hate the American people. The same is no doubt true for Sechin. After all, hating a whole people would be fairly irrational. Clearly then the term Anti-American is being used to describe people who are opposed to the actions of the US government. If it is acceptable to brand people opposed to US government actions as anti-American, surely it is equally valid to describe people opposed to Venezuelan government actions as anti-Venezuelan. Yet I find no occurrence of you or any other BBC journalist stating that George Bush (or indeed anyone else) is anti-Venezuelan. If the BBC were being even-handed in it's use of such terms, we would find a large number of prominent Western politicians being branded as anti-Venezuelan, anti-Bolivian and anti-Ecuadorian. The term anti-Iranian would also appear quite frequently.

Why then do we not see such terms being used? Sadly it seems that the term Anti-American has been successfully "sold" and BBC journalists now feel comfortable using it on a regular basis. In a similar vein, Russia has tried to sell the term "Anti-Russian" in an attempt to fend off criticism, but since they are an official enemy, western journalists are not buying it. Western journalists tend not to accuse western politicians of being Anti-Russian even if they certainly are strongly opposed to Russian foreign policy. When the term Anti-Russian is used, it tends to be in quoting accusations by Russian officials, and certainly not in labelling particular western politicians. Indeed your own articles follow this pattern. e.g.

"Indeed, following the Iraqi prisoner abuse scandals involving American and British troops, Moscow has simply brushed foreign criticism aside, saying it results from ignorance and anti-Russian prejudice. "
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4295249.stm

"Mr Putin condemned what he said were anti-Russian policies pursued by the Georgian leadership, stressing that ordinary Georgians, many of them working in Russia or surviving on cash from relatives working in Russia, suffered as a result. "
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4667376.stm

"Despite the allegations by Moscow of continuing anti-Russian discrimination, few ethnic Russians in the Baltic States have availed themselves of the generous benefits Moscow now offers to those wishing to relocate to Russia. "
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/in_depth/7596169.stm

"Russia asserts that it has a historic right to a say in an otherwise poorly-defined "sphere of influence". Recently, this has taken on an almost paranoid tone about "anti-Russian plots" being played out across the territory of the former Soviet Union. "
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/4545707.stm

"Indeed, following the Iraqi prisoner abuse scandals involving American and British troops, Moscow has simply brushed foreign criticism aside, saying it results from ignorance and anti-Russian prejudice. "
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/low/europe/4295249.stm

The term Anti-American is highly nebulous in its meaning and many would say that it is a deliberately misleading term, implying an irrational hatred of an entire people rather than just opposition to certain aspects of foreign policy.

For example, Noam Chomsky has this to say on the issue.

"The concept ‘anti-American’ is an interesting one. The counterpart is used only in totalitarian states or military dictatorships, something I wrote about many years ago (see my book Letters from Lexington). Thus, in the old Soviet Union, dissidents were condemned as ‘anti-Soviet.’ That's a natural usage among people with deeply rooted totalitarian instincts, which identify state policy with the society, the people, the culture. In contrast, people with even the slightest concept of democracy treat such notions with ridicule and contempt. Suppose someone in Italy who criticizes Italian state policy were condemned as ‘anti-Italian.’ It would be regarded as too ridiculous even to merit laughter. Maybe under Mussolini, but surely not otherwise."

To finish, I would like to ask a question. Would you as a journalist feel comfortable in describing George Bush as any of the following:

anti-Venezuelan,
anti-Bolivian,
anti-Iranian

If not, why not?
Fri Sep 26, 2008 8:23 am
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