In Yemen and elsewhere Muckraking is no fun sport [Archives:2005/897/Opinion]

November 24 2005

“Son, wouldn't you better off be a tax man or a customs agent or even a military officer?” said Ahmed's mother as she beat the fenugreek on the small ball, taking a little of the slowly rising batter to the tip of the tongue to see if the bitterness has come out.

Ahmed was not pleased with his mother's suggestion: “Mom, what you said is as bitter as that fenugreek mix you got there before you put your magic touch to it. How can you suggest to me to be an in occupation that invites corruption and misuse of authority, when I have told you that my goal in life is to fight all forms of corruption and abuse of power.”

Look Ahmed, your mother has a point there, journalism is no longer the 'in thing' anymore. Didn't you hear that even Uncle Sam now has made it a point to use all the weapons at his disposal to knock down any journalist who disapproves of his actions. Did you know that George W. Bush had a plan to bomb the Al-Jazeera Satellite TV network in of all places Doha, Qatar? Wow! That is what I call really hating someone to the marrow of the bones.” Ahmed's father was pointing to the printout he just made of an article he just took from the Internet.

“If America feels like that about the Freedom of the Press, what chances have you got in Yemen, where they will just follow you as you go home and stab you, bleed your nose, kick you in the ” said his Ahmed's elder brother as he walked in from school.

Now, son watch your manners, please, you are a member of a respectable family, where such language is out of the question”, said the father very sternly.

Shkeeb had a response with a question mark in it? “Dad, how would you feel if your friend just got attacked by some of the weird nightly ghosts that prowl the streets looking for anyone with a pen in his shirt pocket , thinking that he must be a journalist coming home from work at this time of night. They have been taught that anyone coming home so late must be a journalist sneaking his article in as he is attacking the Government, Israel or the United States?”

The aspiring journalist was still not shaken by all this: “Dad! Mom! How can you expect the world to evolve without freedom for people and a right to protest against tyranny, despotism and corruption in Government? Did you know that the American Revolution was launched by a journalist named Thomas Paine? Did you know that journalists, like Christiane Amanpour of CNN brought down bloodthirsty tyrants like Melosovitch of Serbia and saved millions of Bosnian Moslems? Did you know that it was the muckraking writers of America that stopped the undue justice of Corporate America as they squeezed every penny out of a mindless consumers, who ate everything that the mass production outlets of the American military industrial complex could produce? When I read about such things I get goose pimples.”

“Well, son, I can foresee now that those goose pimples of yours are going to be mighty big sores by the time you get your first article on print.” The father was not impressed with his son's aspiring heroism.

Shkeeb wanted to encourage his brother: “Go ahead Ahmed, if you become a journalist I will buy you a suit of armor and arrange to have a few guys from our club's wrestling team walk home with you every time you hit those buggers with a few biting words to let them know that the pen is mightier than the sword.”

The father wanted to get in tune with the times: “Son, it wouldn't be a big deal if all he had to worry about were swords. Now you got even Stealth Bombers chasing journalists to even as close as the Al-Jazeera Headquarters is to the American Central Command. How can you feel so secure about your brother with the wrestlers in your club, who have never won a wrestling match yet?”

“The in thing for governments now a days is to beat up any journalist that annoys any big official anywhere. Look at Ahmed Mansour and the Arabiyah Channel photographers. Ahmed Mansour was not even in the Iraqi battle zone, but then Cairo is no peaceful heaven either. The mother always know how to add a few pointers to her husband's lectures.

“Do you know that well over one hundred journalists have been killed in Iraq alone by 'friendly fire'. Now, this only males me even more furious. How could the so called bastion of democracy in Washington allow such flagrant persecution of journalists, who have now clearly shown that the American war effort is no more than the concoctions of crazy idealists who want to turn the entire world into one global computer game, while the sponsors who put them in power eat of the cream of their spoils for selling their goods to keep US troops happy as they throw their phosphorous ordnances into the homes of innocent Iraqis, who would now pray to have the days of the tyrant, Saddam Hussein rather than these American bullies, who have no mercy on anyone who opposes them or even sleeps just yearning for the quite and secure days of a benevolent dictator.” Ahmed wanted to show the essence of his quest for a journalistic career.

Shkeeb carried on his brother's long dissertation on the necessity of muckraking journalists carry on their fight against the oppressors of the society: How can you see a world not having journalists keep the world population – and those at home – aware of all the evil that surrounds them stemming from those who have been entrusted to lead their citizens to prosperity, peace and security.

The father took the conversation to the center of the issue: “Son, I do not want to weaken your sense of enthusiasm about doing good in this world and I highly praise it. That is why we brought you up the way we did. But then, your mother would never let me sleep as she worries about whether you got home safely tonight or not, when your headlines start to give goose pimples to the very elements that are supposed to guarantee the right you have to put down anything in print that is for the good of the people”.