Saturday, January 15, 2011

Fog on Bay; world cut off

How odd those far-away places with strange-sounding names look when you point the small end of the telescope at 'em!

Let it be noted, of course, that the hed is entirely true. It just picked the wrong sort of thing to be true about. Changes of power in the (rather large) "Arab world" aren't unheard of. As with those pesky changes of power in Europe, though, they're country- and mode-specific. An election in the UK isn't a sign of what the hot-blooded Europeans in the "European world" are up to; it's how the UK changes governments. A military coup in Norway wouldn't be frontpage news because it heralded a change of power in Europe* but because Norway doesn't do coups.

Same deal here (and frankly, you'd expect Richmond, having become the capital of a foreign country 150 years ago this spring, to be a little bit more sensitive on the matter). Changes of power in Syria or Jordan or the KSA would be important for different reasons; this is about something that happened in Tunisia. And, though the sort of thing that tends to become known** as a "Twitter revolution" has happened nearby, it hadn't yet forced an Arab autocrat into exile (uneasy lies the head and all that).

Both are more interesting than the sort of freeze-dried Orientalism that lumps "the Arabs" into a single journalistic mixing bowl. Let's work on that one a bit.

* Come to that, it's hard to imagine most changes of power in Europe being frontpage news in US journalism anymore.
** For better or for worse; I'm not in love with this shorthand, but it seems to be the one that people use (or rail at others for using).



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