Juan Cole: JonBenet Ramsey and Abeer al-Janabi





Overseas readers who don't watch US-based cable news may not know that there is a news blackout on the 24 hours news stations, which have shown endless hours of useless speculation on a ten year old small town murder case. Why the cable news channels in the US behave in this stupid and lemming-like fashion no doubt has to do with the severe discipline of the advertising market and its dependence on ratings. I.e., news has to generate 20 percent profits, which it cannot do, and so lurid infotainment is substituted. It is also possible that they are deliberately attempting to turn American gray matter into mush so as to ensure that nobody on this continent notices what is really going on around them.

But although I mind this pollution of the air waves with somethi ng that is not, whatever it is, news, the main thing I mind is the racism.

The case of Abeer al-Janabi, the little fourteen-year old Iraqi girl who was allegedly raped and killed after being stalked by a US serviceman would never be given the wall to wall coverage treatment.

That is frankly because the victim was not a blonde, blue-eyed American, but a black-eyed, brunette Iraqi. Both victims were pretty little girls. Both were killed by sick predators. But whereas endless speculation about the Ramsey case, to the exclusion of important real news stories, is thought incumbent in cabalnewsland, Abeer al-Janabi's death is not treated obsessively in the same way. In the hyperlinked story above, CNN even calls the little girl a "woman" at first mention, because the US military indictment did so. Only later in the article is it revealed that she was a little girl. The very pedoph iliac nature of the crime is more or less overed up in the case of al-Janabi, even as looped video of Ramsay as too grown up is endlessly inflicted on us.

The message US cable news is sending by this privileging of some such stories over others of a similar nature is that some lives are worth more than others, and some people are "us" whereas other people are "Other" and therefore lesser. Indeed, it is precisely this subtle message sent by American media that authorized so much taking of innocent Iraqi life in the first place. British officers have repeatedly complained that too many of those serving in the US military in Iraq view Iraqis as subhuman (one used the term Untermeschen). Where did they get that idea?


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