22 May 2010

Thoughts on Thai Violence, #5

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Western News Coverage of Thai Crisis
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22 May 2010. Two days after the “Battle of Bangkok.” I have not written for a while because I’ve been a bit sick and had been hospitalized earlier in the week. (No serious illness – and not combat related – just some temporary complications in the usual ailments, i.e., acute bouts of dukkha and chronic samsara.) I’m still quite tired and weak. So my analysis of this whole crisis has not been formulated yet. We are all still sorting it out and learning a lot.
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I still plan to write of my own conclusions and feelings later, but for now I just want to mention the Western news media coverage of this whole long saga. It has been very poor. Forget CNN, whose misunderstandings of the situation have outraged Thais of all colors. Their presentations are a joke. BBC was always a bit better and now might be learning a few things after investigating things deeper. I have neglected to read much Al-Jazeera English online news lately, but the high quality and objectivity of their coverage has often surprised me. (Yes, Al-Jazeera. You might be surprised by their rather high standards. Don’t believe Dick Cheney’s lies and/or ignorant comments about them.)
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Caveats: 1) I cannot speak nor read Thai, so my info comes mainly from native Thais whose first language is Thai and who are also fluent writers in English. 2) Admittedly, Thai intellectuals writing in English are middle-class Thais, as opposed to the Red Shirts who are often poorer rural folks and lower-class Bangkokians. 3) Middle-class values and preconceptions will always color the news I read in English here. 4) I am bourgeois myself, growing up on a Jeffersonian small family farm, rural and lacking much money but thoroughly middle-class. Therefore I have to be extra critical and suspicious of my sources.
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At a later time, I will try to post links to some good English-language writing on this situation from great Thai analysts. What is remarkable about these writers – to me – is that, although they are middle-class and have a good grounding in Western ways, they still seem to be able to understand the heart of the Red Shirt masses’ grievances and dreams of the future. It might be the wisdom of thinkers like these – with their broad-based universal humanism – that holds out hope for reconciliation in the Kingdom of Thailand. The reason I cannot just simply link them now is because I may need to introduce some background info to provide context, and that will take more energy than I have right now.
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-Z.W.
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