When I think of Al Jazeera, the Arabic television network based in Doha, Qatar, the word ‘truth’ echoes in my mind. We have been at war for four years now and Americans still don’t understand the critical state we and the Iraqis are in overseas. Western television is terrified of showing these images, but Al Jazeera is not. Since its birth in 1996, Al Jazeera has continued to push the limits of controversy.
It’s time the U.S. media adopted some of that network’s traits.U.S. officials and other Western leaders have agreed that Al Jazeera has an anti-U.S. and anti-Israel bias and has a distinct empathy for Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda. Despite these apparent biases, Al Jazeera is broadcasting nothing less than the bloody truth.
We cannot fathom the extent of war until we are exposed to the images Al Jazeera daringly broadcasts. But we switch on the news and view the G-rated images
that do not even begin to depict the horrors of the massacres taking place daily. This is reality and the media are supposed to show reality. Maybe if more of these images were shown here, there wouldn’t be as many supporters of the war.
War is ugly and Al Jazeera does not hesitate to show that. These images are sickening and that is exactly what this war is.For the soldiers and the Iraqi people, the horror does not end with the nightly news broadcast. This is what transpires and there is no justified reason to censor it. In no way are these images being tampered with. It is raw and uncut.
There has been opposition to showing such gruesome images on TV. Some say Al Jazeera takes it too far and it sensationalizes and dramatizes. This isn’t necessary. To fully educate oneself, the individual should know all the facts of the story and only then can he or she be aware of the world at large.
I am not advocating an immediate onslaught of graphic pictures and images. I am simply calling attention to the fact that this needs to be broadcasted because it is happening. The news doesn’t have to be solely gory and it shouldn’t be. But the gore also should not be omitted.
There is also the concern that children can be affected by the images. If parents don’t want their children to be infected by the truth, then they should monitor their children’s media consumption. The same way anyone can filter out programs inappropriate for children, parents can choose to do the same for the news. Yet parents can also sit down with their children and watch the news with them, and talk them through it. Al Jazeera is a news channel that caters to its audience.
It should not have to censor its footage. We choose to remain ignorant, and that’s what we need to stop doing.
Journalists are supposed to report the truth. And the ugly, unpopular truth is that war is not pretty. War is hell. We’re on the other side. We don’t have to experience it on our land. But if we could just see a slice of what is taking place, we could begin to realize that war is not the answer. Al Jazeera is taking those steps, and so should we.
Dashira Harris can be reached at