They result in ways of thinking about the Arab world bound by academic tradition as well as popular stereotyping of Arab peoples. Unless these patterns are re-evaluated and rethought, it seems unlikely that U.S. understanding of the Arab world will change significantly in the 1990s. A change will only be effected by political action and education to force those in positions of power to transmit those understandings--academics, politicians, media representatives--to alter their own understandings and presentations of the inhabitants of the Middle East. If a new world order is not to become by default a new U.S. order, concerted, aggressive action must force such re-examination and re-interpretation.
The media has an important role to play in this regard. As we have seen, the media was at the center of U.S. understanding of the Gulf crisis. The media interpreted the academic reading of the Arab world--or, as I have shown earlier, perpetuated the misunderstandings of orientalists. They also promulgated the political narratives developed during the period. Yet the media scarcely questioned these narratives. Finally, the media images themselves shaped U.S. feelings, not only about Iraq and the war, but about Arabs in general. In order to fulfill its duties to the U.S. public and the world public, the media must engage in more forceful critical commentary concerning both the content of its messages and the mode of their display.
Bush George. "Transcript of President's Address to Joint Session of Congress." New York Times ( 12 September 1990): A-20.
_____. "Transcript of the Contents by Bush on the Air Strikes Against the Iraqis." New York Times ( 17 January 1991): A-14.
"Images." Time ( 7 January 1991): 40-53.
Eagleton Terry. Ideology: An Introduction. London: Verso, 1991.
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Morrow Lance. "The Devil in the Hero." Time ( 28 January 1991): 64-66.
Mortimer Edward. "The Thief of Baghdad" (Review). New York Review of Books ( 27 September 1990): 7-15.
Pryce-Jones David. "And If the West Shames Him, He Will Fall." Wall Street Journal ( 10 August 199 1): A-10.
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