The recent fuss over Dubai Ports World, a well-known shipping company based in the United Arab Emirates, illustrates once again that the facts never get in the way of a good story. Or, depending on your outlook, a bad one.
Sadly, our news media, increasingly rabid for the ratings that drive corporate profits, seems more willing than ever to abdicate its pursuit of truth in favor of telling jingoistic tales that appeal to the prurient interests of its audience.
Although no respectable reporter managed to unearth any evidence that Dubai Ports World’s management of five U.S. ports would pose a security risk to our country, brazen anti-Arab, anti-Muslim sentiment from both political parties (and the news outlets that report, commentate, and evaluate them) forced the administration to quash the deal. The company, run by American-educated businessmen with corporate headquarters in the Persian Gulf, was instantly (and surprisingly easily) transformed from a serious service entity to a potential mole, a fiscal crack in the armor through which all sorts of evil guys named Khabril could sneak — and harm our children, etc. Thanks to the ranting of putatively “respectable” commentators on CNN and the usual toxic hate mongering on talk-radio, we were reminded that proponents of free speech must frequently endure the most vicious and unfair mud-slinging imaginable, since “free speech” affords ample protection not only to thoughtful dissenters but to mean-spirited idiots.
The cruel irony in the botched port-management deal is that the United Arab Emirates is probably the most evolved Arab country in the world, one of the few nations in the region where America is looked upon as a role model, not the source of all evil. We didn’t just wreck what seems like a decent management contract; we fumbled yet another chance to improve our standing in the Arab world. No wonder They — the fellows with long beards and towels on their heads — mistrust and dislike us. We showed once again our xenophobic core, the one that blames illegal immigration (and greedy Arabs) for our domestic woes.
Our senators did us no favors in bashing Muslims, no matter how much they, the senators, cloaked their rhetoric in the comforting quilt of “terrorism concerns.” Once again, given the opportunity to discern between Islamic jihadism (which must be crushed) and law-abiding Muslims (who must be encouraged), our leaders and their mouthpieces proved themselves incapable of good sense.