Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Burma Schmurma

In his speech to the U.N. President Bush announced that the U.S. was imposing sanctions on Burma (or Myanmar or whatever it's called) in support of the protests by 10,000 monks of the brutal regime of the military government there. Many are calling this manifestation of people power a Saffron Revolution. And as the government begins to crack down there are fears of widespread bloodshed.

But even though President Bush thinks we should care about what's happening in Burma, I must confess I'm just as bored by what's happening there as most liberal bloggers seem to be. It's the number one story at places like the BBC. A number of conservative bloggers have covered the story and bloggers around the world are talking about it. But if you got all your news from American liberal blogs you would hardly even know this is happening. A few of the small liberal blogs have mentioned what is happening there, sometimes with genuine concern, and sometimes just as a way of bashing Bush or Cheney, but as far as the major liberal blogs are concerned, with just a few exceptions, the monks might as well be filling the streets of Jena, Louisiana, for all they care.

But for once I must say I agree with them. Who really cares about bunch of people in a country halfway around the world? Do they care about us? And the story just seems so confusing to get a handle on. There's a brutal dictatorship by the name of SLORC, which frankly sounds like a made-up name. Apparently, they massacred protesters in 1988 and in 1990 invalidated the election of Aung San Suu Kyi, who won the Nobel Prize the following year. (What's with all those difficult to pronounce names?) You might think a few feminist bloggers might be interested in her story, but apparently not. If they aren't even interested, why should I be? And frankly thousands of people rising up to peaceably protest a brutal dictatorship seems so 1989. We've seen it all before.

I'm surprised that some conservative bloggers are interested in what is happening over there. It doesn't seem to have anything to do with the War on Terror. Ed Morrissey at Captain's Quarters says that the government is starting to crack down on the protesters and that "Either it will act as a Tiananmen Square moment, where the protests shut down from fear of the government, or it will serve as a death blow to the junta." I must admit, I just don't care either way. Gateway Pundit has been covering this story since August and has put together a number of detailed posts filled with pictures and background on what is happening there. Michelle Malkin has a big story on the protests and the government's crackdown. Pajamas Media has also featured the story. Confederate Yankee chastises the Washington Post for not referring to Burma by the name the dictatorship imposed on the country, but at least he mentioned the story, which would be enough to shame liberal bloggers alone if it were actually that important.

I suppose I should be interested, but I'm not. For the first time I can remember, I agree with the liberal bloggers. Who cares?

I have to admit, some of the pictures you can find on Burmese blogs are interesting. I might download a few of them before the government shuts the blogs down and throws the bloggers in prison. They might make nice screensavers.

I have been very worried about what might happen if a Democrat is elected President and he or she starts listening to liberal bloggers about foreign policy. I thought liberal bloggers believed the United States was self-absorbed and arrogant and they want to change the perception of our country in the rest of the world. But the reaction to what is happening in Burma leads me to believe that maybe they don't want to change so much after all and that's a big relief.

Update: Feministing finally mentions Aung San Suu Kyi, but not out of concern for her safety from SLORC, but to attack Desmond Tutu for sexually harassing her.

Update 2: Soldiers fire into a crowd of protesters. Pamela Leavey of The Democratic Daily makes some time to write about Burma even though she's had a lot on her plate. Mahablog continues with regular updates. Brownfemipower draws from a number of sources in her detailed piece. Melissa McEwan of Shakeville writes in the comments: "Hey, I'm a feminist blogger interested in Ms. Suu Kyi's story! :)" No word yet from other liberal blogs.

Update 3: On the evening of September 27 Atrios writes on Eschaton: "Right this very moment there's bad stuff happening all over the world. I don't always get around to mentioning it all. Weird." What could he be referring to? The next morning, the word Burma appears on the site for the first time, when Thers Molly writes "Anyone for a Burma Shave?" and links to a Mission of Burma video, then adds, "Sorry I was just snarking" and links to a site with news from Burma. Funny. Later, she leaves the snark behind in a more serious piece on Whiskey Fire.

Update 4: Christy Hardin Smith of Firedoglake emails me to say, "Considering my child is home with a huge fever and barfing, and I'm happy to have been able to post at all today, I'll take that as an aborted attempt at snark and leave it at that..." I reply that as a conservative I'm opposed to abortion and wish her child a speedy recovery. The next day she appends a P.S. to this post.

Update 5: Amanda Marcotte at Pandagon finally posts something, writing, with surprising modesty, "The situation in Myanmar continues to spiral out of control and there’s more calls for we wee bloggers to say something helpful. I’m not sure there’s anything we can type furiously that will help, but if it does, here’s a post with a wish attached to it that our wretched species would evolve into a semblance of decency already."

Update 6: Dusty at It's My Right To Be Left of Center has uploaded exclusive video of the killing of a Japanese journalist in Burma. Nate at It All Goes Here has another video of this tragic incident. Don't let any of the "A-List" liberal bloggers see them because it might weaken their resolve.

Update 7: Bitch Ph.D. writes a piece about Burma that she says was inspired by this modest blogger, oddly enough. My account of reaching out to liberal bloggers to offer support for their lack of coverage can be found here. Meanwhile, the Daily Mail reports that thousands of monks were massacred and their bodies were dumped in the jungle.

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Dick Durata said...

As one who has enjoyed your thoughtful posts in the past, I'm shocked and amazed that I find myself forced to disagree with you, Jon. I fear you have not understood the important issue here. The government of Burma has cracked down on protesters without permission from the US, and that will never do. Many Middle East governments 'crack down' on protests, but they do so with the full knowledge and support of our foreign policy experts. I'm not sure how a government gets that support, I'm sure there are top-secret forms to be filled out, and fees to be paid, but Burma has obviously gone off half-cocked on their own.
No wonder the conservative blogs are angered, and the liberal ones hiding from the truth! It's an invitation to anarchy when unauthorized crack downs happen, and President Bush has firmly condemned those who violate our procedures.
I beg of you, please rethink this folly!

popin-in said...

Incredable, relevant, post and d.durata's response is on the money!!! Genius, pure genius.

Dick Durata said...

Jon, I may have disagreed with you, but I'll never doubt your courage after seeing your comment at Feministing.

jurassicpork said...

This is my take on Bush's speech at the UN a couple of days ago. What worries me is when Scott Pelley and CBS starts getting in on the act and misquotes the Iranian president right in front of him and seems to be falling in line with this "Iran must be stopped" line of shot that we're hearing from the WH. If you could include this in your blog roundup at C&L this week, I'd sure appreciate it.

As far as Burma goes, it would be a shame if we had to invade them. They make such lovely shaving cream. And why did they have to go and change their name to something the Commanderin' chief can't pronounce, having to fall back on their easier to pronounce, obsolete name.

Dusty said...

They still make shaving cream? Who knew?

Stan said...

Top secret forms... support from foreign policy experts... who... are in cahoots with conservative bloggers. HAAAA!!!

Oh my God. What is it, parody the liberals day?

Lay off the drugs, pal. The world is not out to get you.

Anonymous said...

I think you agreement with the liberal bloggers spells trouble for the liberal bloggers.

PoliShifter said...

I guess it's hard to compute just why or where Bush's compassion comes from.

Why is he gushinng over Burma yet has no concern or care about the millions of displaced Iraqis? He won't even take any refugees from Iraq in.

We're concerned about our moral obligation to Iraq and thus our need to stay in that country forever but no one cares about Rwanda or Darfur.

Bush is concerned about Democracy in Burma/Myanmar but loves the kingdom of Saudi Arabia and loves rule by the United Arab Emirates.

I suspect that somewhere there is some motive for Bush's new found love for Burma and desire to perhaps liberate its people like we liberated the Iraqis.

Could it be something to do with China getting oil from Myanmar?

Hard to say.

But again, if the M.O. of the U.S. is to fight brutal regimes around the world, that we need to invade every country that has violated human rights, has brutal dictators, and totalitarian rule, then we better fire up the draft and get to invading. Cause there are hundreds of countries besides Burma that could use the U.S.'s liberation.

If you reject the premise that the U.S. doesn't have the moral authority to spread democracy by the barrel of a gun and bomb countries into human rights submission they you have to question why we are in Iraq. Why do we want to bomb Iran? And why does Bush care about Burma?

There's more hear than meets the eye.

Melissa McEwan said...

Hey, I'm a feminist blogger interested in Ms. Suu Kyi's story! :)

Lord Higham- Murray said...

Your satire is going to get you eventually lynched, Jon, old son.

Nate said...

the monks might as well be filling the streets of Jena, Louisiana, for all they care.

So true it's almost not funny.

I hear you on update three. The night of the Jena demonstrations, I blogged that the front of NYTimes homepage displayed a large photo of three kids in Belgium with signs. Jena was way below that, in little font. The word "Jena" had never appeared at Eschaton(correct me if I'm wrong), but atrios did post about Belgium that day.

Chris said...

To be fair, Jon, (may I call you Jon?) it's not entirely true that the liberal blogosphere is ignoring Burma. To cite a few that I read before my morning coffee today:

Liberal Catnip
Nanette again

It's really just the A-listers ignoring the issue, which is not the same thing as the liberal blogosphere, no matter what the A-listers might tell you. And even at that, MoveOn sent a mailing out today to its entire list asking folks to sign on to's letter..

Jon Swift said...

Thank you very much for the links Chris. When I first posted this piece on Wednesday only the three or four A-Listers and the few liberal blogs linked to in the piece had mentioned Burma. Since that time a few more have waded in. I remain as bored by the whole subject as ever.

Anonymous said...

How on earth are you able to type so well with the Silver Spoon up your bum?

Robin said...

I want some bloggy karma for posting about this story shortly before it was cool to post about this story. I'm learning to be a Buddhist though so I've been watching the story for a while w/o writing about it. I was hoping so hard that China had more influence than they apparently do in Burma.

Damozel said...

It was an eye-opener for this [moderate liberal] blogger to read the coverage in the British press. It took this for me to realize the degree of my tunnel vision.

I found 2005 and 2006 articles in The new York Times and the Washington Post that discussed key events in the unscrolling tragedy in Myanmar, but my mind was elsewhere.

::bookmarking article::

Tom said...

I'm genuinely curious*, is there some reason why the liberal blogs should be weighing in on the topic?

*No, really. I am. I know that sounds like the lead-in from someone itching for a fight, but I really am curious.

i said...

I love you. Should my quiver ever be blessed full of your babies*, I hereby promise never to abort them.

*Let me have my foolish little dreams, now.

Free Burma! said...

Free Burma!
International Bloggers' Day for Burma on the 4th of October

International bloggers are preparing an action to support the peaceful revolution in Burma. We want to set a sign for freedom and show our sympathy for these people who are fighting their cruel regime without weapons. These Bloggers are planning to refrain from posting to their blogs on October 4 and just put up one Banner then, underlined with the words „Free Burma!“.

cognitorex said...

The Buddha talked often of "skillful teaching" like deceiving your children into thinking that you are dead to change their consciousness.
Are you?

Anonymous said...

You're right about the untrustworthy media - and Fox news is one of the worst offenders.

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