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Monday, August 27, 2012

YouTube, Russian Antisemitism, And Even a Little Word Nerdery

     YouTube is a wonderful concept and website, and yet it is sadly true that spending a lot of time on  YouTube in not necessarily the mark of an intellectually curious or well informed person.  Let's come out  with it: I watch an awful lot of professional wrestling on YouTube, and I've never uploaded anything, so I'm in no position to throw stones about people wasting their time on the internet in general or YouTube in particular. There are some channels that I feel are worthwhile on YouTube however. YouTube is one of the best vehicles for exposing the misconduct of public officials-think of the famous police brutality videos that have gone viral-"Don't taze  me, bro."  There are a lot of international perspectives available on YouTube as well-some quality reporting not available via local television or cable, really.  Even so, I am starting to suspect that their are no good sources for news on YouTube, just some occasionally insightful videos. Even establishment journalism turns over a few rocks. I used to watch the Young Turks- hosted by Cenk Uygur, who had a brief run with MSNBC. Cenk is intelligent enough and sometimes funny, but often his commentary makes up 90% of a video, and I'm often more interested in raw footage. I am still subscribed to NDTV, which provides great coverage of the Chinese news and events. I thought I had hit the jackpot at first; it was good journalism coming from a Chinese perspective-then I looked at the channel and noticed that they broadcast out of the United States!  Then there's Russia Today. Russia Today -one of the most popular YouTube accounts extant. Russia Today provides more coverage of American police brutality than the other networks,  and it gave the Occupy movement that I was sympathetic to an enormous amount of coverage. News is presented in a professional format, and it certainly couldn't be accused of being bought and paid for by American corporations. No, it could instead be accused of being bought and paid for the by the Kremlin because, well, it is...  It becomes painfully obvious when watching Russia Today that their interviews and discussions include only one source or spokesperson. Civil libertarians, peace activists, scientists, entrepreneurs, Marxists, fascists, diplomats, whoever, are interviewed and given a forum with no debate or opposition whatsoever. Beyond that, none of this scrutiny gets applied to  to Mother Russia. Any coverage of American foreign involvement comes from an opposite perspective- in some ways it's refreshing as the Arab Spring has always had threatening undercurrents and American support has been suspect. All of the sudden we're back on the side of Saudi bank rolled fundamentalists again. Whatever, it's very clear that Russia Today  supports the Russian government's geopolitical agenda. This includes critical coverage of Israel.  Russian criticism of Israel! Russian criticism of Jews!  Criticism of the cruel Zionist occupation of parts of Palestine is valid, but Russia criticizing anything Jewish arouses my suspicion. It's not hyperbole to state that the nation of Russia invented the pogrom.   The noun Pogrom derives from a Russian verb to "wreak havoc or destroy." Soon enough, the word became synonymous with Russian  police or constabularies putting up the "closed" sign and allowing anti-Semitic rioters to brutalize Russian Jews. Long before Hitler's atrocities required the invention of the word , genocide, the (attempted) murder of an entire race, Russian bigotry resulted in the need for the word pogrom.
 Am I biased and self-righteous? A bit. I am prone to be dismissive of Anti Israeli coverage from the  media of a nation with the largest Neo-Nazi movement on earth. I was further irked by Russia Today giving the spokesperson of the fascist Larouche cult an open floor. So too has this cult been accused of antisemitism. On the other hand, YouTube videos and comment threads are hotbeds of antisemitism. Perhaps, just as the E.P.A. tolerates limited amounts of toxins the air and streams, I should just accept that some media outlets will just have to operate at a 15%  level of antisemitism. After all, if your favorite book had one page that was ripped or written on, you  still wouldn't  trash the entire novel.


                                               Ray Ray Montoya

    P.S. This whole topic brings to mind several interview's with Sacha Baron Cohen's Borat. Borat told interviewers, " At first the Khazakistani censors were concerned with the level of antisemitism in the moviefilm. Then after review they decided there was just enough."

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