The radio is already playing Christmas carols, and Ferguson is still smoldering. And the head shaking about what happened in Ferguson is continuing. It’s sad to watch businesses that have been part of a neighborhood for years be destroyed. And I won’t lie–I’ve become an old, comfortable suburbanite, so the thought of civil unrest of any kind mainly makes me nervous. Yet even inside my middle-class bubble of safety, a question lingers…

If the protests had been completely peaceful, would anyone have cared? If not a single fire had been set, would anyone have noticed?

The news media pretty much gives us the answer. The peaceful protesters in Ferguson–and there was a large group of them–were mostly ignored by the cameras. The rioters and looters got all the attention. And the TV channels were waiting with their tongues out, panting for something “bad” to happen. That’s why it’s so galling now to see the CNN experts taking on a “tsk tsk tsk” finger wagging role. This is exactly what they wanted! Peaceful protest doesn’t make for very entertaining television.

We did have some protesters here in town who got media coverage, but only because they blocked the roads, resulting in furious rush hour drivers. And what if they had stayed out of the traffic? We have the answer to that question too. The night of the grand jury announcement itself, a group of activists gathered in front of the Justice Center downtown, chanting and singing songs. The local news anchor gave them about ten seconds of his attention before moving on to Timmy the tap dancing cat or whatever other human interest story he had lined up.

We like to tout the philosophy of non-violence, the example of leaders like Gandhi or Martin Luther King Jr–who’s being quoted a lot these days–but how much respect do those who follow the non-violent way actually get? And does peaceful protest even work? I’ve been involved in a couple protest marches myself (I think you’re required to do that before you can get official Portland resident status). I was at one of the Bring Back Our Girls rallies, and couldn’t help thinking that being there was, more than anything, about making ourselves feel better. If the Boko Haram kidnappers could have seen us reading our poems about justice and sending our positive vibes out into the universe, they probably would have laughed their asses off. And, judging from at least one Youtube video, they did.

And this plays out on an even grander global scale. Vladimir Putin has been spending his free time making threatening military gestures. President Obama tried–at least at first–to establish a foreign policy of diplomacy and negotiation rather than war. Obama was dismissed as weak, whereas Putin was praised for being a super macho male, and the conservatives of the world are all but doodling little hearts on the snapshots of his bare-chested horse rides.

So is peace the way of the losers? This is an appropriate issue for me to ponder, especially as I get closer to celebrating the symbolic birth of my symbolic spiritual teacher, who preached about turning the other cheek and then got killed off by the powers that be. As a child of hippies, I would like to continue to believe in non-violence. But it’s very obvious to me which path the world I live in values more.

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Okay, enough with the breaking news coverage of the missing Malaysian airplane already.  Not that this isn’t a tragedy and a huge mystery all wrapped into one–it definitely is.  But we’ve now had several days of wall to wall coverage of a story we don’t really have any information about.  So what we get is a parade of experts (read: people who once flew on a plane) theorizing about what might have happened in a hypothetical universe, and we get CNN’s Don Lemon playing with a plastic toy Boeing that’s “exactly” like the real one.  Who wouldn’t love that gig?  If I have to hear the words “All right, good night” one more time, I’m going to take a U-turn into the ocean myself.  Nobody knows if those words mean anything, nobody knows if they’re important or not.  And I can’t see how endlessly dissecting half-imagined facts is helping those who have loved ones missing in this disaster.

I finally had to turn the television off when one of the hosts shared this gem with the audience:  “And this shows that whatever happened, happened.”  Thank you for your deep insights, news media.  How did we ever make it through crisis situations without you?

CNN finally seems to have woken up from their nap today and has started covering the Ukraine crisis in a serious way, and it took the Russian Parliament voting for military action for them to do so.  Not that there wasn’t ominous stuff going on in that part of the world before today, but you wouldn’t be able to tell from looking at my TV machine.

Once again, I’m completely frustrated by the lack of international news coverage in the American media.  I like MSNBC for the political stuff–yes, I admit it, they reflect my bias–but they’re better on the domestic stuff.  I can’t take Fox News for the constant Obama bashing–I think that’s their full-time job at this point.  And CNN has been useless lately.  Endless Oscars specials and Justin Bieber gossip, while the world has been coming apart at the seams.  Were they joking about the “News” part of their name?

So I’ve been left with Al Jazeera.  They’ve been doing in-depth reporting on the Ukraine, and it’s been quality reporting that doesn’t appear to be too heavily biased in one direction or another.  I realize that a lot of people wouldn’t touch Al Jazeera, mainly because of who has created and owns the channel.  All I can say to that is that I would gladly watch American news channels if they improved their coverage of the world outside our borders.  But as long as they continue focusing on awards show red carpet BS, I don’t have too many options.