On one news item

I was once called a “connoisseur of irrelevance,” and I treasure that title, as I treasure “man of the thirteenth century,” “reactionary nutjob” (actually it was “nutcase” but I prefer the British style), and “drooling neanderthal.” Hardly knowing which to put at the top of my name card, I settled for, “Smoker.”

My odd wee memoir of yesterday will serve as introduction for today’s. I confessed to being hungry for news, but unable to find any. That is a slight exaggeration: it is no longer available through the “Main Stream Media,” but may still be scrabbled from here and there. One must dig, but it is hard to get a good shovelful, for the Internet is so diffuse. I miss competent reporting.

Let me give an example. I am curious about what Mohammed bin Salman (the Vunderkind of Saudi Arabia) has been up to this past week — not so much in England (where the media pounced) but before that, in Egypt. In England the “story” was made about an aid agreement which the Guardian called “a national disgrace,” without pretending to explain its why or wherefore; instead, the usual mudball at an easy target, with virtue signalling ladled on thick. It wasn’t even an important matter, at worst another hundred million from the British taxpayer, down the drain.

The media pretend to hate war (the unavoidable one in Yemen will do for an example), but actually they love it. If the war is big enough, and can be contrived to involve “us,” it will sell eyeballs to their advertisers. It is one of many broad areas where one might accuse them of hypocrisy, but I wouldn’t. For to my mind, hypocrisy is like blasphemy. No one can do it any more. One needs some faith, to commit blasphemy; without faith it is mere rudeness. Similarly, one needs some self-knowledge to commit hypocrisy. The contemporary journalist has none.

The journalist who actually longs for peace, will not strike vain poses. He will look instead on the causes and likely consequences of events. He will be careful to report things that really happened, in preference to things collectively imagined by his entertainment industry. He will be on his guard against misrepresenting even people he despises. He will not be following a company line, whether that of CNN, or Fox. In other words, he will be unemployable.

The Saudi crown prince went to Cairo to publicly and unambiguously align his government with that of Egypt’s president, Sisi; and specifically with its serious opposition to Islamism. That in itself is real news, for the two are now working cooperatively on many fronts, one of which is rapprochement with Israel. President Trump’s principal agent in the field — his son-in-law, Jared Kushner — has been working efficaciously in the back parlours, not only on this project, but on what extends from it: rebuilding American alliances with Arab states throughout the Middle East. He is using the wolf-state of Iran, in his diplomatic shepherding. This appears to be working. If Mohammed bin Salman can stay alive and in power, many things become possible, that were not possible before.

In Egypt, the Saudi prince said many surprising things, widely reported in Arabic media but ignored here. He visited not only Al Azhar (the citadel of learned, moderate Sunni Islam), but also the Coptic pope (Tawadros II) at St Mark’s; and invited Copts to visit his country. He allowed a photo-op under a pictorial representation of Jesus Christ. This was previously unthinkable. It bodes well for Christian minorities in Saudi Arabia itself, and across the region. (God bless that Jewish boy, Kushner, for his part in this.)

Something large and potentially very positive is happening, and yet it is ignored by our media, obsessed instead with tabloid things that are small, dirty, and inconsequential.