Friday, September 12, 2008

REFLECTIONS OF AMERICA

Hello everyone... My first post from US territory comes late due to the fact that I was overwhelmed. Overwhelmed by everything and I needed a few days to absorb, observe, and analyze this new environment I find myself in.

This post is to describe my first week in the US. According to the program, the National Press Foundation, hereinafter NPF, hosted our group and organized our training activities. This comes as part of their Journalist To Journalist program (J2J), which according to their website "is a new implementation of an exciting idea -- the idea of journalists mentoring their colleagues. J2J creates an international playing field so that journalists around the world can work together to increase global coverage of pressing issues. Experienced journalists mentor reporters and editors who may be struggling with many of the same issues that their mentors have encountered before. The goal is always improved press coverage --whether it's radio, TV, newspapers or the internet -- as well as increased public knowledge."

We spent the training days in the guidance of Director of Programs, Linda Streitfeld, previously an editor and manager at the Miami Herald, and Program Assistant, Maha Masud. The training included attending lectures, press conferences, and meetings with experts andofficials where we discussed pending election issues, media coverage, polling and much more.


The first day included a visit to the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) where we met with the Press Officer, Bob Biersack. He explained and discussed with us how campaign financing is regulated by law and the specifics of differences between state law and federal law in matters concerning campaign financing. One of the most important rules is that no foreign company, person, government or organization is allowied to donate anything to a candidate's campaign. We asked a lot of questions but I later wondered about foreign-national lobbying groups like CAIR and AIPAC. But I stopped wondering when we were walking down the street and were stopped by an agent of Obama who wanted to collect donations from us even though we told her we're Egyptian and not US citizens.

To be honest, especially after a long meeting with Dan Keating from the Washington Post, one of the most significant feelings I had, and never did expect, that when I come here to cover the elections my democracy and freedom hopes will be depressed. I'll explain... I guess I always had this immature inhibition about America and Americans. I had American education through out my entire life and believe I am acquainted with the American mentality and/or spirit. But when I heard the story of Dan Keating and his colleagues who won the Miami Herald a Pulitzer by reporting election rigging and fraud in the US my heart sank and my freedom hope bubble deflated. Even in America? Dead people vote? Even in America?? Huge numbers of votes are sold for a few petty banknotes?

Honestly, coming to the world's beacon of freedom and core of democracy I childishly hoped that the violations would at least be classy... but I realized 'hey! our regime has a daddy!' as Wael said.

Sandmonkey for example said it made him feel better, that we're not the only ones.

What do you think?

During the training we also went to the National Public Radio, visited with Professor of Public Policy, Dr. William Adams of George Washington University, and attended a press conference where Ron Paul endorsed the three independent presidential elections candidates... and a lot more

2 comments:

The Critic said...

i think we shouldn't be surprised. you said it yourself and Wael said it before you, our regime does have a mother. In addtion to that, you have to bare in mind that this happens all over the world and i said this once before, that the elections are going where the big ones want it to go. Trsut me on that, no matter what we do, that's how it will always be. So, it's either be with or against, and lose everything you've ever dreamt of.

Tantor said...

Miral,

American democracy is not better because we have better people but better institutions. You can not reform human character to make it perfect but you can reform how a government handles wrongdoing by its citizens and leaders.

The flaw in authoritarian governments is the desire to remake human character. The French revolutionaries wanted to remake Frenchmen into Citizens. The Soviets wanted to remake Russians into the New Soviet Man. Islamists want to remake everyone into Muslims, to force them to observe Muslim customs and practices. These are failed attempts to recreate society from the top down.

Democracy creates society from the bottom up. It takes people as they are and builds a society to suit them, their life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. It does not attempt to remold them into perfect beings but to amplify their strengths and manage their flaws.