Aljazeer America’s three journalists sentenced to 7-10 year in Egyptian prison sparked debate on Media freedom. Professor Paul Starr’s 2004 award winning book on “The Creation of the Media” illustrates how USA and European morality/ethics lagged innovations in the Moral Innovation framework related to the media primarily in the USA and Europe between 16th century and the year 1945. Professor Michele Hilmes’ 2007 book “Only Connect” covers the cultural history of US broadcasting to the 21st century. Together, they described 4 waves of innovations: 1) USA revolution and revolt against UK taxes; 2) privatize telegraph; 3) mass (i.e. high volume low price) media from newspapers to telegraph/telephone and movies that spawned the advertising industry; and 4) public investment in science, technology and higher education, giving the internet today. While Professor Starr mentioned Francis Bacon’s “Knowledge is Power” and the unequal treatment of African Americans in education, for example, his focus on morality concentrated on anti-obscenity, contraception and abortion by Anthony Comstock’s group and the YMCA/WCTU movement that began in the second half of the 19th century. There was no mention of the Treaties of Tordesillas nor Zaragoza which gave the world to Portugal and Spain that led to the annihilation of the indigenous cultures in the Americas and transported over 10 million African males to the Americas as slaves. It would have been interesting to know how the media covered the 20% royalty payment to the Spanish king, including the world’s largest ransom paid for the release of the Incas King Atahuallpa, was used to finance an armada that was defeated by Britain in 1588, exposing the wealth available in the New World, and the first French and British settlements in North America between 1604 and 1607. We do not know how much the development of the news media was driven by investors of British East India Company or Dutch East India Company who, along with USA, Japan, Russia and other western powers, ignored local laws in order to accumulate wealth through the production and delivery of opium into China, ironically at roughly the same time USA and UK espoused Victorian morality at home. Within the USA, how did the media cover the Burlingame Treaty of 1868 that liberated Chinese immigration, only to be revoked by The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 that was extended by the Geary Act of 1892 until they were repealed in the Magnuson Act of 1943? These activities violated the Golden Rule: “Do unto others what you want the others to do unto you.” Another violation of the Golden Rule, namely the internment of fellow American citizens of Japanese descent during World War II, was redressed both with an apology and monetary compensation in 1988.
Egypt, like all other situations, is unique. For over 600 years until the 1800s, Mamluks were lifetime Egyptian soldiers who were mostly Turkish at birth, but kidnapped as babies to serve in Egypt. Even though Mamluks were believed to have been annihilated, the loyal Egyptian soldiers still maintain power today, including the newly elected President. We do not know how Aljazeera journalists communicated with the Muslim Brotherhood to deliver what message, but we do know with a 50 year lag that President Eisenhower’s Project Ajax connected US CIA with Britain to overthrow Iran’s elected government officials in the 1950s and installed the Shah of Iran who was overthrown in 1980, leading to a fundamentalist Iran which is the only Muslim country with a Shiite majority today. We must try hard to follow the Golden Rule “Do undo others what you want others to do unto you” in order to sustain a harmonious world. Hopefully the truth will give us more knowledge to help set these journalists free.