I’m an American currently living in Adana, Turkey.  A while ago I walked to the local bakery to get some bread for tonight.  On the way I stopped to chat with a couple of street venders that I know.  Another man was there and he started trying to talk with me.  He only knew about 5 words in English and my Turkish is very limited so it was difficult to understand what he was trying to say. 

At first he seemed friendly enough with the usual comments about wanting to go to America, getting a job in America, marrying an American woman, etc.  But then he started talking about Iraq.  I could tell by his body language and my limited Turkish that he was talking about news reports of American soldiers raping Iraqi women.

I try to stay out of discussions involving politics and religion, so I used my normal escape route and kept saying “anlamidim”, which means “I don’t understand.”  Some people laugh when I say anlamidim now because they know I use that as an avoidance technique.  Anyway, this individual was persistent in trying to get me to understand so I finally told him that I’m not an American soldier, I’m not in Iraq, and I disagree with current U.S. foreign policy and actions.  Then I quickly went on to get my bread.

All of this got me to thinking about news coverage.  I’ve been to several countries and I pay attention to the news coverage where ever I am.  You get a different slant on the news in every country.  Part of that is the media trying to give the viewer or reader what he/she wants so they’ll keep coming back, and part of it is manipulation by the governement to varying degrees – from outright control of the news media to not providing news releases to those that have reported negatively on the government. 

It’s naive to think that what you see reported on TV news is complete and accurate.  I have seen the same stories reported very differently in different countries.  I have seen reports and film footage in Turkey about the Iraq war that would never be broadcast in America and I have seen reports in America that would not be shown here.  I’ve experienced the same thing in England. 

Unfortunately most people never get the opportunity to see issues from another side. Bad things happen during war on both sides and soldiers sometimes lose it for various reasons on both sides.  I can’t be an apologist for what is going on and I can’t condone it. I can only say “anlamidim.”

That’s enough of my rambling for today.  I love the Turkish people and they seem to genuinely like Americans.  I’ve seldom run into anything like this, though I do understand how they feel.  I will keep trying to stay away from discussions involving the Irag war, politics, religion, and the Bush administration.

BBC News

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