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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review June 20, 2005 / 13 Sivan, 5765

Diffusion of irresponsibility — or democracy?

By Jonathan Gurwitz


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | The word "diversion" has three standard meanings. In the first sense, it implies a deviation, as a freeway accident might cause a diversion of traffic from its normal course.

In its second sense, a diversion is a pastime or an amusement, like watching a sport or playing it for recreation.

In its third sense, a diversion is something that distracts attention. Sixty years ago, the Allies mobilized a phantom invasion force for the Pas-de-Calais as a diversion from the real landing at Normandy.

The Michael Jackson trial, of which I shuttered myself from detailed coverage for the past 14 weeks, meets all three definitions of a diversion.

Everything about the proceedings — the charges against Jackson, his conception of proper adult-minor relations, his surgically disfigured visage — is a deviation. When I expressed my utter disinterest in acting as a rubbernecker to the pileup in Santa Maria, criminal defense attorney and friend Jimmy Parks reminded me that what was happening in the courtroom there — like the administration of justice anywhere in our nation — should be an issue of concern.

Well, yes and no. I can walk down to the Bexar County Courthouse and see men accused of indecency with children struggle to overcome the state's case against them, watch a judge apply the law and observe a jury deliberate the evidence and render justice.

The spectacle that took place in California only masqueraded as the administration of justice. It was, instead, a diversion in the second sense — a spectator sport that allowed fans to participate vicariously.

For some, Jackson was a successful black man fighting against an inherently unfair system. For others, he was a billionaire freak due his comeuppance. Each side had its offensive and defensive all-stars, coaches, consultants and pundits. Cable networks devoted hours of coverage each night to providing play-by-play breakdowns.

This was the clearest indication of the third and most tragic sense of diversion — a distraction from what is real. The Associated Press reported approximately 2,200 members of the media received credentials to cover the Jackson trial. News organizations from more than 30 countries sent reporters, many of whom took up temporary residence in Santa Maria for the trial's four months.

"If I had one decision to take back, it would be the extent of our coverage," CNN/U.S. chief Jonathan Klein told columnist Gail Shister of the Philadelphia Inquirer. "Looking back, we should have just covered the beginning and the end."

Satirist Harry Shearer observes that with regard to the ongoing genocide in Darfur, CNN along with most of the journalistic trade have already decided to cover only the beginning and the end.

Aside from Darfur, Doctors Without Borders maintains a list of what it deems the 10 most underreported humanitarian stories. So many real tragedies, so few diversions.

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If Sudan or Congo or North Korea are too far and too expensive to send news crews, there are places closer to home. At Brooke Army Medical Center or Walter Reed Army Medical Center, they could visit soldiers and Marines with shattered bodies to rediscover the things that are real and meaningful in life.

In 1964, Kitty Genovese was slowly murdered in Queens, New York, as 38 of her neighbors watched and listened without so much as lifting a finger to call police.

In response, and in the years that followed, psychologists John Darley of Princeton University and Bibb Latane of Ohio State University conducted research into the morally troubling question: In emergency situations, why do so many people sit in helpless fascination, as though observing some sort of dramatic diversion?

Darley and Latane attributed their inaction to bystander apathy, the assumption that someone else would shoulder the burden in a "diffusion of responsibility."

The carnival atmosphere surrounding the Jackson trial was a diffusion of irresponsibility. It was, in every sense, a giant diversion — of our judicial system, of the media and of our nation's sanity.

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JWR contributor Jonathan Gurwitz, a columnist for the San Antonio Express-News, is a co-founder and twice served as Director General of the Future Leaders of the Alliance program at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. In 1986 he was placed on the Foreign Service Register of the U.S. State Department.Comment by clicking here.

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© 2005, Jonathan Gurwitz

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