At least Kofi Annan considered it sufficient to style himself merely as “Chief Diplomat of the World.” Ban Ki-Moon has just taken that a step further, offering his services as World’s Chief Film Critic — or, more precisely, Chief Internet Censor. Following the internet broadcast of Geert Wilders “Fitna,” Ban lost no time in personally denouncing the video as “offensively anti-Islamic” and stating — (whatever this quasi-diplo-speak is really supposed to mean) — “I acknowledge the efforts of the Dutch government to stop the broadcast of this film” and “Freedom must always be accompanied by social responsibility.”
For the Secretary-General of the United Nations to start vetting individual video productions seems ill-advised at best. According to the UN charter, Ban’s job description doesn’t actually extend beyond serving as chief administrative officer of the UN — a role in which he has already failed at matters as basic as protecting whistleblowers or fulfilling his own promises of financial transparency. But if Ban insists on exercising the freedom to pipe up from his stage-center UN podium with his opinions on individual broadcasts, then is it responsible — “socially,” or in any other sense — for Ban to focus his attentions so narrowly on Geert Wilders?
If Ban has now appropriated as part of his UN portfolio the job of vetting broadcasts that he thinks might disturb viewers somewhere around the globe, where are the rest of his critiques? Following his targeting of Wilders, surely we now have every right to expect from broadcast-critic Ban a flow of daily, specific, individually targeted condemnations of the videos, TV shows and films emanating from places such as Egypt, Hamas-controlled Gaza, the Palestinian Authority, Libya, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Hezbollah’s Al-Manar TV. Where, for instance, is Ban’s statement deploring the grotesquely offensive Iranian TV cartoon propaganda series for kids, translated recently by the monitoring service, MEMRI TV: “The Child and the Invader” – ?
Or, where was Broadcast Critic Ban when Saudi/UAE Al Majd TV aired this broadcast on “the twisted nature of women” –?
For a sample of even the smallest fraction of the shows on which Broadcast-Critic-in-Chief Ban surely now owes us his authoritative opinions, check out more of the clips posted by MEMRI TV – which this week alone is tracking such broadcasts as Al Aqsa-TV’s (Hamas/Gaza) airing of Cleric Wael Al-Zarad calling for the annihilation of Jews, with the suggestion that “If Each Arab Spat on the Jews, They Would Drown in Arab Spit.” Or a broadcast by Hezbollah’s Al-Manar out of Lebanon, accusing Bush and Sharon of carrying out the Sept. 11 attacks on the U.S.
And why limit this to the Middle East? Shouldn’t Ban be issuing daily denunciations of the hate-propaganda cranked out by North Korea’s utterly state-monopolized news services and TV?
Broadcast critics of the world, move over. We are going to need room on the shelves, and in our computer files, for the complete, annotated 1,000-volume-or-more set of reviews which Ban Ki-Moon, Censor-in-Chief, working around the clock, is surely going to produce. Or does Ban think Wilders has just produced the only video on the planet worthy of his attentions as the UN’s new Top Video Critic?