Syrian rebels and kittens

I grant that the “religion in America” connection is tenuous–except inasmuch as I suspect that Americans tend to equate Arab militancy with Islamic militancy. But this post arises from my being… struck, let’s say, by how quickly Yahoo News jumped on the propaganda bandwagon once the Obama administration indicated it was considering military action in Syria. The images below come from a Yahoo News slideshow, “Off Duty Syrian Rebels,” whose formula seems to be:

Bearded Middle Eastern men with guns

+   Kittens and children


Oh. These look like people we could support.




I wonder if Al Qaeda or the Taliban have ever considered “cute kitten photos” as a p.r. strategy. These guys, again from the Free Syrian Army, haven’t quite mastered the genre yet–still too much of a “call the humane society” vibe in this one.


To those who find this post tasteless: Yes, I’m aware that what’s happening in Syria is disastrous beyond belief. I’m also aware that the question of how the U.S. should respond is horribly complicated, and I do not envy our current commander-in-chief the decisions that must now be made. Precisely because I know it’s horribly complicated, I resent feeling that someone out there is trying to use photos of kittens and children to arouse a simpler emotional reaction in me. I also resent the fact that my resentment of this apparent media strategy causes me to brush shoulders with people who have a different set of political motives for resenting the strategy–with whom I would rather not brush shoulders.

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