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Burlington, VT Debates Al-Jazeera, English

Burlington, VT founded a public telecom company, making it a model for local empowerment against rapacious telecom corporations. It offers cable, internet and phone via a fiber network. With their autonomy, they decided to carry Al-Jazeera, English. Since then, a few small groups launched campaigns to remove it from the lineup with a referendum vote.

While the protests claimed Al-Jazeera’s English channel is anti-American and rife with Islamic fundamentalism, those arguing to keep the network call it a window into the rest of the world. They see the protesters as small-minded and pushing their views on the rest of Burlington. Of about 200 letters to Burlington Telecom, the majority supported keeping it.

As we approach the end of the Bush presidency, it should be apparent to everyone that the the old thinking of “us good, them bad” is failing and having destructive repercussions. It is time Americans engage the world and expose themselves to voices beyond our borders. Al-Jazeera, English represents just that. Burlington, VT is exceptionally progressive, but these questions should be raised in every community around the country — most of which do not have televised access to Al-Jazeera, English.

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Discussion

33 Responses to “Burlington, VT Debates Al-Jazeera, English”

  1. What next should we force feed our children and communities? Perhaps the North Korean propaganda channel? Long live Kim Jong Il!!!

    Posted by Firouz | July 3, 2008, 9:27 am
  2. Have you ever watched Jazeera International?

    Posted by Mohammad | July 3, 2008, 10:22 am
  3. Isn’t Vermont in Canada, though?

    Posted by programmer craig | July 3, 2008, 11:25 am
  4. It’s ridiculous that there’s a fight over what channels should be and shouldn’t provided. In the VT case, there is a large enough demand. Those who don’t want to watch it don’t have to.

    Just like Fox News, A&E; and Lifetime. They’re provided. I don’t like them. I don’t watch them.

    Are people really afraid that their television might somehow get stuck on Al-Jazeera English through some freak occurence and they’ll never be able to turn it off again?

    Posted by Bonty | July 3, 2008, 11:26 am
  5. This is not an issue of demand. If there was real demand, then REAL private networks would offer it, which they do, for an additional fee.

    This is a “public” telecom company, which means it has nothing to do with marketplace demand, and everything to do with the agenda of liberal elites who run it.

    Posted by Firouz | July 3, 2008, 11:32 am
  6. Doesn’t Will work for a rapacious corporation? Just like Fadi, who works for Jews, both need to stop biting the hands that feed them. Grow up, you are over 30, you should know by now that “corporations” provide more good than evil and are mostly responsible for the great country you live in. So deal with it or move back to the shit holes you came from.

    Posted by Burraq | July 3, 2008, 11:49 am
  7. This is not an issue of demand. If there was real demand, then REAL private networks would offer it, which they do, for an additional fee.

    This is true. All I have to do to get Al Jazeera here in Los Angeles is switch from Direct TV to the Star network, or one of several others. It is offered in one of their basic packages.

    Posted by programmer craig | July 3, 2008, 11:56 am
  8. Well, the majority of United Staters don’t live in L.A. Craig. Sorry to break to you the news that your neighborhood doesn’t stand as a microcosm for the rest of the country. But with all those channels offered to you at your whims, you’d think you’d already know.

    For the rest of the country, most of our choices are Dish and Direct TV — only one offers Al Jazeera but not Al Jazeera English for which, there exists a big difference. Mainly, one of intelligibility for English-speaking audiences.

    Posted by Bonty | July 3, 2008, 12:14 pm
  9. Fadi works for Jews?! No doubt doing their evil bidding in pursuit of global Zionist domination, eh?That's such an Arab thing to say – to identify individuals with an ethnic group. Like when the Bedouin come through the villages, they just call them all Nouri. Or an Egyptian who has lived in Ramallah all his life – he is still a Masri, and when his son gets married, the women will say, that son of a Masri is getting married. Or when the IDF comes, the Palestinians say the Yehudim are coming, not the Israelim are coming. There is no distinction between secular Jews, non-practicing Jews, orthodox Jews… they are just Jews.I think it's great; some Jews need to be reminded they are Jews, and who better to do it than Arabs.Anyway, I always found this linguistic identification or individuals as part of an ethnic group interesting.

    Posted by Firouz | July 3, 2008, 8:17 am
  10. If “there is no distinction between secular Jews, non-practicing Jews, orthodox Jews… they are just Jews” in Israel it’s because that’s the way Zionism has crafted it.

    Posted by Bonty | July 3, 2008, 12:31 pm
  11. No, it’s the way G-d crafted it.
    Arabs know this, because they lived with Jews for 1500 years.

    Posted by Anonymous | July 3, 2008, 12:39 pm
  12. Arabs and their ancestors – Ishmaelites and others – lived with Jews for 3000 years. Muslims lived with Jews 1500 years.

    Posted by Anonymous | July 3, 2008, 12:40 pm
  13. Zionism is the only successful populist movement in the last century and you bitches hate it! So much for Pan-Arabism, how’s that working out? I’ll ask some Shia and Sunni just for laughs.

    Posted by Burraq | July 3, 2008, 1:34 pm
  14. Well, the majority of United Staters don’t live in L.A. Craig.

    LA has a bigger population than Vermont and several other states combined, though. Why in the hell is it so important for some isolationist ski bums in Vermont to hear the Arab perspective? It’s not like they are gonna actually take some kind of action based on what they learn, is it? lol.

    How many Chinese news channels do you guys get on your public television? In English, of course!

    Sorry to break to you the news that your neighborhood doesn’t stand as a microcosm for the rest of the country.

    Los Angeles is the most diverse city in the united States, and probably in the entire world. If we don’t need Al Jazeera English on public television here, then a bunch of anglo yankees in Vermont don’t, either. Whatever is going on with this story, it isn’t what you try to make it seem.

    But with all those channels offered to you at your whims, you’d think you’d already know.

    Gratuitous insults won’t get under my skin, but keep on trying :)

    For the rest of the country, most of our choices are Dish and Direct TV

    First you tell me that LA isn’t representative of the US, then you tell me what “the rest of the country” has access to? lol.

    only one offers Al Jazeera but not Al Jazeera English for which, there exists a big difference.

    Yeah, the big difference is that one is a channel that propagandizes Arabs and the other is a channel that propagandizes non-Arabs.

    Mainly, one of intelligibility for English-speaking audiences.

    Oh. Right. My bad.

    Posted by programmer craig | July 3, 2008, 2:04 pm
  15. I don’t think there are any “Hispanic-in-English” channels where I live, either. Racism!!! Xenophobia!!! Zionist oppression!!!

    Posted by Anonymous | July 3, 2008, 2:14 pm
  16. Oh, but gratuitous insults DOOO get under your skin. I’ve seen it and it is hilARious. Man, you put me in a good mood every time I see you around. I’m like, “What does this motherfucker have to say today?” Just skimming is enough for me to bust up in giggles. AJE is an awesome channel. Go ‘head with your ranting and raving. Question: Who does not care what you think about anything? Answer: True.

    Posted by safiyyah | July 3, 2008, 4:37 pm
  17. Question: Who does not care what you think about anything? Answer: True.

    WTF? Who is “True”?
    You asked, “WHO does not care…”

    There is a person named “True” who does not care?

    Speaking of gratuitous insults, you’re named after a Jew, Saffiyah! How does that feel?

    Posted by Firouz | July 3, 2008, 6:26 pm
  18. OMG! Craig is back!

    Posted by ally | July 3, 2008, 7:24 pm
  19. I’d be flattered except I’m not quite egotistical enough to think you meant that in a nice way…

    Posted by programmer craig | July 3, 2008, 11:04 pm
  20. Man, you put me in a good mood every time I see you around. I’m like, “What does this motherfucker have to say today?”

    Wow. You know, sometimes I really wonder why you had so much trouble finding an American guy to marry. I guess prolly Muslim guys don’t like women who talk like drunken sailors either, but at least now you have an excuse for not having a boyfriend/husband, right?

    Looks like I got under your skin so much you’ve been waiting months just to lash out at me. Saffiyah, don’t worry, I’m not going to psychoanalyze you again. You aren’t really all that interesting. And also, I’m not a psychologist. But you really ought to try and avoid leading with your chin when you get in a fight with people.

    Posted by programmer craig | July 4, 2008, 12:26 am
  21. You a good man Will!

    clayton

    Posted by Anonymous | July 4, 2008, 11:02 am
  22. Thanks for covering this, hope you don’t mind if I link to it on Global Voices.

    I lived in Burlington for nearly two years, and it’s sadly one of the most progressive places in the U.S. Sadly because there’s only 40,000 people there, and not all of them are liberals (as you’ve seen from the protesters).

    I also lived in Morocco when Al Jazeera English came out, and absolutely adored it. I can’t say much about the channel in Arabic, but the English version gives such a broad perspective that American channels absolutely do not.

    Here’s hoping the rest of the country catches up with the US!

    Posted by Jillian | July 5, 2008, 12:28 pm
  23. Here’s hoping the rest of the country catches up with the US!

    Freudian slip?

    I lived in Burlington for nearly two years, and it’s sadly one of the most progressive places in the U.S

    What does that have to do with the Middle East? The only people in the middle east who could be described as “progressive” are the Israelis. And even that is a stretch. The people of the middle east are conservative, and usually extremely so.

    Posted by programmer craig | July 5, 2008, 2:42 pm
  24. “the English version gives such a broad perspective”

    Translation: Al Jazeera brought viewers interviews with Islamofascist terrorists who used the coverage to expand the reach of their propaganda, helping to recruit untold numbers of young, illiterate young men who thinks it makes sense to chop off women’s heads for not wearing a veil and killing innocent Westerners is a sanctification of G-d.

    There’s a reason why American networks won’t provide this perspective – it is not legitimate. Thank G-d we have the bombs to prove it.

    Posted by Anonymous | July 6, 2008, 11:26 am
  25. Freedom of the press and media diversity are very very important concepts. It is important that Al Jazeera be kept on the air so that people in Burlington who want to watch it have the chance to do so while those that prefer the others can watch something else.

    The difference between Al Jazeera and the mainstream media is that Al Jazeera told the truth about the Iraq war and its human cost, refused to toe the line of the Bush admininstration and is unafraid to talk about the human cost of the Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian territories. In other words, Al Jazeera speaks the truth while the corporate US media lied and hid the truth.

    That some people here in the US feel the need to silence it shows the hypocricy of large segments of the US population with respects to basic freedoms of expression.

    America stands for freedom. And we”ll bomb you if you disagree. Ha Ha.

    Posted by SSS | July 9, 2008, 3:05 pm
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  28. Burlington Vermont is a confused city with republicans and way to many ultra liberals co-existing.
    In fact Burlington is proud of the "Green Movement" and dreams of diversity. Well there are gas guzzler cars everywhewre, and Burlington's Church street is filled with high end boutiques. Oh the diversity!!
    They dream here…and that's about it.

    Posted by Duvid | October 20, 2009, 5:29 am
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Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. [...] the time, Will from the pundit site KABOBfest wrote, “It is time Americans engage in the world and expose themselves to voices beyond the borders. Al [...]

  2. [...] programming in Daytona Beach. In Vermont, some members of the public and Burlington city officials protested the presence of AJE on the municipally-run telecom, sparking a local debate. AJE remained a part of the lineup. Former [...]

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