Thursday, April 7, 2011

Ackerman v. Gómez

Yesterday's anti-crime marches in Mexico (background on that here) has led to an entertaining set-to between John Ackerman and Ciro Gómez Leyva, each of them taking shots at the other's most recent movement (No More Blood for Ackerman, the Iniciativa México media agreement for Leyva). Ackerman closes his rebuttal with the following:
At the end of his column the journalist asks me a question: "And after the marches, what do we do then?" I will answer. Direct our efforts toward the full democratization of the electronic media outlets so as to assure the public presence of the great plurality of voices and perspectives that characterize our society. The indignation of those that marched this Wednesday isn't directed only at the government, the parties, and the criminals, but also at the great media oligopolies that have us sick of so much lying and disinformation.
Here was a pretty good chance for one of Calderón's more prominent critics to do offer a more pointed criticism, and I'm not really sure what specifically Ackerman is proposing here. Nor am I sure why he thought the answer to the question lies primarily with changing the media. At the risk of painting with too broad a brush, it's striking that Calderón's more strident adversaries often don't offer much in the way of specific policy alternatives. And it's not for lack of opportunity--there's plenty of stuff that should be changed in Calderón's approach. But for whatever reason, the preferred terrain is the simplicity of "Calderón's war" and the like. That's a useful line of political attack, but it dominates the opposition narrative way too much. It's too much bludgeon, not enough scalpel. Insofar as a loyal opposition can moderate the worst tendencies of the government, the incessant broadsides, which are pretty easy to tune out, instead of specific complaints, which are less so, are counterproductive from a policy standpoint.

Also, Ackerman, continuing his habitual lack of proportion, referred to Iniciativa México as "totalitarian" the other day. You can read a straight-ahead take on the agreement here; you tell me if you see Stalin lurking between the lines.

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