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Thursday, October 23, 2003

Final: German Journalists in America Admit To A Systematic Crude Anti-Americanism: Also, Former US Radical Journalists Slam Their Former Colleagues

A couple of visitors have sent emails asking the buggy prof when the three-part mini-series on the media and Iraq will be finished. A perfectly good query. So far, the first of the three-article series is done, and the second one about 4/5 finished. In that second article --- Progress and Problems in Iraqi Reconstruction II, published October 19th --- a survey of the media's coverage in West Europe of Iraq was unfolded: in particular, the British and the French and to an extent the German. The article noted that the British reporting on Iraq, with some exceptions, has been polemical and negative and in a kind of attack-dog mode toward the Blair government and Bush America. The BBC --- once justifiably famous for its objectivity and accurate journalism --- has been a particular offender, something that has fortunately caused a scandal in Britain and has put the BBC under a much needed public spotlight. In France and Germany, as you might predict, the coverage has been much worse --- a kind of systematic outpouring of envy and resentment of the US, wounded national pride, crude anti-Americanism, and almost wholly inaccurate reporting of an ideologically prejudiced sort.

HOW WORSE CAN JOURNALISTIC SHODDINESS GET?

The pitiful nature of the French media's reporting was brought out in a lengthy interview with a noted French novelist, now in exile in Quebec and disgusted with what he regards as his country's systematic efforts in the media and political circles at "brainwashing" when it comes to the US on almost any topic and especially on the Middle East. His views were vented at length in the earlier buggy article just referred to. Go here if you prefer to see the original source of the interview. In the German case, the buggy prof gave an example from one of the two most respected German newspapers --- the weekly Die Zeit out of Hamburg, whose Iraqi reporter made fatuous claims about the views of Baghdad residents regarding post-Saddamite Iraq and the American role since that flew in the face of recent scientific opinion polls carried out by Zogby International Pollsters and the Gallup Poll organization. The Gallup Poll was specifically limited to Baghdad itself, the subject of Die Zeit's article that claimed that the residents of that city were in hopeless despondency, with not a spark of optimism about the future.

The truth? According to the Gallup Poll which came out only a week or so before the Die Zeit article appeared, 67% of the Baghdad respondents were optimistic about the future, and 72% want American and British forces to stay in Iraq.

Could it be worse, such journalistic claptrap and contempt for accuracy and objectivity?

Yes, apparently so. At a recent Harvard symposium, the leading German correspondents in this country admitted openly that they have to cater to systematic anti-American prejudices of their publishers and editorial staff and their presumed readership. It is strikingly revealing, the report of this symposium, that appeared in the best German newspaper, Die Frankfurter Allgemeine.

What follows, in line with all this debased journalistic shoddiness, is five things:
1) The report on the German journalists' self-damning admissions,

2) A summary of the Gallup Poll.

3) A report by the specialist who helped manage the Zogby International Pollster survey in August in Iraq that appeared three days ago in the Christian Science Monitor, which the clear progress being made in Iraq along three tracks: political, economic, and security-laden matters, despite the problems that obviously intrude as well.

4) Some articles and references to former or repentant and wavering US radicals like Christopher Hitchens, David Horowitz, Ronald Rodash, Todd Gitlin, Paul Berman, Larry Collier, and Michael Walzer, especially after 9/11. Hitchens most recent article on the progress being made in Iraq that he just published after his return from that country.

5) Finally, to hammer home the gap between the EU's typical journalism on the Continent in at least France and Germany and the growing improvement in the accuracy and balance that now mark a return, it seems, of some prestigious American journalism to its professional ethos and responsibilities --- a report in the New York Times of October 23, 2003, is linked to that shows how, in the southern Shiite areas of Iraq, British troops have won most of the loyalty and support of the Shiite population --- roughly 60% of the Iraqis, and major victims of Saddam's brutally repressive, mass-murdering terror for decades. Add in the quiet, overwhelmingly pro-American region of northern Iraq --- the Kurdish areas that add up to another 15-20% of the Iraqi population --- and essentially 85-90% of the country's area is pacified and supportive of the US-UK efforts to reconstruct and transform Iraq, not to mention that about 70% of Iraqis support still, months after all the alleged doom-doom stuff in their country, the overthrow of Saddamite's terror-charged regime and the US-led governing authority.

 



How many Americans know these facts? Probably not more than 20% --- a guess, mind you; nothing else. How many British? Probably half that, given the BBC and other media influences there --- countered, fortunately, by the Financial Times, the Economist, The Daily Telegraph, and The Times . . . with the latter two, even the Rupert Murdoch owned Times, essentially voicing ideological views of a more conservative thrust, little more. Well, that's something, even if not the journalistic standards The Times once justifiably took pride in.

So much for Britain. What would be the percentage on the Continent? Well, in France probably half the British figure, and in Germany not many more.

Last night, by way of illustration, the French state-owned and closely monitored deuxieme chaine's daily evening news dealt with Iraq for about 90 seconds. Its story? The US military, it was charged, had deliberately destroyed the Baghdad central telephone exchange that French companies had built for Saddam Hussein (no mention actually was made of his name); and since it was obvious --- ??? --- that the telecommunications system had no military relevance, the US had dropped bombs on it in order to give contracts to American telecommunications firms for its reconstruction. Funny, no? Most of the rest of us might think telecommunications happen to be blatantly essential for control, command, and communication in military operations these days --- C3I (intelligence) --- but apparently the French network thinks differently. And it got worse. The story wasn't over. The thinking got more muddled. In striking contradiction to that claim --- consistency in logic, apparently, not much emphasized in French media coverage of anything (never mind courage and honesty and a sense of professional objectivity) --- the story noted that the equipment being used by the Iraqi technicians under American supervision wasn't from the US, but . . . Poland.

Go figure. American bombs wantonly destroyed the French-built telecommunications system for Saddamite Baghdad --- something, needless to say, all Frenchmen should be proud of if we're to grasp the premises of the deuxieme chaine's analysis --- in order to hurt France and help greedy American companies, and the US companies do so by buying the equipment from the Poles.

 

1) US Correspondents from German Newspapers Acknowledge A Crude, High-Pulsating Anti-American Bias

What follows is taken from the laudable web site maintained by David Kaspar in this country, Davids MedienKritik which monitors the politically correct fatuities and systematic journalistic incompetence that mark the German media these days.

"In a discussion session at the forum of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, America correspondents from German newspapers chatted with surprising candor about the mechanisms of anti-Americanism in their editing. The blue section covers the excerpts from the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. The rest are Kaspar's analysis.

"From: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Susanne Klingenstein: "Moments of Truth," October 21, 2003, p. 21

"In the German press the picture of the United States has been narrowed to that of a caricature: They are a narrow-headed, aggressive giant, led by an incompetent, overly-religious president. Schadenfreude over the newest developments can be felt everywhere. What began as legitimate criticism of the Bush government has now established itself as an aggressive anti-Americanism, an anti-Americanism that the German correspondents in Washington find difficult to resist or counter: The themes on which they report are selected by their bosses back in Germany.

Five topics seem to be particularly popular: The stupid President, the American's human-rights violations, the dysfunctional American democracy, the crass materialism of the Americans and the failure of the American media, a media often described in Germany with the word "Gleichschaltung" meaning the entire US media takes one uniform line (i.e. one uniform pro-Bush, pro-war line,) and is incapable of independent thought or action. And so, a homogenous picture of America has come into being which allows for no alternative shades or variations and which completely fails to convey the great diversity and variety of the United States.

As a good German he was naturally against the Iraq War, said a colleague from the "Zeit" newspaper. But he would have also preferred it had his newspaper just once presented all of the American motivations and reasons for action on the front page. The journalist from the "Boston Globe" retorted that that was the very crux of the matter. European journalists always think that they have to take sides while American journalists make an effort to present all sides in an attempt to provide objective reporting."


"I've learned something new. Until now, my prejudice towards German correspondents in America consisted of my belief that they engage in anti-Americanism to a considerable extent. That may well still be correct - but everything is further intensified by the anti-American expectations and opinions of the editors back home in Germany. What German America correspondent can afford to occasionally - to say nothing of regularly - fail to meet these anti-American expectations of his bosses? The competition is hard and the pay is certainly not glamorous...

The discussion at Harvard exposed yet another deficit: the German America correspondents apparently have no access to top sources:

"When a new department chief came to Washington from Rome he asked the serving correspondents with how many Senators they regularly had contact. The answer was with none. German readers are not important to American politicians. They don't vote or contribute money. So it is difficult and time-consuming for the correspondents to get first-hand information."

Clueless German US-correspondents and anti-American expectations and opinions of the editors back home in Germany: this mixture guarantees a skewed, distorted picture of the US in Germany. As they say in America: "Garbage in - garbage out."

Oktober 22, 2003 at 05:39 vorm. in FAZ, Sόddeutsche Zeitung, ZEIT | Permalink

 

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The source for this summary is the Foundation for the Defense of Democracy, run by a former New York Times reporter. Only an excerpt of the article is set out here, to respect copyright laws.

By Richard Burkholder Gallup Poll October 14, 2003

It wasn't long after Saddam Hussein's regime was ousted from Iraq that some vocal Baghdad residents began calling for the prompt withdrawal of coalition forces from the country. Shortly after television crews broadcast live images of the toppling of Hussein's statue in Baghdad's Firdos Square, the words "All Donne (sic) Go Home" were spray-painted on the statue's base.

Iraqis' desire for a prompt withdrawal of foreign troops has been tempered, however, by concern about establishing some basic level of security. The invasion ushered in a wave of violent crime that the city's badly understaffed and underarmed police force has been largely powerless to contain. According to Gallup's new landmark survey of 1,178 adult residents of Baghdad, nearly all Baghdadis -- 94% -- think the city is now a more dangerous place for them to live since the invasion, and 60% said there have been times during the past four weeks when they or their families were afraid to go outside their homes during the day.

Given these findings, is the desire for a prompt withdrawal of foreign forces really the majority sentiment among Baghdad's citizens today? Only one in four Baghdad residents (26%) told Gallup they would prefer coalition forces to "leave immediately -- say, in the next few months." Seven in 10 (72%) said U.S. and British troops should stay in Iraq for "a longer period of time."

Furthermore, a substantial 85% of Baghdad's residents said they agree with the assertion that "some people believe if the U.S. were to pull out its troops any time soon, Iraq will fall into anarchy." Just 11% said they disagree with this assessment. . . .


 

3) Clear Progress In Iraq Scarcely Reported in the US Media, Never Mine the Biased EU Media

The following article appeared in the Christian Science Monitor, once one of the great newspapers of the world --- its coverage and analysis were separate from the religious page at the very back --- only to decline in the 1980s and early 1990s and then to make an impressive come-back as a first-rate online source. Its author is the editor in chief of the American Enterprise magazine, who spent a month last spring in Iraq reporting on the ground, and who was involved more recently in the American Enterprise Institute's sponsoring the Zogby International Pollster survey of Iraqi opinion in several cities there.

He notes, rightly, that there are problems in the reconstruction of Iraq. Obviously. Who ever thought otherwise, except those who --- for reasons of partisan bitterness, or outright ideological hostility or, in the EU and elsewhere abroad, envy and resentment of the US (a sentiment, as we saw, copiously catered to in France and Germany by journalists there) --- opposed toppling Saddamite Iraq in the first place and now relish harping on the bad news, to the exclusion of good news. The Monitor article here spells out the good news and helps put it in perspective. It's a sign, it seems, of generally improved reporting about IRaq in the more prestigious US newspapers and TV networks of late.





October 20, 2003 edition

Progress exceeds prognostication in Iraq

There is basic peace, economic bubbling, and majority Iraqi support for the path the US has cleared By Karl Zinsmeister

FORT BRAGG, N.C. - 'This may not be Vietnam, but boy, it sure smells like it," said Sen. Tom Harkin recently. The Iowa Democrat is but one of a host of critics in Washington politics and the media who claim that US troops and administrators are "bogged down" in Iraq.

Having covered the war as an embedded reporter, having conducted the first national poll of the Iraqi people (in concert with Zogby International), and having remained in close touch with the military men and women who are temporarily the princes running the land of the Tigris and Euphrates, I believe this gloomy view is incomplete and inaccurate.

Let's start by remembering the traumas that never befell us in Iraq.

Not only was the war itself vastly less bloody and difficult than some predicted, but its aftermath has also been quieter. We were told by prewar prognosticators to expect a refugee flood, a food crisis, destruction of the oil fields, and public-health disasters. We were warned that Iraq's multifarious ethnic and religious groups would be at one another's throats. Environmental catastrophes, chemical poisonings, and dam breaks were predicted. It was said Turkey might occupy the north, that Israel could strike from the south, that the Arab "street" was likely to resist.

None of these things happened. Nor have other predicted troubles materialized. When 300,000 mourners gathered for the funeral of assassinated Shiite spiritual leader Bakr al Hakim, they didn't rampage, or call for vengeance against Sunnis, or lash out against the US authorities. They and their leaders showed the political maturity to let the official investigation into the leader's murder proceed.

Whatever the setbacks, we must remember that much of this war has been a case of the dog that didn't bark.

That is not to whitewash the fact that painful low-intensity conflict is still smoldering, producing casualties equivalent to the hot-war phase.

The man I photographed in combat for the cover of my new book about the Iraq war, an 82nd Airborne Ranger named Sean Shields, has been bombed in his Humvee twice in a month. Localized resistance in the Sunni triangle is real. But Sean isn't discouraged: He believes he's doing historic work to stabilize one of the most dangerous spots on our planet. He and other soldiers I hear from believe they're making great progress in setting Iraq on the path of a more normal, decent nation.

Here are some signs they're right:

• Stores are bustling, traffic is busy, and most services have now exceeded their prewar levels. A new currency went into circulation last week.

• Large cities, home to millions - like Basra, Mosul, and Kirkuk - and vast swaths of countryside in the north and south, are stable, basically peaceful, beginning to bubble economically, and grateful to coalition forces who've set them on a new path.

• More than 170 newspapers are being published in Iraq, and broadcast media proliferate.

• The Iraqi Governing Council has been well received by the country's many factions and ethno-religious groups. Sixty-one percent of Iraqis polled by Gallup in September view the council favorably. And by 50 to 14 percent they say it is doing a better, rather than worse, job than it was two months ago.

• For the first time, localities have their own town councils. A working court system has been set up. And a constitution is being hashed out.

• In addition to the 140,000 US troops providing security, there are about 25,000 soldiers from other countries, and 60,000 Iraqi police and guards on the job - with many thousands more in the training pipeline.

• Nearly all schools and universities are open; hundreds have been rehabbed into their best shape in years by soldiers.

• Iraq's interim economic leaders recently committed the country to a wide-open, investment-friendly market economy. The prosperity and global connectivity this should bring will be the ultimate guarantee of Iraq's modernity and moderation.

• Oil production has passed 1 million barrelsper day, and is heading toward 2 million.

• Iraqi public opinion is more moderate than suggested by the anecdotal temperature-takings in press reports. Four entirely different polls have been conducted in Iraq, and their remarkably congruent results show that the majority of Iraqis are optimistic about their future, and believe ousting Saddam Hussein was worth any hardships that have resulted.

The four-city survey in August by The American Enterprise, a magazine I edit, suggests that the three nightmare scenarios for Iraq - a Baathist revival, an Iran-style theocracy, and a swing toward Al Qaeda - are very unlikely, given current Iraqi views. And contrary to media reports of boiling public resentment, all of these polls show that two-thirds of Iraqis want US troops to stay for at least another year.

• Meanwhile, the pouncing raids that US forces initiated two months ago have hurt the guerrillas. More than 1,000 fighters have been arrested and many others killed. The bounty paid by ex-Baathists toinduce attacks on American soldiers has had to be increased from $1,000 to $5,000 to find takers.

• Most critically, the US is now on offense, rather than defense, in the war on terror. With a shock being applied to the seedbeds of Middle Eastern violence, the US homeland has been blessedly quiet for two years.

My friend Christopher Hitchens - who like me, numerous congressmen, and other recent visitors to Iraq witnessed what he calls "ecstatic displays" toward Americans by grateful Iraqis - characterizes what is taking place in Iraq today as "a social and political revolution."

That's no overstatement. Maj. Pete Wilhelm, with the 82nd Airborne in Baghdad, recently described how US forces are nurturing the first shoots of democracy in the Fertile Crescent: "We set up a Neighborhood Advisory Council representative of each neighborhood, and they voted on a leader who attends the city advisory council. Early on, the meetings would last four hours, and it would seem as though no progress was being made. The whole concept of a 'vote' came hard and slow. We have gradually transitioned the burden of the agenda into the hands of the representatives, renovated the meeting hall with AC, and pushed the autopilot button. The meetings are down to an hour and a half, and we just keep the ball in play and act as referees. We are making great strides at grass-roots democracy."

After a recent trip to the country, Mr. Hitchens agrees, saying, "I saw persuasive evidence of the unleashing of real politics in Iraq, and of the highly positive effect of same."

All of this has been accomplished in less than six months from the fall of Baghdad. Keep in mind that Germany - a much more advanced nation that already had a democratic tradition - didn't hold elections until four years after World War II ended. Gen. Douglas MacArthur progressed less rapidly in Japan.

Certainly, there remains an enormous amount to fix in Iraq. But there is something unseemly about the impatience of today's pundits, their insistence on instant recovery, and what my colleague Michael Barone calls the media's "zero defect standard."

US soldiers and administrators are turning a tide of history and culture in the Middle East. If Americans show some patience, they'll gaze upon many heartening transformations in Iraq a few months and years from now.

• Karl Zinsmeister, editor in chief of The American Enterprise magazine, is the author of the new book, 'Boots on the Ground: A Month with the 82nd Airborne in the Battle for Iraq.' He was in Iraq in April.


 



4) Ex-Radical or Just Repentant and Other Self-Searching Left-Wing Views of 9/11 and Iraq

Note the reference in the Monitor article to similar conclusions arrived at by even certain left-wing journalists like Christopher Hitchens, a free-lance journalist who used to have a regular column in Nation, the major weekly of left-wing liberals and radicals. Hitchens' case is instructive --- also a sign of the times.

A long-time left-wing critic of US foreign policies --- no friend of Bill Clinton either, just the contrary --- Hitchens is a British ex-pat and now US citizen who couldn't stomach the apologies and barely concealed glee that seized the mind of most of his former radical colleagues, especially those writing for the Nation, after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Small wonder. Who with any sense could? Ever since 9/11, the general thrust in the Nation's commentary and almost all its reporting follow a standard-model radical line: the US was largely responsible for the attacks, it was going to stumble into a hopeless quagmire in Afghanistan, the war on terrorism has emerged as a right-wing ideological crusade of neo-imperial thrust, the Bush administration is crushing the liberties of Americans under the guise of fighting terrorism, the oil lobby seems to dominate Bush foreign policy, and the war to topple the brutal, mass-murdering Saddamite regime would lead to a catastrophe. [For Hitchens recent article on Iraq, What If It Works? click on the link.]

[Note the term in bold above: glee. As you'll see three or so paragraphs later on here, this isn't an original buggy term. It appears in a stunning assault on radical intellectuals by one of their most prominent, the editor of Dissent magazine, Michael Walzer: he refers to "the barely concealed glee that the imperial state had finally gotten what it deserved." The specific link to Walzer's article, Can There Be A Decent Left? where this phrase appeared, will be given in a moment or two.]

Such radically chic defense and apology for anti-American adversaries, including glee in some radical circles, is nothing new in The Nation. It has long been a fount of apologetics for the Stalinist and post-Stalinist Soviet regime, a frequent defender of Asian Communisms --- the more brutal as in the Maoist era, it seems, the better --- Castro's Cuba, and almost any crackpot despotic regime ruining its country that came to power in the developing countries after 1945 and spouted anti-American and anti-capitalist rhetoric. See Hitchen's article of a year ago, "Why I Left the Nation" For some wider perspective here on the Hitchens break with the Nation, see this article. On the Nation's continued apologetics --- which have degenerated anyway into tiresome weariness, something even the L.A. Weekly now admits --- see the article in the latter radical alternative here.

Anti-Americanism or The US Is Always To Blame

Something else to consider here: Americanism generally in the EU media and elsewhere. In particular, Paul Hollander --- British in origin, like Christopher Hitchens --- is a retired professor of sociology from the University of Mass. who has been systematically writing for 25 years now on left-wing and foreign apologetics for communism. He has been paricularly perceptive and scathingly critical when it comes to left-wing cheer-leading and hosannahs for an endless number of crackpot third-world dictators, whether the left-wing fools are Americans or their fawning intellectual sycophants in the EU. All of these left-wing apologists for totalitarianism and bankrupt, brutal dictatorships are rooted, he argues rightly, in a quixotic search for a firm ideological resting-point that will that will salvage and justify these intellectuals own rippling raw hostility to capitalism, globalizing tendencies, modernity, bourgeois democracy, and above all the US . . . the bastion, in their view and probably rightly so, of their triumphant tendencies in the world, especially with the collapse of communism and socialist dreams. Never mind how savage and destructive these foreign tyrants happen to be. What counts is their ideological conformity in rhetoric to the left-wing's quest after some meaningful surrogate religion, something that will make sense of a frustrating world full of inevitable conflict and disappointments.

At bottom, as Hollander notes, the anti-Americanism is a projection outward of the intellectuals' own rootlessness and identity problems, a loud protest against the modern world in which they feel ill at ease and in disarray . . . the US itself the purist form yet of modernity, its avant-garde society for good or bad. See, for instance, his remarks in this article and again in this symposium.

Then 9/11's murderous attacks on American soil erupted. Since then, as we know, lots of other home-grown US radicals have reassessed their former smug convictions and beliefs and their colleagues who still cling to them. In the upshot, they have moved brusquely toward the center in disgust at the bursting hostility to American life and American policies --- not to the mention growing anti-Semitism in left-wing circles, either openly or through apologetics for it --- that they now recognize prevail in hard-core circles . . . catered to by Edward Said and Noam Chomsky and a whole retinue of writers for The Nation and a slew of unreadable academic journals full of post-modernist illiteracies.

Among these now self-questioning radicals --- distancing himself from his former pieties without really renouncing them squarely --- is Michael Walzer, a political philosopher at Princeton. Also, the editor of Dissent . . . a far more intellectually serious and solid form of fairly tame radical criticism. In the spring of 2002, he wrote that widely read article in that journal that roasted his colleagues' smug, self-righteous hostility to the US and its global role, not to mention their defense of the indefensible. Its title? Revealing enough, as we noted earlier, it's "Can There Be A Decent Left?"

Walzer's answer: he's no longer certain --- even as he clings to his radical convictions. Should he be congratulated or condemned? It depends, no? One thing for sure, he no longer has any doubt that lots of the intellectual left manifested "barely concealed glee that the imperial state had finally gotten what it deserved" on 9/11.

 

Todd Gitlin

Then too there is Todd Gitlin, a former founder of Students for Democratic Action --- a radical anti-war movement of the 1960s --- and a professor of the media formerly at UC Berkeley and now in New York who denounced his former colleagues simple-minded transfer of anti-war radicalism to the Bush administration immediately after 9/11. See this article More recently, Gitlin has also denounced the growing acceptance of anti-Semitism in radical and liberal progressive circles. Elsewhere, he also warned against knee-jerk anti-Americanism in those circles, a view endorsed by another leading radical sociologist of the late 1960s and 1970s, William Dumhoff. Later, in 2003, Gitlin gathered several of his articles critical of the current left-wing radicalism and published them in a book, Letters To An Activist, that tears into left-wing anti-Americanism, anti-Semitism, mindless politically correct orthodoxies, support for revolutionary vanguards abroad who are mainly tyrannical, vicious crackpots, and the like.

Not that Gitlin --- remember, a former founder of Students for Democratic Action and its president as well as a leading intellectual luminary in radical politics for four decades --- isn't willing to dig into the sources of anti-Semitism in certain left-wing circles, including, as Gitlin is dismayed to note, student circles. Specifically, in The Rough Beast Returns --- the article on left-wing tolerance of and connivance in anti-Semitism --- Gitlin notes at one point:

Wicked anti-Semitism is back. The worst crackpot notions that circulate through the violent Middle East are also roaming around America, and if that wasn't bad enough, students are spreading the gibberish. Students! As if the bloc to which we have long looked for intelligent dissent has decided to junk any pretense of standards.

A student movement is not just a student movement. It's a student movement. Students, whether they are progressive or not, have the responsibility of knowing things, of thinking and discerning, of studying. A student movement should maintain the highest of standards, not ape the formulas of its elders or outdo them in virulence.


 

Looking over Gitlin's rebukes of the left, a professor who has witnessed with dismay growing anti-Semitism in numerous left-wing circles around the country rebukes him in turn. He or she asks --- there's no specific author cited --- where in heavens' name these student activists ever derived their views of the world from Fanon, Sartre, Chomsky, Edward Said, Michel Foucault, and other confused and muddled writers full of grudges and resentments? These views didn't work their way up the sewer pipes of intellectual life on their own after all. No, they have been pushed systematically by politically correct professors for a whole generation now, including Todd Gitlin, while using all sorts of thuggish techniques of political control to ensure their orthodoxies weren't challenged effectively: hate-speech codes, witch-hunt tribunals that spit on the US Constitution, kangaroo courts, the tolerance of student brawlers who burst into non pc-professors' classrooms and drive off campus any speakers to the right of Al Gore, lopsided course syllabi, and a general atmosphere in these pc-classrooms of intimidation should anyone dare publicly disagree. Until recently.

 

Paul Berman and Other Dismayed Radicals Who Still Won't Face the Full Searing Truth

Then, too, there's Paul Berman, a gifted political theorist whose writings the buggy prof has used in the past. Another prominent radical intellectual, Berman has been taken aback by the growth of anti-Semitism and Jew-hating viciousness in the anti-globalization movement, whether in this country or abroad. See his article of last year here. He too, however, seems to think this gutter-level storm-trooping hatred suddenly emerged out of nowhere, as though it has no links to his, Walzer's, Gitlin's, and other prominent radicals intellectual endorsements and views they've spread over the last three or four decades. Eventually, though --- like Gitlin --- he gathered his more recent views into a book, Terror and Liberalism, and like Gitlin's Letters To An Activist, he has come closer to a more honest self-scrutiny of what and why his earlier radical views have gone more astray than he had ever anticipated back in the more ebullient days of the 1960s and 1970s.

See the informative customer reviews of Terror and Liberalism at Amazon: they'll give you a good idea of the book's themes and how they relate to the failure of liberalism and radicalism to take seriously the totalitarian hatreds of America that flourished in the 20th century --- fascism, nazism, communism --- and still do in much of the Islamic world and among the left and far right in Europe. Interestingly, Berman's views about Islamo-fascism, fundamentalism extremism, and terrorism were set out independently by the buggy prof in an earlier article here. See fascism and the war on terrorism, itself little more than an update of a gordon-newspost argument sent to that listserver subscribers the year before.

 

Richard Rorty on Left-Wing PC "Creeps", His Own Term

Not for nothing has the only really first-rate thinker of enduring and original intellectual influence to be associated with radical pc-movements on campus and elsewhere --- including the encouragement of writers like Foucault, Derrida, other French post-modernists, and so on --- recently broken with these movements and denounced them for their political mindlessless, rancorous self-righteousness, and sheer semi-literacy. We're referring to Richard Rorty, a philosopher who has justifiably had a big influence, no doubt enduring, even when you disagree with them. And not for nothing does he dub his former radical colleagues as "creeps" and denounce them for their lack of even elementary patriotism. See the earlier buggy article on Rorty's views here.

For a fascinating, far-ranging perspective on Gitlin and other disillusioned radicals who still cling to radical hopes after 9/11, see David Horowtiz's article on them . . . Horowitz, the former editor of the 1960s radical bible, Ramparts magazine, who grew up in a Communist family, went to UC Berkeley, met several dozens of other radicals --- including Robert Scheer, the L.A. Times journalist who was the publisher of Ramparts --- only to be repelled by the violence and descent into nihilism in those radical circles during the 1970s. Horowitz is now the editor of the conservative Frontpage magazine, and in the article just mentioned that he wrote on radicals like Gitlin, he spells out some of his own reasons for breaking with radical circles. (His book, Radical Son, is an absorbing account of his family life, education, radicalism, and rupture with it. Note that his co-editor of Ramparts, Larry Collier, has also renounced his radical background and moved toward the right.)

Another former prominent radical is the noted historian Ronald Radosh --- once like Horowitz a Communist, only like him to be appalled by activist radical politics and violence by the 1970s and to move rightward. See his astute article on The Nation and its long-time publisher: The Persistence of Anti Anti-Communism. As for the ways radical and other left-wing historians continue to push apologetics for the Soviet Union in the cold war and to assume the US was the worse of the two superpowers, see this article by Arnold Beichman, a noted journalist at the Hoover Institute.

 

5) Another Illuminating Article on What's At Stake in Iraq Now by Victor Davis Hanson

Yes, I know. At the outset of this article, the buggy prof foreshadowed that the fifth and last part would link to the informative New York Times article on how successful the changes --- economic, political, security-wise --- have been in the Shiite areas of Iraq where the British have largely taken responsiblity. Alas, the article is impossible to find. It appeared only two or three days ago, but a search at the Times site was useless: you ask for Iraq, shiites, Britain or UK in the search box, and what you get --- even if you specify the last week only --- is about 200 links to irrelvant stuff. Do the same at google.com, news --- only add New York Times to the search --- and you get hundreds of irrelevant stuff too.

Not to worry. We've an even better piece, one of a lengthy string of perceptive, historically informed articles on Iraq --- both before the war to topple the savage Saddamite regime and since --- by the gifted comparative military historian, Victor Davis Hanson. There's scarcely anybody in the world, it seems, who has the sort of comparative knowledge to illuminate warfare and conflict in the present that Hanson possesses, and he is no slouch when it comes to savvy about the Middle East, Islam, Islamist extremists, and the war on terrorism. Here, in today's article that he published at the National Review Online, is an unusually stimulating think-piece: "Iraq Is Becoming the Deciding Issue of Our Time"

Here are some excerpts, nothing more:

" . . . So, too, a successful consensual government in Baghdad will serve as a glimpse of what life can be like amid the economic and political stagnation of the surrounding Arab world. More importantly, it will confront radical Islam with a competing ideology that possesses a far more revolutionary message than the Islamists' tired old culture of death that ruined Afghanistan and Iran, wrecked the economy of the West Bank, tore apart Algeria, ended the tourist industry of Egypt, brought international scorn on Saudi Arabia and Indonesia, turned the president of Malaysia into an international laughingstock, nearly made Pakistan an outlaw regime — and led to the reckoning after 9/11. Holdover Soviet-style Baathism didn't work; Islamic fascism was a failure; tribal dictatorship and monarchies are no better; Pan-Arabism was a cruel joke. The Arab world is running out of alternatives to democratic governments and free markets.

A free Iraq will place a terrible dilemma on the governments and elites of these closed Arab societies who must explain to their own poor and oppressed how satellite pictures of voting Iraqis, Internet cafes, and raucous debates on television are really fabricated images concocted by the American-Zionist international consortium. There is a time bomb ticking in the Middle East, but it is in Cairo and Damascus and Riyadh, where corrupt elites can only pray that things don't calm down in Baghdad and thereby prompt al Jazeera to switch from tailing dead-end Baathists to interviewing Iraqi parliamentarians.

Iraq is also becoming a reflecting pool of the world at large. Millions are slowly learning how different the United States is from its critics in Europe. France will threaten the awful regime in Libya but only about matters of monetary recompense, in the same manner that money led both it and Germany to trade with Saddam Hussein after 1991 and haggle over oil concessions for the next half century. Neither state would remove a dictator, much less pledge lives and nearly $90 billion to create a democracy in the Middle East. All that is too concrete, too absolute, too unsophisticated for the philosophes, who would always prefer slurring a democracy to castigating some third-world bloody ideologue. The Europeans, remember, are now grandstanding about the need for American "transparency" in the distribution of their paltry few millions in Iraq in a manner that they never demanded of their billions once dumped onto a corrupt Palestinian Authority.

There are bombings regularly in Spain; over 10,000 died in France due to either a defect in its socialist government or indeed in its very national character; and Russia obliterated Grosny. But a single death or bomb in Baghdad alone seems to merit condemnation from the Europeans, whose leaders seem incapable of using the words "victory" and "freedom," much less "sacrifice" and "liberation." They may lavish awards and money on a Jimmy Carter or Susan Sontag, who criticize their own country's efforts in the midst of a deadly war; but the true moralists are those who risk taking on tyrants, not those who carp from the sidelines that such courageous efforts are sometimes messy. It seems to be a rite of old age for American progressives these days to travel to Europe and trash their alma mater as they troll for the applause of a smug, cynical audience, the more boldly when they are not answered and confronted by independent thinkers abroad. But such showboating is going to be increasingly difficult once a liberal and humane society emerges in Iraq.

These Europeans like multilateral solutions not out of principle so much as because the tortuous process of implementing them creates the illusion that, in the meantime, nothing must be done. Hence, by the time the U.N. acts, most Bosnians or Rwandans or Kuwaitis are long gone, a sort of "talk, talk/die, die policy." Had a Chirac or Schroeder said something like, "With confidence in our values and with right, as we see, it on our side, we shall fight alongside our democratic ally, the United States, and together remove this Dark Age government in Iraq that has butchered so many innocents at home and abroad, and so menaces the peace of all democratic states," he would have doomed his career in a single hour.

For some reason Paris and Berlin — and their American admirers — think that the reconstruction of Iraq should be perfect in six months, despite the fact that European and U.N. efforts in the Balkans are not perfect after a near decade. Yet it is likely that Saddam Hussein — on the lam for six months — will be found more quickly than the odious Radovan Karadzic or Ratko Mladic who, under very suspicious circumstances, are still in hiding inside Europe five years after their hideous regimes collapsed beneath American bombs. And will the Balkans under the U.N. — 13 years so far since hostilities commenced — achieve stability more quickly than Iraq under American auspices? Instead, when the post-9/11 war is all over, all of the dead — Americans, Afghans, and Iraqis — in the first two years of fighting will prove to be a fraction of those slaughtered in the former Yugoslavia during the decade of European non-fighting. We have seen the European new world order, and its pacifist and socialist utopia leads to Sbrenica and an August of mass death in France . . .

Yet here we stand, a little more than six months later, with a country that was the worst in the Middle East evolving into the best. We are witnessing nothing less than the revolutionary and great moral event of the age, and when it comes to pass, a reborn democratic Iraq will overturn almost all the conventional wisdom, here and abroad, about the Middle East, the nature and purpose of war in our age, the moral differences between Europe and America — and the place in history of George W. Bush.

No wonder the current hysteria looks likely to increase in the months ahead."