White Man’s Burden: Because Normalization is Hard to Do

March 5, 2012 § 1 Comment

On +972 magazine, IPCRI’s Dan Goldenblatt has invited “anyone who has criticism of how we at IPCRI try to advance this goal to tell us so, engage and challenge us, and help us and others improve.” As a long-time critic of the “liberal left” “peace industry” (I thank Goldenblatt himself for the latter term), I’m taking him up on his invitation, picking up from where PACBI left off. To start off, I’ll wonder whether IPCRI “brought [themselves] together” with PACBI to “meet, discuss, argue, build, take apart, share and cooperate”? Or did Goldenblatt just write up his public response to PACBI’s engaging and challenging critique of the organization?

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The ‘real agenda’ of the BBC’s Jane Corbin, who calls herself a ‘Journalist’

August 26, 2010 § 6 Comments

Pro-Palestinian activists from Turkey, wearing life jackets, hold a news conference on board the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara as they sail in the international waters of the Mediterranean Sea. (Reuters)

by Abbas Al Lawati

On August 19, the Israeli consulate in New York tweeted: #BBC “Panorama” presents arguably the most complete & thorough account of the #Flotilla.

The documentary has not received much endorsement elsewhere. Instead there have been loud protests of bias, especially among those aboard the Mavi Marmara, the largest vessel in the Gaza-bound aid flotilla that Israeli commandos raided on May 31, killing nine activists.

Recently aired, the Panorama documentary, entitled Death in the Med, was produced by the BBC’s veteran documentary maker Jane Corbin. It claims to investigate the “real agenda” of “those who call themselves peace activists”.

A close analysis of the documentary reveals a troubling lack of objectivity in trying to paint the activists, headed by the Turkish relief organisation IHH, as radical Islamists bent on waging violent jihad.

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An Open Letter to BBC Panorama’s Jane Corbin

August 21, 2010 § 18 Comments

Aloha Jane,

The author Ken O'Keefe being interviewed by Jane Corbin

As you know Panorama airedDeath in the Med’ this week. Well Jane, I have been in the media game long enough to know that moral depravity and lack of integrity are qualities that are rewarded rather than discouraged in your field of work. With such experience it is impossible for me to take commitments from someone like yourself seriously, and that is why I recorded our conversation clandestinely, a conversation in which you confirmed the agreement that was made between the BBC and myself with yourself and Alys as BBC representatives. In that agreement it was clear that I would agree to the interview if only you included the fact that we let the commandos go. Knowing that was the agreement and anticipating that I was going to confirm it once more after the interview you said;

Well its the point about we didn’t kill the commandos, we had them in… that will be in there don’t worry. (laughing) That’s, that is important for us because obviously they would say they felt their lives were in danger, to which the corollary is, well their lives could have been in danger but we let them go. I think that’s a very strong point.

So, instead of your team honouring its commitment to me, you instead aired a farcical report with multitudes of half-truths, lies, omissions and importantly, Israeli commandos who escaped rather than being set free. Let us be frank Jane, the reason for that is because it is impossible to square the whole angle that we are “terrorists” and extremists” and killers, if we let them go. It just doesn’t fit. So for BBC in this case, when the facts do not work, you lie. In an attempt to justify this, the BBC has written an insulting letter in defence of your fallacious fairytale; this is due to the torrent of complaints that have resulted from Death in the Med.

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These are the birth pangs of Obama’s new regional order

June 18, 2009 § 7 Comments

Supporters listen to Ahmadinejads speech

Supporters listen to Ahmadinejad's speech

Seumas Milne sums up well the reasons why some caution is necessary. ‘The turmoil in Tehran reflects a refusal to accept Amadinejad is popular and confusion about how to respond to the US’, he writes.

Also, it appears Robert Fisk can’t decide from one day to another where he stands. On his first day he had declared Ahmadinejad a winner because someone told him so. Now he is claiming, based on the photocopy of a forged letter being distributed at an opposition rally, that not only did Ahmadinejad lose, he lost by a margin of 4-to-1. Imagine that!  And why would a veteran journalist suspend his skepticism to clutch at such an obviously bogus piece of propaganda? (which among other things also claims that Mehdi Karroubi — a man that independent polls showed receiving 2 percent, as opposed to AN’s 34 percent — won more than twice as many votes as Ahmadinejad). Look at the reasoning of this doyen of British journalism:

In a highly sophisticated society like Iran, forgery is as efficient as anywhere in the West and there are reasons for both distrusting and believing this document. But it divides the final vote between Mr Mousavi and Mr Karroubi in such a way that it would have forced a second run-off vote – scarcely something Mousavi’s camp would have wanted.

So Fisk first asserts that the reasons for believing a document with such outlandish claims inconsistent with any known independent polls and the dubious manner in which it was acquired are just as good as the reasons for doubting it. He then nudges the reader toward his implicit conclusion, that the document can’t be a forgery, since it does not give Mousavi outright victory. Who could argue with such impeccable deductive reasoning? This is not journalism, this is propaganda.

Here’s Milne’s corrective:

‘They have elected a ­Labour government,” a Savoy diner famously declared on the night of Britain’s election landslide in 1945. “The country will never stand for it.” From the evidence so far coming out of Iran, something similar seems to be ­happening on the streets of Tehran – and in the western capitals just as desperate to see the back of Iranian president ­Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Of course the movement behind opposition candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi spreads far beyond the capital’s elite, as did the supporters of Winston Churchill against Clement Attlee. In Iran, it includes large sections of the middle class, students and the secular. But a similar misreading of their own social circles for the country at large appears to have convinced the opposition’s supporters that it can only have lost last Friday’s election through fraud.

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The Corpulent Bitch: A case study in the infantilization of one adult

May 19, 2009 § Leave a comment

Hitchens appeals to the Jackass generation

Hitchens appeals to the Jackass generation

Christopher Hitchens used to be an intrepid muckraker of the Left. He used to be friends with the likes of Edward Said, Chomsky, Tariq Ali et al; and he used to take on people like Bill Clinton, Henry Kissinger and assorted pundits of the Right. Since 9/11 he made his peace with power, and turned the crosshairs 180 degrees to people already targets of the right’s vast army of character assassins. He valiantly used perches provided by Rupert Murdoch and Conrad Blackt to assault the likes of Howard Zinn, Norman Finkelstein, Tariq Ali, Arundhati Roy, and, in the most dastardly act of his career, he attacked Edward Said when his health was in terminal decline, and again in his obituary. Last month karma caught up with him when he was turned into a punching bag by members of the SSNP in Lebanon for desecrating the memorial of a martyr from the 1982 war against Israel. This odious creature who once used to wow notoriously Anglophile American audiences with his Oxbridge accent feigning high birth (he actually comes from a rather undistinguished stock) it appears is now trying to prolong his declining career by appealing to the Jackass generation. He has event adopted its juvenile lingo, renaming his column ‘Hitch-Bitch’,  appropriately adorned with an image of him doing a mook-on-steroids expression for the camera. At this rate I suspect we’ll soon be hearing that his obesity is nothing more than an Awesum Xperiment in XTREEEEEMMME health!

This reminded me of an excellent interview with Benjamin Barber on his last book Consumed: How Markets Corrupt Children, Infantilize Adults, and Swallow Citizens Whole, where he speaks about this very phenomena.

Guardian’s Man in Caracas

May 14, 2009 § Leave a comment

He doesnt just look like one, he also acts like one.

Gore Vidal once said of Truman Capote that his death was a good career move. I suspect that for the same reason Rory Carroll wishes deep inside that his encounter with the Mahdi Army in Iraq had also been fatal. That way, at least he would still have a reputation, since most people tend to instinctively assume the best of the departed.

This clown has been redeployed to Venezuela, and as is the wont of every tabloid hack who through whatever stroke of luck graduates to a putatively respectable publication, he appears to conflate the country with its leading demonized figure, in this case the person of Hugo Chavez. In his tortured attempts to make the Venezuelan leader appear buffoonish (no mean feat for someone who comes from a place which thrice elected Tony Blair its Grand Ayatullah), he invariably ends up making himself look ridiculous. For the past few days he has been running silly reports about how the name of a new affordable mobile phone produced indigenously may be a slang reference to a penis. I felt compelled to send him this email:

I am moved by the fact that you offer your readers some modest amusement in these hard times by making public your fascination with male genitalia . But you must take into account the possibility that some of your readers may have already entered their teens and expect that a reporter covering a country of 28 million people and nearly a million square kilometers would have more significant things to report than real or imagined penis references made by its leader. Besides, tautology is not good form; there is already a dick in the byline.

Don’t hesitate to convey your displeasure: rory.carroll@guardian.co.uk

The kind of things he writes…

April 26, 2009 § 1 Comment

Michael Tomasky isn’t the sharpest tool in the box. Sources tell me that the Guardian hired him because they were looking for a US commentator on the cheap, and he was all they could afford. The analysis as you can see is mediocre, and frankly quite worthless. You never get anything better than a diluted summary of the conventional wisdom in Washington, i.e., the accumulated inanity of the windbags that constitute the US punditocracy. See for example this piece on Paul Krugman’s critique of Obama’s economic policy. Strike that. The piece doesn’t say anything about Paul Krugman’s critique; this glorified gossip columnist reduces it to a personal feud. But more egregiously, see this report on Obama’s handshake with Chavez. The liberal realist that he is, he ridicules the tantrums of the extremists on Fox News etc to defend Obama. He does so however on the grounds that past presidents have shaken hands with bad people too! Not content with taking cheap swipes at Hugo Chavez, he then goes on to disparage his choice of a gift for the US president. He divines Obama’s inner feelings about the gift, telling us he was ‘not too happy’, because ‘We all know who Eduardo Galeano is, and what kind of books he writes’. As a matter of fact we do: he writes Great Books. Books of the kind that the Tomasky’s of the world will probably never read because they will remind them of their own inadequacies. Or perhaps simply because they are just too illiterate. That’s why the Guardian got him for a discount.

Here are ‘the kinds of things [Galeano] writes‘.

Salgado, 17 Times

April 26, 2009 § 1 Comment

Full view of the Serra Pelada gold mine Brazil, 1986 (Sebastião Salgado)

The Guardian‘s resident oaf Michael Tomasky recently disparaged the fact that Hugo Chavez presented Barack Obama with Eduardo Galeano’s classic The Open Veins of Latin America with the sneer: ‘We all know what kind of things he writes’. We all do, but it is not clear Tomasky does. Galeano writes things of the following kind. It is literature of the most elevated variety. It is prose that rings. This is from an essay introducing An Uncertain Grace, a collection of Sebastião Salgado’s photography:

1. Are these photographs, these figures of tragic grandeur, carvings in stone or wood by a sculptor in despair? Was the sculptor the photographer? Or God? Or the Devil? Or earthly reality?This much is certain: it would be difficult to look at these figures and remain unaffected. I cannot imagine anyone shrugging his shoulder, turning away unseeing, and sauntering off, whistling.

2. Hunger looks like the man that hunger is killing. The man looks like the tree the man is killing. The trees have arms, the people, branches. Wizened bodies, gnarled: trees made of bones, the people of knots and roots that writhe under the sun. The trees and the people, ageless. All born thousands of years ago – who knows how many? – and still they are standing, inexplicably standing, beneath a heaven that forsakes them.

3. This world is so sad that the rainbows come out in black and white and so ugly that the vultures fly upside down after the dying. A song is sung in Mexico:

Se va la vida por el agujero Como la mugre por el lavadero. [Life goes down the drain Like dirt in the sink.]

And in Colombia they say:

El costo de la vida sube y sube y el valor de la vida baja y baja. [The more the cost of living goes up the less life is worth.]

But light is a secret buried under the garbage and Salgado’s photographs tell us that secret.

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A dick named Cox

April 20, 2009 § 2 Comments

What do you call someone who in 2009 believes that ‘Blair must have believed that WMD existed, since even the peace lobby did…[s]eeking to protect oil supplies wouldn’t have been an entirely ignoble concern…he might honestly have thought this would be in our own best interests. Alastair Campbell …could still have believed in the policy he was enforcing’ and thinks In the Loop is a bad film because it ‘excludes the part played by principle’?

There is much that one could criticize about the Armando Iannucci film In the Loop. That it couldn’t be as credulous as the tools in the New Labour press is not one of them. It is a travesty the British press should allow bovine oafs like David Cox to defile their pages.

Boycott the Independent on Sunday

April 12, 2009 § 8 Comments

The paper blames the dead victim Ian Tomlinson. No person with a shred of decency should buy or subscribe to Independent on Sunday. If you want to read Robert Fisk or Patrick Cockburn’s reports, do so online. Don’t waste your money on this pseudo-liberal, conformist shit-rag. Editor-at-Large Janet Street-Porter writes an execrable apologia for police brutality in today’s paper where she warns readers that ‘before we put the police in the dock, it might be worth considering what Mr Tomlinson was doing that night, and what state of mind he might have been in’. The situation, she tells us, is ‘a great deal more complicated’.

But what exculpatory evidence does she proffer?

Mr Tomlinson was an alcoholic who lived in a bail hostel around the corner from me in the City of London. He’d tried and failed to stay away from booze, but I make no judgement about that [MIA: What is the relevance, then, of this information to the case at hand?]…Knowing that he was an alcoholic is critical to understanding his sense of disorientation and his attitude towards the police, which might on first viewing of the video footage, seem a bit stroppy.[MIA: So she is making a judgment about that; worse, she feels qualified to pronounce on Tomlinson's 'attitude' from the mere seconds of available footage]… Witnesses say Mr Tomlinson appeared to be drunk, he wasn’t coherent and couldn’t move very well… It had been a long and trying day for the police. Mr Tomlinson wound them up when he didn’t get out of the way. [MIA: Perhaps it had also been 'a long and trying day' for Tomlinson and the police wound him up when they 'didn't get out of the way', but this tool is only willing to give the perpetrator the benefit of a doubt]

In short, Tomlinson was asking for it. Not least, because he was a down-and-outer who was ‘wearing a Millwall shirt, smoking a cigarette, and he’d had a few drinks’. Street-Porter inverts the demands of homicide investigation in focusing on the actions and the state of mind of the victim rather than the perpetrator. And she does all that in the guise of actually standing up for the little guy. Her headline blares that ‘Tomlinson was no saint’. Presumably one has to be a saint now to earn immunity from the Police’s abuses of authority.

I would urge all readers to write to the Independent and express your disapproval in the strongest terms possible. I would also encourage other bloggers to highlight this issue and to help end the media’s complicity with the progressive erosion of civil liberties.

This odious creature must feel the heat. She is sick.


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