Middle East studies in the News
Platforms of the Enemy [ref. Joseph Massad, Hamid Dabashi, Edward Said, et al.]
by John Perazzo
It is every American's right to dissent from the domestic and foreign policies of their government. However, when their country is attacked by adversaries who have sworn its destruction, and American critics use the platforms of the enemy as launching pads for their own attacks, other Americans may legitimately wonder about the loyalties such choices reveal.
The Iraq war is a conflict over which well-meaning Americans may reasonably disagree. Some critics argue, for example, that the Bush administration did not show enough patience prior to invading Iraq; that not every peaceful alternative was explored; that the Iraq conflict is a misguided distraction from the effort to track down Osama bin Laden and stabilize Afghanistan; or that the war cannot be won. Supporters of the war will disagree, but they will also recognize that these positions can be held by patriotic Americans who wish their country well.
But this benign attitude towards opponents of the war is bound to change when "critics" characterize their commander-in-chief as Adolf Hitler, their government as the Third Reich, and their nation as "the world's greatest terrorist state." Or when they seize any pretext to portray their country as a ruthless aggressor in the war, while painting their country's enemies sympathetically as its victims. When such hostile critics choose to make these charges from the media platforms of the enemy, their enterprise looks less like dissent within a shared community than a psychological warfare campaign to promote their countrymen's defeat.
Psychological warfare campaigns like this were notoriously conducted during World War II by Axis Sally and Tokyo Rose, who were convicted of treason for their efforts. Similar activities were engaged in by un-indicted traitors like Tom Hayden and Jane Fonda, among others. These efforts cannot be regarded as mere political dissent. Their practitioners are more accurately characterized as members of an internal fifth column—enemies of their own country who have entered into informal alliances with its adversaries abroad.
While Tokyo Rose and Axis Sally became infamous household names and were eventually convicted of treason, actions like theirs are scarcely noticed today, and are rarely identified as inappropriate when they are noticed at all. Acts that once would have horrified most Americans now pass below the public radar, as though they were part of the patter of normal political discourse. In the war with Islamo-fascism, while no one is paying attention, American fifth columnists are regularly conducting their unpleasant business from the bowels of the enemy camp.
Consider Kurt Nimmo, a resident of Las Cruces, New Mexico and publisher of the political blog "Another Day in the Empire." Nimmo also writes for CounterPunch, a website run by Alexander Cockburn, the adoring scion of one of Stalin's most notorious journalistic agents, a supporter of the Soviet empire to the end of its days, and in the present conflict a self-declared enemy of his adopted country in its effort to defend itself against Islamo-fascism. In a June 2006 article, Nimmo predicted that the United States would soon launch a frivolous, unwarranted invasion of peaceful Iran. This warning was issued from the platform of Uruknet.info, an Italy-based, Baathist-run website that honors Saddam Hussein and depicts the United States as the world's leading terrorist state. Nimmo describes Uruknet as "one of my favorite web sites…indispensable, one of the best web sites out there for news focused on Iraq and the Middle East."
Dave Lindorff is another writer for CounterPunch whose work appears on Uruknet. In a recently posted article, he wrote: "We know now that when Dick Cheney makes a foreign policy or war policy decision regarding Iraq or Iran or Saudi Arabia, he is really thinking about what it will do for Halliburton and Dubai—and for Dick Cheney." According to Lindorff, a U.S. invasion of Iran is likely to occur this spring—not for national security reasons but for the financial benefits it could yield the Bush administration and its cronies, "since such a war would inevitably include the destruction of much of Iran's state-owned oil industry, it would represent a huge new business opportunity for Halliburton…"
Another American whose anti-U.S. writings have appeared on Uruknet is the Chicago-based blogger Stephen Lendman, who describes himself as "a 72 year old, retired, progressive small businessman." In a recent post, Lendman wrote that the Islamic terrorist threat facing America was provoked entirely by U.S. aggression: "Ending the [terrorist] threat is simple….Stop attacking them, and they won't hit back."
Jason Miller, who administers the blog Thomas Paine's Corner, describes himself as "a wage slave of the American Empire who has freed himself intellectually and spiritually." Uruknet recently featured an article by Miller who wrote that "by and large, those labeled ‘terrorists' by the Bush administration…are people who are simply using ‘asymmetrical warfare' to resist the ongoing oppression, exploitation and subjugation of an imperialist aggressor." According to Miller, "the moneyed elite have contrived the ‘War on Terror' as an attack on those bold enough to violently oppose their enslavement," and "the latest campaign to enforce Pax Americana is simply a new front in the ‘War on the Poor and Oppressed.'"
Robert Weitzel is a Wisconsin-based writer whose work has been published on the progressive website CommonDreams and in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. In mid-March, Uruknet posted a Weitzel article accusing the United States of "waging a ‘low yield' nuclear war that has been killing civilians for almost two decades" and inflicting "insidious long-term effects on both combatants and civilians."
Jane Cutter, an organizer for the International ANSWER anti-war coalition, recently complained on Uruknet that "[the] corporate-owned media not only parroted the U.S. imperialist line on the war, but fabricated stories on behalf of those who wanted to create a pretext for war."
Al-Ahram, a government-controlled Egyptian weekly newspaper that has established a firm reputation for its anti-American, anti-Israel perspectives, is another enemy platform for U.S.-based critics of the war in Iraq. As FrontPage contributor Alyssa Lappen reported, Al-Ahram "routinely features anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and Holocaust denial, likens Israeli leaders to Nazis, and praises suicide bombings." Many Al-Ahram articles also liken the United States to Nazi Germany; portray American officials as war criminals; charge that the 9/11 attacks were in fact staged by the U.S. government; accuse the CIA and the Mossad (Israel's intelligence agency) of having introduced the AIDS virus to Africa; claim that Jews had foreknowledge of the 9/11 plot and thus "none of them were there [at the World Trade Center] on the day of the incident"; and suggest that "what happened to the Jews of Germany, Poland, and Russia, was justified" because "they [Jews] kindle the people's hatred and hostility and, as a result, people turn against them." Not long ago, Al-Ahram's editor Ibrahim Nafie was sued in France for publishing a piece claiming that Jewish religious rituals require the use of Christian children's blood. Clearly, it would be difficult for a writer to find an uglier, more hateful forum in which to publish his work than Al-Ahram.
Yet the late Edward Said was a columnist for Al-Ahram. The low esteem in which Said held both the U.S. and Israel was on full display in a February 2003 Al-Ahram article written approximately one month prior to the war in Iraq. Wrote Said: "Saddam Hussein's regime has violated numerous human rights and UN resolutions….But what is so monumentally hypocritical about the official U.S. position is that literally everything [Colin] Powell has accused the Ba'athists of has been the stock in trade of every Israeli government since 1948….[A]ll these [offenses], it should be noted with emphasis, have been carried on with the total, unconditional support of the United States."
Al-Ahram is also a platform for Said disciple and Columbia University colleague Joseph Massad, an associate professor of modern Arab politics. In addition to his teaching duties, Massad is a contributing writer for Al-Ahram, where he recently condemned America's alleged inherent "misogyn[y]" and "violent racism," its predatory "imperial ventures," and its "unyielding sadism against those who have the misfortune of living under its occupation." According to Professor Massad, American fighter-bomber pilots have been known to "spend hours watching pornographic films to get themselves in the right mood for the massive bombing" they were about to carry out. Massad accuses U.S. soldiers of deriving perverse sexual pleasure from killing: "Iraqis are posited by American super-masculine fighter-bomber pilots as women and feminized men to be penetrated by the missiles and bombs ejected from American warplanes."
Another Columbia academic and Said disciple, Hamid Dabashi, professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature, has written numerous Al-Ahram articles damning "the madness of U.S. military adventurism around the globe"; accusing America of "global warmongering" and "making a mess around the world, with no moral or political accountability for the terror that it is perpetrating on humanity at large"; and accusing the Bush administration of "[f]abricating instantaneous enemies and moving targets." "In the immediate aftermath of 9/11," writes Dabashi, "comprador native intellectuals were actively recruited to perform a critical function for the militant ideologues of the U.S. Empire. Their task is to feign authority…and thus to inform the U.S. public of the atrocities that are taking place throughout the world…by way of justifying the imperial designs of the U.S. as liberating these nations from the evil of their own designs."
Noam Chomsky has also been an active columnist for Al-Ahram, where he has deplored America's "openly-declared determination to rule the world by force"; expressed respect for the opinion that "the Bush administration [is] more aggressive than Hitler"; and denounced the administration's "frightening record of destruction and barbarism" that has precluded America from becoming "a civilized member of a world community, with some respect for world order and its institutions."
Another hostile platform that has featured the work of American contributors is Al Jazeera, the television station and satellite channel based in the small, oil-rich nation of Qatar in the Persian Gulf. Notorious for its anti-American, anti-Israel perspectives and presentations, Al Jazeera is the medium of choice for the fatwas of Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri and other al-Qaeda terrorists. Following 9/11, Al Jazeera aired reports that Israel's Mossad not only had foreknowledge of the attacks, but that it also had warned Jews employed in the WTC to stay home from work that day in order escape the awful fate that awaited non-Jews. At least two of the station's Iraqi reporters and one of its executives maintained a clandestine relationship with, and apparently worked for, Saddam Hussein's intelligence service. And according to a November 2006 Washington Post report, Al Jazeera journalist Tayseer Allouni in 2005 was convicted in Spain of collaborating with al Qaeda, and Al Jazeera cameraman Sami al-Hajj in 2001 was arrested by U.S. forces in Afghanistan and has been detained at Guantanamo Bay ever since.
In November 2006, Al Jazeera launched a new sister station, a 24-hour English-language television channel covering news and current affairs, also headquartered in Qatar. Both Al Jazeera and Al Jazeera English are funded directly and chiefly by Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the Emir of Qatar—an enormously wealthy man deeply committed to an Islamic agenda.
An occasional contributor to Al Jazeera (and a regular contributor to CounterPunch) is the Los Angeles-based actor-producer Ross Vachon, who derides "neo-Nazi Apartheid Israel" as "a racist sh*thole that's forfeited its right to exist." (These words accurately reflect the attitudes of both outlets, Al-Jazeera and Counterpunch.) In a February 2004 Al Jazeera piece, Vachon alleged that American foreign policy had been hijacked by "the growing percentage of Jews making up the American Establishment." As described by Vachon, "the World Trade Center was a colossal monument to Jewish commerce, a mega-story tribute to what the Catholic Church once called engorgement, commodity hoarding, i.e. greed."
Still another anti-U.S., anti-Israel publication whose pages occasionally feature the writings of Americans is the Tehran Times, which routinely denies the Holocaust and claims that "there is now tons of evidence that the U.S./Israel governments were involved in the WTC/911 events." Lauding "the wise policies of the Islamic Republic of Iran," the Times condemns "the warmongering policies of George W. Bush" and "the efforts of the United States and Britain to issue a UN resolution against Iran's civilian nuclear program." In 2004 this publication reported that U.S. forces were secretly planting weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
Among the contributors to the Tehran Times is a California-based writer named Don Monkerud. An opinion piece by Monkerud that appeared in the Times on April 12, 2007 describes the Iraq War as a "disastrous Keystone Cops venture" riddled with American "deceptions," and as a lost cause.
Mark Dice, who recently dropped his Terminator-inspired pseudonym "John Conner," has also written for the Tehran Times. Dice authored the 2005 book The Resistance Manifesto which maintains that the 9/11 attacks were not carried out by al Qaeda, but rather were orchestrated by a cabal conspirators belonging to "secret societies." Picking up a common theme of the left, Dice described 9/11 as a manufactured pretext for the Iraq War and the broader war on terror. In a November 2006 Tehran Times opinion, Dice drew the inevitable conclusion from this "analysis": "George W. Bush is a Satanist and an antichrist." Dice's "evidence" for this included the fact that Bush was a member of Skull & Bones at Yale — "a secret society whose symbol is a skull and cross bones where members are ‘born again' in a satanic ritual." According to Dice, Bush "and his Illuminati Mafia" aimed to carry out the "Luciferian agenda" of "the military-industrial complex" by "starting a war with Iraq."
Such is the mixed bag of fifth column leftists whose pathological hatred for the United States inspires them not only to promote America's defeat at the hands of the Islamo-fascists, but to do so from the media platforms of enemy camp. These are not critics who wish to see America find a better way to win the war and secure the peace. Rather, hatred towards their country and countrymen inspires in them a wish to see both suffer unconditional, total defeat.Note: Articles listed under "Middle East studies in the News" provide information on current developments concerning Middle East studies on North American campuses. These reports do not necessarily reflect the views of Campus Watch and do not necessarily correspond to Campus Watch's critique.
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