Friday, May 23, 2003


Wednesday, May 21, 2003

CHRIS HEDGES? Chris Hedges! I knew that name rang a bell. Mind Over What Matters was on this guy's case back in October 2001, when this blog was very young, and Hedges was claiming that Israeli soldiers were being allowed to shoot Pali children -- "for sport!"

Those were his exact words. I transcribed his deranged tirade myself from -- where else? -- NPR's archived streaming audio interview:

"I watched the solidiers open fire, and it was -- I mean, I've seen kids shot in Sarajevo ... the snipers would shoot kids in Sarajevo... I've seen death squads kill families in Algeria and El Salvador ... but I've never seen soldiers bait or taunt kids like this, and then shoot them for sport!"

At the time, I also mentioned that Chris Hedges -- whose prior claim to fame was having been among the group of forty reporters captured and detained by Iraqi soldiers at the end of the First Gulf War -- has quite a well-documented track record for factual error, tactical ommission, careless research and wholesale disregard for the truth. No wonder the New York Times loves this guy.

Monday, May 19, 2003

MUST SEE TV: Perhaps I should have weighed in earlier, when this story was amply covered every elsewhere -- but I felt no compulsion to dignify Rachel Corrie's fatal publicity stunt with a mention on this page until I received the following announcement from the ABC News "Nightline" mailing list today:
...tonight, ABC correspondent Hillary Brown with a glimpse inside the International Solidarity Movement, a group of peace activists which has tried to get between the Israeli Defense Force and the Palestinian homes slated for demolition. Two months ago, 23-year-old Rachel Corrie from Washington State was killed as she stepped in front of an Israeli bulldozer as it advanced on the home of a Palestinian pharmacist...

Judging from the number of gross factual errors in that short paragraph, this should be an especially interesting report. Unless Nightline's reporters have access to facts heretofore not in evidence -- well, let's see how this plays out, and follow up tomorrow morning, shall we?

UPDATE: As expected, the Nightline reporter repeated ISM's propaganda lies, pretty much unchallenged. So if you're joining the story late, let's just clear up a couple of things:

(1) After having been repeatedly escorted from the area by Israeli Defense Force soldiers, Corrie returned for one last game of "human shield." She did not "step" in front of the bulldozer's path; she knelt down -- or possibly, accidentially fell down -- in such a way that the driver could not see her through the bulldozer's blade until it was too late. Her actions were no less reckless than had she crouched down in front of a moving train. Unable to foresee the obvious -- that constantly testing her sense of invulnerability would eventually lead to her own demise -- she was not so much killed in a duel with a bulldozer as she was a victim of her own hubris.

I feel badly for her parents, who still believe that Rachel Corrie was a beautiful, principled specimen of humanity. And surely she did not deserve the death penalty for arrogance and stupidity. But she put herself in harm's way, come what may -- and her ISM comrades are milking her tragedy for every propaganda point they can wring from its teat.

(2) Palestinian pharamacist's home? Only if that's the regional euphemism for "drug smuggler." Let's be clear about what was going on there: Corrie's mission was to protect the "Philadelphi" tunnels -- a network of elaborate underground passages used to import drugs, weapons and prostitutes into Gaza. These tunnels commonly terminate under residential homes, which is why said residences are often torn down by the IDF. But the bulldozer which struck Corrie was not engaged in demolition; its mission was merely to clear away brush and debris, to locate the tunnels' hidden entrances.

Whenever you hear the International Solidarity Movement and its vast propaganda wing -- including, apparently, ABC News -- speak of this brave young patriot, understand that Corrie gave her life to protect the infrastructure of the Rafah Mafia.

(3) Finally, I was struck by the choice of video footage which Nightline elected to air -- including scenes of Corrie dancing happily with little Palestinian children. In the interests of painting the simplistic David-Goliath narrative that Nightline viewers crave, they chose to overlook that this is how Corrie wanted to be photographed -- showing her little charges how they should feel about America and its symbols:

Tuesday, May 06, 2003

HONORARY VON HOFFMAN AWARD: Tom Tomorrow's weekly syndicated cartoon cynically predicts that India may shortly use America's succesful liberation of Iraq to justify its own pre-emptive strike against Pakistan:

And yet, two days before his strip was posted on Salon, India appeared to be moving in exactly the opposite direction:

On Friday, [Prime Minister Atal Bihari] Vajpayee ended a two-year impasse by saying India was ready to name an envoy to Pakistan and resume air links. Islamabad responded by swiftly agreeing to talks and restoring diplomatic ties.

Days later, India and Pakistan are virtually sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G:

Pakistan will get rid of its nuclear arsenal if rival India does as well, a Pakistani official said Monday.

"As far as Pakistan is concerned, if India is ready to denuclearize, we would be happy to denuclearize," Foreign Ministry spokesman Aziz Ahmed Khan said.

And in a follow-up report:

Pakistan restored transportation links and full diplomatic ties with rival India on Tuesday, and pressed for peace talks to include discussion of the two countries' nuclear arsenals.

Prime Minister Zafarullah Khan Jamali also said he hoped the South Asian rivals could resolve their decades-long differences over Kashmir, the divided Himalayan region that has been the cause of two wars between them.

"I am hopeful a good solid solution should be coming forward on all issues, of course including the Jammu and Kashmir issue," Jamali said, referring to the disputed territory.
Besides announcing the resumption of cross-border air, bus and train service, Jamali said he wanted the two nations to reopen sporting ties. Except for a World Cup game in March, Pakistan and India have not played a cricket match since 2000.

Jamali also sought to increase trade between the two countries by reducing customs and tariffs on more than 70 unspecified items.

The prime minister also said Pakistan, as a goodwill gesture, would release dozens of Indian fishermen held for illegally entering Pakistani waters. Both Pakistan and India routinely arrest each other's fishermen.

Honestly, I do genuinely enjoy Tom (Dan Perkins) Tomorrow's strip as well as his his blog -- and I'm generally compatible with his politics on most issues. His passionate arguments against the war, during the run-up, were no doubt sincere -- but ring strident and hollow after-the-fact, when nearly every fearful prediction about the possible aftermath has either been proven wrong or has yet to be proven right.

Is Tom genuinely comvinced that macho American chest-thumping imperialism has set an awful example for conflict resolution in the region, despite every promising bit of evidence to the contrary? Or is this really about the Florida election results?