Sunday, March 30, 2008

Fifteen minutes of hate, fifteen seconds of fame

Being in a mood to procrastinate from more important work, I just sat down and watched the Google Video copy of Dutch nationalist Geert Wilders's film Fitna.

Now, I hate it when people presume to speak for the entire Muslim world, but I'm going to take the liberty right now, and apologize to every Dutch person for all the fuss my fellow brothers and sisters in Islam made over this silly slideshow. Anybody could have made this film about any identifiable group that has been involved in violent conflict and has a few firebrand demagogues. Set the Star Spangled Banner to scenes of scorched bodies in Fallujah, and you have a winner. "The bombs burst in the air" indeed. Wait, wait, don't tell me. That has a historical context.

I've read each of those passages that the film quotes and never once felt that I was being instructed to smite my non-Muslim neighbour's neck, but Mr. Wilders would like you to think that that I do feel that way. 50 years ago, he would have been accusing another group of drinking the blood of gentile children.

This is classic propaganda: Step 1) Point the finger at an identifiable enemy. Step 2) Gather some shocking footage that involves members of that group. Step 3) Set it to music add some decontextualized quotes, and presto. Propaganda it is, but of the crude variety that should have gone out of fashion in the 1940s.

I didn't embed it here (since there are some monstrous scenes and audio involving decapitation that are very disturbing), however, you can watch for yourself at the link above.

It's 15 minutes you'll never get back.

"Or, Who originates creation, then repeats it, and who gives you sustenance from heaven and earth? (Can there be another) god besides God. Say, "Bring forth your argument, if ye are telling the truth!"

Qur'an 27:64, trans. A. Yusuf Ali.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Short-Term Memory

This documentary, by British journalist John Pilger, is NOT an indictment of either Bush administration.

It is, in fact, an indictment of the Clinton administration.

It is chic these days to engage in criticism of "neocons," George W. Bush, Republicans, and other usual suspects. I myself indulge in it. Too often, however, the scathing indictments are no more than crocodile tears, shed by people who either can't or won't remember that there is just as much blood on Bill Clinton's hands as there is on Bush's. Republicans made war on Iraq, but Democrats brought the other 4 Horsemen upon that unfortunate state without a thought of mercy or hesitation.

My blood boils when I hear Madelaine Albright hawking her new book on US and Canadian talk shows, too often fawned over by the new "corporate liberals" that have managed to capitalize on the niche market of commercialized dissent (I'm looking at you, Stewart and Colbert). The title of Pilger's film, "Paying the Price: Killing the Children of Iraq" comes from an exchange with Albright in which the erstwhile Secretary of State was asked what she thought of a UNICEF report that said that the crippling post-war blockade of Iraq had resulted in the deaths of 500,000 young Iraqis, including infants who had been unable to receive medical care. Her response was that in exchange for "containing" the laughable Iraqi army, she thought the price was worth it.

Unlike in 1991, the "Coalition" is fighting a generation of Iraqis who grew up in a country that didn't have the highest literacy rate in the Arab world, and which lacked a 1st-world health care system. This might be the fault of the US Defense and State deparments, but the current administration is not the sole author of all this murder and misery.

This isn't the 5th Anniversary of the 2nd Gulf Persian War. Based upon the number of US and UK combat sorties over Iraq from 1991 to 2000, this is the 18th Anniversary of the 2nd Persian Gulf War (we also have a habit of forgetting the first).

We seem able to remember individual episodes with the remarkable clarity of our electronic world, but unable to even question ourselves as to what set the stage. How many times have you heard that in the summer of 2006, Hezbollah attacked Israel? We remember it as the "2nd Lebanon War" (our ability to count is also debatable), forgetting that the entire thing began in Gaza, with an operation which - depending on how you like it - was either a) staged by a terrorist group to kidnap a helpless bespectacled Israeli boy, or b) carried out by a resistance group to capture an IDF soldier who was manning a tank as part of an occupying army. Israel bombed the civilian infrastructure in Gaza, and Hezbollah threw itself into the fray, opening up a second front.

But that is a complicated story.

"Democrats Good. Republicans Bad." Now that's a story with legs.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Still Lying

Or maybe stupid. It is so hard to tell sometimes.

A popular American political blog catches the National Post's Lorne Gunter arguing that global warming isn't happening, based on US Government data that explicitly states the opposite of what he says it does.

Canada needs anti-trust legislation against CanWest-Global, to save us from the dark future of dishonesty and stupidity that they are taking our political discourse into.

Fun fact: CanWest owns The New Republic, an American magazine that frequently leads the charge to invade the next Towelheadistan on the American hitlist. And you thought we were importing this nonsense from them. Nope. Some of it's Made in Canada.

Stumble Upon Toolbar