Archive for Christopher Hitchens

Christopher Hitchens Dead at 62: Warmonger Praised Lavishly in Mainstream Media

Posted in Feature with tags , , , , , , , , on December 17, 2011 by loonwatch
Christopher_Hitchens_DeadHitchens dead at 62

Christopher Hitchens finally succumbed to cancer, dead at the age of 62. He is being lavishly praised throughout the media, some are even (ridiculously) comparing him to his hero George Orwell.

I was about to render an obituary for Hitchens, when I read one from Glenn Greenwald, who pretty much summed up my thoughts on his passing. I would just like to add that we didn’t do many articles on Hitchens because (1) there just wasn’t that much noteworthy coming from him, and (2) it was pretty well established that Hitchens was a neo-Con with blood on his hands.

The pieces we did do on Hitchens focused on some glaring factual mistakes he made, such as the one in his article praising (toppled) dictator Ben Ali, in which he claimed Rachid Ghannoushi had penned a fatwa calling for the death of a liberal Tunisian professor. We also took him to task for his shallow attempts at reconciling his whole-hog support of George W. Bush’s pre-emptive and destructive war on Iraq, he argued,  “If Saddam were still in power, this year’s Arab uprisings could not have happened.” Have you ever heard more BS, and they are comparing him to Orwell. Sick.

Anyway, Greenwald eviscerates the chorus of praise making the rounds in the media. Unsurprisingly, amongst the Islamophobes he is considered ‘one of them,’ (via. JihadWatchUnverisity grad. SheikYerMami) and is likewise being universally praised.

Greenwald first criticizes the elite protocol that is reserved for the deaths of public figures, and also exposes many of the repulsive actions Hitchens took  in his life, actions that had significant impact on the world.

Christopher Hitchens and the protocol for public figure deaths

by Glenn Greenwald (Salon.com)

All of this was triggered for me by the death this week of Christopher Hitchens and the remarkably undiluted, intense praise lavished on him by media discussions. Part of this is explained by the fact that Hitchens — like other long-time media figures, such as Tim Russert — had personal interactions with huge numbers of media figures who are shaping how he is remembered in death. That’s understandable: it’s difficult for any human being to ignore personal feelings, and it’s even more difficult in the face of the tragic death of a vibrant person at a much younger age than is normal.

But for the public at large, at least those who knew of him, Hitchens was an extremely controversial, polarizing figure. And particularly over the last decade, he expressed views — not ancillary to his writing but central to them — that were nothing short of repellent.

Corey Robin wrote that “on the announcement of his death, I think it’s fair to allow Christopher Hitchens to do the things he loved to do most: speak for himself,” and then assembled two representative passages from Hitchens’ post-9/11 writings. In the first, Hitchens celebrated the ability of cluster bombs to penetrate through a Koran that a Muslim may be carrying in his coat pocket  (“those steel pellets will go straight through somebody and out the other side and through somebody else. So they won’t be able to say, ‘Ah, I was bearing a Koran over my heart and guess what, the missile stopped halfway through.’ No way, ’cause it’ll go straight through that as well. They’ll be dead, in other words”), and in the second, Hitchens explained that his reaction to the 9/11 attack was “exhilaration” because it would unleash an exciting, sustained war against what he came addictively to call “Islamofascism”: “I realized that if the battle went on until the last day of my life, I would never get bored in prosecuting it to the utmost.”

Hitchens, of course, never “prosecuted” the “exhilarating” war by actually fighting in it, but confined his “prosecution” to cheering for it and persuading others to support it. As one of Hitchens’ heroes, George Orwell, put it perfectly in Homage to Catalonia about the anti-fascist, tough-guy war writers of his time:

As late as October 1937 the New Statesman was treating us to tales of Fascist barricades made of the bodies of living children (a most unhandy thing to make barricades with), and Mr Arthur Bryant was declaring that ‘the sawing-off of a Conservative tradesman’s legs’ was ‘a commonplace’ in Loyalist Spain.

The people who write that kind of stuff never fight; possibly they believe that to write it is a substitute for fighting. It is the same in all wars; the soldiers do the fighting, the journalists do the shouting, and no true patriot ever gets near a front-line trench, except on the briefest of propaganda-tours. Sometimes it is a comfort to me to think that the aeroplane is altering the conditions of war. Perhaps when the next great war comes we may see that sight unprecedented in all history, a jingo with a bullet-hole in him.

I rarely wrote about Hitchens because, at least for the time that I’ve been writing about politics (since late 2005), there was nothing particularly notable about him. When it came to the defining issues of the post-9/11 era, he was largely indistinguishable from the small army of neoconservative fanatics eager to unleash ever-greater violence against Muslims: driven by a toxic mix of barbarism, self-loving provincialism, a sense of personal inadequacy, and, most of all, a pity-inducing need to find glory and purpose in cheering on military adventures and vanquishing some foe of historically unprecedented evil even if it meant manufacturing them. As Robin put it:

Hitchens had a reputation for being an internationalist. Yet someone who gets excited by mass murder—and then invokes that excitement, to a waiting audience, as an explanation of his support for mass murder—is not an internationalist.  He is a narcissist, the most provincial spirit of all.

Hitchens was obviously more urbane and well-written than the average neocon faux-warrior, but he was also often more vindictive and barbaric about his war cheerleading. One of the only writers with the courage to provide the full picture of Hitchens upon his death was Gawker‘s John Cook, who — in an extremely well-written and poignant obituary – detailed Hitchens’ vehement, unapologetic passion for the attack on Iraq and his dismissive indifference to the mass human suffering it caused, accompanied by petty contempt for those who objected (he denounced the Dixie Chicks as being “sluts” and “fucking fat slags” for the crime of mildly disparaging the Commander-in-Chief). As Cook put it: “it must not be forgotten in mourning him that he got the single most consequential decision in his life horrifically, petulantly wrong”; indeed: “People make mistakes. What’s horrible about Hitchens’ ardor for the invasion of Iraq is that he clung to it long after it became clear that a grotesque error had been made.”

Subordinating his brave and intellectually rigorous defense of atheism, Hitchens’ glee over violence, bloodshed, and perpetual war dominated the last decade of his life. Dennis Perrin, a friend and former protégée of Hitchens, described all the way back in 2003 how Hitchens’ virtues as a writer and thinker were fully swamped by his pulsating excitement over war and the Bush/Cheney imperial agenda:

I can barely read him anymore. His pieces in the Brit tabloid The Mirror and in Slate are a mishmash of imperial justifications and plain bombast; the old elegant style is dead. His TV appearances show a smug, nasty scold with little tolerance for those who disagree with him. He looks more and more like a Ralph Steadman sketch. And in addition to all this, he’s now revising what he said during the buildup to the Iraq war.

In several pieces, including an incredibly condescending blast against Nelson Mandela, Hitch went on and on about WMD, chided readers with “Just you wait!” and other taunts, fully confident that once the U.S. took control of Iraq, tons of bio/chem weapons and labs would be all over the cable news nets–with him dancing a victory jig in the foreground. Now he says WMD were never a real concern, and that he’d always said so. It’s amazing that he’d dare state this while his earlier pieces can be read at his website. But then, when you side with massive state power and the cynical fucks who serve it, you can say pretty much anything and the People Who Matter won’t care.

Currently, Hitch is pushing the line, in language that echoes the reactionary Paul Johnson, that the U.S. can be a “superpower for democracy,” and that Toms Jefferson [sic] and Paine would approve. He’s also slammed the “slut” Dixie Chicks as “fucking fat slags” for their rather mild critique of our Dear Leader. He favors Bush over Kerry, and doesn’t like it that Kerry ”exploits” his Vietnam combat experience (as opposed to, say, re-election campaign stunts on aircraft carriers).

Sweet Jesus. What next? I’m afraid my old mentor is not the truth-telling Orwell he fancies himself to be. He’s becoming a coarser version of Norman Podhoretz.

One of the last political essays he wrote in his life, for Slate, celebrated the virtues of Endless War.

* * * * *

Nobody should have to silently watch someone with this history be converted into some sort of universally beloved literary saint. To enshrine him as worthy of unalloyed admiration is to insist that these actions were either themselves commendable or, at worst, insignificant. Nobody who writes about politics for decades will be entirely free of serious error, but how serious the error is, whether it reflects on their character, and whether they came to regret it, are all vital parts of honestly describing and assessing their work. To demand its exclusion is an act of dishonesty.

Nor should anyone be deterred by the manipulative, somewhat tyrannical use of sympathy: designed to render any post-death criticisms gauche and forbidden. Those hailing Hitchens’ greatness are engaged in a very public, affirmative, politically consequential effort to depict him as someone worthy of homage. That’s fine: Hitchens, like most people, did have admirable traits, impressive accomplishments, genuine talents and a periodic willingness to expose himself to danger to report on issues about which he was writing. But demanding in the name of politeness or civility that none of that be balanced or refuted by other facts is to demand a monopoly on how a consequential figure is remembered, to demand a license to propagandize — exactly what was done when the awful, power-worshipping TV host, Tim Russert, died, and we were all supposed to pretend that we had lost some Great Journalist, a pretense that had the distorting effect of equating Russert’s attributes of mindless subservience to the powerful with Good Journalism (ironically, Hitchens was the last person who would honor the etiquette rules being invoked on his behalf: he savaged (perfectly appropriately) Mother Theresa and Princess Diana, among others, upon their death, even as millions mourned them).

There’s one other aspect to the adulation of Hitchens that’s quite revealing. There seems to be this sense that his excellent facility with prose excuses his sins. Part of that is the by-product of America’s refusal to come to terms with just how heinous and destructive was the attack on Iraq. That act of aggression is still viewed as a mere run-of-the-mill “mistake” — hey, we all make them, so we shouldn’t hold it against Hitch – rather than what it is: the generation’s worst political crime, one for which he remained fully unrepentant and even proud. But what these paeans to Hitchens reflect even more so is the warped values of our political and media culture: once someone is sufficiently embedded within that circle, they are intrinsically worthy of admiration and respect, no matter what it is that they actually do. As Aaron Bady put it to me by email yesterday:

I go back to something Judith Butler’s been saying for years; some lives are grievable and some are not. And in that context, publicly mourning someone like Hitchens in the way we are supposed to do — holding him up as someone who was “one of us,” even if we disagree with him — is also a way of quietly reinforcing the “we” that never seems to extend to the un-grievable Arab casualties of Hitch’s favorite wars. It’s also a “we” that has everything to do with being clever and literate and British (and nothing to do with a human universalism that stretches across the usual “us” and “them” categories). And when it is impolitic to mention that he was politically atrocious (in exactly the way of Kissinger, if not to the extent), we enshrine the same standard of human value as when the deaths of Iraqi children from cluster bombs are rendered politically meaningless by our lack of attention.

That’s precisely true. The blood on his hands — and on the hands of those who played an even greater, more direct role, in all of this totally unjustified killing of innocents — is supposed to be ignored because he was an accomplished member in good standing of our media and political class. It’s a way the political and media class protects and celebrates itself: our elite members are to be heralded and their victims forgotten. One is, of course, free to believe that. But what should not be tolerated are prohibitions on these types of discussions when highly misleading elegies are being publicly implanted, all in order to consecrate someone’s reputation for noble greatness even when their acts are squarely at odds with that effort.

High Priests of Islamophobia

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , on July 12, 2011 by loonwatch

Islamophobia comes to the fore in the poorly written articles of Christopher Hitchens and Martin Amis.

High priests of Islamophobia

by Tanvir Ahmed Khan (Gulf News)

All across the world of Islam, we find responsible thinkers, analysts and creative writers engaged in deep introspection on how their societies became vulnerable to religious extremism and how this issue became a casus belli for the West.

Some of the affluent Arab states invest considerable sums of money in the promotion of inter-faith harmony and understanding. Many intellectuals from the West respond positively and help place issues in a constructive perspective.

Unfortunately, the dominant trend in the West continues to be the exploitation of terrorism to demonise Islam. This becomes particularly noticeable when writers of repute give up all pretence to objectivity and weigh in on the side of low order propagandists against the Muslim world.

Christopher Hitchens is a famous British writer who migrated to the United States some 20 years ago. In due course he abandoned his leftist past and became an ardent neo-conservative.

He also claimed a Jewish lineage on facts that his own brother considers rather exaggerated. In internal debates on both sides of the Atlantic, he fiercely supported the invasion of Iraq. In the latest issue of Vanity Fair he returns to Pakistan, a country that arouses visceral hatred in him and lambasts it in a language that does not fight shy of using four-lettered words.

The occasion is the hunting down of Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan. The very opening of his polemic, however, shows that he wants to use the incident to attack the Pakistani society from every conceivable angle. So blatant and biased is the denunciation of Pakistan that the best refutation so far has come from Christine Fair, a regional specialist who teaches at Georgetown University.

Hitchens employs his old trick of seizing on some isolated feature of a Muslim society and dresses it up as its dominant trait. The opening gambit comes from the well-known fact that Islam has not been entirely successful in uprooting some old tribal customs, usually in remote areas. Pakistan still faces the evil phenomenon of honour-killing that raises its head in some communities from time to time.

In the opening paragraph of a very poorly researched article that Vanity Fair thought it fit to publish, Hitchens first finds that much of Pakistan has been Talibanised and then goes on to make the extraordinary observation that Pakistan ‘is a society where rape is not a crime’. “It is”, he declares ” a punishment” to which women can be sentenced by tribal and kangaroo courts.

He then quickly moves on to savage President Asif Ali Zardari as the man who “cringes daily in front of the forces who openly murdered his wife, Benazir Bhutto” ; a man ‘lacking in pride’ and indeed ‘lacking in manliness’. As he ridicules the very concept of sovereignty of Pakistan, very few Pakistani readers would doubt that the writer is a typical American Zionist-neoconservative who cannot bear the thought of a Muslim state equipped with nuclear weapons in violation of the ‘law’ that only Israel in this region has the right to possess them.

Hitchens’ ludicrous claim that much of Pakistan has been Talibanised is a reminder that most polemics against Islam and Muslim societies rely on such sweeping generalisations.

Qutb’s impact

In October 2006, Hitchens’ closest friend, the distinguished British novelist, Martin Amis, published a long essay on extreme Islamism in London’s Sunday Observer. He based his lengthy thesis on the premises that liberal Islam has already been defeated and supplanted by violent Islamism.

For evidence he relied heavily on a critique of the impact of Sayyid Qutb. In his native Egypt as, indeed, in most Muslim countries his philosophy and political activism continue to generate controversy. This dialectical debate about his work is an essential part of intra-Islamic disputations. Amis completely ignored this fact and presented him as the triumphant influence on Muslims.

As a critique of Qutb’s ideas the essay was a non-starter. Having made a most perfunctory reference to this aspect of Qutb, he went on to ridicule him almost entirely in terms of his presumed frustrations in dealing with liberated western women during his travels and study in Europe and North America. The idea was to locate the true provenance of Qutb’s struggle against western imperialism in his discomfort in dealing with western women.

Some time back, a thoughtful article by Michael Vlahos in the American Conservative discussed in detail how the ‘great Muslim War’ replaced the story of globalisation and how American insistence on ‘you are either with us or against us’ is now promoting counter-movements all over the globe. Hitchens and Amis wilfully ignore the context — centuries of western colonialism and the revived quest for western hegemony at the turn of the century — because their basic purpose is to support war as an instrument of restoring dominance.

By trying to show all Muslims as potential Al Qaida followers they sell their militarism to the anti-war majorities in the West. It is unfortunate to see the broad humanism of distinguished writers who should claim a universal audience being made available to the neo-imperialists of our times.

The writer is a former ambassador and foreign secretary of Pakistan. Till recently, he worked as the Chairman of the Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad.

Richard Dawkins: “Islam” is an “Unmitigated Evil”

Posted in Feature, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 11, 2011 by loonwatch

Richard Dawkins, well known biologist and pop-atheist-guru (add goofball) recently brought up thequestion of whether or not atheists should support Christian missions in Africa. (hat tip: Rob)

He believes the answer is “still no,” (he doesn’t say why) but since Islam according to him is an “unmitigated evil” and atheism is not going to be making any inroads into Africa anytime soon it is a question worth “raising.”

His logic is based on a crudely partitioned breakdown of religious affiliation in Africa designed by aChristian site:

(Isn’t Dawkins supposed to question these sorts of things?)

Dawkins also believes ‘supporting missions’ may be justified on the basis that ‘the enemy of our enemy is our friend.’ That’s the extent of profundity provided by Dawkins! Such crass and cynical sentiments expose the bankruptcy of ideas and strategy in the leadership of the so-called New Atheists.

The statement is similar to “exposed as a fraud” Ayaan H. Ali’s call for Christian missionaries to evangelize Muslims. Such a call is really just a variation on the well worn Crusader-esque theme best expressed by the likes of Anne Coulter, “We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity.” (Or the recent statement by Christian Evangelical Bryan Fischer, “Muslims can either convert, or die”).

Don’t you love how some of these loony-out-for-a-buck-and-some-notoriety atheists are so quick to compromise their principles and sit at the table with the most hardcore Bible Thumpers out there? Does anyone think George Carlin would stand for that? Or Tariq Ali? Or As’ad Abu Khalil? Or Cenk Uygur? It just goes to show you that where you are born, your culture and history do have an impact on the decisions and positions you take, no matter how much you claim to be “objective” and motivated by “reason,” and the “scientific method.”

As for his comments that it is a “given” that Islam is “an unmitigated evil in the world today”…wow. First of all, what does that mean about the practitioners of Islam? Does it mean that they are all or mostly or significantly practitioners of “evil?” Because that is the import of Dawkins’ statement, I mean who else puts into reality what Islam is other then the followers of Islam?

Secondly, is anyone else taken aback by the quasi metaphysical language used here by Dawkins? “Unmitigated evil,” is the type of phrase one would expect in the sermon of a Puritan minister or perhaps as one commenter on Dawkins site asks,

Is the Professor now auditioning for a guest shot on Pamela Geller’s website for the barking mad and openly hostile? Very few things in this world are ‘unmitigated evils’: of all the things that might be unmitigated evils, I can absolutely guarantee that a major world religion practiced in a thousand different ways in a thousand different social and cultural contexts is not one of them. The chances of no good at all coming out of such a diverse multiplicity of contexts and forms of practice (that is, of any ‘evil’ not being mitigated) are almost zero. — CallumM

Thirdly, piggy-backing off of the “multiplicity” mentioned by the commenter, is Dawkins totally oblivious to the Arab Spring for instance? You know that thing sweeping the Middle East for the past 5 1/2 months, that many, including Dawkins’ friend Christopher Hitchens thought would fail or sizzle out?

Is it “unmitigated evil” when protesters in Tahrir Square mobilized in the hundreds of thousands, inspired by and chanting the Quranic verse, “God does not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves?” Was it “unmitigated evil” when they withstood the worst kinds of state violence and barbarity in prayer together, shoulder to shoulder? Was it “unmitigated evil” when Christians and Muslims united to protect each other?

Dawkins is out of touch with current events, and lets just say he won’t be playing in any Philosophy World Cups any time soon. The man’s field is Biology, he doesn’t know much about anthropology, sociology, history, comparative religions, or philosophy, that is why he and his buddy Sam Harris get their arse handed to them by real intellectuals such as Scott Atran and Robert Pape.

Maybe it is time for Dawkins to spend a little more time humbly learning about Islam and Muslims, engaging with critical intellectuals instead of rabid Islamophobes and probably dissecting a frog or two in the lab he’s been neglecting while pontificating on matters he has no grasp over.

Haroon Mughal: Why Christopher Hitchens Writes About Things He Doesn’t Understand: Tunisia, Islam, and Sources

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 20, 2011 by loonwatch

Christopher Hitchens is a much loved public figure, his hard hitting and biting humor have made many of us laugh and he is great to watch in debate. Unfortunately, his image at times precedes actual facts and Haroon Moghul really slams him in a recent piece about Hitchens article on Tunisia and Islam.

Hitchens took a professor’s word that she had been sentenced to death by an Islamist by the name of Rachid Ghannouchi. He didn’t do his homework of course because if he did he would realize that Rachid Ghannouchi is one of the most liberal “Islamists” out there, akin to the AKP in Turkey.

Why Christopher Hitchens Writes About Things He Doesn’t Understand: Tunisia, Islam, and Sources

by Haroon Mughal

I’m not a fan of Christopher Hitchens. I found this absurdly decontextualized piece by Hitchens, written for Vanity Fair in 2007, all but fawning over the dictatorial delights of Tunisia–people can hold hands, so it’s okay if they can’t vote–and was especially amused by this passage:

Mongia Souaihi cheerfully explained to me the many reasons why the veil is not authorized by the Koran and why she is in danger for drawing this conclusion in print. “The fundamentalists from overseas have declared me to be kuffar—an unbeliever.” This I know to be dangerous, because a Muslim who has once been declared to be an apostate is also a person who can be sentenced to death. “Which fundamentalists? And from where overseas?” “Rachid Ghannouchi, from London.” Oh no, not again. If you saw my “Londonistan” essay, in the June Vanity Fair, you will know that fanatics who are unwelcome in Africa and Arabia are allowed an astonishing freedom in the United Kingdom.

Tunisia’s Islamist Ennahda (Renaissance Party) has long been symbolized by Rachid Ghannouchi, among the most liberal Islamists in the world. His opinions would certainly not jive with those of hardline Islamists in places like Pakistan. Yet here is Hitchens, taking at face value the word of a professor who certainly serves at the pleasure of one of the most politically oppressive states in the world, talking smack about a religious figure who is identified as an enemy of the state.

Wouldn’t a good journalist at least try to investigate? I mean, why would you, for example, swallow, hook, line and sinker, the words of a hardline Iranian cleric about a dissident Iranian religious thinker in London? Isn’t it odd that she says the fundamentalists (plural) are after her, but then names only one, who might also be opposed to her because she is giving religious cover to tyranny?

But Hitchens is more concerned with satisfying his bias than with actually figuring out what’s going on. Or maybe we should believe everything Vladimir Putin’s appointees have to say about Putin’s enemies. All the more pathetic because Ben Ali came to power, in 1987, in part over regional concerns over Islamic parties, specifically including Ennahda. The extent of Hitchens’ effort is a pathetic, ‘Oh no, not again,’ which brings to mind the TV news journalist I heard a few days ago who, on hearing that 49 of 50 states were covered by snow for the first time ever, said, ‘Go figure.’

What does he get paid to do?

Hitchens also gets the causality wrong:

To the west lay the enormous country of Algeria, again artificially prosperous through oil and natural gas, but recently the scene of a heinous Islamist insurgency that—along with harsh and vigorous state repression—had killed perhaps 150,000 people.

The Islamist violence started after the state canceled elections. Why mention the Islamist violence as if it preceded, or precipitated, the state violence? The state didn’t repress the insurgency; the state was repressive, repressed the results of elections, which in turn led to a civil war, in which the state didn’t just repress an insurgency, but actively contributed to its prolonging by refusing to create any political space for dissent and debate.

The audacity of ideology.

Oh, and the word isn’t “kuffar,” it’s kafir. Kuffar is a plural form. I certainly hope Hitchens screwed that up. At least, I wouldn’t be surprised. (In his silly book ‘God is not Great,’ Hitchens proudly boasts how he knows the Arabic world ‘Al-’ means ‘The’).

 

Henry Kissinger: “Jews in Gas Chambers is not an American Concern”

Posted in Loon Politics, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 16, 2010 by loonwatch

Henry Kissinger, one of the only Nixon officials to escape the taint of involvement in Watergate has officially had his reputation destroyed. A recently released Nixon tape has Kissinger saying that it is not a concern of America if Jews are sent to gas chambers.

“The emigration of Jews from the Soviet Union is not an objective of American foreign policy. And if they put Jews into gas chambers in the Soviet Union, it is not an American concern.” — Henry Kissinger

Christopher Hitchens who I am generally wary of linking to has an excellent piece on this most recent expose of the heinous views of Kissinger. He makes an excellent point that Kissinger should now be shunned by society and that the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) which is quick to condemn anti-Semitism when it is uttered by Jesse Jackson or Mel Gibson need to break their silence and condemn Kissinger.

Christopher Hitchens: Latest Nixon tape buries Kissinger’s reputation 

(Slate)

In the past, Kissinger has defended his role as enabler to Nixon’s psychopathic bigotry, saying that he acted as a restraining influence on his boss by playing along and making soothing remarks. This can now go straight into the lavatory pan, along with his other hysterical lies. Obsessed as he was with the Jews, Nixon never came close to saying that he’d be indifferent to a replay of Auschwitz. For this, Kissinger deserves sole recognition.
It’s hard to know how to classify this observation in the taxonomy of obscenity. Should it be counted as tactical Holocaust pre-denial? That would be too mild. It’s actually a bit more like advance permission for another Holocaust. Which is why I wonder how long the official spokesmen of American Jewry are going to keep so quiet. Nothing remotely as revolting as this was ever uttered by Jesse Jackson or even Mel Gibson, to name only two famous targets of the wrath of the Anti-Defamation League. Where is the outrage? Is Kissinger — normally beseeched for comments on subjects about which he knows little or nothing — going to be able to sit out requests from the media that he clarify this statement? Does he get to keep his op-ed perch in reputable newspapers with nothing said? Will the publishers of his mendacious and purloined memoirs continue to give him expensive lunches as if nothing has happened?

Read more: http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2010/12/14/christopher-hitchens-latest-nixon-tape-buries-kissingers-reputation/#ixzz18ILqW8kA

 

Wafa Sultan: A Poseur Playing off of Ignorance to Further Hate

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 19, 2009 by loonwatch

Wafa Sultan: A Poseur Playing off of Ignorance to Further Hate

"Atheist Muslim reformer" Wafa Sultan with anti-Muslim loon Pamela Geller
“Atheist Muslim reformer” Wafa Sultan with anti-Muslim loon Pamela Geller

We must begin this profile with a question: Is there a more contemptible poseur than Wafa Sultan who calls herself an atheist but in the same breath also claims to be a Muslim reformer, which would kind of be like Christopher Hitchens calling himself a Christian reformer? It is difficult to answer that question with certainty considering the wide pool of bigots who combine charlatanism with raving and incorrigible insanity. But for sure one thing is certain, she is completely undeserving of the 15 minutes of fame she has succeeded in procuring.

In this sense, Wafa Sultan falls into the same category as Walid Shoebat, Brigitte Gabriel, Nonie Darwish, Kamal Saleem, Zachariah Anani and other self-proclaimed turn coats from their Arab and Muslim identities. As we mentioned before this group attempts to parlay their “otherness,” and so-called “insider knowledge of the Muslim world,” (the “I’ve been there, I know” line) into a cash cow. Meanwhile, we are supposed to be duped into freaking out and running back to them for more “expert” advice brought to us from our loyal friend who ventures into the other side on our behalf.

Sultan is no different, her tale of flight into Islamophobic stardom is a curious and thoroughly modern one. In the beginning of this tale Sultan was invited onto a show hosted by the well known anchorman of AlJazeera’s Opposing Viewpoints (Ittijaah al-Mu’aakas), Faisal Al-Qasim for the purpose of a debate with professor Ibrahim al-Khouly from Al-Azhar on the topic of the Clash of Civilizations and the Clash of Religions. Al-Qasim, brought her onto the show originally after noticing some of her articles on the Arabic website called AnNaqed (The Critic). The New York Times reported that the website was an Islamic reform site, but in actuality it turns out that it is a Christian website,

[T]he web site called Annaqed (www.annaqed.com) she supposedly wrote for before being noticed by Al-Jazeera Television is not an “Islamic reform Web Site” as was reported in the New York Times article, but rather an Arab nationalist blog run by a Syrian Christian who defines it as being “in line with Christian morality and principles.” The site is also replete with anti-Muslim writings.

On the show she supported the thesis of a clash and stated that the conflict between the West and Islam is,

a clash between a mentality that belongs to the Middle Ages and another that belongs to the 21st century… a clash between civilization and backwardness, between the civilized and the primitive, between barbarity and rationality.

MEMRI, (Middle East Media Research Institute) which peddles in biased, selective, de-contextualized, error-filled, and misleading translations of news, shows and opinion from Middle East television took the 45 minute show and per its modus operandi chopped up and edited the show into a 5 minute sound bite of Wafa Sultan’s attack on Muslims and Islam. In the process, and without any respect for translational integrity they also attempted to deceptively frame Professor Khouly as proclaiming Sultan a “heretic,” when, as this fully translated transcript shows he did no such thing. Instead Khouly responded to Sultan’s jibes with questions that though we might not agree to the way he frames them are far from irrational or undebatable,

…here we must ask a question, who facilitated the conflict and indeed initiated it; is it the Muslims? Muslims now are in a defensive position fighting off an aggressor… who said Muslims were backward? They may be backward in terms of technological advances, but who said that such are the criteria for humanity?

That is just the beginning of the story, the MEMRI produced video was downloaded to YouTube where it went viral receiving over a million hits and like wild fire the anti-Muslim blogosphere picked it up. Instantly, over night, Sultan was a star. In this consumer age, MEMRI’s rendition of the show gave the public what it wanted to see: a spectacle. It fit in well with the narrative of an oppressed Mooslim woman “finally” standing up for her rights and taking on the world of Islam.

Sultan capitalized on the spotlight she had and with all the ingenuity and creativeness of a con-artist spun a tale which essentially boils down to her “dark days growing up in the barbaric ‘Islamic nation’ of Syria.” A good example of her deception can be gleaned from a recent article she wrote for the neo-conservative website Hudson New York,

As an Arab woman who suffered for three decades living under Islamic Sharia, it is clear to me that Islam’s political ideology and Sharia must be fought relentlessly by Western civilization to prevent its application in a free society. (emphasis added)

This encapsulates the opportunism that motivates Sultan and it also reveals the contempt with which she holds her readers whose intelligence she seeks to insult with such a blatant lie. She attempts to paint her three decades in Syria as a nightmare in which she suffered the brutal force of a Taliban-esque regime that implemented Islamic law on her constantly. The absurdity is only matched by the bravado of her claim, as anyone who cared to check (Wikipidea for instance) could tell you that the regime that ruled Syria had nothing to do with Islam.

The regime in Syria, during much of the time period that Sultan talks about was ruled by the secular, anti-Shariah Ba’athist dictator Hafiz al-Assad who happens to come from the same privileged sect that Sultan was born into: the Alawies. Her allegation is even more obscene considering the fact that Hafiz al-Assad massacred 20,000 villagers in Hama, Syria who were members of the Muslim Brotherhood. One has to ask Sultan, if you were made to suffer for thirty years under Islamic Sharia’, how could you, a woman, have finished your medicine degree at the University of Aleppo? On top of that, would an Islamic Sharia state as horrid as you describe have funded your education for free?

Another good example of her tale of woe is the profile carried by self-described “bad girl of Islam” Asra Nomani in TIME magazine. Asra Nomani, who can’t pen anything without including herself writes,

I connected with her (Sultan’s) anger and pain. She questioned Islam in 1979, when, she says, she witnessed the murder of a professor by men with alleged ties to the ultraconservative Muslim Brotherhood political group.

As to the claim that her professor (thought to be Yusef Al-Yusef) was gunned down before her eyes in a faculty classroom at the University of Aleppo, Halabi said the incident never took place. “There was a professor who was killed around 1979, that is true, but it was off-campus and Sultan was not even around when it happened,” he added.

InFocus contacted the University of Aleppo and spoke to Dr. Riyad Asfari, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, who confirmed Halabi’s account. “Yes, the assassination took place off-campus,” he said. Dr. Asfari was keen to add that no one had ever been killed in a classroom anytime or anywhere at the university.

Syrian expatriate Ghada Moezzin, who attended the University of Aleppo in 1979 as a sophomore, told InFocus that she never heard of the assassination. “We would’ve known about the killing if it had happened,” she said. “It would have been big news on campus and I do not recall ever hearing about it.” Moezzin, who lives in Glendora, Calif., added that government security was always present around the university given the political climate in Syria at the time.

Half-truths and lies corroborate and reveal the true motive behind Sultan’s hate and invective against Islam: money. The article reveals more,

Adnan Halabi*, a Syrian expatriate who met and got to know the Sultans when they first came to the United States, spoke at length about the Wafa Sultan that very few people know.

According to Halabi, Dr. Wafa Ahmad (her maiden name) arrived in California with her husband Moufid (now changed to David) in the late 80s on a tourist visa. Contrary to what she told the New York Times, they came as a couple, leaving their two children back in Syria.

Another source named Nabil Mustafa, also Syrian, told InFocus that he was introduced to Moufid Sultan through a personal friend who knew the family well, and both ended up having tea at the Sultans’ one-bedroom apartment one evening in 1989. It was then that Moufid told Mustafa the story of how he was reunited with his two children. According to Mustafa, Moufid Sultan told him that a short time after they arrived in the country, his wife, Dr. Wafa Sultan, mailed her passport back to her sister Ilham Ahmad in Syria (while the passport still carried a valid U.S. tourist visa). With Ilham bearing a resemblance to her sister Wafa, the plan was to go to the Mexican Embassy in Damascus and obtain a visa to Mexico, making sure that the airline carrier they would book a flight on would have a layover somewhere in the Continental United States.

With an existing U.S. visa on Wafa Sultan’s passport, Ilham Ahmad had no trouble obtaining an entry permit to Mexico. Shortly after, Ilham and Wafa’s two children landed in Houston, Texas. She and the children then allegedly made their way through customs and were picked up by Moufid and brought to California.

Taking advantage of an amnesty law for farmers, the Sultans applied for permanent residency through a Mexican lady who worked as a farm hand. She helped Moufid with the paperwork by claiming he had worked as a farmer for four years. The application went through and the Sultans obtained their green cards.

As incredible as the story sounds, Mustafa told InFocus that to the best of his recollection, this was the exact account he heard from Moufid Sultan. Halabi, who is not acquainted with Mustafa, corroborated the story, which he heard from Dr. Wafa Sultan herself but with fewer details. Dr. Wafa Sultan declined InFocus’ repeated requests to be interviewed or comment on the allegations. InFocus contacted the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to check on the veracity of the story but an official said that they would look into the allegations, which could take months to investigate.

Halabi alleges that Ilham Ahmad lived as illegal resident with her sister Wafa for years until she met an Arab Christian named Khalid Musa Shihadeh whom she ended up marrying (they were married in Nevada on 12/8/1991 and filed for divorce in 2002). It was during that time that Halabi got to know the Sultans well.

Halabi alleges that the Sultans lived in dire poverty. “Their rent was over $1,000 per month and Moufid was only making $800,” he said. Dr. Wafa Sultan was forced to rent out a room in her apartment and work at a pizza parlor in Norwalk, Calif. where a personal friend used to pick her up and drop her off daily. This same friend used to help the Sultans out with groceries and occasionally loaned them money just so they could make it through the month. “It was a serious struggle,” Halabi recalled. “The Sultans lived hand to mouth for years on end.” Further, Halabi said that at no point during the period he knew the family did Sultan ever discuss religion, politics or any topic relevant to her current activities. “She is a smart woman, articulate and forceful, but she never meddled in religion or politics to the extent she is doing now,” Halabi said.

Sultan is not condemned only by Muslims, non-Muslims have come out and strongly condemned her as well.

Sultan’s detractors include not only Muslims but members of the Jewish community as well. In an op-ed piece published in the Los Angeles Times (June 25, 2006) and titled “Islam’s Ann Coulter,” Rabbi Stephen Julius Stein at Wilshire Boulevard Temple, who attended a fundraiser for a local Jewish organization where Sultan was a speaker, wrote, “The more Sultan talked, the more evident it became that progress in the Muslim world was not her interest…. She never alluded to any healthy, peaceful Islamic alternative.”

The rabbi mentioned that Judea Pearl, father of murdered journalist Daniel Pearl, “was one of the few voices of restraint and nuance heard that afternoon. In response to Sultan’s assertion that the Koran contains only verses of evil and domination, Pearl said he understood the book also included ‘verses of peace’ that proponents of Islam uphold as the religion’s true intent. The Koran’s verses on war and brutality, Pearl contended, were ‘cultural baggage,’ as are similar verses in the Torah.”

He added, “Sultan’s over-the-top, indefensible remarks at the fundraiser, along with her failure to mention the important, continuing efforts of the Islamic Center (of Southern California), insulted all Muslims and Jews in L.A. and throughout the nation who are trying to bridge the cultural gap between the two groups. And that’s one reason why I eventually walked out of the event.”

The hope is that more and more people like Rabbi Stephen Stein will see Wafa Sultan for who she is: a hateful, opportunistic poseur. The atheist who calls Islam and Muslims “backward and primitive,” “incapable of reform,” the Qur’an as only filled with “evil,” yet can’t see the self-contradiction in her befuddling statements that growing up in secular Syria she “suffered from Islamic Shariah” and “I even don’t believe in Islam, but I am a Muslim.” Go figure.

UPDATE: In retrospect, our piece on Wafa Sultan seems not to have been harsh enough on her hate. In light of recent comments she has made while on her book tour at synagogues and churches, the poseur can properly be renamed, Wafa Stalin Sultan because the atheism that she believes in is propelled by the same genocidal and insane impulses that led another loon, Joseph Stalin.

Atlas Shrugs (read: Pamela Geller on Drugs) made our jobs easy by posting a video clip of Wafa Stalin Sultan going off the deep end. In the video, Sultan is addressing a group at a synagogue in NYC and says,

“I believe King Abdullah can change Islam overnight, but you need to put pressure on him to do it, and the same kind of pressure you put on Japan, you might need it” at that moment someone from the audience interjects and asks, “atom bombs?” Wafa Sultan replies, “Yes. At some point the West will need to do it.” At the end of her speech, she utters something quite strange for an atheist, “God bless you and God bless America.” More charlatanism?

During the question and answer session she divides moderate Muslims into three categories: 1.) a majority, 80% who are unaware of the real teachings of Islam, 2.) huge chunks of them are practicing Taqiyyah, 3.) a very small progressive group who have no effect. All talking points from the far right-wing wing.

The rest of the question and answer session is interesting as well, and pocked full of more and more lies from Wafa Stalin Sultan. Check it out for yourselves.

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vDeqlwhE2xc 300 250]

This disgusting little woman continues with her fascist fearmongering, she says, “Islam is infiltrating and you are doing nothing about it.” Someone from the audience then asks Sultan, “How would we stop it from infiltrating?” Sultan replies, “Get involved in politics, you have to know the kind of leaders you are choosing.” The man then says, “If we got involved in politics, what would our platform be, what would we say?” Sultan replies quoting Geert Wilders, “Islam is not religion!” The man interrupts and asks, “what would our platform be, what would A, B and C be?” Sultan replies, “the same you dealt with Nazism. The same way, the same exact way. The same way!” To this she receives a big applause from the all too captive audience…”you reversed the Japanese culture, the same, you might need to do it, you might need to do a heavy pressure, I cannot predict the kind of pressure, you understand it, I don’t have to say it.” Quite chilling the way she nonchalantly advocates nuking Muslims.

Sultan also says, “You know Geert Wilders has said if he becomes Prime Minister of Holland he will ban the Quran, I admire him for that.” The audiences glibly agrees with her with mutterings of “yes.” If you want to see how fascism takes hold then watch the video. My only question is how much are these synagogues and churches paying her for her speaking appearances?

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aQaix-jM82M 300 250]