Monday, August 16, 2004

Demoncraticunderworld versus Al-Jazeera

This post is in two parts: If you are a fan of or, you will probably want to skip the first half and jump ahead to the bit about Al-Jazeera. *

There must somewhere be rabidly conservative websites that have the same open-running-sore, soul-corroding Amphetamine-crashing malice of I’m sure they exist, but I haven’t gone looking for them.

Even the folks at are indulging in an annular mutual-stimulation exercise. Their website lists the usual catechism of the delusional, with all the numbingly predictable claims that Bush and his cronies control Fox news, that they stole the 2000 election, Bush Lied to trick us into a needless war, etc. I looked a little deeper, and came across the explanation of their corporate name. It derives from the period when Mr. Clinton’s sexual addiction and the manifold consequences of his various misbehaviors and crimes were coming to light with the glacial inevitability of... well, a GLACIER.

Liberal Clinton supporters wished it would all just go away. They insisted that nothing their guy had done could possibly justify criticism or censure “because it was, after all, only about SEX,” and began to repeat the exasperated query, “Okay, you’ve had your fun picking on Clinton... Now can’t we just MOVE ON to the really critical issues facing our nation?!” Clearly, in their view having a president who lacks the willpower and judgment to defy the urgings of his own penis is no big deal. Even if he commits a bunch of crimes to cover up the "ONLY SEX" parts.

Well, having a DEMOCRATIC president who...

I love it. “Okay, so he had sex with an intern on taxpayer time, and made a mockery of his marriage and family, and took advantage of a young and impressionable girl! So what if courts and legislation in thousands of other similar instances have established that such behavior is at least sufficient grounds for firing, if not criminal proceedings. So what if he allowed his desire for oral sex to compete with his attention to a discussion of American military forces in a combat zone. So what if the chief law enforcement officer of the nation violated laws and lied under oath and compelled employees of the federal government to affirm his lies JUST TO PREVENT a citizen’s appeal for redress in court. So what if he stipulated that he had exposed his pecker and asked for oral sex from a woman over whose JOB he had ultimate dispositive authority? That doesn’t bother ***ME*** so can’t we just ****MOVE**** ON***?????????”

For a refreshing change, take a look at Al-Jazeera’s English-language website. These are the folks whose television broadcast reporting of the American invasion of Iraq seemed so utterly doctrinaire and perverse at the time. I recall the dual on-screen live-feed of Al-Jazeera’s interview with Saddam’s information minister telling the world that American troops were committing suicide on the walls of Baghdad, while the embedded reporter’s live feed showed the American tank column passing under the crossed swords of the Parade Ground, one mile away from that interview.

I could dredge up a lot of examples, mostly anecdotal, but I doubt anyone is going to seriously argue that Al-Jazeera was hostile to the United States attack, and that their reporting was more or less diametrically opposite of American reporting, even considering how hostile many mainstream journalists are to their own government.

But really... Take a look at the Al-Jazeera website ( and consider how bland, neutral and utterly unthreatening it is.

Maybe it’s a new editorial imperative; I hadn’t thought to look up the site before this week. Many Arab print publications routinely publish English versions for foreign consumption that either soften or completely contradict the content prepared for the “Arab Street.” I’d give worlds to know, but my study of arab language has been extremely limited.

Anyway, it makes me want to read the articles. Those I’ve read have shown a remarkable, surprising thoughtfulness.

There’s one about an arab football [i.e., “soccer”] team--- Bnei Sakhnin--- a team made up of Arab players, drawn from an Arab community within Israel. Reportedly it is the first such team ever to compete in a European Championship, and the first team of Arabs to represent Israel in international football competition. The article describes some of the hostility they’ve had to deal with from Israelis, and mentions that one Jew was arrested by Israeli police at a Jerusalem match for shouting “Death to the Arabs.”

Ponder that for a second.

Here’s an Arab website acknowledging that when an Israeli Jew shouted “Death to the Arabs” to taunt an Arab team at a soccer match in Jerusalem, he was arrested by an Israeli police officer.

There is deep irony in this.

Al-Jazeera’s website seems earnestly to want Americans (I assume that’s the primary target audience) to have a more sympathetic and open-minded attitude toward Arab culture. To encourage that, they have made their website NOT a mass of doctrinaire slogans... NOT a seething cauldron of venomous Anti-American HATRED...NOT a list of unsupported allegations of American government crimes against the Arab world...

I gotta say, it works for me.

I’ll keep coming back to check on this website, and read the articles BECAUSE THEY SEEM TO BE GOOD SOLID RESPECTABLE JOURNALISM. Even though I can assume we will be on opposite sides of many important questions, I’m willing to consider what they have to say, because they’re not clubbing me with insults and slogans from the start.

Of course, they clearly support and promote the ARAB point of view. But they also ACKNOWLEDGE ideas and information that might tend to refute the writer’s points.

It is exactly that reasonableness that engages me, and makes me feel like there may be hope of a dialog, or a meeting of minds, cooperative engagement.

Even if it’s just the APPEARANCE of reasonableness.

It beats unambiguous snarling vicious mindless contempt.

Is anyone at listening?

*And I will say a little prayer for your immortal soul, which you have already traded to SATAN for a few gratuitous orgasms or magical beans or “Get Out of Jail FREE” cards or something equally coprophagic. Really, having you around is the proof that we are living in an incredibly tolerant society; If even one per cent of the bullshit lies you claim about Republicans were true, you would have been rounded up and made into tasty little protester-patties a long time since. Who changes your didees, anyway?


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