Friday, May 05, 2006
SEEING THE LIGHT, AND JUAN MORE FOR THE ROAD
as a portion of the "progressive left" finally seen the light, and turned away from the hypocritical notion that any individual, group or state which is the enemy of the United States, must be, by definition, a force for progressive change deserving of their support? I believe there have been plenty on the left who have not fallen for this false binary choice -- some of whom are on the blog roll of this page. So it is not a new phenomenon by any means, but it is encouraging to see signs of a larger movement afoot -- a conscious movement away from unified knee-jerkism theory and toward a more principled perspective. Hitchens this week offered a few explanations for the left's mutation into reactionary nihilism -- here's a teaser:
The bulk of the anti-war movement also opposed the removal of the Muslim-slayer Slobodan Milosevic, which incidentally proves that their professed sympathy with oppressed Muslims is mainly a pose.He also cites an undeniable case of "blood for oil" -- not however, the contrived and simplistic placard slogan seen on parade for the past 3 + years, but a real and currently ongoing bloodshed for actual oil. Who do you suppose is involved in that? Read the piece.
However, that professed sympathy does help us to understand the second motive. To many callow leftists, the turbulent masses of the Islamic world are at once a reminder of the glory days of “Third World” revolution, and a hasty substitute for the vanished proletariat of yore.
Hitchens thus leads up to the latest signs of leftish antibodies acting on the infections afflicting that particular side of the body politic, in the form of the Euston Manifesto:
I have been flattered by an invitation to sign it, and I probably will, but if I agree it will be the most conservative document that I have ever initialled. Even the obvious has now become revolutionary. So call me a neo-conservative if you must: anything is preferable to the rotten unprincipled alliance between the former fans of the one-party state and the hysterical zealots of the one-god one.Wai to one of my longtime favourites, Norm Geras at normblog -- who is also one of the founding authors of the Euston Manifesto.
Of course there will be plenty of hard-liners who wouldn't think of signing such a statement of principle, owing to the necessity for critical introspection, among probably other reasons. In his Slate column this week, Hitchens looks at some of the creepy stuff Iran's deranged leadership has been saying, and delightfully dissects one of their creepier apologists who also happens to be the antique media's principle "go-to guy" Middle East matters, Juan Cole. This piece sparked off the Hitchens - Cole controversy which was all the talk of the blogosphere this week. Read Hitch's piece first, then see an example of a man coming unarmed to a battle of wits by reading Cole's so-called response. I'll wait right here while you do that.
Well? Does "deranged" even begin to cover it? At least he wasn't quite as unhinged as "intelligence expert" Larry Johnson was in answering uncomfortable facts on his blog last week (linked below in the "CIA LEAKER BUSTED" post), but it was close. Funny how these principle media sources (Moonbats McGovern and Johnson for intel stories, Cole for Mideast stuff) can go right round the bend when challenged, but there you go. Hitchens gives further thoughts following Cole's "reply" in a radio interview which can be heard here, in two sound files (transcript also at the link).
Juan Cole is supposed to be an expert in Persian studies, and fluent in Farsi. Perhaps his soft-pedalling translations of Iranian threats are the correct ones? Read the thoughts of a native Iranian speaker of Farsi at Winds of Change, and see what you think. The conclusion would tend to be that, yes, Juan Cole is little more than an apologist for the Shiite theocracy, with its unambiguous desire to destroy Israel. I think that eventuality might suit the professor just fine.
BREAKING: First draft of Juan Cole's finished product ("One, two, three, four. We don't want your stinking war!") has been discovered in a dumpster behind U of M. He might have been in less intellectual trouble, had he gone with the initial draft. His English may be no great shakes, but at least it's (apparently) better than his Persian.
I suppose it's evident that I think Juan is a creep. That may sound strong, but when Steven Vincent was assassinated and his local translator seriously wounded last August in Basra, Cole immediately made a whole bunch of assumptions and blamed the victim, claiming an illicit love affair and citing "Mediterranean" cultural values that Vincent was too stupid to understand (Mediterranean?!). Steven's wife Lisa wrote a powerful letter castigating him for ....... well, what I'm calling his "creepiness," Lisa is far to nice for that sort of language. Read that letter. It deserves a response at least, and an apology. None was forthcoming. I wrote at the time (multi-article post, scroll down for it.):
The creep Cole has yet to mention anything more about it, but then he never admits when he's wrong. He owes Lisa (as well as Steven and Nour) a very sincere apology. But he won't, because he simply doesn't have the honour in him to do it.Now he wants to demand an apology from Hitchens, for showing him up as a fraud -- and throws in some juicy accusations of 'drunkeness while writing' for good measure. Smooth move, Exlax. That claim is also provably false, and already attested so by someone actually present (Andrew Sullivan writing in Time Magazine). As the things that Cole needs to apologise for pile up, one can only expect them to remain that way.