Thursday, June 08, 2006
|A "radical" icon in less photogenic times|
he past few weeks haven't been kind to a number of self-styled "radical" heroes, though none had to face the kind of music that awaited poor old "Che" just a few minutes after this photo was taken. And by the way, that's not a younger "radical" hero Hugo Chavez at left, but a fellow named Felix Ismael Rodriguez. As it turns out, Mr. Rodriguez is a hero, and "Che" was nothing more than a murdering scumbag who liked executing people -- preferably ones with their hands tied first. Learn more about Felix Rodriguez, the "Che Hunter" at Babalu Blog, where there is also a recent picture of the gentleman with Babalu Blogger Henry Gomez. Wai to Henry for the old photo (reduced here, so check out the original on that page).
"Che" is of course the ultimate "radical" hero, whose one famous image has been plastered on everything from t-shirts to coffee cups (not to mention the thousands of "revolutionary" banners borne by those who intend to change the world). If you want to change the world in an idealistic way, stand up for justice and freedom for the oppressed, and all those other nice things that good people wish for, I can't think of any figure who is more unsuitable to rally behind than the image of Ernesto Guevarra.
Oh sure, I once thought he was cool, and heroic. Mainly I think because he just looked so good in that famous iconic picture (which continues to generate huge royalties for whoever it is that owns the rights to it). I bought into the myth, and I admit, I was stupid to do so. I'd never even examined his life, nor read anything about him. He was an icon that represented certain things, and those things were good, and so "Che" was a hero.
They lied to us, and it shouldn't have been so easy. Was I duped? No, I duped myself by not questioning these other kinds of "authority." We were always reminded to "question authority." Good advice, except that only some kinds of authority were cited as needing to be questioned. The police, the government, the school principal, or whatever. While all sorts of other "authority" figures were left off the list, and questioning them wasn't anything a good forward-thinking "radical" should even think about.
No one ever heard an anarchist say, "Question Chomsky," even though Chomsky was supposed to be an authority on just about everything. Unthinkable! For that type of authority (the "anti-authoritarian authorities"), one must simply swallow whole, and then be validated by one's social group for doing it. Finding out that Prof. Noam had lied about what the Khmer Rouger were up to in the 1970's, indeed promoted them as some sort of altruistic "people's movement" even as he had to know the awful truth -- much like the New York Times' Walter Duranty did for Stalin -- was a shock at first. It shouldn't have been. Learning about Guevarra's career as Castro's enthusiastic executioner of dissidents is something the idealistic vanguard marching around beneath his image should also consider. There are a couple of links on that Babalu page to get one started on the research.
But as I wrote at the start, this is about the heroes of the revolution who've had a rough time in the more recent past. First up is the faux North American Indian wannabe / shaper of young minds in the academy, Ward Churchill. After a long and drawn out inquiry carried out by his employer, the University of Colorado, it was found that the numerous complaints of plagiarism, dishonest scholarship (such as citing his own ghostwritten stuff as evidence for his own argumentation), and various other fraudulent behaviour were well established. He's been lying to his university, lying to his students, lying in his widely touted "radical" books and lying about himself. The investigative panel agreed on these things, but couldn't agree on what to do about it. Chutch is now thoroughly discredited in practically every possible way, but apparently this isn't quite enough to get him out of the classroom. Yet. To follow the incredible saga of Chief Wannabe an Icon, the place to go is PirateBallerina. All you could ever need to know about WC and then some, this site has been tracking developments from the very beginning (about a year and a half now). Amazingly enough, I still see idiots in discussion fora citing Churchill as an authority.
As though firebrand UK politician and "International ANSWER" mascot George Galloway hasn't quite fallen far enough yet, the "RESPECT" (ha!) MP for Bethnal Green seems determined to mine ever deeper levels of shamelessness. Caught in an interview recently with the statement that the assassination of Tony Blair could be "morally justified," he seems to have just kept his language barely out of the realm of sedition (if they still have that in Britain). Chris Hitchens, who promised Galloway in their debate last year that he wasn't going to stop hounding him for his cretinous behaviour, had this to say (among other things):
If the killing of Blair would be "morally equivalent" to the deaths of thousands of Iraqis, then obviously it would be equivalent to something of which Galloway presumably strongly disapproves. In other words, it could not be "morally justified" at all, except by an utter moral cretin. And this is to say nothing of the unmentioned question: How right can it be to remove a thrice-elected head of government by any means other than an election? Galloway is a member of Parliament by the grace of an electorate in the East End of London but is widely regarded as a corrupt scumbag, an egomaniac, an apologist for tyranny, and a supporter of jihad. How would he phrase his complaint if someone were now to propose overruling his voters and offing him as the insult to humanity that he has become? I think I can hear the squeals of self-pity already.You really must read it all to get the full effect. Will the radical left finally distance itself from this Iraqi blood for Saddam's oil coupons profiteer? Not bloody likely.
Then there was the saga of the Wendy's Ranger Special Forces Green Beret SEAL commando, Jesse MacBeth. Jesse may have appeared to be a 98 lb weakling with a serious stutter problem, but for the radicals at Democratic Underground and the other vanguard websites, he was a gift from heaven. (ok, not heaven exactly, but maybe from the alternate plane of higher existence from his or her non-denominationally judgmental spiritual choice) But poor Jesse became the very definition of a "one day wonder." His appearance in a 20 minute web video (it went viral!)was music to radical ears, as he told of slaughtering hundreds of praying Iraqis at a time, along with his Ranger Special Force SEALS comrades. In less than 24 hours he was shown up by military bloggers as an absolute fraud, his promoters were scurrying to distance themselves from the fiasco, and it finally emerged that he'd never even completed boot camp -- much less ever seen a battlefield.
I am convinced that there was a plan behind the use of this obviously not quite stable fellow. The video, which was celebrated by those ready to believe the absolute worst about the US military on the thinnest of evidence or none, appeared only days after John Murtha hit the tv cameras with his verdict on Haditha. The announcement of the Marines' investigation of that incident was expected later that same week. Jesse's movie was ready to go hot on Murtha's heels and just 3 or 4 days before Haditha was set to dominate the headlines with the incident investigation being announced.
It must have been felt that, even if MacBeth's story were to be discredited in some way, by that time all the attention would have naturally been fed into Haditha -- and nobody would pay much notice to questions about the skinny little "mass murderer's" veracity. They didn't count on it all falling apart on the first day. I was reading discussions on the radical sites about this, where people would later claim that they "believed him for about 15 minutes" (in other words, until they couldn't justify their belief any longer). Not true at all. Lots of those "radicals" took Jesse as an absolute authority long past the time they looked stupid for doing so. One was so committed, he actually wrote that he didn't care if it was lies or not -- he was going to copy that video and post it up repeatedly on every website he could find. True or not, it was a weapon and he was going to use it to the max.
I had saved a lot of interesting links on this one, but it's a bit out of date by now, so let me just point those who hadn't seen them yet, to The Belmont Club, and Greyhawk. Most of the saga can be found in the earlier Hot Air link, but really you should indulge in a few chuckles too, from iowahawk and WuzzaDem.
Who else do we have in this old box of "radical" heroes? Oh, how could I forget our good, upstanding agit-propmaster Michael Moore. The darling of Cannes had apparently misused a wounded Iraq veteran who had lost his arms over there in an accident. Now, this serviceman had not been wounded by Moore's "brave resistance fighters" but in some sort of accident while repairing a helicopter.
I wai deeply to Sgt. Peter Damon for his service to freedom, and his sacrifice. And I hope he collects $85 million dollars from the cheap swindler Michael Moore, for having edited, cut and pasted things together to falsely portray Sgt. Damon's views. Moore's task is made so much simpler, you see, when he can have a double amputee serviceman appear to be on his side. Because he's the "radical" hero around here, man, and it's all for a good cause after all. Right? So you know, getting the clip from NBC and not bothering to ask Sgt. Damon for permission to use it in his blockbuster flick, and then cutting it up so he says what Mikey wants him to say, maybe make it look like he's answering questions he was never really asked -- that's just like part of the game, man. You gotta play hardball if you're going to save the world from Bushitler's stormtroopers, right? Honesty is just going to hamper our style, dude. The above link has a picture of Sgt. Damon, but this one has a better account of what happened.
By the way, the aforementioned Hitchens used to be a bona fide hero to the left, whereas now he seems to have become its nemesis. I feel some sort of comradeship with people like him (and Norm Geras, and lots of others). Because I think it's clear that Hitch hasn't changed his principles -- he's held on to them. And that's a point I've tried to make many times in the two + years' life of this blog. I don't fit where I used to fit, and it isn't because of having left "The Left." Great swathes of "The Left" seem to have wandered off without noticing into some very strange territory. The more correct statement would be that "The Left" has left us, and whether it can find its way back to fundamental principles remains to be seen. Simply hating a political figure (who else?) does not a solid philosophy make.
Is Maureen Dowd a hero for the left? Not in the same class as Chomsky or Moore of course. Most people can't even read her anymore behind that subscription wall, and the main attraction seemed to be the juicy phrases she could concoct to say how stupid Bush is. Not the greatest claim to fame, but lots of anti-America partisans looked forward to quoting her every week when she was free. "Didja see what Mo called him this time? Man, I wish I could write like that!" So, a hero of sorts, to some, at least.
How about Salman Rushdie? Nope, never a radical hero, but a damn fine writer. And a symbol of sorts for those who thought it important to defend free speech and expression against a creeping theocratic fascism. Way back in the days when we all thought it was some sort of weird aberration. The Ayatollah put a fatwa on his head 20 odd years ago, and he hasn't been a free man since. But he did have a few good friends in literary circles, and one of them was Hitchens. Mr. Rushdie was having to move around a lot in those days, and Hitch quietly put him up at his place.
Mr. Rushdie spent nearly a decade in hiding, and spent part of that time living with Mr. Hitchens in his Washington apartment. The author and his round-the-clock armed security holed up with Mr. Hitchens, his wife, and a new baby until New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd "annoyingly published" Mr. Rushdie's location, and he again had to take flight.Well, I just thought that might be interesting to make note of here, as I'd never heard that story anywhere before. I guess she really got a scoop on that one.
Not nearly the scoop that the intrepid scooper Jason Leopold got a few weeks back though. That's the scoop that's so super secret (shhh, Cheney's already been indicted for the Plame game) that its revelation in "TruthOut" caused group salivation at every other revolutionary vanguard centre in the cyber world, awaiting its confirmation within 24 hours. Which became 24 business hours, and then with allowances for a business day's necessary water cooler time, lunch breaks and photocopying one's ass time (darn, I forget who to credit with that one!) stretched out to.... is it 24 days yet? Yes, I think it has been. But man, for the first two weeks at least, that Leopold guy was the hero of the month! I mean, if you want it to be true bad enough, it's just like wishing on that magical star. It's just gotta come true. Reading the radicals was some kind of funny last month, I tell ya.
"TruthOut" says that it's still true, but that they accidently got "too far ahead of the news cycle." And they all curled up all snug in their beds, with visions of frogmarches still dancing in their heads. Maybe it'll still happen, or maybe the Vice President really was indicted almost a month ago, and it's just a very super closely held secret. But if you were holding your breath for that, you'd be dead by now.
That can happen, when you always question only one kind of authority, and never even think about questioning the other.