Friday, July 22, 2005

Pilger's racism

As another bomb scare hits London (no, not Glenn McGrath's five wickets in the last session), it's worth having a look at what that great Australian apologist for terror John Pilger has to say. Writing in The New Stateman this week, the activist who masquerades as a journalist writes:

Blair brought home to this country his and George W Bush's illegal, unprovoked and blood-soaked adventure in the Middle East. Were it not for his epic irresponsibility, the Londoners who died in the Tube and on the No 30 bus almost certainly would be alive today.


One thing that hasn't been examined (until now) and deserves plenty of attention is the anti-Muslim racism inherant in this oft-repeated arguement by Pilger et al. To justify the terror attacks of the past few years as the product of US/UK/Australian foreign policy is to suggest that those who carry out the attacks have a complete lack of responsibility for their own actions. It is based on the premise that Muslims are so deprived of self-control that we ought to excuse them the most heinous of excesses. Pilger's argument denies agency to an entire class of people. It is patronising in the extreme to suggest that Muslims are somehow incapable of taking part of civic debate over issues of importance, and instead cannot be expected to do anything better than turn themselves into human bombs.

To blame Blair for 7-7 (as it has become known) is to suggest that the four maniacs who caused so much carnage did so because they didn't know any better. It is to deny them agency over their own actions. I guess I can't be held accountable for my actions either if I chose to give Pilger an almighty nipple-cripple if I ever meet him. In true Pilger logic, I wouldn't be responsible for my actions if inspired by the idiocy my victim. Kinda tempting, actually

15 comments:

steve at the pub said...

hehehe, fantastic post!!!

Guy said...

While there is certainly a specific emphasis Pilger places on his explanations for the latest terrorist attacks, but I don't think it follows that he believes that Muslims completely lack responsibility for their actions.

I don't think he is trying to tell the whole story here. Pilger may be quite rabid at times but he's not stupid. It's obvious to just about everyone under the sun that the perpetrators of these crimes were murderous thugs, but he is obviously placing emphasis on what he thinks is important about the underlying causes of the attacks.

At a basic level - he is right. No British involvement (whether rightly or wrongly) in Iraq and there would have been no bombings in London. Simple.

Anonymous said...

I think it is generous to call Pilger stupid because the alternative is that he has a deliberate and malicious double standard.

As for Iraq => London, I don't think it is so simple. And even if it were, it still wouldn't mean that British involvement in Iraq is wrong.

Great post Ari.
Daniel.

Anonymous said...

Islam isn't a race, it's a religion. It's not therefore racism.

-A. said...

Guy and Daniel both make some interesting observations into Pilger's mindset.

My explanation is that he is perpetuating the reflexive anti-Americanism which has become like a paranoid disease within the left. The way Pilger and his comrades construct their response to an issue is to find out what the Americans (and in this case, their ally Britain) are doing, and then oppose it. Do whatever you have to do to oppose it. Defy basic applications of logic. Be racistly patronising. Justify terror. Just whatever you do, make sure that blame (for what, it doesn't really matter) lies at the feet of the US.

Sadly, Pilger's not alone. Reflexive anti-Americanism has infected so many on the left of politics. Amongst this crowd, Pilger's nonsense is considered heroic.

John Lee said...

Both right and left seem to be missing the point that the nature of Islamic terrorism has changed over the past 4 years.

The London bombers - British-raised youngsters who lacked extended training or contact with al-Qaida and who were radicalised less than two years before the event - don't fit the old profile for Muslim terrorists. The same goes for the leading Madrid bomber, a local drug dealer who had a police record but wasn't pegged by Spanish intel precisely because he seemed such unlikely terrorist material. Of course you could argue that the destruction of al-Qaida's camps in Afghanistan forced it to change modus operandi, but that still doesn't tell us why people like these are suddenly willing to commit mass murder by suicide.

The obvious reason is that western societies have become a legitimate target for a much broader cross-section of the global Muslim community, when previously they weren't. In other words, what began as a fight against al-Qaida has become a civilisational war: more and more Muslims are becoming convinced that Islam is under siege and are taking up proven means of hurting the aggressors.
Thus global jihadist terrorism is now being driven by an 'emulation effect', where previously the motive force was top-down steering by al-Qaida.

Iraq has become the vortex of this emulation effect, both because of the invasion itself and the insurgency's success. Once again I'll shamelessly promote my own blog and the Iraq post there (www.bowlingforillidan.blogspot.com).
I argue that the worldwide jihadist movement feeds off globalisation and failed state phenomena that the invasion of Iraq has played right into, and which our leaders simply don't seem to grasp. I'm sure Blair, Bush and Howard genuinely believe they're doing the right thing, but they're working within s wrong paradigm. Hence their doublespeak on Iraq - with one breath they tell us that it has had no effect on terrorism, with the next they tell us that it is essential to fighting terrorism. Those on the right correctly say this is an ideological war, but they miss the big picture by looking through the glass from only one side. Saying that the terrorists will hate us whatever we do, and that therefore our actions can't have negative consequences, won't solve a problem that thrives on a feedback loop. It's this attitude that's responsible for the mistakes in postwar Iraq that have made it into the jihad engine it is today - the problem was not in the invasion per se but the whole approach to 'reconstructing' the Middle East.

Anonymous said...

Excellent post Sharpy.

I look forward to you giving Pilger that nipple-cripple!

Nadav

Polly said...

Hi Ari,

This is a great post - can I add to your nipple-cripple with a bitch-slap :) ?

Mothy said...

For every Pilger, there's an antagonist on the other side of the fence (read the political Right) with equally oversimplified arguements...

http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5744,16034303%255E7583,00.html

Mark Steyn, take a bow, you f*ckwit.

Anonymous said...

Interesting post Ari and some interesting comments. We are in an age of Dark Shadows. They blow up themselves with no regard to Human Life. What is the true agenda behind the Dark Shadows? The Dark Shadows must answer for their actions.....

As for the war issue .....
I am an American and I want to thank the Tony Blair and Howard for standing behind us. These are tough times... I am a woman who is not asking for a fight here. There are many questions and many answers ... I have found from the Brit author Tolkien helpful insights in his "Lord of the Rings" on this uneasy time. I understand very fully the anti-american sentiment and I am sorry for that.

It seems that when we look at our world history especially at WWII, we where all fighting for the right thing. United we fought for the good. Today, it isn't so easy. Everyone has an opinion that comes in so many shades that we can't seem to fight for the common good.

Thank you for this read... comments included....

Anonymous said...

One thing that hasn't been examined (until now) and deserves plenty of attention is the anti-Western racism inherant in this arguement by Ari et al. To justify the sanctions and attacks of the past few years as the product of Saddam Hussein's foreign policy is to suggest that those who carry out the sanctions and attacks have a complete lack of responsibility for their own actions. It is based on the premise that Westerners are so deprived of self-control that we ought to excuse them the most heinous of excesses. Ari's argument denies agency to an entire class of people. It is patronising in the extreme to suggest that Westeners are somehow incapable of taking part of civic debate over issues of importance, and instead cannot be expected to do anything better than turn themselves into bomb deliverers.

To blame Saddam Hussein for sanctions that killed hundreds and thousands of Iraqi children(it was worth it) is to suggest that the western powers who caused so much carnage did so because they didn't know any better. It is to deny them agency over their own actions. I guess I can't be held accountable for my actions either if I chose to give Ari an almighty wedgie if I meet him. In true Ari logic, I wouldn't be responsible for my actions of killing innocents if inspired by the idiocy my target. Kinda tempting, actually, though a block and tackle might be called for :).
Apologies to the author.
Lamenting lost logic from both sides.
Cheers
Cameron

-A. said...

Cameron, clearly you've made exactly the same mistake as Pilger: you've blamed Iraqi deaths during the sanction period on the West, who did nothing more than exercise its right not to trade with a State whose values it abhorred. The reason people died during this period was because the callousness of Hussein and his minions, who managed to find the money for lavish palaces for himself but little for urgent medical care for his people.

Call me naive, but I'd say that Saddam was in control of Saddam's Iraq, and is responsible for the horrors which occurred within it. Of course, it's much easier for the Pilger brigade to reflexively blame the US, but the only way to do it would be to deny Saddam agency over his own actions. And that's exactly what they do.

Mothy said...

Ari,

Cameron made a point and you ignored it. The sanctions were punishment, but it was a punishment that was never going to impact the ruling elite to the same extent that it would the civilian population.

Maybe the West thought that if it deprived his citizens of enough, they would rise and topple Hussein. Maybe Hussien was more callous than even his enemies in the west gave him credit for.

Either way, you cannot say either side is blameless.

I do NOT accept the idea that if there was no involvement in Iraq, there would have been no bombing. Such a view is naieve in the extreme.

But at the same time, I do not accept the assertions that might makes right, or that the end justifies the means.

Anonymous said...

Okay this is the last time I promise.

Ari, clearly you've made exactly the same mistake again: you've blamed Iraqi deaths during the sanction period on the Saddam, who did nothing more than exercise his right not to have a UN agency riddled with spies from a State whose values he abhorred demanding evidence of non-existing weapons of mass destruction. The reason people died during this period was because the callousness of Western blockaders, who managed to find the justification for blocking things like vaccines and chemotherapy drugs required for the urgent medical care for the Iraqi people.

Call me naive, but I'd say that the U.S. and Britain were in control of the standard of living of Iraqis, and are responsible for the horrors which occurred by exercising that control. Of course, it's much easier for the “invade Iraq at any cost” brigade to reflexively blame the Saddam, but the only way to do it would be to deny their agency over their own actions. And that's exactly what they do.

Ari it has been fun throwing your words back at you but it was done to highlight how alike Pilger and your good self are. You are in this case the quintessential pot to Pilger’s kettle.
The sanctions were a war crime because of their length and severity and I carry the shame of being a citizen of a country that aided and abetted in their execution. As Mothy suggested they were designed to force the Iraqi people to overthrow Saddam, as was actions like the CIA funded car bombing campaign in Baghdad from 1993 to 1996.

Apportioning blame has always been a fraught exercise but if done with clarity and honesty it can serve to enlighten and often allow progression from seemingly entrenched positions. Maybe you and Mr Pilger might like to try it.

Cheers

Cameron

Nathan said...

I am an Irishman, however my father is English this leading to a certain internal paradox considering Ireland and Englands violent history. 800 years of opression in Ireland, caused by British rule lead to numerous bloody rebellions culminating in 1920 when the irish republican army eventually won a degree of freedom for the irish people. It can definitly be said that that war and the deaths on both sides were the product of British rule over Ireland. Yes, the Irish people chose to turn it into a violent confrontation but only as the last resort. What John Pilger has stated about the 7-7 attacks is equivalent to this. He is by no means stating that the muslims who chose to carry out those attacks were stubid mindless drones.He only states that the attrocities carried out in the middle east by British and American governments have lead to muslim peoples feeling they have no other choice but to resort to acts of violence. The statement that John Pilger is being racist is totally and utterly false and based on flawed lodgic.