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November 18, 2004


1. Via this Fresh Air interview with Michael Moore, I learned of this review of Fahrenheit 9/11 by Scott Simon, the host of NPR's "Weekend Edition Saturday." Terry Gross specifically mentions this part of what Simon wrote:

In what is perhaps the most wrenching scene in the film, an Iraqi woman is shown wailing amid the rubble caused by a bomb that killed members of her family. I do not doubt her account, or her sorrow. I have interviewed Iraqis about U.S. bombs that killed civilians. People who agree to wars should see the human damage bombs can do.

But reporters who were taken around to see the sites of civilian deaths during the bombing of Baghdad also observed that some of those errant bombs were fired by Iraqi anti-aircraft crews. Mr. Moore doesn't let the audience know when and where this bomb was dropped, or otherwise try to identify the culprit of the tragedy.

There are no words sufficient to describe how morally obtuse this is. Let's just say: if Iraq had invaded America, and in the course of the invasion Scott Simon's family were killed by a bomb, he WOULDN'T CARE if the bomb were Iraqi or an American anti-aircraft shell. HE WOULD BLAME IRAQ EITHER WAY, for the very simple reason that THEY STARTED THE WAR. And he would probably want to murder any Iraqi who believed this was an important distinction.

2. Some time ago James Fallows, nice liberal par excellence, wrote an extended article for the Atlantic about the death of 12 year-old Mohammed al-Dura in Gaza. Because the shooting of al-Dura was captured on video in a particularly dramatic way, it's become iconic in the mideast as a symbol of Israeli brutality.

Mohammed al-Dura

Fallows' article isn't available online, but it's a lot of back and forth about how the ballistics seem to show Israeli soldiers couldn't have shot al-Dura from where they were, so maybe he was accidentally shot by Palestinians, etc., etc. On CNN Fallows said this:

...what impressed me, after the time I spent in the Mohammed Al-Dura case, is the basic difficulty of ever knowing the truth, how elusive the truth of many of these matters can be. And to an extent, finally, perhaps it doesn't matter, because the Palestinian side of this will never believe it was anything other than Israeli soldiers shooting...

Mohammed al-Dura

Again: let's say Iraq invaded America and occupied Northwest Washington, DC, where Fallows lives. Then, imagine one day Fallows were in the position of al-Dura's father, getting caught with his 12 year-old son in a gun battle, desperately trying to protect him and being unable to.

Would Fallows care whether the bullet that killed his son came out of an Iraqi gun or an American one? And would other Americans? NO THEY WOULDN'T. The point would be that if Iraq weren't occupying Northwest Washington, FALLOWS' SON WOULD STILL BE ALIVE. And what would Fallows think about a well-fed, privileged, educated Iraqi who wrote a long article investigating this and then went on Al-Jazeera to muse about "how elusive the truth of many of these matters can be"? Would Fallows perhaps want to fucking strangle him?

This ability to be extremely smart yet miss the truth staring you right in the face is the distinguishing plumage you should look for when tracking the nice American liberal in the wild. Everything is so very complicated... everything is so terribly nuanced... and who can really say where the blame lies for anything that ever happens anywhere, particularly if such things involve the US government?


Posted at November 18, 2004 11:47 PM | TrackBack

It's useful to portray the Middle East as a perennial mess, with all parties behaving badly and no solutions anywhere and nothing to be done except perhaps have the US military come in and make everyone go sit in the corner and put their head down (aka, bomb them or "facilitate peace agreements" or provide a roadmap to peace or whatever).

One good way to accomplish that is to focus on individual mayhem events like these, with photo markup John Madden would be proud of, instead of talking about causes. Why is this shooting happening in the first place, no matter whose gun the bullet came from?

Posted by: Jerry in Seattle at November 19, 2004 11:37 AM

It's simplistic but... you see two kids fighting, one on top of the other outweighing him by maybe 70 pounds, pounding his head into the sidewalk. Shrug. Those kids, I'm tellin ya. An age-old mystery, and who knows where it began? Meanwhile under-kid's blood is on the sidewalk, overkid's got a black eye. But overkid's rich and underkid's poor. And your family knows overkid's family.
And his sister's good-looking, and the cotton's high...

Posted by: vernaculo at November 19, 2004 04:25 PM