The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Another journalist down for saying something “inappropriate”

Latest victim is Octavia Nasr, who tweeted:

“Sad to hear of the passing of Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah… One of Hezbollah’s giants I respect a lot.”

Hezbollah, of course, are designated terrorists by the US state department, for the 1983 bombing of marine barracks in Lebanon.

Two things about that attack:

  1. Marine barracks are, by any definition, legitimate targets of war.
  2. Do you know why they attacked a military target?  Because the US shelled Shia villages in Lebanon.

Let me emphasize, Hezbollah attacked a military target, killing soldiers, in retaliation for US attacks on defenseless civilians.

Now that doesn’t mean I agree with everything Hezbollah does, they’ve done some real terrorist attacks.  But they have a policy against terrorist attacks against Americans and have for a long time.  Certainly they have killed far fewer civilians than either the US or Israel.

As for Fadlallah and Nasr, her own words say it best:

I used the words “respect” and “sad” because to me as a Middle Eastern woman, Fadlallah took a contrarian and pioneering stand among Shia clerics on woman’s rights. He called for the abolition of the tribal system of “honor killing.” He called the practice primitive and non-productive. He warned Muslim men that abuse of women was against Islam…

It is no secret that Sayyed Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah hated with a vengeance the United States government and Israel. He regularly praised the terror attacks that killed Israeli citizens. And as recently as 2008, he said the numbers of Jews killed in the Holocaust were wildly inflated.

But it was his commitment to Hezbollah’s original mission – resisting Israel’s occupation of Lebanon – that made him popular and respected among many Lebanese, not just people of his own sect.

She further notes that as he got older, he actually spoke out against Hezbollah and hardline Iranian clerics:

In later years, Hezbollah’s leadership apparently did not like Fadlallah’s vocal criticism of Hezbollah’s allegiance to Iran. Nor did they like his assertions that Hezbollah’s leaders had been distracted from resistance to Israeli occupation of portions of Lebanon and had turned weapons against their own people.

At first, he was simply pushed to the side, but later wasn’t even referred to as a Hezbollah member. Rather, he was referred to as the scholar – the expert on Islam – but nothing more. During the 2006 war between Hezbollah and Israel, his honorary title “Sayyed” – indicating that he’s a descendant of the prophet – was dropped any time he was mentioned on Hezbollah’s Al-Manar TV and other Hezbollah media outlets.

None of this is to say he was a “good guy”, but he was certainly no more evil than a man who launched a pre-emptive war based on lies against a country which was no threat to his own country, killing hundreds of thousands and making millions homeless.

It’s not that journalists can’t have opinions, it’s that they can only have approved opinions, or at least they can only admit to approved opinions.


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  1. Celsius 233

    It’s getting increasingly more difficult to wade through the spin, lies and out-right propaganda spewing from the U.S. government. It seems to be drifting further from reality; to the point I sometimes feel as though I have awakened in an alternative universe.
    The media has hitched their wagon to the “machine” and with very few exceptions, is a cheering section for the dark side. Their irrelevance is profound and their complicity is criminal.
    Amy Goodman is the only broadcaster in the U.S. worth a listen, IMO. Al Jezeera and Link TV’s Mosaic seem to have a grip as well.

  2. The United States has a very Manichean way of looking at the world. Everyone is either good or evil. Americans are almost always counted amongst the good, naturally.

    Nuance is the enemy. You can’t point out that something or someone designated as ‘good’ has flaws, even if you couch your criticism in overall supportive terms. You can’t understand that ‘evil’ people and governments might sometimes have a point, or do something better, faster, more efficiently than the ‘good’ countries and people.

  3. CNN is using whatever excuses it can to shake up its lineup and get its ratings back.

  4. Carla Easterling

    “You’re either with us or agin us!” He shouted, and the whole world got caught up by the Lord of the Flies.

    Now, the game is changed and journalists are as susceptible to him as the spokespersons of Lebanon are to Hezbollah. “With us or agin us…” The real question is who is “US”?

    When I was a child, I lamented that I would not be able to fight the enemy as a woman but a smart teacher told me I had a weapon more powerful than the biggest gun around… The pen. Who knew the pens of this country would become the enemies of this government?

  5. Formerly T-Bear

    The ongoing assault upon journalists provides another look at what we have become.

    The reflection perceived in the mirror is not just another misshapen creature;
    devoid of human form, monstrous in inhumanity toward others,
    contorted in ignorance, colored by anger, besotted with hubris, drunk on self-love;
    the image cannot grant to any other, the attributes of humankind, of care, of kin;
    The frame of the mirror restrains that joy, and sorrow, of pain and loss, of fullness
    and accomplishment cannot be seen in others as it is self-imagined in the mirror’s image;
    that an other can be equal, and then willfully obstructs any and all that may so suggest
    that another can be human, and have value in life and in passing from life as one.
    That perceived reflection has been engorged on propaganda, half-truths, myths and lies
    upon which it is satisfied to feed itself,
    that reflection of the monster in the mirror is of ourselves and what we have become.

  6. Bernard

    with the recent court decision about speech and terrorists, she is lucky she hasn’t been arrested as a “combatant” or helping aid terrorists.

    yes America is a strange country now. Only approved speech is allowed. we have to watch what we say, write or type nowadays. the dark side? you mean there is/was a bright side.

    all these years of the Right and correct behavior from the Right has led us to this “straight and narrow approved thinking.” i am still amazed at how the Zombies/Right still encourages this kind of idiocy. my way or the highway seems to have really resonated with the non-thinkers.

    i guess we will have our own version of Hitler/Weimar. and this is just a small sample of it. the power will come back to bite them one day, but it probably will be too late. god if i could only move away.

  7. JustPlainDave

    Not quite that simple.

    May 24, 1982 – French Embassy bombing, IJO claim.
    April 18, 1983 – US Embassy bombing, IJO claim.

    Both pre-date initial use of force and the first pre-dates MNF arrival.

  8. anon2525

    It’s not that journalists can’t have opinions, it’s that they can only have approved opinions, or at least they can only admit to approved opinions.

    FAIR covered the firing of Octavia Nasr this week on their Counterspin program:

    …This comment provoked outrage from right-wing pressure groups and the like. So Nasr wrote a lengthier explanation on CNN’s website, pointing out that Fadlallah “took a contrarian and pioneering stand among Shia clerics on women’s rights.” He spoke out against honor killings and other abuses against women, but that context apparently wasn’t good enough, and CNN announced that she was out. An internal memo explained that her credibility had been compromised. But what about CNN’s credibility? Do they have a standard against Twitter messages that are deemed offensive? No. They recently hired far-right commentator Erik Erickson, who’s perhaps best known for a handful of hateful “tweets.” Is it the appearance of bias, then? Well, no. CNN allowed host Lou Dobbs to bash immigrants for years, and defended his inaccurate, one-side rants. Nasr’s not being accused by anyone of doing anything like that. Interestingly enough, a few days later, Time magazine, owned by the same company as CNN, ran an obituary for Fadlallah, written by the magazine’s “intelligence” columnist, Robert Baer. Baer called him a “central figure in mid-east history,” and he praised Fadlallah for standing up to Iran. Baer called him “an independent, courageous voice,” and suggested that we should regret his passing. The column attracted no controversy; what it did was offer readers a more nuanced view of an important figure in mid-east history — the kind of thing CNN has decided its viewers shouldn’t get.

    (My transcription of Peter Hart’s comments.)

    the Rules for “reporters”:

    1. If you believe that you must write statements that do not conform to the received viewpoint, then these statements must be “balanced” with contradicting statements.

    Better yet, don’t even write this kind of article. This leads us to Rule 2:

    2. If you write something that presents the received viewpoint (of editors/publishers/advertisers), then describe it as though it is (incontrovertibly) reality.

    Nasr broke Rule 1.

  9. Ian Welsh

    Due to a conversation on a list-serv, I just did a brief google on “Operation Cast Lead”. Virtually everything on the the first few pages, starting with the Wikipedia entry, was essentially Israeli propaganda. No firm dates of when provocative actions happened, no actual timelines of provocative events, no note that the missile attacks which occurred during the truce were not Hamas ones and that they were almost non-existent, the implication that all Israeli attacks were retaliatory, the headlining of rocket attacks with no mention of people killed by Israel direct attacks and sanctions.

    Amazing. If I hadn’t covered it myself, real-time, and I just did a Google and read the first few entries I’d think it was all the fault of Hamas and all Israel did was defend itself from unrelenting attacks.

    No wonder Americans are clinically insane. They are fed bullshit on every topic, unrelentingly.

  10. anon2525

    Random observations:

    Due to a conversation on a list-serv,…

    list-serv, Facebook, web log, … Have you had any thoughts about what has been written lately about how our multi-tasking, short-attention-span reading and working has been affecting our brains?

    No firm dates of when provocative actions happened, no actual timelines of provocative events,…

    What would we do without Marcy Wheeler? Putting in the time and doing the work of marshaling these facts. The newspapers should be embarrassed to claim that they are writing the “first, rough draft of history.”

    No wonder Americans are clinically insane. They are fed bullshit on every topic, unrelentingly.

    Exhibit A: The portrayal of the occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan. “Sympathize with the Americans. The occupants of the country are invisible. And the domestic, American politics of occupation? Let’s not mention that. Politics is so messy and grubby and does not honor the sacrifice of these brave americans.”

  11. Ian Welsh

    Oh, I’m quite sure multi-tasking does screw you up. I’m trying to do less of it. One thing at a time.

  12. Ian Welsh

    The other thing I’d note is that reading books is far better use of time than reading online, whether blogs, paper sites, or whatever.

    Except for my blog, of course. 😉

  13. anon2525

    The other thing I’d note is that reading books is far better use of time than reading online, whether blogs, paper sites, or whatever.

    OK. While I’m away reading a book, could you talk to the people who run the world and ask them not to do anything insane like kill all the life in the Gulf of Mexico or destroy the european economy or set the middle east on fire? Thanks.

  14. Ian Welsh

    I’ll mention it to them. They don’t seem to listen very well, but I will let them know.

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