Friday, March 23, 2007

Robert Fisk in Enemy Territory

Syria? Iran? Fallujah? No, Fisk brought his realist vision of journalism to Valdosta, Georgia, smack dab in the middle of conservative, biblebelt America, where he prodded local students and progressives to think rationally about the problems of the Middle East--that is, to consider multiple points of view and to avoid drinking the ideological officialese koolaid we get from the minions in the gaggle who spend all their time cultivating "relationships" with all the paid liars, um, "officials."

Among many fine points in his two-hour talk, he says mainstream journalists have stopped asking why things are the way they are, distracted as they are by the how. How those 19 pilots managed to fly those planes into the WTC was covered endlessly. Why? Well, Alan Dershowitz proclaimed the very question an act of terrorism and called Fisk an anti-Semite for asking it (Fisk has it on tape). But he was in the air on the phone to his editor when 9.11 happened, and confessed to profiling passengers on the plane and passing along his news and observations to the pilot as events unfolded. He had interviewed bin Laden three times, had heard him say directly that he was out to make America a "shadow of itself" and knew who was likely behind it. But more important than his initial fearfull response was his desire to analyze all the connections and reasons this happened. He knows the history of the Middle East. He lives there, in Lebanon. He knows that our folly in Iraq is merely a repeat of the British folly there after WWI. He knew before it happened that the Lebanon-Israeli war this past summer was to be started by a kidnapping of an IDF soldier. He knows the players and the angles and the reality of the Middle East, that Israel is involved in an occupation regardless of what you call it, that Syria was (and still is) a dangerous presence in Lebanon, and that we have very little reason to fear Iran. But this is all out there. Read his words. He's an outstanding, lucid writer in addition to being a truthseeker.

If I have anything to say at all, it's merely that he isn't the liberal crackpot gadfly he's portrayed as in the conservative and even mainstream media. He's merely a realist, furious that people keep blowing each other up, someone who cheered Syria's abandonment of Lebanon and lamented Israel's incursion into it, someone with friends of all races in all these countries, a man who's seen the carnage close up and who's angry that no one in America or Great Britain wants to see it to think about it or care about the people or the reasoning behind the carnage. He's seen and can elucidate articulately the imperial parallels between America and Britain and Rome. Reuters refused to publish his photos of the initial invasion. They were too graphic, too disrespectful of the dead women and children and old people. Why, asked Fisk, hadn't we been as respectful of their lives?

1 comment:

George said...

If it helps, I'm willing to take the label of "liberal crackpot gadfly" so Fisk can just be the smart guy he is.