Tuesday, June 14, 2005

the blog of blogs

Oh, Matt.
Drudge really outdid himself today, in his coverage of Michael Jackson and his people demanding the return of photographs of Michael Jackson, photographs in the possession of Santa Barbara County prosecutor Tom Sneddon.

These are photographs of what Drudge chose to call Jackson’s “penis area.”

Penis area? What the--?

From Reuters:
“Microsoft Corp.'s new MSN China Internet venture is censoring words such as ‘freedom,’ ‘democracy,’ and ‘human rights’ on its free online journals, Microsoft said on Tuesday…..”

Simple coding could fix this problem. Since Marxism is on the wane, why not replace democratic jargon with commie? For “freedom” substitute “false consciousness.” For “democracy” substitute “people’s struggle.” For “human rights” substitute “revolution.”

Go to it, Chinese bloggers! Use your imagination!

From the once-admired Christopher Hitchens.
“I think it is fairly safe to say that not one detainee in Guantanamo is there because of an expression of opinion. (And those whose ‘opinion’ is that all infidels must die are not exactly prisoners of conscience.) Morally neutral on this point, apparently, Amnesty nonetheless finds its voice by describing the prison itself as ‘the gulag of our times.’ No need to waste words here: Not everyone in the gulag was a ‘prisoner of conscience,’ either. But if an organization that ostensibly protects the rights of prisoners is unaware of the nature of a colossal system of forced labor and arbitrary detention—replete with physical torture, starvation, and brutal execution—then the moral compass has become disordered beyond repair. This is not even neutrality between the fireman and the fire. It surely expresses a covert sympathy with the aims and objectives of jihad and an overt, if witless and sinister, hatred of the United States. If only this were the only symptom of that tendency.”

I read this several times, trying to find Hitchens’ logic. Didn’t he used to be sensible?

Amnesty International, I’ll concede, should have been more temperate in its depiction of Guantanamo-- for PR reasons, if nothing else. But still, to conclude from Amnesty’s depiction of Guantanomo Bay as a “gulag” that Amnesty is in collusion with terrorists (well okay, in “covert sympathy” with terrorists) is ridiculous.

The problem with Gitmo (to use the shorthand), as far as United States PR is concerned, is that there is a demand for transparency on the one hand, and the need for secrecy on the other. That is a paradox of a democratic society.

But we now know that disrespect for the Koran (or Q’uran, or whatever) has, in fact, occurred at Gitmo.

I don’t care, but then I’m not a Muslim, am I? But I do know something about marketing. If you are trying to curry favor with “moderate” elements of Islam, why go out of your way to antagonize them? The problem with the conflict between transparency and secrecy is that secrets tend to be eventually revealed. Radical Muslim extremists, in that sense, are so transparent that they have become invisible. We know EXACTLY what they want- our total desstruction. Every secret we conceal becomes a weapon in their arsenal. And we, the bulky, highly visible superpower are forced to go on the defensive.

My opinion is: I think torture is stupid and counter-productive. (And evil, if that matters to anybody.) But if we’re going to torture people, tell us about it. This is what we’re doing to make the world safe for democracy: deal with it. But to say we’re not torturing people is just mealy-mouthed crap, the pile of which has never been so enormous as from the Bush administration.

Back to Hitchens’ point: he seems to be accusing Amnesty International of colluding with terrorists. Why? Because Amnesty seems to hold the USA to a higher moral standard than terrorists. Apparently Hitchens doesn’t. Maybe he's right.


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