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Cry Me A Riverbend II

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Justify My Love IV: More conversation with THESPIFF

Once again, I find THESPIFF's comments are profound enough that the comments section is an inappropriate place to respond. He says:
First of all, I'd like to clarify my Fox News remark, because it was a bit ambiguous. What I meant to say was that you complain about Riverbend in the same way that "whiny liberals" complain about Fox news.
Now then, I guess I will concede some of my language. Maybe "attack" is too harsh a word for what you're doing to Riverbend, and maybe "slander" is an inappropriate label as well.

There are more things that I'd say you aren't doing. You are not refuting any of her statements or claims, simply nitpicking at the minor details. Nor are you presenting a unique perspective as an alternative to Riverbend's account of life in Iraq. And you definitely aren't citing any sort of real evidence in opposition to Riverbend's stories. What you most definitely ARE doing is belittling Riverbend's writings. You do this because you think she is a liar. You could attempt to prove your point by refuting her claims with evidence and logic. Instead, you target her character, and through marring it you unfairly mar her opinions. Anybody who's read "The Stranger" by Camus probably knows exactly what I'm talking about.

You throw around theories based on vague notions gathered from over-analysis and reinforce them with your personal political beliefs. You've done a disservice to yourself here, as well as to anyone who reads your post and believes that you have thoroughly discredited Riverbend's blog.

P.S.: It's Spiff, not "Spliff".

Just checked...I did spell your name right, so you weren't talking about me. Good. :)

I suppose at times my tone toward Riverbend's writings could be called "belittling"; same for Faiza and the Jarrar bros. My tone does not stem from a belief that they are liars. I do think they have a negative bias (there's the Fox News angle for you). I think that bias comes from the fact that things were not too bad for them (relatively) under Saddam. In addition, Jeffery has speculated that there may be something to the fact that the Jarrars are half-Palestinian, and Saddam became a big booster of the West Bank cause since his invasion of Kuwait. Who knows.

I don't claim that what Riverbend or the Jarrars say is a lie, however. Check out the letter to Faiza from an American woman. Nothing there is strictly a lie either. But the picture it intentionally paints of America is not the truth either. Now you could say to me essentially what conservatives say to liberals when those liberals complain about the bias on Fox News or talk radio:
"For the last 40 years you've had ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, NPR, CNN, CBC, BBC, and ITV. So what of it if the coverage on Fox slants a little to the conservative side?"

By the same token, you could say:
"You have the Kurdish blogs, Healing Iraq, Iraq the Model and an untold number of blogs who hale the liberation as good thing over all. Why can't you just let Riverbend and the Jarrars speak without comment?"

In answer, I'll leave aside the fact that ABC, NBC, etc, etc are singing the same song Riverbend is for the most part. I'll leave aside my opinion about the reason the Europeans and the vast majority of anti-war Americans have continuously prophesied the failure of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. My answer is that I believe there is a war going on. That it is a war with civilization and freedom on one side, and on the other side cynical power machines and monstrous pseudo-religious luddites who make any tenth century potentate, Western or Middle Eastern, look positively urbane and progressive in comparison. I know our military can handle the RPGs and car bombs of the enemy, and I believe the people of the Middle East as a whole desire something besides repression and eternal war, but this is not primarily a war of guns and bullets. It is a war of Wills. My concern is that the West will decide (as apparently have most of the European populace - although not their governments) that it is too much trouble to make the the Middle East free...that, heck, they probably prefer to have dictators...they can't handle freedom...not like we can.

You are right. I do intend to undermine (to the extent that I can) the force of Riverbend's testimony. I do this because I believe it paints a false picture. I believe it arises from the fact that Riverbend was doing okay during Saddam's reign; a premise which I consider to be entirely irrelevant. I've come to this belief by reading her blogs, and only later discovered that others did as well. I believe that to the extent that her testimony expresses opinions held by other Iraqis (and I'm certain that a good 25% do), they are opinions that we must struggle to change as part of the overall war effort, not embrace. And this is true not just in Iraq, but also in Egypt and Saudi Arabia and Turkey and Paskistan and Iran.

I'm sure Tokyo Rose knew more about the suffering of the Japanese during World War II, than any American serviceman. But does that mean we should have taken her words to heart? Or is the Japan of today a worthy answer to her broadcasts?

I think Riverbend is wrong, not a liar. Saddam was no buttress against the Islamo-facists (it is clear to me that that is her justification for preferring Saddam to liberation). In an effort to stay in power, he was courting the Islamists. The Christians in Iraq, seeing the writing on the wall, were in the process of emmigrating already.


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