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May 22, 2005

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I just posted this in another thread but it's worth reposting here: More on Quran abuses at Guantanamo, straight on the heels of Newsweek's craven capitulation.

Reporters didn't pursue the Lewinski story out of hatred for Clinton. They were trying to divert attention from the Al Qaeda embassy bombings.

On-topic:

...that Friday's story about the torture and death of two Afghan prisoners in US custody is just an attempt on the part of the New York Times to divert attention from Newsweek's retraction of its story on flushing Qur'ans down toilets.

This makes perfect sense if you regard the (mainstream) media as a monolithic left-wing conspiracy, especially if that conspiracy is aimed at destroying the United States, "losing" the war on terror, "siding with the terrorists", etc.

Not that that makes it any less batshit-insane, of course, but given that we know where most of those commenters are coming from, it's hardly surprising.

I am, however, much more intrigued by the thought that the Pentagon and the Bush Administration are using the Newsweek memo (note: not the Washington Times cartoon, because that would be, well, attacking a Republican source and lord knows we can't have that) to provide cover for "'complete strategic failure' of the effort to rebuild Afghanistan".* Nothing like a nice, juicy scapegoat to deflect everyone's attention from real notions of accountability.

* Particularly fun in light of the US memo claiming that Hamid Karzai has been "unwilling to assert strong leadership".

While the earliest report I have found of US soldiers desecrating the Koran is December 2003, Robert Fisk was reporting about US soldiers killing and torturing Afghan prisoners in August 2002.

Wouldn't it have been better if people had paid attention to the reports before the riots?

Wouldn't it have been better if people had paid attention to the reports before the riots?

See above, re "real notions of accountability".

It was rhetorical despair rather than a real question.

I mean... I agree with you. It's just... This has been known about for years. Torture, abuse of prisoners, murder: the complete failure in Afghanistan: I know the Bush administration had no real interest in pursuing any of this, but you have to sit and ask yourself, what were the US media thinking about?

To read this post and then to quote CB's recent related missive:

This is not just a blow to Newsweek but to mainstream media. Why? Because it reinforces notions of adversarial liberal press bias.

No, it reinforces the notions of the daffy right wing fantasies about liberal media bias, and how the right refuses to think outside their own little box.

"Particularly fun in light of the US memo claiming that Hamid Karzai has been 'unwilling to assert strong leadership'."

Anarch, I think it's worth pointing out that the Times article you link to with that quote is strictly about the topic of poppy-eradication (about which Karzai's lack of making it his top priority seem perfectly understandable to me, even without consideration of the details given in the story). I mention this because absent reading the article, one might get the impression from your only quoting the headline that the story made some wider claim about Karzai.

As usual, Hilzoy, I completely agree with everything you've said. I'm sure I don't say that enough.

I mention this because absent reading the article, one might get the impression from your only quoting the headline that the story made some wider claim about Karzai.

Oh bollocks. I included that disclaimer the other times I posted that link, but I forgot to do so here. It doesn't undermine my general point, but hooboy does my point become a lot more vicious when read without that caveat; thanks for the catch and the correction.

Also:

As usual, Hilzoy, I completely agree with everything you've said. I'm sure I don't say that enough.

Likewise. On all counts.

The length of the articles in the Times and the amount of detail that went into them alone should shatter Reynolds' silly comments.

Does he expect us to believe that the articles would not have been published if L'Affaire du Newsweek never happened? This is why I find it amazing that anyone takes him seriously other than his echo chamber. Reynolds doesn't think; he reacts.

I have a difficult time figuring out whether or not people are being ironic or sarcastic or just straight forward serious. CharleyCarp's comment goes right there for me. If he is being sarcastic it's quite funny, other wise he's nuts. He may be just to subtle for me.

Can someone help me out here?

Sarcastic. Not nuts. But then you'd expect anyone who's nuts to say that . . .

The LA Times article that Anarch linked to has a number of points that are very suggestive.

Other accounts from former detainees have been posted on the Internet. Tarek Dergoul, another British Muslim who was held at Guantanamo Bay, recalled soldiers insulting Islam.

"They used to read the English translation of the Koran with their feet up, mocking, for example saying, 'There are more questions in it than answers,' " he said.

I have this sinking suspicion that because most of the detainees had no actionable intelligence and 'just talking' to detainees would not be considered by anyone as torture, this sort of approach was deemed to be basic. The accusations made and retracted against Muslim chaplin Yee are of a piece with this, I think.

"We never took the Koran into an interrogation or used it in any way against them," said Paul Holton, a chief warrant officer with the Army National Guard in Utah who questioned high-level Iraqi military officers after the U.S.-led invasion.

"It was just understood that that was off-limits." It was also considered counterproductive, he said.

The problem is that when you disrespect something foundational as the Koran appears to be to some, you not only set up an opposite reaction (I must be right, since all my enemies are saying I am wrong), but you create an atmosphere where others will utilize the Koran to underline the power relationship. With high-ranking Iraqi (most of whom were probably secularist, following Sadaam), using the Koran is meaningless, much like Japanese soldiers telling American soldiers that Babe Ruth was a bum.

But when the object is something that is treasured, a different dynamic occurs. You see this all the time with little kids, where one does something innocuous with his brother's favorite toy or whatever, and when the brother goes ballistic, the other one says that he wasn't doing anything, all he did was xxx. Without a firm parent to take the time and figure out exactly what is happening, things go to hell rather quickly.

He said guards once deliberately targeted his holy book while hosing down his cell.

"Everybody was upset, but when you are in Cuba you learn to accept," Harith said after his return to Britain. "You accept it as the norm when you are in there."

I think this speculation is further reinforced by the fact that the military found it necessary to make formal guidelines on how to treat a Koran. If they had been properly trained interrogators, they wouldn't need to be told this (as were the ones interrogating high ranking Iraqi), and if it had been one or two bad apples, they wouldn't have needed to make announcements over the loudspeakers to quell unrest, as the punishment of the one or two would automatically send the message. While it is stated in the article that the complaints died down when the guidelines were issued, this does not mean that the problem disappeared, unless steps were taken to apologize to the prisoners for disrespecting something they held dear. But this couldn't happen because it would be like declaring that those in charge were fallible. Thus, even if all incidents stopped completely and totally and all of the interrogators took the lesson to heart, the events still exist in a space akin to an urban myth, and any attempts to spin the situation only reinforces it.

To me, this reinforces the fact that almost all of the abuse takes place simply as a way of showing the detainees who's the boss. As Charles Graner was reported to have said '"The Christian in me says it's wrong, but the Corrections Officer says, 'I love to make a grown man piss on himself."

At the risk of complaining about other blogs in ObWi (thus violating one of Slarti's dictums), I strongly feel that the blogs mentioned by Hilzoy partake of that same rush, the idea that we do things _just because we can_. It is dressed up by notions that we are better than they are, but at its heart, it is nothing more than proving to themselves that 'we' are stronger.

But it is his 11th and final allegation that in today's clamor over the Koran that stands out. Ali said U.S. soldiers repeatedly desecrated the Koran in front of him and other prisoners, "including having a military dog pick up the Koran in its mouth."

We do it because we can, and there is nothing you can do about it. That is the message we have sent. Time will tell if there is really nothing they can do about it.

Anarch and Gary: Likewise on all counts back at you. I never say that sort of thing enough.

Apparently people in the media and therefore many citizens are only able to make their opinions on issues if they are happening right now or in the last week or so.
If issues come out about things that happened before the last election they act as though it is "old news" despite the fact that it was only uncovered or released recently.
That's part of the reason that Bolton's history is being overlooked or treated as a management style. And part of the reason that the nominated judges are being treated as Christian martyrs. No one ( particularly the press ) wants to put two and two together anymore to get four. They just want to say "Today, here is two." Anything before is unfortunately "old news" despite the fact it was never reported or more importantly released by the government.
Surprising what the FOIA can expose and even more surprising that the broader media and pundits generally overlook real new information.
That 24/7 deadline must have pretty good polling numbers to back up the idea that people would rather see a cold-footed bride-to-be walk through an airport for ten minutes than hear about what has happened and happening with our country's actions and tax dollars more than a month ago.
'Old news' even though...you know...no one ever heard about it.

On a minor point, can we finally stop pretending that The New Republic is still the centerist Democratic mag we grew up with, and simply acknowledge that it's now fighting for niche-space with The Weekly Standard? (Yes, it's sad to see such a formerly proud standard bearer pass on, but still.)

What if Newseek desecrated an American flag when doing a photo shoot for their cover?
Would that type of purposeful act, which in this case must have been paid for or performed by Newseek employees, reinforce notions of adversarial liberal press bias?

Would that type of purposeful act, which in this case must have been paid for or performed by Newseek employees, reinforce notions of adversarial liberal press bias?

Given that it's in the international edition? Not at all, because that kind of iconography isn't considered desecration overseas. International organs shouldn't be subject to the same... shall we say, idiosyncracies?... as domestic ones, since they're not produced for the same markets.

OK, let me be more precise: if I saw that on the cover of Newsweek in Hong Kong, I wouldn't regard it as desecration. I don't know about Japan; LJ, as our resident expert, what say you?

[A subsidiary question: would it matter to you, DaveC, if that were a real American flag as opposed to a Photoshopped one?]

Only if one presumes that every single symbolic representation of a US flag, for any purpose whatsoever -- artistic, editorial, illustrative, what have you -- which presents it in any circumstances other than being held aloft by cherubs and illuminated by the light of Almighty God Itself is a) liberal, b) adversarial, or c) biased.

And actually, in re this: Would that type of purposeful act, which in this case must have been paid for or performed by Newseek employees . . . , can I ask how you know that that cover is not an artwork or photo by somebody not associated with the magazine? Which is to say, do you have the photo credit for that cover?

Also, you're aware that flag "desecration" (as if the flag were sacred, for pete's sake) is legal in this country, right?

You have something common going on here i.e. common to the prior post on the Washington State election. You have people who want to believe in a perfectly ordered world in which there is no chance, accident, mistake and disorder...in which all bad things are part of a plot...who'd a thunk it: Glenn Reynolds has a lot in common with those extreme Maoists I used to see on campus.

DaveC: If the top secret minutes of a meeting of high-level British officials quoted the head of MI6 as saying, on his return from DC, that President Bush had decided to go to war while he was still saying publicly that he was committed to pursuing every option, and that "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy"; and if it took weeks after this memo were published in the UK, and on blogs in the US, for any news of it to turn up in the US press, wouldn't that make you wonder whether the press is biassed or just even-handedly dreadful?

And DaveC: Also, in the original post I was not trying to argue one way or another on the question of press bias; just to say that this particular explanation of the NYT story seems to me implausible.

In fact, the more I think about this, more certain I am that I've seen that iconography before in either Time Asia or Asia Magazine. Can't remember whose flag it was though, sorry;* just that that picture looks awfully familiar.

* China, Japan, England and France are all candidates, but I couldn't even begin to guess which it was.

Good post, Hilzoy.

Also, you're aware that flag "desecration" (as if the flag were sacred, for pete's sake) is legal in this country, right?

As is Koran desecration.

Thanks, von.

I'm gonna regret this in a sec, but...

As is Koran desecration.

Are you saying that the American flag is a holy object necessitating religious veneration?

Are you saying that the American flag is a holy object necessitating religious veneration?

No, but Newsweek chose to publich a photograph of "Piss Christ" (I saw it, but do not remember the issue date), chose to desecrate the flag, and if they are not all right with Koran desecration, then they in fact do reinforce notions of adversarial liberal press bias.

If they have no problem with Koran desecration, then they simply are as insensitive to Muslim opinion as they are to Catholic opinion and to flag-wavers opinion.

Are you saying that the American flag is a holy object necessitating religious veneration?


On the other hand, there are no laws in the U.S. prohibiting Bible desecration that I am aware of.

Newsweek's reporting is always an endorsement or condemnation. Is that what you are saying, DaveC?

Italics begone!

Ah, wrong marker.

Flag desecration in Japan, an interesting question. There is a huge debate about the Ministry of Education requiring that the Hinomaru (the red dot Japanese flag) be displayed for specific school ceremonies, along with firing of teachers who refuse to stand. Will be back this pm with some links for the interested. I believe that the Rising Sun flag was specifically banned after WWII, though I see it on the sides of the black sound trucks all the time, though come to think of it, I have only seen it painted on, never as an authentic flag. I've never seen a flag burning reported here, so I don't know if there are any penalties associated with it. More later.

Sorry, Anarch. I think I fixed that.

I will probably regret this, too... but in this case, when we have what Eisenhower would consider a radical, rightwing administration and government in this country, an adversarial liberal press isn't nearly enough. It could be too little, too late. I think you must be out of touch if you think we have anything that even closely approximates that, "adversarial liberal press bias", at this time.

"No, but Newsweek chose to publich a photograph of 'Piss Christ' (I saw it, but do not remember the issue date), chose to desecrate the flag, and if they are not all right with Koran desecration, then they in fact do reinforce notions of adversarial liberal press bias."

Unsurprisingly, this talking point is all over right-wing blogs today. It needs unpacking for me, alas. People were offended by "Piss Christ," and fair enough, but it's certainly unclear to me that there's any reasonable argument that a news source should never have published pictures about it, given that it's only through looking at a picture (or seeing it in person) that one could accurately judge the imagery. No one, howevever, was compelled to either look at the picture if they desired not to, and neither were they prevented from being duly offended if they so chose. (Whether they wanted to riot or not was up to them.) Are you, in fact, making the argument that it was wrong of Newsweek or any other news source to publish a picture of the work?

On the flag, it's probably pointless to re-enter that black hole, but, what the hell: I was a Boy Scout, and I know what the code of respectful behavior to the flag is -- which, incidentally, I've seen many police stations and patriotic citizens violate by keeping up flags that are bedraggled or by keeping them displayed all night, but with no illumination, but never mind -- but how can one "desecrate" a flag unless it is a sacred religious symbol? Isn't that, in fact, a sacrilegious statement in at least Christian and Jewish, as well as Islamic, theology? The flag of a country is on par with a symbol of the Lord? Is that a "conservative" view? (Not to mention the whole "idolatry" thing, which God reportedly had a commandment about; I hear those are important.)

"If they have no problem with Koran desecration...."

I don't understand what that means.

And I'll again note that "Newsweek" has no brain, no consciousness, no volition, no ability to act whatever. There is no mass consciousness there that has feelings or opinions or takes actions. There are only human beings, who come and go, and who individually take responsibility, not to mention argue with each other, and hold different opinons. Perhaps the notion of individual responsibility is only a "liberal" notion these days. Do you think that the same person you don't name who is responsible for a recent cover of a Japanese edition of the magazine was actually also making decisions as to what pictures to use for the U.S. edition of the magazine 16 years ago?

Lastly, isn't trying to enforce or endorse rules about what can and can't be said, what can and can't be shown, because someone will be offended, called "political correctness," and asserted to be a "liberal" notion? Are you saying that if magazines around the world don't take into account whether some group, any group, somewhere halfway around the globe, is going to be offended by an image or statement, it's offensive, and shouldn't be done? Or what?

"If they have no problem with Koran desecration, then they simply are as insensitive to Muslim opinion as they are to Catholic opinion and to flag-wavers opinion."

And if so, what of it? Incidentally, I'm a "flag-waver," and I have no more right to speak for those who display a flag than you do.

hilzoy, "circling the wagons" is particularly ironic, as that was precisely the Bush administration's response when the Abu Ghraib story first broke -- indeed that very phrase was used repeatedly in describing the defense of Donald Rumsfeld at the time.

The thing that struck me at the time, and the reason I make the assumption that using torture is effectively U.S. policy now, is something President Bush said just a few days after CBS broadcast the first Abu Ghraib photographs. In a campaign speech during his "bus tour," he said:

Because we acted, torture rooms are closed, rape rooms no longer exist, mass graves are no longer a possibility in Iraq.

I cannot read the President's mind, or see into his heart, but that remark, made just days after the pictures were published, and all that has followed, makes me believe he doesn't think torture is a big deal.

(Not to mention the whole "idolatry" thing, which God reportedly had a commandment about; I hear those are important.)

This is secondhand since I never had a chance to ask them about it personally but: my grandparents were evangelical missionaries in China, as I've mentioned a few times before on this blog. I'm told that veneration of the physical American flag -- as opposed to the concept or its ideal -- was indeed considered idolatry in their various churches, much as veneration of the physical cross, crucifix or (more pointedly) the crucified Jesus was considered idolatry too. Which isn't to say that they didn't consider those things important, or useful, or representations of something holy. It's just that, that they were representations of the holy, as distinct from that which was holy itself.

I'm pretty much an atheist but that kind of spiritual austerity really appeals to me, largely because that's the way I was raised. Burn the flag; burn a cross; smear feces on the Quran; it doesn't have any personal impact on me, except as a symbolic act of hatred or contempt. Flags can be resewn; crosses renailed; Qurans (or Bibles, for that matter) recopied. It's only when the ideas behind those icons are assailed that I get angry.*

Other people feel differently. I don't understand why but I don't have to; as long as nothing dire comes of it, I respect that. I just find people's compulsion to, well, worship graven images... curious, as if the measly physical can somehow encapsulate the infinitude of the Divine.

* This is obviously a simple summation of my personal beliefs. Things work differently when played out in realpolitik.

Seems unlikely that you would be able to throw something like that together in a weekend. And I can't imagine that they would want to keep Newsweek from flailing.

"What if Newseek desecrated an American flag when doing a photo shoot for their cover? "

What, like this?

Dave, when you say 'Newsweek' do you conceive of some kind of red and black newsprint covered behemoth that prints itself, or do you consider that there are hundreds of people responsible for putting out each issue. So which ones of them hate America? All of them, or just the editors? Isikoff? Ever put any thought to the question?

Also, much more on topic. . I don't see the need to defend Newsweek, other than the reflexive instinct to shut down the more bizarre tinfoil hatting. Anyone remember what they were up to in the 90s? Here's some likely outcomes. . Newsweek takes a hit (yay) . . reporters are more aggressive about getting their sources to go on the record (yay) . . standards of fact-checking are raised (yay). . Republicans overreach and start sounding like blithering idiots (tentative yay). Also, to take the 'Newsweek evil!' angle, you have to take for granted that desecrating the Quran is a bad thing. Winner.

Seems unlikely that you would be able to throw something like that together in a weekend.

What, the Newsweek Japan cover? I'd bet you could throw it together in an afternoon if you were so inclined (and had the Photoshop resources of a major periodical). Why they'd want to is an entirely different question, however.

Incidentally, since this seems to have escaped Riding Sun: foreign periodicals always have different covers than their domestic versions, often emphasising completely different articles or points of view. This difference is a little more extreme than usual, but only a tad.

Well, it was stupid of Newsweek to gratuitously insult the flag worshippers. The big difference between this and the Koran abuse, though, is that Newsweek is not engaged in an epic (and expensive, both in money and lives) struggle to convince all flag worshippers everywhere that it is not waging war against them.

DaveC: as much as I agree with you and GB that Newseek* are irresponsible, two-faced, unamerican reprobates, I think y'all have totally the wrong end of the stick. e.g.

gaijin biker: Any story or cover [Newsweek is] ashamed to run in America probably shouldn't be used in other countries, either.

"ashamed?" is he kidding? on what planet is Newsweek susceptible to shame? Newsweek is about the bottom line. they're not adversarially anything. I would love for them to be adversarially liberal, for the same reasons that I would want them to be adversarially authoritarian if it were anarchist crazies destroying the republic instead of oligarchist crazies. there is an adversarial press, but it's not the likes of Newsweek. you can identify its members by going back and seeing who pointed out what a shell game the invasion of Iraq was. also...

If they have no problem with Koran desecration, then they simply are as insensitive to Muslim opinion as they are to Catholic opinion and to flag-wavers opinion.

hey, you catch on quick. but it would be more accurate to say that they're exquisitely sensitive to advertiser opinion -- everybody else is small potatoes...

BTW Anarch, I think Sebastian was referring to the NYT story...

* c'mon now people, "Newsweek" is really short for the two dozen or so people who make the high level editorial decisions -- there's no need to get all pedantic.

oh, and the substantive difference between Newsweek "desecrating" the flag and Centcom desecrating the Qur'an is that you are not naked, locked in a cell, chained to the bars, with electrodes attached to your genitals, being forced to view Newsweek's (or Dubya's) flag desecration.

you, my fine flag-waving friend, have a choice. Haji does not.

"What, the Newsweek Japan cover?"

I'm willing to bet a nickel that Sebastian was referring to Hilzoy's first link in this post, the point of her post, and was referring to the NY Times story.

"... foreign periodicals always have different covers...."

Even more to the point, Newsweek's multiple international editions have substantial amounts of different content, and almost always different cover stories, which is not obscure hidden information, since they're all clickable on the sidebar of Newsweek's site.

On a similar note, Glenn Reynolds, and those who pick up on his stories, was/were again today discovering "revealing comments" "at the NY Times" with, as per norm, no clue whatsoever that the NY Times Book Review is a separate publication than the newspaper, with a separate editor-in-chief, Charles McGrath, and a separate staff, and, hey, the book reviews in it are almost entirely all by free-lancers. (Ditto, by the way, the Sunday Times Magazine.) I grant that they're bundled together in the Sunday paper, even though the Book Review is also available separately, and incidentally, comes out on Wednesday, but this, too, is not obscure or secret, although maybe things that were clear to 10-year-old readers in NYC are obscure in Tennesee and elsewhere. I guess the fact that the newspaper, the daily NY Times, commonly reviews the same books as The Book Review does, with entirely different reviewers, and reviews, and has done this for far longer than I've been alive is also obscure. (Not entirely dissimilar is the way some people disregard the separate staff on the editorial and news sides of the paper.)

Posted by: Gary Farber | May 22, 2005 09:50 PM

What Gary said.

"Brevity is the soul of wit."

What Shakespeare said.

"...authority without responsibility..."

wait...I know there's some group around that seems to use that as an operating assumption.

What we actually need is just a "culture of responsibility."

Gary -- sorry, I did. My identity is not a big secret, but something about the thought of that, here, just made me go, oh no ... -- and on that totally visceral basis, I acted.

However, you can now officially attest that I am willing to praise President Bush on occasion.

"Gary -- sorry, I did."

That's fine, and my major apologies, then. I should have e-mailed instead.

, although maybe things that were clear to 10-year-old readers in NYC are obscure in Tennesee and elsewhere.

Listen, I was raised in Tennessee, and I am probabtly the most pro-Zionist commenter on this here blog. And I don't frigging know exactly why because I work with Israelis who tend to blame all their problems on me. This is the ex-YMCA Indian Princesses principle/ If you are not at the Nation or Federation meeting then you get the worst assignment, with the least recognition. So, similarly my Israeli counterparts blame me for all sorts of stuff because i am not around to defend myself. Well, I have put up with this for many, many years because I was the only software guy in the US, and I had to explain things over and over to the Israelis, because they were, you know "software engineers", and can't be bothered with understanding what the medical device is actually supposed to do, and will not take customer phone calls. Maybe I take these calls from medical technicians because I'm only a high school graduate (technically a college senior for these last 23 years or so). But I take this crap day after day, probably because I have an accent.

Y'all don't know what it's like to try to talk to a bunch of neurologists when they demonstrate some obscure bug in your program and you have to concede in front of everybody that you don't know what they're talking about. (And that flawed feature is something that you tried to implement BY THEIR REQUEST but is not in any kind of SRS)

And you also don't know how it feels to have a profound insight about stimulus rates and how they affect audiology tests, and how to to remove environmental artifacts that are in the frequency domain of the signals that are of interest.

Honest to goodness, when I have answered the phone to help customer support (not my job), some of these Phd types, and Phd student types ask me questions that I have to answer and the question is not even what they are calling about. In fact, they are giving me a freaking quiz. I don't think that you have any idea how that feels, having a couple of decades of experience with these freaking issues and they question me because the sound of my voice.

You should try to put yourself in my shoes and try too be diplomatic with these smartasses that are so full of themselves who are so freaking proud of themselves of their hifalutin cognitive evoked potential studies that cannot be replicated in a clinical setting with tests that are performed by noemal everyday people.

And it's the same goddamned thing on the neurology side, these people who think I know absolutely nothing when I turned the original bogus EEG and Sleep programs into actual commercial products. But that's the difference between a small company and a midsized company and where I am at has changed, and I am living through that. I restore trashed disks, talk down angry customers, write the first versions of software, but there are at least a half-dosen people who have nowhere near the knowledge or commitment that I do, but operate strictly to company procedures, and speak in a Midwestern accent.

So, sorry if I'm not a lawyer or historian or philsopher (note that nobody here resonded to me when I wrote about my experience meeting Martin Heidigger face too face), but when you insinutate that I amm a racist, or homophobe, or simply ignorant, bear in mind that if a child has to be sedated in order to have electrodes applied for a 24 hour EEG study, and somehow the file allocation table gets screwed up on the disk, well it's me, the the BASIC and assembly language guy, not the theorectically elegant C++ "software engineer" with the correct accent - It is me that is trying to keep your kid from repeating that hours long experience of having electrodes glued to their head.

Well, dear me, I have spent an hour and a half trying to defend myself from being from Tennessee. If I wasn't such a retard, I could have done it in 15 minutes or so.

DaveC: I don't want to try to read Gary's mind, but if I had to guess, I'd say he was criticizing Glenn Reynolds, who's at the university of Tennessee, not you. For what it's worth, had I thought Gary was criticizing you, I would have called him on it, both because it would have been uncivil and because it would have been false.

Instapundit has a large circulation, and with that comes (I think) the obligation to check the basic facts before he posts. If he posts something that misses the kinds of points Gary raises, I think that's wrong. He should know better, not because everyone should, or because detailed knowledge of the NYTimes is something everyone should know, but because he posted on it, and therefore he should have found out. I therefore think it's appropriate to criticize him on the kinds of grounds Gary did, but not to extend those same criticisms to e.g. his readers and fans, unless they too are in some sense publishing what they write. (E.g., before I link to a post, I try to check it out myself, as best I can, and to hold myself to that standard. Sometimes it's not good enough -- witness the fact that I posted on the Newsweek story and then had to take it back -- but I think it's incumbent on me to try. But that's because I'm publishing what I write, albeit to a much smaller audience than Instapundit's.)

And no one who can work in assembly language could possibly be a retard, as far as I'm concerned. I used to program, but I could no more have wrapped my mind around assembly language than I could have flown to Paris by flapping my wings. If you do that at all, let alone for a living, my hat's off to you.

Hands. Flapping my hands. Must learn to proofread.

FWIW, DaveC, I definitely took that as a slam against the Ole Perfesser and not against you or any other Tennesseans.

Also, anyone who mocks you for your accent deserves to Roshambo'd. Hard.* Especially if you've just gone beyond the call of duty to try to help them. I don't care if they're Israeli or Palestinian or English or Californian or whatever; accents are for gentle ribbing amongst friends, not for professional denigration.

Finally, I completely missed you saying that you'd met Heidegger face to face. Tell us more!

* Yeah, I know. Ole Perfesser. Irony and all that.

DaveC: I also meant to ask about Heidegger, which I also somehow missed, but I got entangled in my wings. Do tell.

. . . they simply are as insensitive to Muslim opinion as they are to Catholic opinion . . .

You mean Catholics like Andre Serrano, the photographer whose work "Piss Christ" was? Do you really think Catholics, Muslims, or "flag-wavers" (whatever those are -- I hang an American flag on my balcony during the day, am I one?) are that hive-minded?

I agree, DaveC. The communication around here is pretty high context, but knowing you were from TN, I don't think even Gary can do that. That was definitely directed at Instapundit, and rightfully so. The only excuse for such behavior from an academic that makes sense these days is that he is functioning more as a defense lawyer and this administration is the defendant. I think he does check his facts, and ignores the harmful ones. Some people are that hive-minded, I guess.

The simple summation of your personal beliefs up upthread was excellent, Anarch. Are you a fan of Umberto Eco?

DaveC
let me also say that I'm sure Gary was slamming Insty and not Tennessee. I also want to note that you did get jumped on a bit upthread, often by people expressing the same points. I should have said something but I didn't, my apologies.

I completely missed you saying that you'd met Heidegger face to face.
I remember that was in the Ratzinger thread and I echo Hilzoy and Anarch's request for details. I thought that I wrote something, but looking back, I didn't. A nice philosophy thread would be a welcome break!

as for accents
A southern belle is visiting an impressive northern university, and stops someone and asks, with an thick, thick southern accent:
'Scuse me, can you tell me where the library's at?'
The person she has approached sniffs, looks down his nose and says:
'Obviously you come from some rural backwater. Here, we never end our sentences with prepositions.'
The southern belle, looking very apolegetic, say 'Oh, do pardon me, sir. Let me rephrase that. Can you tell me where the library's at, asshole?'

Off to google about flag desecration, back in a couple of hours.

I'm from Tennessee too, DaveC. I used to have a noticeable accent, would say "y'all" instead of "you guys" and my wife still makes fun of the way I say "umbrella", though I'm not clear myself on whether the way I say it is a product of my southern heritage or just a personal idiosyncrasy. Occasionally I notice people making fun of the South and I got a little of it when my accent was more noticeable. I was kidded constantly by a guy from Indiana (Indianans think they get to make fun of hicks?) and when I visited his home, he took me to a bar which had a dirt floor.

So do I feel your pain? Not in the slightest. It was clear Gary was talking about what 10 year olds in NYC know about the NYT because of the way different parts of the paper are delivered, which he assumed is different from how it is delivered in Tennessee where Reynolds lives.

I don't get into PC-bashing that much, but one of the bad things about political correctness is the way everyone decided they had to find some group membership that would enable them to feel like a victim. If southerners can claim victim status, it is pretty much open to anyone. Those Midwesterners, after all, are too white bread, or live in flyover country or some such nonsense, and northern elitists--well, we all know what they're like. Californians are all a bunch of hippies or alternatively, rightwing fascists and they're all incredibly superficial and so forth. Evangelical Christians feel looked down upon and atheists feel looked down upon and Catholics feel looked down upon. Nothing here in the US, but victims of prejudice from coast to coast.

DJ -
It's like one of those Escher drawings of the staircase whose top connects with its bottom - everyone, everywhere on the staircase can look up at someone else and say "that guy's getting all the breaks, and I'm getting screwed."

It isn't any worse to sneer at people for being from the South than to sneer at them for being from a city. The hick from the sticks is an obnoxious stereotype, but so is the city slicker. By the way, who always ends up being considered the smarter of the two?
I once drove into a small town in Idaho with the intention of buying gas, groceries, etc, but I left when I say the effigy with the Sierra Club sign around its neck hanging from a light pole. I'm not actually a Sierra Club member, but I got the message anyway. For godawful stereotype-based snobbery plus paraniod self-indulgence and hypocrisy, it is hard to beat a small town in the West.
For some reason it is more socially acceptable to believe in or promote the city-liberal-as effete-intellectual-snob stereotype than other stereotypes. Of course, in an ideal world, we would refuse them all, but it isn't an ideal world. As the poster upthread noted, the cult of faux victimization is widespread. It probably is related in some way to the PC phenomenon, but, also I think the pretense of being victimized is useful because it gives a justification for otherwise unjustifiable behavior. A big part of the appeal of Rush Limbaugh for example, is his intemperate bullying which pretends to be a defense against mythological snobs.
By the way, none of this is aimed at DaveC. I actually got started on this thought train because on an item in the local news about logging town residents feeling victimized because their subsidies aren't as good as they used to be.

I do sometimes have a little fun ranting, and don't take quite as much offense as I let on. I'm be trying to keep y'all on your toes. That said, I sort of think along the same lines as Reynolds, though my old 22 is at my dad's house and I don't have any firearms handy. So I'm not about to go on any shooting spree after being commanded by my AM radio masters. Besides, I don't think Roe Conn is about to give those orders any time soon.

The only excuse for such behavior from an academic that makes sense these days is that he is functioning more as a defense lawyer and this administration is the defendant. I think he does check his facts, and ignores the harmful ones.

I think some people have a problem with the bloggers, like Glenn and in the old days, SDB, that don't post comments. He probably is quite a pleasant person, and would enjoy engaging in a conversation, but given time constraints just does the "this is what I think" stuff. One sidedness is ok sometimes, especially if you demonstrate to enough other people how to construct a soapbox.

As far as Heidigger goes, I had no idea at the time who he was. But my teacher said something to the effect of "Come to the secret lecture. This guy is like the 20th century Hegel." So I did. Mr. Heidigger seemed very nice. My point in the old thread was that Heidigger was much more into Plato than Christianity, and that his philosophical support for Nazism was based on classical ideas.

I have also met a very personable and nice man, who several years ago got into a bit of controversy when he stated that he could "cure" criminals by removing parts of their brains.

DaveC,

As a former long-time Nashvillian, I feel your pain. I didn't know that about the Book review and the magazine either.

I was kidded constantly by a guy from Indiana (Indianans think they get to make fun of hicks?) and when I visited his home, he took me to a bar which had a dirt floor.

You should have pointed out that in their sissy kind of car racing, the drivers can't bash into the other vehicles on purpose.

"I don't want to try to read Gary's mind, but if I had to guess, I'd say he was criticizing Glenn Reynolds, who's at the university of Tennessee, not you."

This is absolutely correct; I had absolutely no idea where DaveC lived; I only had the idea he was American, and that's it.

Nor was I trying to say anything negative about people from Tennessee. If anything, although poorly phrased, I was trying to offer an out that something easy to pick up on in NYC about a NYC institution might be less easily or commonly visible from elsewhere, although I was primarily just waxing a bit sarcastic about Glenn there, and that's all. I apologize for any offense I gave people from Tennesse or elsewhere. (Please notice the lack of conditional "if" in this formulation.)

Incidentally, Dave, my formal educational accomplishment stopped with a high school diploma and a single semester of college (okay, and a couple of non-degree course at the NYU Publishing Program in the mid-Eighties, although my first job in publishing was in 1975, as was my first editorial work, which presumably makes me far less experienced in professional editing than anyone else around here, but I digress). I've also a fair number of years of experience with working for academics, so I might actually have faintly more of a clue about that sort of thing than you might think. Possibly.

I had absolutely no idea where DaveC lived; I only had the idea he was American

Damn straight I'm American. If I could get my pick-up truck started I would crank up the Lee Greenwood tape in right now.
S'ok Gary. Look for a little something from me. It's not much, but every little bit helps.

Flag desecration in Japan. Here is a good link for a timeline of questions about the flag and the nat'l anthem. It mentions one rather famous incident when a Okinawan activist named Shoichi Chibana set fire to the Japanese flag while it was being raised for the National Athletic meet in Yomitan, Okinawa. He was arrested, and given a 1 year sentence that was suspended. He lost his appeal that claimed the flag burning was an act of individual expression, but the judge said that the act was unacceptable in a democratic society. He wrote a book about it that was translated into English and entitled _Burning the Rising Sun_. There apparently was a strong pulling back after that incident (which was broadcast live on national TV) and Chibana was harassed by right wing sound trucks (he is a grocery store owner) However, recent anti-US base agitation has renewed the protest movement. Chibana is also a property owner of land his father had leased to the Americans, and when the lease ran out, he refused to renew it. He won in District Court, but the Supreme Court overturned it.

In googling all this, I found this fantastic site for contemporary Okinawan history.

At any rate, it seems that with Chibana's act, there has been a pulling back, a realization of how strong a statement it is. As evidence, this article, it notes that the Oct 1995 protests in the wake of the Okinawan rape incident, Okinawan demonstrators prevented protestors from the mainland from burning a US flag. And while the fact that I can't find any other flag burning reports doesn't mean that they didn't happen, it certainly does not seem to be a common mode of protesting.

I also think some of the difference between the impression of the act of flag burning is based on the differences in the history behind the flag. The stars and stripes (and the stars and bars, I suppose) have a shorter history and are more associated with national pride. The hinomaru has a much longer history (some say it dates from the 12th century) and because the Rising Sun flag was the martial flag and that, like the Nazi flag, was specifically delegitimized after the war.

"I think some people have a problem with the bloggers, like Glenn a [...] that don't post comments."

I have no problem with Glenn for not posting comments; I've generally found him responsive about 80-90% of the time whenever I've e-mailed him. And I've never found him anything but pleasant in any interchange. I assume he's a fine fellow in person, as well. I simply have found that where I, and many like-minded liberals, found his blog and comments generally quite reasonable for quite a long time back in 2001 and 2002, that our political views widely diverged further and further thereafter, largely somewhere around mid-2003. Glenn didn't used to be a Republican shill; occasionally he still isn't, but nowadays it's relatively occasional (although you may or may not have been around when I hammered Edward some months ago for falsely imputing Christian-conservative-type views on sexual issues to Glenn).

"S'ok Gary. Look for a little something from me. It's not much, but every little bit helps."

It does. Thanks. And you were really riled up in your comment, and I do apologize again for provoking that. I agree that my comment was careless, more thoughtless than it should have been, and easily readable as having an offensive connotation, no matter my intended meaning. My bad.

(Incidentally, I'm having real trouble getting pages here to load this morning; I know it's a pain, but you blog-owner types might indeed want to look into getting a new host, or at least finding out if something is worth doing about the problem here, assuming it's not just a temporary glitch, which may be the case.)

I do sometimes have a little fun ranting, and don't take quite as much offense as I let on.

You're just funnin' us, aren't you? Lord, I swear, I can't hardly tell anymore when conservatives are feeling paranoid and persecuted and when y'all are just being humorous.

Returning to the original topic, Jeanne D'Arc has a few important words to say on the topic of media and military investigations. Well worth the read as always, but this one strikes me as particularly important.

And thanks for the links, LJ. Did you by any chance come across material on more general forms of flag desecration (e.g. the one pictured on the Newsweek cover) as well as just flag burning and/or destruction? Also -- not to sound churlish, those links were both interesting and useful -- anything on the iconography of flag desecration?

Gary:

"I've never found him anything but pleasant in any interchange. I assume he's a fine fellow in person, as well."

I think that Michael Kinsley (of TNR and Slate) had a nice observation that, post-Newt, most right-wing politicians learned to be pleasant on a one-to-one level. They'd still advocate harsh and cruel policies, but they'd be careful to sound like fine fellows in person. He mainly pointed it out because he felt that it fooled just under 100% of journalists.

Gary, It's been clear for a while that Glenn is highly dishonest, and very evil. When confronted with the administration torturing people, he's supported it - spinning it in such a way that he could have plausible deniability (he's good at that, being a lawyer).

He just doesn't agree with the GOP on a few minor issues, and people who still believe that he's a libertarian use that to justify his existence. He's fine with 99% of what they do, with 99% of the Democrat/Liberal/Feminist/Gay bashing, with 99% of the lies that Bush has told, and 99% of the power that he seeks. The rest is trivial.

"...with 99% of the Democrat/Liberal/Feminist/Gay bashing...."

I couldn't be more uninterested in picking up the Glenn Reynolds: Myth or Menace argument here again, given that it went on at such length, and that at the end, there was no one serious left contesting that the last two words there were justified. I won't respond further on the topic here, but merely point you to the prior thread on it, and ask Edward to confirm.

Lily is correct.
Rural snobs are at least as insufferable as city one.

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