« Latest installment in a series of increasingly inaccurately titled posts. | Main | All Your Single Anonymous Source Are Belong to Us »

May 18, 2005

Comments

Newsweek's false story on alleged Koran desecration at Gitmo revealed several things.

**plonk**

Taking the word of someone who saw a report (rather than getting a copy of the report itself) and then "confirming" the story with two non-confirmations may be good enough for Beltway politics or covering celebrities, but it's nowhere near good enough when American lives could be put at risk.

irony meter broke. need to go to the store to get a new one.

be back later.

Mr. Bird--

Your fellow-blogger, von, had some doubts about the accuracy of Kevin Drum's statement:

"the only thing that matters to conservative bloggers [regarding the Koran-flushing story in Newsweek] is their continuing jihad against the liberal media. All else is subordinate."

Thank you for clearing up any possible doubts.

When only 1 out of 275 employees in the newsroom is an evangelical Christian, as John McCandlish Phillips experienced, that's a problem.

Why? Do we not live in a market-based economy where evangelical Christians are free to start their own media outlets and compete for viewers and readers? Do evangelical Christians have some pathway to accurate reporting that non-evangelicals and/or non-Christians do not? What is an increased presence of evangelicals going to provide that Cafeteria Catholics or mainline Protestants do not?

I just read Goldberg's column. It seems to be his standard blend of incoherent arguments and inane statements about liberals. Pretty much par for the NR course.

One thing I did get out of it is confirmation that my post on von's thread is correct. Pejman is full of it when he says conservative bloggers are upset about Newsweek's screwup. They are upset that Newsweek printed the story at all.

They will continue to have a paranoid distrust of conservative Christians. Why? Because are so many non-Christians in newsrooms. They don't get it and they're not inquisitive or open-minded enough to get it, and that's a problem. When only 1 out of 275 employees in the newsroom is an evangelical Christian, as John McCandlish Phillips experienced, that's a problem.

Somehow open-mindedness is not a trait I associate with evangelical Christians.

"Taking the word of someone who saw a report (rather than getting a copy of the report itself)"

1. Was the report publicly available? Was it newsworthy nonetheless?

2. Have government spokespeople cited classified reports in support of their position in the Koran abuse controversy? What sort of journalistic standard applies when the government has the ability to suppress unfavorable evidence, and cherry-pick what gets presented?

I don't believe that conservative bloggers would have nearly the same pov if we were talking about a report that reflected poorly on decisions made by subordinates of President Kerry. This belief is strong enough that no further attention need be paid to conservative blogger complaints about Newsweek or the Media. Motes and splinters.

The slide between non-Christians and non-"conservative Christians" and non-"evangelical Christians" is interesting. Did Catholics and mainline Protestants get excommunicated while I wasn't looking?

Newsweek's false story....

You have taken word parsing to an entirely new level. As far as I understand Newsweek's retraction, it only applies to the Koran flushing incident appearing in a report. Neither Newsweek nor the Administration has, as far as I can tell, denied that a Koran was desecrated at Gitmo. Clearly it is the latter that is important, not the former. So like many of your posts, you begin with a false premise rendering everything that follows feckless. Actually, upon further reflection, you do inadvertently validate Kevin Drum's supposition.

You've confused the idea that the story cannot be substantiated as originally expected with "false". That does harm to the criticism of what Newsweek did.

I have no idea what neuroses forced John McCandlish Phillips to keep a leather-bound Bible on his desk, but my understanding is that Jesus taught that we should not be making a big deal of how religiously zealous we are and then he compared those who were so publicly zealous to sepulchres. If you want to defend that kind of so-called Christianity, be my guest, but it will take more than a leather-bound Bible on a desk to persuade me that someone is Christian, evangelical or not.

So, just to recap...

Bush administration goes to war based on poorly-sourced and /fundamentally untrue/ allegations, gets 100,000+ people killed: freedom is messy! Look! Mass graves!

Newsweek runs a poorly-sourced but /fundamentally true/ story, setting off riots in which 17 people are killed: damn librul media! It's all their fault!

When my irony and hypocrisy meter stops pegging, remind me to thank Charles and Pejman for validating Kevin Drum's "shorter" formulation.

Edward_, I respect your desire to maintain dialogue, and I have genuine confidence in the goodwill of folks like von and Sebastian, but...this isn't dialogue. This is a rant without opening for any sort of honest disagreement.

Please, I am begging you, do not add Gate to any other word in order describe a scandal. Can't people at least unite behind that ?

The last thing the Great Satan needs is more bad PR.

No. This is not about bad PR. We have made ourselves the Great Satan because of our behavior, not because of PR. We will not get people to like us as long as we treat them badly, show total disrespect for their religion and culture, and otherwise act like a Great Satan.

Only when the United States shows over time that we will consistently behave properly toward other countries, whether European, Asian or African, rich or poor (and condescending to countries or entire cultures about democracy is not behaving properly), we may be able to get people to respect us again and show us the respect we threw away. We have a long history of behavior that has been remembered and that behavior will not be forgotten when we try to wow them with a few attempts at good PR. Not everyone is quite as easy to con as the American voter.

Newsweek merely gave the crazies their excuse du jour
vs.
from those liberals in the state department
Myers said an after-action report provided by U.S. Army Lieutenant General Karl Eikenberry, commander of the Combined Forces in Afghanistan, indicated that the political violence was not, in fact, connected to the magazine report.

Your assertion, and the assertion of the right wing pundits in this matter is contrary to the assessment of the military experts that were in the field at the time. How can you reconcile this? Are you suggesting that after the AAR was complete and it's conclusions deemed politically unfortunate they took a “do over” to get it the way the administration wanted it or are you saying that the military disagrees with you assessment?

Funny how Isikoff used to be a favorite reporter of Republicans:

http://mediamatters.org/items/200505180001

You've confused the idea that the story cannot be substantiated as originally expected with "false".

Funny how versatile that no-WMD defense can be.

Does anyone else find it simply hilarious that C. Bird is essentially pushing a politically correct ideal where the newsroom is perfectly representative of "american" demographics? I mean, isn't he just out and out advocating what amounts to affirmative action for evangelicals? I'm just rolling on the floor over this drum beat of insanity.

I doubt that C. Bird has any problems with corporate boards not being representative. I'm doubly sure that he doesn't have a problem with the under represented minorities pretty much everywhere except the bottom rung of our society.

Still am laughing at the thought of Bird pushing for equal representation and how that's a good thing. What a hoot!

"...but it put our country in an unjustly negative light."

C'mon Charles, what sort of positive light do you think the US is going to appear in in Afghanistan? Ever? And, precisely what actions and/or policies do you imagine we are going to do (or even be able to do), as foreigners, infidels, and "occupiers" to put us into that rosy glow?

Maybe, rather than just regurgitating a laundry-list of the same few tired examples of supposed "liberal media bias" ("RatherGate". oh puh-leeze!) and bloviating about
the attitudes of "the American public" (which might be less obsessively gung-ho for the Bush Administration and its Excellent Overseas Adventures than you so blithely imagine) you might turn your commentator's skill to looking into the real "source" of the conservative Movement's obsession with media-control (and its frothing resentment when it can't get it).
This is no excuse for Newsweek's failures in "Flushgate" - far from it - but to use this incident to flog the same-old, same-old line about "...reinforc[ing] notions of adversarial liberal press bias." merely reinforces negative sterotypes about the "real" motiviations of conservative media-critics - namely, that their rants about "liberal bias" are NOT because they want a fair Press, but merely one dedicated to conservative bias: especially when it comes to any criticism of Dear Leader Dubya, God's Own Party, or right-wing ideology in general.

When you publish a magazine you go in with the reporting you have, not the reporting you wish you had. The free press is untidy. Besides, reporting is hard work, we're doing the hard of reporting, and we'll continure to do the hard work of reporting. Which is hard. Why don't you focus on the all the things Newsweek got right, instead of relentlessly harping on the few negative points? It is too soon to judge this episode anyway. Wait 50 years and then take another look.

As always, I enjoy the good head of steam that powers Charles' outrage. I would, however, like to see him devote the same righteous anger that he devotes to the liberal bias in the media to other important issues of the day. Like the 36 deaths of people being interrogated by the American military.

Despite that fact that the Newsweek article in question is correct (there have been several reports of Koran desecration-during-interrogation available for months), and that the role of a free press is, by design, to monitor and make public facts like this, no matter how inconvenient to one's political ideology and/or fantasy, and despite the fact that the US Army itself has stated the the article had little or no role in the riots and deaths, this incident has been valuable fodder for those with an axe to grind. As such, it makes good entertainment. Where else can you find such priceless pieces of irony like this:

"People lost their lives. People are dead," Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said. "People need to be very careful about what they say, just as they need to be careful about what they do."

[...]

In a statement, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said the original story was "demonstrably false" and "irresponsible," and "had significant consequences that reverberated throughout Muslim communities around the world."

"Newsweek hid behind anonymous sources, which by their own admission do not withstand scrutiny," Whitman said. "Unfortunately, they cannot retract the damage they have done to this nation or those that were viciously attacked by those false allegations."

How can anyone take this seriously?

Did Newsweek "spark" the riots when the story of desecration of Qu'rans had been out for over a year? Did people riot because suddenly there was a report that a government investigation had confirmed the story? Are all these rioters devout Newsweek subscribers?

Let's remember, this is Afghanistan, where we were once welcomed by people, suddenly freed from the Taliban, playing music in the streets of Kabul.

The notion that the article caused the riots is absurd.

Three years after the liberation of Afghanistan from the Taliban we have anti-American riots. This does not indicate a problem at Newsweek.

Slartibartfast--

"You've confused the idea that the story cannot be substantiated as originally expected with "false".
Funny how versatile that no-WMD defense can be."

Is *this* your claim: critics of the administration have concluded that its claims about WMD's were *false*, when in fact all they are entitled to conclude is that the claims cannot be substantiated as originally expected? Is that it?

Because if so, there is a *vast* difference between the cases, and there will continue to be a vast difference until

a) the administration creates several brigades worth of military whose sole purpose is to hunt for any evidence of Koran-desecration (who are given unlimited funds and taken off more pressing jobs like, say, capturing Bin Laden)

b) The leader of the first task for (let's call him David Kay), after about a year of exhaustive searching, can find absolutely *no evidence* of Koran-desecration, despite political pressure to find it;

c) He is replaced by a new and more politically-commpliant chief-searcher (let's call him Duelfer) who starts out by saying that the earlier exhaustive search really was not exhaustive enough, and is confident of finding the goods, but eventually has to admit that there is not a single trace of evidence of Koran-desecration.

Then we'll get something like a parallel.

It has been *proven*, beyond any reasonable doubt, that there were not WMD's in Iraq at the time of the invasion. That shows the administration's claims were *false*, not merely "unsubstantiated". They were "unsubstantiated" before the invasion started; now they have been proven simply false.

Oh--maybe now you'll claim you were *not* suggesting that, and accuse me of mind-reading? I know I have to be extra careful engaging with you. You learned your posting-style from John Wayne--"talk low, talk slow, and don't say too much", and then after you have said something cryptic and indecipherable, you blame the other readers for having difficulty deciphering it.

If you weren't saying what I think you're saying about the Koran/WMD parallel, could you just say what you *are* saying, clearly and in full?

"Taking the word of someone who saw a report (rather than getting a copy of the report itself) and then "confirming" the story with two non-confirmations may be good enough for Beltway politics or covering celebrities, but it's nowhere near good enough when American lives could be put at risk."

Perhaps you could point this out to Bush et al. Their poorly sourced, unconfirmed, ultimately simply untrue allegations about WMD in Iraq have led to the deaths of more than 1500 US-Americans so far.

Let's grant for the sake of argument that the rioting was indeed caused by the story in Newsweek. Even then, the complaint that a false story and irresponsible reporting are to blame could only have merit if the riot was due to the fact that the Koran desacration was documented in an official government report. That is the only point that can seriously be under discussion.

Indeed, the fact that the Koran has been repeatedly desacrated in Guantanamo has been amply reported, for a selection of reports see e.g. Juan Cole

Since by all accounts the anger of the rioters was directed at the actual desacration of the Koran, and not at the fact that this appears in a government report, it is a joke to blame Newsweek for reporting this (already well-reported), instead of blaming the US government for engaging in such a practice in the first place.

Let's grant for the sake of argument that the rioting was indeed caused by the story in Newsweek. Even then, the complaint that a false story and irresponsible reporting are to blame could only have merit if the riot was due to the fact that the Koran desacration was documented in an official government report. That is the only point that can seriously be under discussion.

Indeed, the fact that the Koran has been repeatedly desacrated in Guantanamo has been amply reported, for a selection of reports see e.g. Juan Cole

Since by all accounts the anger of the rioters was directed at the actual desacration of the Koran, and not at the fact that this appears in a government report, it is a joke to blame Newsweek for reporting this (already well-reported), instead of blaming the US government for engaging in such a practice in the first place.

"Taking the word of someone who saw a report (rather than getting a copy of the report itself) and then "confirming" the story with two non-confirmations may be good enough for Beltway politics or covering celebrities, but it's nowhere near good enough when American lives could be put at risk. If Newsweek wants to play gotcha, whatever, but they goddam better get their facts straight."

If only you would hold your governement to the same standards when they go to war. Hell, maybe you should hold yourself to that standard.

"When only 1 out of 275 employees in the newsroom is an evangelical Christian, as John McCandlish Phillips experienced, that's a problem."

What is the number of Evangelical Christians in this country? For all I know that 1 in 275 is representative of their population. Regardless I think it's ironic that you are arguing for affirmative action.

"but it put our country in an unjustly negative light and it endangered Americans abroad."

Funny, I thought those pictures of the guy with the electrodes attached to his balls did that. Silly me.

DaveC: "Please, I am begging you, do not add Gate to any other word in order describe a scandal. Can't people at least unite behind that ?"

(Desperate for anything on which we can agree) Yes! Yes!

And about the liberal media bias: When a memo comes out in the British press claiming that the Bush administration had decided on war in the summer of 2002, before it had even gone to the UN, and while it was still earnestly assuring us that no such decision had been made, and also that "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy", and when that memo is so widely available that I can link to it, and when it then takes about two weeks for the story to appear on (if memory serves) page A18 of the Washington Post, (and was not afaik covered by other US papers in the interim), I can't imagine why anyone would say that the press has a liberal bias. Ditto, Judith Miller et al. Ditto the completely disparate treatment of Bush and Clinton in re their use of the Lincoln Bedroom for fundraising purposes. And I could go on.

Many people in the press are hacks, and they are sloppy. But I don't think it's been true that they have a liberal bias since

But remember, for Mr. Bird this is not about whether the desecration occurred, or not. That would be too much like an active interest in the truth. No, his bottom line is this:

"Flushgate should serve as a cautionary tale for the wannabe Woodward/Bernsteins out there."

But remember, for Mr. Bird this is not about whether the desecration occurred, or not.

Nail. On. Head.

CB: Because it reinforces notions of adversarial liberal press bias.

The sun coming up in the morning reinforces notions of liberal press bias among true believers. Only in this monomaniacal context does an unnamed source backing off on one detail of the story confirm any sort of bias. And, as has been pointed out by others, that the story was reported at all confirmed liberal press bias for those waging war on the media, regardless of its veracity.

I hate doing hypotheticals, but as someone said on Hugh Hewitt yesterday, what if Rush Limbaugh reported false information that resulted in race riots that killed at least seventeen?

Race riots where? Surely you aren't suggesting that, in the eyes of not just the media but also of the American public, where the riots occur and the nationality of the victims wouldn't be far more important than the numbers killed? If we were talking about seventeen Americans killed as a consequence of a faulty Newsweek story, it would dominate the headlines just as easily as the Limbaugh hypothetical. It's not right that this makes a difference, but that's the way it is, and unless you are saying a Limbaugh-inspired race riot in Afghanistan would somehow knock Michael Jackson off the pages you are comparing apples to oranges. And never mind that when Limbaugh gets stuff wrong it's typically because he's factually-challenged, not because his source got confused on a detail or his good-faith fact-checking failed to raise any red flags.

The Flushgate incident (please, someone tell me a better, more descriptive name for this) is also telling about our enemies and our own soft bigotry of low expections.

"Newsweek Koran desecration story." How hard is that? Does it have to involve "-gate"? I find that convention as annoying as the habit of attaching "-aholic" to any word to denote an addiction.

Given the last food fight, I would suggest that we (of the other faith as it were) go a little more slowly. Read slart's latest post as that has a lot more food for thought. I believe that (at the risk of sounding dismissive) the upwelling of 'I can't believe you wrote that' which greets every BD post is sometimes taken as validation that his viewpoint is correct.

Somehow the final sentence of my 1:19 post didn't get displayed (I must have made a mistake in posting).

It read something like: The point is to intimidate the press.

LJ is right. We can manage to argue with one another without getting personal about it. Counter the assertions. Provide evidence that speaks against what Charles said. But don't attack him personally. If you feel you must attack him, go for a walk or water your plants and excoriate him in your head.

Trying to be -- for me -- a rare voice of reason, I would urge everyone not to get too distracted or off-point with the (admittedly satisfying) compare-and-contrast between Newsweek and the Bush administration's war run-up. I think the larger point is Charles' flat-out assertions that a) the story in Newsweek was false and b) that it caused the Afghani riots, neither of which appears to be actually true.

Be the ball, people.

I think it's reasonable to take the position that a citizen ought not engage in behavior that harms his or her nation. I don't hold that view, but I'm willing to respect those who do.

What is not reasonable, defensible, or even sane, is to hold this position only with regard to certain citizens and not others. I don't recall seeing this level of outrage directed at Boykin's attack on Islam, Bolton's undermining of US policy towards North Korea, or a senior administration official blowing the cover of Valerie Plame.

The rioting was not a forseeable outcome of the Newsweek story (assuming it was a result of the story and not just a preplanned event using the story as an excuse), at least no more so than would be rioting based on the Abu Ghraib abuses, Bush's use of the word 'crusade,' or various right wing personalities accusing Mohamed of being a child molester.

I believe that (at the risk of sounding dismissive) the upwelling of 'I can't believe you wrote that' which greets every BD post is sometimes taken as validation that his viewpoint is correct.

When BD writes something with any value, it is noted and appreciated as such. Witness the AIDS thread.

When he continues to write hypocritical, unintentionally ironic, inflammatory, and factually-challenged tripe like this, he deserves to be pilloried.

Slart's post is, while still seriously flawed, an example of how to write about a subject like this while still retaining credibility and giving people the impression that you are approaching this from a fair and critical standpoint. When set side by side with Charles', it becomes clear that the problem is not those pesky reactionary libruls, but the complete bankruptcy of Charles' writing on the matter.

Catsy: nonetheless, please don't. The cumulative effect hurts.

Thank you for clearing up any possible doubts.

No, thank you for ignoring the rest of the post in order to come to your conclusion, Tad.

Do we not live in a market-based economy where evangelical Christians are free to start their own media outlets and compete for viewers and readers?

I can imagine some white Southerner back in the 1950s asking: "Do we not live in a market-based economy where blacks are free to start their own media outlets and compete for viewers and readers?" Does diversity at end at skin color and sexual orientation, Phil?

You have taken word parsing to an entirely new level. As far as I understand Newsweek's retraction, it only applies to the Koran flushing incident appearing in a report.

If you want to criticize me for parsing, Spin, then you shouldn't truncate my own words. The rest of the sentences reads "...on alleged Koran desecration at Gitmo..." If the story wasn't false, there would have been no retraction.

Your assertion, and the assertion of the right wing pundits in this matter is contrary to the assessment of the military experts that were in the field at the time. How can you reconcile this?

Eikenberry was mistaken, and the military later backed off on that assessment, foo.

what sort of positive light do you think the US is going to appear in in Afghanistan? Ever?

How about freeing the Afghan people from the Taliban? How about elections in that godforsaken country for the first time ever? There are plenty of reasons why reasonable people in Afghanistan would see us positively, Jay.

Why don't you focus on the all the things Newsweek got right, instead of relentlessly harping on the few negative points?

Why doesn't Newsweek focus on all the things the US got right in Iraq, instead of relentlessly harping on the negative? Look, mas, I don't have a particular bone to pick with Newsweek or Isikoff, and I'm not angry or incensed with their mistake. Mistakes happen, and this was a serious one. But in the larger context of the shellacking the MSM has taken on its coverage of the military and War on Terror, the last thing they need is more ammunition to give to its critics. In one sense, the Newsweek folks learned the lessons of Rathergate, but in another sense they didn't. Like I wrote at the end, the episode should be a cautionary tale.

Despite that fact that the Newsweek article in question is correct (there have been several reports of Koran desecration-during-interrogation available for months)...

That is very much in dispute, d-p-u, unless you're willing to accept at face value the words of a detainee who is most likely a terrorist and an enemy of the United States. The Newsweek report was the first account from a purportedly credible and accurate source. The Pentagon then went through 25,000 pages of investigatory materials and found no evidence that US personnel did such a thing, and no other investigatory arm such as the FBI could confirm such an allegation. I don't think it's wise for you to go down the "fake but accurate" road.

One last thing. I know many on the Left are going to make comparisons about WMDs in Iraq with desecrated Korans at Gitmo. There're similarities and differences. With the Iraq War, the intelligence (flawed though it was) led the agencies to conclude that Saddam was developing WMDs and had large stockpiles. Other countries with decent intelligence services came to the same conclusion. Bill Clinton came to the same conclusion. But in the case of Newwsweek, all they had to do was verify whether the allegation was in the report or not. They weren't dealing with flawed intelligence, but with intelligence that did not exist. The similarity: The lesson for the US from the WMD debacle in Iraq is that we better have good reliable intelligence before going to war. Newsweek should've had good reliable information, too.

Hilzoy writes:

Many people in the press are hacks, and they are sloppy. But I don't think it's been true that they have a liberal bias since
Oh no! They have gotten to Hilzoy! I accuse Col. Mustard of doing it in the study!

I agree, incidentally, that the profusion of the "Gate" suffix is a scandal. Gategate, I call it.

"Counter the assertions. Provide evidence that speaks against what Charles said. But don't attack him personally."

I try to ask lots of questions to attempt to understand as clearly as I can what someone's POV is so as to attempt as best I can to clearly understand if we actually have a disagreement, and if so, how much, and if some meeting-of-the-minds would be possible. Typically I then get criticized for going on too long, or for -- by carefully addressing someone's main point -- "nitpicking." I'm a big boy, though, and can live through that, but it's most easy to engage in substantive to-the-point discussion when people respond, although, obviously, there is no obligation involved, and it would be unreasonable to expect anyone to respond to every response ($DEITY knows I won't). Which is to say that I'm looking forward to Charles picking up the discussion on the "the No Party" thread, when he finds a moment, although I can't complain much if he doesn't (and, heck, I kinda wish Edward had, or still would, find time to explain whether he really still thinks it is vile to give accelerated citizenship to legal immigrants in the armed forces, and that should be stopped, just to pull on one loose thread).

Well, if I was Charles I probably wouldn't have read this far...but just in case you have, Charles, could you answer a couple questions asked without snark or a desire to offend you?

1. You wrote once that you were aware that Bush didn't explain his real reasons for the war but that you still supported the war. How can you explain your ire with Newsweek for inciting violence (assuming they did) with misinformation (assuming it was) while justifying the far greater violence caused by Bush, based on false information?

2. If this story seems harmful to American interests, aren't the facts of Abu Graib, the nonexistant WMD's, the death of civilians at road blocks etc. in Iraq, and so on even more harmful and therefore even worthy of your ire?

I had another question, but the bell rang so off I go. Please do believe me about the absence of snark. I was offended by your post but I want to understand your thinking. There are so many things about this war and associated situations to be angry about--why pick this one?

First of all, that the Koran was flushed down the toilet by US interrogators is not false. This has surfaced several times in the last year or so. Several detainees have been tortured to death and we have all seen the Abu Ghraib and GITMO photos (kneeling on a hard surface with a hood over your head in the sun for hours constitutes torture – try it, you won’t be able to walk afterward). Do we suppose that desecrating the Koran is beyond the pale?

Second, Newsweek ran the story past the Pentagon BEFORE they published it, and the Pentagon made no mention of the Koran business. Incidentally, this was extremely generous to the Pentagon and suggests a close relationship between state and business interests in regard to news coverage and public opinion. Could it really have been the case that the editors at Newsweek, while going over such an obviously hot topic as this, just said, “Ah, we’ve got the facts close enough. Fuck it – send it to the presses”?

Third, Lt. Gen. Eikenberry, the commander of US forces in Afghanistan, himself stated that the demonstrations in that country had nothing to do with the Newsweek article.

One of the side effects of this business is how it reveals the level of white man’s burden associated with this war. I don’t know about you all, but I have heard several pundits on TV talk about how those backward Arabs are not capable of making the distinction between what appears in the media and the position of the US government.

In all the media coverage of this controversy, what is most fascinating to me is that none of the discussion has been about the actual event in question. There has been no talk of what might actually have happened, with every newsperson accepting the Pentagon’s version. All that is debated is the dynamics of the reporting. In other words, the media’s story is about itself.

Finally, and this relates directly to the incidents at GITMO, is “The real problem here … a culture that either cannot or will not rein in a hate ideology that fuels killing” because “This is what they do”? The hate is a symptom, as it is for fundamentalists anywhere. What is the motivation for and genesis of that hate? When we stop our inquiry into Jihad and conclude that the cause of this phenomenon does not go beyond hatred, we create a Manechean, us-versus-them relationship that posits an evil, subhuman “other” thus worthy of killing. Such an ordering and dehumanizing of our enemy is precisely what the Bush administration endeavors to convey to the rest of us with the “evil-doers” and the “they hate freedom” rhetoric. This is a dangerous and simplistic understanding of an enemy we are supposed to be very concerned about figuring out.

I am not suggesting here some naive, unqualified, “why-can’t-we-all-just-get-along” appreciation. What I am suggesting is that if we really want to solve the problem of Jihad and terrorism, then we need to get at its root causes, and a final assessment that concludes that these folks are just simply evil in no way gets us closer to a resolution. Unless of course the resolution is their complete extermination; an expensive, impractical, and historically unsupportable approach.

Mas, great paraphrase of Rumsfeld!

"I can imagine some white Southerner back in the 1950s asking: "Do we not live in a market-based economy where blacks are free to start their own media outlets and compete for viewers and readers?" Does diversity at end at skin color and sexual orientation, Phil?"

Wow. What an apt comparison. We all recall how evangelical Christians have historically been denied the vote, how male evangelical Christians have a history of being lynched if they were seen touching a female non-Christian, the tragedy of Christian evangelical slavery, the forced sale of Christian evangelical children, the dire poverty for so many decades of evangelical Christians, due to the Jim Crow laws against them, and the psychological trauma evangelical Christians in America have often suffered at having to ride at the back of the bus, and attend separate, inferior, swimming pools, schools, and facilities of all types.

Yes, the situations are simply remarkably easy to analogize, they're just so uncannily similar.

Then this: "Does diversity at end at skin color and sexual orientation, Phil?"

What are you calling for, Charles? Affirmative action laws and legal judgments for evangelical Christians? What exactly is your point and goal with this question?

I can imagine some white Southerner back in the 1950s asking: "Do we not live in a market-based economy where blacks are free to start their own media outlets and compete for viewers and readers?"

Um. I'm not even sure how to respond to this. In a universe in which evangelical Christians had been enslaved by nonchristians for two-and-a-half centuries, then spent another century deprived -- by force of law -- from access to all of society's institutions, I could see the point of this . . . I guess it's an analogy, since you "don't do hypotheticals." Yes, we'll leave it at "analogy." However, we do not live in that universe, so I recommend you try this one again, only answer it for real. What is holding back evangelical Christians from reaching out on their own and competing for eyes and ears?

Does diversity at end at skin color and sexual orientation, Phil?

No, it doesn't. Now, would you like to actually answer any of my questions? For ease, I'll post them again, with space for you to fill in the answers:

1. Do we not live in a market-based economy where evangelical Christians are free to start their own media outlets and compete for viewers and readers?

2. Do evangelical Christians have some pathway to accurate reporting that non-evangelicals and/or non-Christians do not?

3.What is an increased presence of evangelicals going to provide that Cafeteria Catholics or mainline Protestants do not?

If the story wasn't false, there would have been no retraction.

Oh, brother.

I'm trying to improve my outlook on things or at least ignore stuff that stirs the bile, lest I end up like Emma Bovary.

I want to say something nice. In answer to "what if Rush Limbaugh reported false information that resulted in race riots that killed at least seventeen?", I would like to thank all of those who have not rioted and murdered through the last two decades of Rush Limbaugh reporting false information. Our country is very lucky that the population has shown such civilized restraint.

In response to Phil, who calls me on a few things sometimes, too, Charles wrote: "I can imagine some white Southerner back in the 1950s asking: 'Do we not live in a market-based economy where blacks are free to start their own media outlets and compete for viewers and readers?'".

A question. WHAT?

Because if things are that getting that bad for Christians, then let the rioting begin.


I believe that (at the risk of sounding dismissive) the upwelling of 'I can't believe you wrote that' which greets every BD post is sometimes taken as validation that his viewpoint is correct.

You may be right, and what a sad, pathetic world-view that is.

That is very much in dispute, d-p-u, unless you're willing to accept at face value the words of a detainee who is most likely a terrorist and an enemy of the United States.

Charles, there have been multiple accounts of this happening from detainees, some held in isolation and not able to collaberate on making stuff up. Including one account of the Koran being urinated on. If they were going to be making stuff up to try to implicate their handlers in scandal, I can think of a few things that would sound more outrageous to a US court that peeing on a book that most of us don't find sacred.

What are you calling for, Charles? Affirmative action laws and legal judgments for evangelical Christians?

Stop persecuting the Lutherans, for starters.

"false story"?
Yeah I'm sure you know the real story so fill us in on how you've proven the story false.
So far it seems to have been mentioned for a few years by more than one source. That's better than the one sourcing by our government of proven liar Chalabi.


Everybody, don't demonize Charles why he demonizes others. It's unnecessarily distracting and causes spelling errors. And find it in your hearts to forgive him, for he is merely a cog in a great machine.

But remember, for Mr. Bird this is not about whether the desecration occurred, or not.

It does matter whether or not the desecration occurred. It does matter whether it is accurately reported. It does matter that the standards for collecting and confirming information by the national press is substandard. It does matter that the world is listening. It does matter that our enemies are willing to use even small incidents such as flushing a Koran down a toilet against us. All those things matter. Please don't distort.

Stop persecuting the Lutherans, for starters.

In fairness, DaveC, anyone using WMD (Whitefish of Mucal Deliquescence) against civilians deserves all the persecution we can throw on them.

otto, I'll point you to the posting rules and advise you to watch your language.

In re CB's recent comments:

-“If the story wasn't false, there would have been no retraction.”

Is this really the only conclusion one could reach? Do we assume there is absolutely no state-media relationship here? If pressure could be put on Newsweek, could it not also be put on Eikenberry? He has a boss, you know.

-“How about freeing the Afghan people from the Taliban? How about elections in that godforsaken country for the first time ever? There are plenty of reasons why reasonable people in Afghanistan would see us positively, Jay.”

Telling use of the word “godforsaken” and “reasonable.” We helped give the Taliban to Afghanistan. Does no one remember the Mujahiddin “Freedom Fighters” (it is amazing how they have been so completely purged from our memory and the current problems in Afghanistan)? Karzai is a puppet with very little popular support. As an indication of how well things are going in Afghanistan, Doctors Without Borders left that nation last year after concluding it was too dangerous for their people, while they had been there throughout the Soviet invasion.

-“That is very much in dispute, d-p-u, unless you're willing to accept at face value the words of a detainee who is most likely a terrorist and an enemy of the United States.”

You could also accept the words of the International Red Cross as well as some US interrogators on this matter. Or we can all ask ourselves, “If the US is willing to create an extra-legal catagory for detainees in the GWOT so that they will not be protected under any international or domestic law; if the Pentagon, under the approval and guidance of Rumsfeld, is willing to permit Category IV torture methods for said detainees; if several detainees have died in our custody, and possibly at the hands of interrogators; if the US military is willing to reopen Abu Ghraib and put it to the same use for which it was operated under Saddam without even changing the name . . . really, what’s a little Koran flushing?”

hey, can we pretty please have a nuclear option open thread?

Please don't distort.

Speaking of which, have any Korans been flushed down toilets at U.S. run detention facilities? Yes or no? You said the story was false, therefore it must be no.

It does matter that our enemies are willing to use even small incidents such as flushing a Koran down a toilet against us.

It does matter, as has now been linked at least three times in the last two threads, that General Myers disputes this connection. It does matter that, as is your wont, you haven't addressed this fact. It does matter that, in fact, the important thing here seems to not be ascertaining the truth but rather pursuing an agenda irrespective of its basis in fact.

Or maybe it doesn't matter at all. WTF knows any more?

Slartibartfast,

My apologies.

praktike,

Are you looking for a nuclear option thread (in which case I suggest Going Nuclear)? Or do you want an open thread?

Otto, no apologies necessary. Just stay within the posting rules and all will be well.

Thanks,

Slartibartfast
Assistant Deputy Undersecretary of Rules Defense


Oh, and thanks for being a good sport. People seem to be a more testy of late, and less good-sport-y.

"Are you looking for a nuclear option thread"

that other one is too long now.

How is it possible to flush a Koran, which is a pretty big book, down a toilet anyway? It seems like it would get stuck or at least cause the toilet to overflow. If it could be conclusively demonstrated that guards at Gitmo desecrated the Koran but not in that manner, would the right wingers be angry with the guards for doing it or at Newsweek for mis-reporting the type of desecration? (No, these questions have no point. I've been up since 5 am and my mind is wandering a bit.)

"How is it possible to flush a Koran, which is a pretty big book, down a toilet anyway?"

I think "dropping in the container prisoners relieve themselves in" is a reasonable equivalent, without detailing the precise plumbing (or lack thereof).

George Galloway, and various critics, were interviewed on the Charlie Rose show in the U.S. (PBS) last night, by the way, and I've been catching the local afternoon rerun for the past 33 minutes, as I otherwise read and write.

That is very much in dispute, d-p-u, unless you're willing to accept at face value the words of a detainee who is most likely a terrorist and an enemy of the United States.

It is a fact that a number detainees died these camps. In addition to this there is: beatings, near-drownings, the use of temperature extremes, and sexually abusive behavior by female interrogators. But yeah, sure, they drew the line at throwing the Koran in the toilet.

Have to agree. Another embarrassing piece by CB. Just nothing worthwhile about it at all.

"I think "dropping in the container prisoners relieve themselves in" is a reasonable equivalent, without detailing the precise plumbing (or lack thereof)."

Oh, duh. Of course they don't have flush toilets. Suddenly I feel a bit like Marie Antoinette wondering why the peasants don't eat cake if they have no bread. Thank you for enlightening me.

"I can imagine some white Southerner back in the 1950s asking: "Do we not live in a market-based economy where blacks are free to start their own media outlets and compete for viewers and readers?"

That is simply a jaw dropping comparison. Charles I am going to assume yuo did not know that many American States still had and enforced Jim Crow laws right up into the 1960s when you wrote this.

"Charles I am going to assume yuo did not know that many American States still had and enforced Jim Crow laws right up into the 1960s when you wrote this."

I'd hate to assume that was true of anyone over the age of 12 in America today, but I'm sure it is for at least a few. But I can't assume it's true of Charles, because I can't assume anyone of whom it were true would have the gumption to put themselves forth as a worthwhile political commentator of any sort. My counter-assumption is that it's just another example of Charles' being utterly tone-deaf to the implications of his analogies (and their accuracy or lack thereof; see "democrasunami").

This one was extra-special crispy astonishing, to be sure. I can't even begin to guess at what was going on inside his mind to come up with it. But I hope he'll explain. I have popcorn.

It's especially astonishing given that an evangelical (or, at any rate, fundamentalist) Christian, is President of the United States of America. Blacks in 1950 would have dreamed of suffering that much.

Yawn. Another CB post that has all the integrity of a Republican infommercial. I remember CB's post about talk shows in which he faulted Hannity for this characteristic -- seems he has morphed into that now.

Its been said above, but I'll repeat it.

The story is not "false" -- its been reported many times elsewhere and has all the earmarks of being true. It was Newsweek's attribution to a Pentagon report that had to be retracted because the anonymous source retracted his position.

The story did not cause riots -- the Pentagon itself made this clear before political crap from the White House changed the tune on this story.

If this minor error by the media is such grounds for concern, why is the endless lying crap from the Bush administration not?

What conservatives call "liberal media bias" consists largely of the media not parroting right wing talking points. That's "bias," and BD adheres to this phony formula.

Funny, how this thread turned out to be and indictment of Bush and Bird. And Newsweek is pretty much not an issue.

This site is falling hard on it's left. As a long time reader, I have seen that it's been going that way ever since Moe left. For me this is the final straw.

Because Newsweek isn't an issue, TommyC. You want nice, raw, bleeding agitprop, go to Redstate.

"As a long time reader, I have seen that it's been going that way ever since Moe left. For me this is the final straw."

You're as free as anyone to write as many comments (that don't violate the posting rules) as you like, and convince us all of the correctness of your views, whatever they may be, by your use of your writing skills and devastating reasoning, you know.

Funny, how this thread turned out to be and indictment of Bush and Bird. And Newsweek is pretty much not an issue.

Funny, isn't it? A thoughtful person might wonder if this was due to Bird making his usual poor arguments, and the Bush administration lying in order to deflect attention away from the factual basis of the Newsweek story.

This site is falling hard on it's left. As a long time reader, I have seen that it's been going that way ever since Moe left. For me this is the final straw.

IOW, BirdDog sucks, and is ruining this site? Well, here's what I have to say about that: going away isn't going to make any positive difference, unless you see yourself as a hindrance to discussion.

....going away isn't going to make any positive difference....

It will certainly make a positive difference to TommyC. Can't fault him for valuing that.

There's actually a broader discussion to be had here on the theological position of the Koran within Islam, and the need to purposefully disrespect that position, especially with regard to subjecting it to academic analysis and not making foolish public statements about its sanctity.

That discussion will clearly take place elsewhere.

Oddly, Charles update just goes to prove how insignificant the Newsweek article really was in the scheme of things. People didn't die because of Newsweek. The sparks are flying right and left because they are coming off a fire...not starting one.
The fire has been flamed by hoods and electrodes and dogsand etc...
Newsweek reported in one line something that has still not been denied by the very same people who don't want black-eye information to come out. And they are also the ones also charged with investigating.
Halliburton also does a smashing good job when asked to investigate their own improprieties. Maybe when Charlie finally gets the one branch government he seems to dream of we can finally get all investigations to go the same way.
Nowhere. And unacknowledged in the press.

sorry for the typos above.
Phone call in the midst of posting/writing.

There's actually a broader discussion to be had here on the theological position of the Koran within Islam, and the need to purposefully disrespect that position, especially with regard to subjecting it to academic analysis and not making foolish public statements about its sanctity.

Sure. Shall we purposefully disrespect the position of the Bible while we're at it too?

It would be like two birds with one stone.

It will certainly make a positive difference to TommyC.

Perhaps, but that depends entirely on what he was here for in the first place.

That discussion will clearly take place elsewhere.

If at all. And hopefully by those equipped to do so, which I am certainly not.

Sure. Shall we purposefully disrespect the position of the Bible while we're at it too?

Predicted response: "When we're at war with militant Christians who hold outrageous beliefs in the physical divinity of the Bible, you let me know," followed by either "Chief" or "Sport" and something else condescending.

Odds: 2-1

That discussion will clearly take place elsewhere.

If at all.
Surely Tacitus is entitled to explain his views on this here, and to unpack his reasoning as to why this "needs" to be done regarding the Koran, and not in regard to either Torah or the Word of God in the Holy Bible?

"The real problem here is a culture that either cannot or will not rein in a hate ideology that fuels killing."

Which culture was that again? The one that has influential religious radicals pushing to eliminate hate crimes, is practicing unprovoked invasions, is attempting to instill a minority religious outlook over the founding document of their country? Or the one that was invaded by another country hell bent on "crusade"?

Tacitus points out the need for historical/textual criticism of the Koran. He's right of course, and also right that it has absolutely nothing to do with the topic at hand. The liberal Protestants (mostly, though it started with Spinoza) who deconstructed the Bible didn't start out by torturing fundamentalist Christians and then flushing the Bible down the toilet.

Nice catch on the lutefisk.

That discussion will clearly take place elsewhere.

Why not make it here? It hasn't been tried thus far and I, for one, think it could lead to interesting and fruitful discussion. It could also turn into a horrible trainwreck which possibility exists in equal magnitude on pretty much any venue. YMMV, natch.

Why not make it here?

One look at the title of the post would suggest why it ain't going to happen.

I should add, having posted in snarky haste, that I don't at all disagree with Tacitus; in fact, such discussion should take place regarding all religions' claimed holy writings. I'm not so sure that, as regards the Koran, doing so is a useful tool in the "War On Terror" if we don't want it to be seen as a "War On Islam," but if we do, then by all means, let's do it.

Surely Tacitus is entitled to explain his views on this here

Isn't it obvious? They disrespected us, and for that we need to beat them physically, make them admit they were wrong to ever oppose us in the first place, and expose their religion as mumbojumbo.

Just remember though, it's not a Crusade.

What's that smell? Smells like...Armageddon.

Tacitus,

That discussion will clearly take place elsewhere.

That's why I am reading ObWi less and less. There is very little real discussion that takes place here. This thread is riddled with people who hate/dislike Bush to a point beyond reason.

So many commentors here have posted statements that have turned out to be false. I know this can't be avoided by either side. We work with limited information. It has just happened with the Newsweek report.

Is it fair to call those who believed the report and then made comments about the report liars because the report later turned out to be false? I personally don't hold one to that high of a standard and am growing tired of those people who do.

Many here will claim that Bush knew the reports about WMD were false. But, the fact is no one truly knew what was going on in Hussein's Iraq. Not even Hussien himself knew. But the same mantra gets repeated over and over. Bush lied. Yawn!

There's just no reason to continue debating with so many who start from that point. Very few people know exactly what Bush knew. Intelligence officials still disagree about what was known.

The posters on the left here are just living in the past. I find the site boring because of that. The fact is Sebastian seems to have fallen of the radar also. That says alot about the direction of the site to me.

I don't care that Hussein didn't have WMD. I'm glad he's gone. To me the situation was like the cop facing a robber who "looks" like he is holding a gun. Hussein wasn't worth the risk. And all those jihadi's that we are creating. That' just not true. They already existed and Iraq is just an outlet for them. This latest Newsweek tragedy validates that for me. It takes nothing to incite a riot against the U.S.

It seems so obvious to me that the Muslim world needs a a serious reformation that they weren't willing to undertake but now are being forced to atleast see the underbelly of their ugly beast. The rioting and killing in the last couple of weeks again only helps crystalize that thought for me.

I can accept that others think there were better paths to take in the WOT. But, there is no real discussion here because the majority of the posters are Bush haters.

And now I am gone from Obsidian Wings.

Shall we purposefully disrespect the position of the Bible while we're at it too?

If you wish: it would, for you, have the virtue of consistency. However, it's worth pointing out that the role of the Bible in Christianity and the role of the Koran in Islan are not at all the same. The Koran is the preexistent, immutable, and wholly divinely-created word of Allah. The Bible, from the earliest time of the Church, has been seen as an inspired yet man-created Scripture; hence the historical debates over canon, translation, and later textual criticism.

Tossing a Bible down a latrine will offend Christians, including this one, but it does not constitute in itself a direct attack on a created thing of God, nor a strike at the very substance of the faith. Tossing a Koran into a latrine does constitute those things for the Muslim.

Look, sometime, into the rather dangerous lives and livelihoods of those who attempt to make an academic study of the Koran. It's a pathetic commentary on the essential barbarism of the orthodoxy of that faith.

On Tacitus's comment:

being one of the resident athiests, i'm hardly in a position to judge the merits of one holy book against another. but there's something very weird about christians telling muslims that their view of their own holy book is wrong.

its one thing for an US-sponsored arab-language radio station to offer a debate between two muslim scholars on the "theological position" of the Koran. it's quite another for a politically-active republican christian american to state that a particular religious view held by certain muslims should be "disrespected".

last i checked, Bush was no longer using the word "crusade". Is that about to change? Is Tacitus finally admitting that what he really wants is holy war?

TommyC, you're quite right about the hard-left turn of ObWi. Godspeed.

So. Moe, TommyC, most others on the right: whom else will the community drive away? And when will that community acknowledge itself for what it has become?

And now I am gone from Obsidian Wings.

Door. Posterior. I've spent far too much time on newsgroups and message boards to have any respect for dramatic, petulant "I'm leaving and taking my toys with me!" parting messages. If you're going to stay, stay and engage those of us who are actually making cogent arguments. If you're going to leave, do it and spare the rest of us the melodrama.

It's a bit scary how far apart the intellectual framework of liberals and conservatives have come, as exemplified in the respective starting points with which they grapple with this story. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying "a pox on both their houses." Although I've seen some incidents of sloppy reasoning and overreaching on the left, that's what happens on comment boards, nothing out of the ordinary. But from my point of view it looks like the farther corners of the right are starting from points totally alien to me, if not completely insane, and it unnerves me. When even Von can say that the ideas of "his favorite liberal blogger" are "idiotic" (a statement which, in that context, I regard as in itself being idiotic), it sort of takes my breath away. When Dean Esmay can say that Newsweek are "enemy propagandists," well, I'm not asking for a repudiation of Godwin, but David Niewart and his favorite F-word are looking a lot better these days. When people argue that of course no Koran could have been desecrated because a book can't fit through a pipe (this seems to be a popular argument; I've seen it several times and I don't read a lot of conservative blogs) it seems to go beyond stupidity into militant myopia. It scares me on its face, it scares me because I love blogs, but I think narrowcasting is leading us down this Manichean road, and most of all it scares me because it seems to be getting worse every day.

Sigh.

....there's something very weird about christians telling muslims that their view of their own holy book is wrong.

You're getting it wrong. Orthodox Muslims have their view of the Koran, yes? And indeed, they are welcome to it. What I advocate is those of us who are not orthodox Muslims be not bound to behave toward that Koran as if we were. This does not ipso facto constitute proclaiming to Muslims that they are "wrong" -- surely in itself as unproveable as the contrary contention.

it's quite another for a politically-active republican christian american to state that a particular religious view held by certain muslims should be "disrespected".

Surely you do not maintain that all things of all faiths must be respected on the terms of those faiths? Mormon polygamy and Hindu ritual murders come to mind. Muslim jihad, too. Forgive those of us who disrespect these things.

Is Tacitus finally admitting that what he really wants is holy war?

"Holy war," if you haven't been paying attention, is long since upon us. Alas that it is purely theirs.

Tacitus
Are you claiming that they were turned away by the hatred of the liberals?
You certainly are a joker.
Maybe they couldn't win an argument when their viewpoints were backed up by arguments where holes could clearly be seen.
You, by the way, seem to be the only one allowed to break the rules on civility established by this blog. Why is that?

If you're going to stay, stay and engage those of us who are actually making cogent arguments.

Catsy, I think the problem is that he must also engage you.

Are you claiming that they were turned away by the hatred of the liberals?

No, carsick. They couldn't handle the love.

You, by the way, seem to be the only one allowed to break the rules on civility established by this blog.>

Someone isn't paying attention.

"Tossing a Bible down a latrine will offend Christians, including this one, but it does not constitute in itself a direct attack on a created thing of God, nor a strike at the very substance of the faith. Tossing a Koran into a latrine does constitute those things for the Muslim."

What would you suggest would be the reaction to your striding into an Orthdox shul, and throwing the Torah scrolls into a latrine? What do you see as the key theological differences between Orthodox Judaism and Islam here?

I offer this post and link for your consideration. Can you explain, perhaps, why either this is or is not "a pathetic commentary on the essential barbarism of the orthodoxy of that faith"?

Would you say that there is or is not "the need to purposefully disrespect that position, especially with regard to subjecting it to academic analysis and not making foolish public statements about its sanctity"? If not, why not?

The comments to this entry are closed.

Blog powered by Typepad