12 February 2006

Fisk Gets Fisked

Actually, Australia has proved - blessedly - to be somewhat of a Fisk-free zone, as the irascible sociopath-cum-"reporter" doesn't appear to be of much interest to the local media. In Britain it's quite another case; Mr Fisk's dispatches are given front-page treatment in the Independent and discussed throughout the media as though they were news items rather than the ineluctably biased commentaries that they are.

Considering his own ethnic origins, Fisk's all-embracing contempt for "the Anglo-Saxons" might appear to be a psychological issue, perhaps related to low self-esteem or a problem with his father, but in this review, Amir Taheri puts his finger on the plain old-fashioned racism and chauvinism that really moves people like Fisk:
Because he sympathises with “Arab grievances”, Fisk adopts virtually all the conspiracy theories concocted in teahouses from Baghdad to Cairo in the hope of blaming others for all that has gone wrong with the Arabs. What he does not realise is that by portraying the Arabs as witless pawns in a game they do not understand, he is presenting a new version of the “White Man’s Burden” narrative. In the original version the “natives”, including the Arabs, must be saved from their own ignorance. In Fisk’s ethnocentric version, the Arabs are helpless victims. In both versions the omnipotent “Imperialist West” can do whatever it pleases with peoples who are mere objects in their own history.

I've often observed the same phenomenon in self-proclaimed "progressives" of the Caucasian persuasion, who never seem to have met an African-American whose problems are not entirely the fault of white America and "institutionalised racism." This kind of reasoning quickly gets itself into a double bind, of course. If the alleged victims of imperialism and racism are so hapless that not only their lives and destinies, but their very personalities and psychologies can be subsumed and manipulated by the dominant culture (this supposedly explains why Arabs can't help becoming suicide bombers and African-American men can't seem to support their families or stay out of prison), then how on earth would they deal with whatever freedom these various liberation movements ultimately conferred on them?

The worst racists I've ever met have nearly always been hardcore leftists or anarchists, to whom "people of colour" serve as pawns and poster children for their revolutionary wet dreams. That's not to say that racism doesn't exist on the right, but it is rarely so pernicious or virulent as the leftist variety. For all the criticisms than can be levelled at George Bush, Kanye West's much-ballyhooed claim that "Bush just doesn't like black people" is cheap demagoguery: Bush, and right-wing Republicans in general, have shown themselves far more meritocratic - i.e., fair - than the Democratic left, which is happy to work with any number of incompetents and charlatans as long as they are the right colour, i.e., black or brown.

Bush's elevation of Colin Powell, Condoleeza Rice and Albert Gonzales to some of the highest offices in the land may have involved a touch of racial symbolism as well, but his primary motivation was almost certainly that they shared his political views, which is as it should be, regardless of how anathema you may find those views to be. But point out to someone who's fulminating about America being "viciously racist through and through" that there's every possibility a Bush appointee will be the first black and first female president, and he'll frequently counter than Condoleeza Rice "isn't really black," or has "sold out her culture." In the mindsets of such (mostly) white demagogues, being "really" black has to entail one or more of the following: being left-wing, pissed-off, on welfare, in or just out of prison, and willing cannon fodder for the "revolution."

Fisk adopts precisely the same attitude with the Islamic world in general and Islamofascists in particular: he maintains just enough critical distance to avoid becoming an out-and-out cheerleader for terrorism, but never tries too hard to disguise where his real sympathies lie:
The suicide-bomber has become the nuclear weapon of the other. In Lebanon, Palestine and Iraq the suicide-bombers have become the symbol of this new fearlessness. Once an occupied people has lost its fear of death, the occupier is doomed.

Could it be that Fisk genuinely believes that we can count on suicide bombers as the foundation for a new and better society? Would he have similarly romanticised the last desperate efforts of the Japanese kamikazes as World War II drew to a close? Is he simply nuts, or so angry/hurt/frustrated that he'll seize upon any weapon, human or otherwise, to strike out at his ultimate Big Daddy, western civilisation? I'd be inclined to go for nuts except that for a crazy person Fisk shows a remarkable tendency toward self-preservation. He's careful always to say, "Let's you and them fight," not "Let us fight." So, I vote for angry/hurt/frustrated, and suggest a course of therapy with a good cognitive behavioural therapist. With patience and time, he might learn to smile again, and - though this is a long shot - perhaps eventually come to terms with the awful fate of having been born an Anglo-Saxon.

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