Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Free Speech For The Taliban!

In his recent Toronto Sun column, Eric Margolis, darling of the anti-war set, wonders aloud: "When did we last see a report filed from the side of the Taliban and its growing number of allies?"

Tell you when I last saw a report filed from the Taliban side. It was that same column written by Eric Margolis. It's the same dirty propaganda he's been dishing out for more than a decade, but this time there's a twist. Turns out the Canadian Forces have been turning captives over to communist torture-prisons in Kabul. Who knew?

To Margolis, the Taliban are not "a terrorist group." They're just poor, misguided, backwards hillbillies. They're "no worse than other Afghans." And it's precisely because of this claptrap that he has emerged as one of the most beloved and most-often-cited authorities of Canada's "anti-war" left. Toronto pseudo-left icon James Laxer considers Margolis a "clear-eyed" foreign policy analyst. Elsewhere he turns up as a "Middle East authority."

Which just goes to show, I guess, that if you stumble blindly leftwards far enough you're bound to find yourself slobbering on the slippers of the extreme right, which is the only way to describe Margolis, an arch-conservative American millionaire, the majority owner of Jamieson's Laboratories, and a founding editor of Pat Buchanan's American Conservative magazine.

Why Canada's Sun newspapers persist in providing him a platform for his dirty propaganda is a mystery to me.


Blogger kurt said...

Perhaps 'cause he's kickin' ass like Stephen Fry and Hugh "Dr House" Laurie:


12:58 AM  
Blogger Graeme said...

Aye, and it's far too common. Did you see the books section of last weekend's Globe and Mail?

8:17 AM  
Blogger Transmontanus said...

You mean Peter Hart's essay? I did.
Much of it was actually quite good, I thought. But then I'm inclined to cut Hart a lot of slack, because I have a lot of time for him, owing to his scholarship on Michael Collins and Irish republicanism and so on.

What bothered me most was its sloppiness, i.e. "Most of the world lives under illiberal and exploitative regimes, arguably because of Western-dominated globalization. Maybe an "ideology of resistance to imperial consumerist modernity" isn't an inherently bad thing after all."

Sloppy because China isn't illiberal and exploitive because of "Western-dominated globalization," and neither is Russia or the republics of the Russian federation, and the despotisms of the so-called "Muslim world" derive from currents mainly unrelated to Western globalization.

And sure, you could say an "ideology of resistance to imperial consumerist modernity" isn't inherently "bad," but I don't know where that gets you. You could say European fascism was one of those ideologies. Islamism is another, and those of us who prefer democracy and the respect for fundamental human rights will tend to find it baddish. Deep-ecology environmentalism is another again. Not as "bad" as the other two, but still.

Sloppy thinking.

9:13 AM  
Blogger Graeme said...

Yeah, the Hart essay. I agree that most of it was good, which is why the sloppiness of the last three paragraphs in particular were so disappointing. In addition to your examples, there's his comment about "a wave of recolonization from the West Bank to Kandahar", as if somehow West Bank settlements and...errr...the Tim Horton's on the Kandahar airbase are somehow morally equivalent. Or that his talk of "peaceful Islamic parties"--by which he seems to mean the Muslim Brotherhood--really glosses over the truly nasty features of that organisation. And so on.

The objections I had with the essay are probably more due to sloppiness and easy generalisations than they are to anything else, but considering the importance that understanding and coming to grips with the "post-9/11 world" has, I'd really like to see a far more robust debate in the media. It's not entirely lacking, but it could be far better.

10:59 AM  
Blogger Blazing Cat Fur said...

Margolis is our Fisk, every time I read him I wonder who's payroll is he on?

12:44 PM  
Blogger Transmontanus said...

Blazer: With his Jamieson's Lab income, selling stuff like echinacea to gullible hippies, I don't expect he's on anyone's payroll. Maybe not even the Sun chain's. What serious newspaper would buy that stuff?

3:54 PM  
Blogger Dunk said...

Time for a boycott of our own. Jamieson's would make a fine target.

2:55 AM  

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