We need more spite

Jacob Bacharach understands the visceral necessity of shouting off an odious little fascist like Ray Kelly:

You see, the point of shouting Ray Kelly off the dais isn’t to get rid of “stop-and-frisk,” which these students are sophisticated enough to understand as merely symptomatic of greater injustices and inequalities in American life. No, the point is to get rid of Ray Kelly, to make the point that he has nothing to say that’s deserving of public consumption, that he is a wicked fellow who ought to be drummed from public life, his opinions, like those of most of us, to be shared grumpily over beers with no one to listen but the other cranks and kooks drinking in the middle of the day. The point is to shame Brown University—admittedly, a difficult task, since the university in the form of its administration is, as noted, shameless—for inviting the weasely little fascist onto the stage in the first place.

More than ten years ago I already blogged on how the Argentinians treated some of their war criminals, those fuckers who helped torture and disappear tens of thousands of people during the military dictatorship and who had gotten largely away with it. Not that physical violence is desirable in this case, but we shouldn’t overlook the value of pure spite and grudge holding.

There are too many people who are making the world a worse place getting unjustified respect and financial rewards for doing so, whether it’s police chiefs like Kelly endorsing racist and hateful stop & search policies or the more common creep who cheerlead such policies. It’s all the little Eichmans being oh so reasonable and polite in making their case for destructive, cynical policies, like Matty Yglesias arguing that we shouldn’t worry about Bangladeshi textile workers dying when the factory collapses on top of them, because “different countries have different safety standards”. In a just world, such odious views should see him shunned by all well thinking people; instead things like this are quickly forgotten and he remains free to to write vaceous posts about the next tragedy.

CotD: the benefit of the doubt fallacy

In a Crooked Timber thread on a dumber than usual Russ Douthat column, one commentor calls bullshit on Douthat’s defenders:

It is sweet, though, that virtually every mendacious reactionary hack** given an elevated media platform to spew sophistry all over us lesser folks has a cadre of online defenders. They usually embrace some common themes: suggesting that the blogger in question is engaging in behavior beneath ver by pointing out the latest episode of bullshittery; pulling out scattershot quotations that purport to completely negate the plain reading of everything else in the article; and above all, implicitly or explicity demanding that we evaluate every work sui generis, with no consideration whatsoever of the track record of the author or vis peers. I wonder if someone has made a benefit-of-the-doubt bingo card.

You don’t just see this sort of behaviour in defence of rightwing hacks against their own hackery, but much more dangerously, also is something you see a lot of in the socalled mainstream media. Take the War on Libya for example, which when proposed was quite obviously a clusterfuck waiting to happen for those of us allowed to remember the Wars on Afghanistan and Iraq, but which for some reason few serious commentators were able to discuss in this context.

“I see a cascade of shit pirouetting from your penthouse office, caking each layer of management, splattering all in between.”

a Daily Star hack has had enough of the paper’s nastiness and inflaming of Islamophobia and quits his job:

When you assign budgets thinner than your employee-issue loo roll there’s little option but for Daily Star editors to build a newspaper from cut-and-paste-jobs off the Daily Mail website, all tied together with gormless press releases. But when that cheap-and-cheerful journalism gives the oxygen of publicity to corrosive groups like the EDL – safe in the knowledge it’s free news about which they’ll never complain – it’s time to lay down my pen.

You may have heard the phrase, “The flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil sets off a tornado in Texas.” Well, try this: “The lies of a newspaper in London can get a bloke’s head caved in down an alley in Bradford.”

Al Jazeera

Good piece in The Nation on American views of Al Jazeera over the last decade. Key graphs:

Al Jazeera’s real transgression during the “war on terror” was a simple one: being there. That is what Al Jazeera is doing today in Egypt and why it is so dangerous to the Mubarak regime. While critical of US policy, Al Jazeera is not anti-American—it is independent. In fact, it has angered almost every Arab government at one point or another and has been kicked out of or sanctioned by many Arab countries (the one country which Al Jazeera arguably does not cover independently is its host nation of Qatar). It was the first Arab station to broadcast interviews with Israeli officials and is hardly the Al Qaeda mouthpiece the Bush Administration wanted us to believe it was. Now that is abundantly clear to Americans who over the past week have come to depend on Al Jazeera for accurate news on the developments in Egypt.

The real threat Al Jazeera poses to authoritarian regimes is in its unembedded journalism. That is why the Bush Administration viewed Al Jazeera as a threat, it is why Mubarak’s regime is trying to shut it down and that is why the network is so important to the unfolding revolutions in the Middle East. It is the same role the network plays in reporting on the disastrous US war in Afghanistan.

Part of why Al Jazeera has become acceptable is that, unlike throughout much of the Bush era, it now has a full 24-hour English language news channel filled with veteran reporters who came to the network from CNN, the BBC and other Western news outlets. When it was an Arabic language only network, it was a lot easier to demonize and malign because fact-checking US officials’ fabrications and pronouncements required a real effort.