April 12, 2006 | Scripps Howard News Service
Anti-Antis Up the Ante
During the Cold War, there were Communists, anti-Communists and anti-anti-Communists. It would be unfair to call the anti-antis pro-Communist. But it was the anti-Communists – the Cold Warriors — that the anti-antis most energetically opposed.
Today, there are terrorists, anti-terrorists and anti-anti-terrorists. It would be unfair to call the anti-antis pro-terrorist. But it is those fighting terrorists — those waging war against Militant Islamist ideologies — that anti-antis criticize most harshly.
Anti-antis are clearly dominant on America's campuses. University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill has taught his students that Americans incinerated and buried in New York City on 9/11/01 were “Little Eichmanns.” The language is extreme but the point Churchill intends — that America is so oppressive that it both invites and deserves terrorism in retaliation – is shared by many in his academic cohort.
Last week, I received a call from a reporter at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The University of North Texas, he said, was planning to award an honorary degree to Abdel Al-Jubeir, a leading spokesman for Saudi Arabia. The university awards such degrees to individuals who “have made meritorious contributions to society that have enlarged human understanding and enriched human life.” The reporter wanted to know if I had any comment. I think I sputtered.
How could any intelligent and sane American find it a “meritorious contribution to society” to propagandize for a regime that deprives women and minorities of basic human rights, is so intolerant as to prohibit non-Muslims from worshipping on its soil, provides the death sentence for Muslims who convert, and promotes an ideology from which Militant Islamist terrorism springs?
The media, too, has more than its share of anti-antis and I'm not talking here only about the left-wing blogs that compare President Bush unfavorably to Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. Recently, the top story on the Washington Post's front page was headlined: “Military Plays Up Role of Zarqawi: Jordanian Painted as Foreign Threat to Iraq's Stability.”
Is there anyone – even Ward Churchill — who would argue that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the commander of al-Qaeda in Iraq, is not a “foreign threat to Iraq's stability”?
A seemingly more cogent reason for the Post to object to what it blasts as a U.S. military “propaganda campaign”: An American colonel is quoted as saying that Zarqawi and other “foreign insurgents” are only “a very small part of the actual numbers” of those fighting Iraqi government forces and the American-led coalition.
This ignores the fact that al-Qaeda is responsible for most of the suicide bombings in Iraq. Indeed, the day after the Post story appeared, U.S. military spokesman Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch issued a statement saying that more than 90 percent of the suicide attacks in Iraq are “carried out by fighters recruited, trained and equipped by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq.”
He might have added that suicide bombings — along with roadside bombings and occasional hostage decapitations — are the primary tactic utilized by the forces fighting to prevent the emergence of a free Iraq. It's not as though the “foreign insurgents” are waging air-and-ground assaults and staging naval battles.
And, ironically, what helps make suicide bombings effective is the press coverage they attract. The mainstream media do not depict even the most vicious attacks on civilians as atrocities that should inspire outrage and fortify resistance. Instead, the media suggest the attacks be seen as evidence that the “insurgents” are succeeding and the U.S. failing in its obligation to “stabilize the security situation.”
The terrorists “play our own media with a shrewdness that would be the envy of many a political party,” British Prime Minister Tony Blair said recently. “Every act [of] carnage adds to the death toll. But somehow it serves to indicate our responsibility for disorder, rather than the act of wickedness that causes it.”
Linda Chavez, who heads a think tank and writes commentary, observed not long ago that anti-anti-terrorists “assume nefarious intentions of the U.S. government, while clamoring to protect the rights” of America's enemies. But the anti-antis have upped the ante beyond even that: Now anti-antis at an American university are heaping honors upon a Saudi propagandist while anti-antis at a great newspaper are complaining that American “propaganda” seeks to defame an al-Qaeda terrorist master.
George Orwell couldn't make this stuff up.
Clifford D. May, a former New York Times foreign correspondent, is the president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a policy institute focusing on terrorism.