The real scare

“I don’t believe this is the Third World War. Nor is it a “war on terror”. Nor is it a “war of civilizations”. But our own leaders are wilfully leading us into a period of appalling suffering because they will not address the causes of injustice in the Islamic world.”

– Robert Fisk, journalist in the real world

Australian blogger Tim Blair likes being a friend of the powerful. He’s fond of praising George W. Bush, serenading John Howard and saluting Tony Blair. Good on him. It’s a free world. Far be it from me to suggest that a journalist’s role is to question, challenge and monitor those in authority.

Today he accuses me of sapping the life out of scare-quotes. I can’t live for a week without them, Blair charges. I’m fond (too fond?), to be sure. And for good reason. Since 9/11, our language has been twisted and turned to justify the unjustifiable. The word “terrorism” has become ubiquitous, used as a weapon against any action deemed inappropriate by the democratically elected and despot alike. During the 2003 election of Iraq, Robert Fisk commented on this increasing abuse of language:

“Why do we aid and abet the lies and propaganda of this filthy war? How come, for example, it’s now BBC “style” to describe the Anglo-American invaders as the “coalition”. This is a lie. The “coalition” that we’re obviously supposed to remember is the one forged to drive Iraqi occupation troops from Kuwait in 1991, an alliance involving dozens of countries – almost all of whom now condemn President Bush Junior’s adventure in Iraq. There are a few Australian special forces swanning about in the desert, courtesy of the country’s eccentric Prime Minister, John Howard, but that’s it.”

“So, who at the BBC decreed this dishonest word “coalition”? True, there’s a “coalition of the willing”, to use Mr Bush’s weird phrase, but this is a reference to those nations that have given overflying rights to the United States or have given political but not military support. So the phrase “coalition forces” remains a lie.”

Fisk continues:

“We go on talking about an “air campaign” as if the Luftwaffe was taking off from Cap Gris Nez to bomb London, when not a single Iraqi aircraft has left the ground. So, it’s “coalition forces”, a war not an invasion, liberation rather than occupation, and the taking of cities that are “secured” rather than “captured”, and when captured, are insecure.”

“And all this for the dead of 11 September.”

When George W. Bush called Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon a “man of peace” in 2002, the joke is on commentators naive enough to believe the rhetoric. Such a lover of democracy is Sharon that he recently announced his government plans making it increasingly difficult for non-Jews to gain citizenship. The idea, simply put, is to isolate and drive-out Arab citizens out of Israel; ethnic cleansing by another name.

Furthermore, labelling any and all acts of Palestinian resistance to an illegal Israeli occupation is “terrorism”, claims Sharon and his cronies. Stealing yet more Palestinian land on occupied territory receives praise from Bush as an “historic and courageous act.”

Alleged crimes at Guanatanamo Bay are hilarious, Blair claims. Charges of torture by Australian terror suspect David Hicks is a joke, Blair comments. Such bravery in the face of facts, Blair prefers treating human rights abuses by Australia, America and Britain as hilarity. After all, why let the truth get in the way of befriending governments or elite opinion-makers?

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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