Wednesday, February 01, 2006

 

Don't be fooled by Richard Cohen

It looks like it took Richard Cohen, the smarmy, pompous Washington Post columnist, to get me writing in this blog again. Today Richard Cohen has a brilliant analysis of the Hamas victory in the latest Palestinian parliamentary elections: Here come the Nazis!
History speaks on this matter. If you asked a random German in, say, 1932 whether by voting for the Nazis he was voting for the murder of Jews and a destructive European war of unimaginable scope and horror, he would have said, "Nein!" What he really wanted was an end to the brawling in the streets, a robust foreign policy and a big thumbs-up to traditional German culture -- no more of this smutty modern art and filthy plays: "Willkommen, Bienvenue, Welcome." Not any more. The cabaret is closed!

I saved for this paragraph any reference to Hitler himself so as to postpone the reflexive outburst of "Nothing can be compared to the Nazis!"
But surely Cohen knows that nothing can be compared to the Nazis, except for Arabs (especially Palestinians), and so he is treading on safe ground. A simple google search of "Hitler" and "Arafat" or "Palestinian" and "Nazi" will show that the comparison is commonplace among the virulent right-wing and pro-Israel crowd in the U.S. and in Israel as well (in fact, one of the first news stories you might find would be Benjamin Netanyahu, former Prime Minister of Israel, comparing the rise of Hamas to the rise of the Nazis). Demonizing Palestinians is nothing uncommon, so stop trying to knock down that straw man Richard!

Cohen then tries to sell us the same old song and dance about the destruction of Israel. I mean, let's be honest, for all these years of people being committed to the destruction of Israel, it sure hasn't happened... oh wait, probably because Israel is a massive military power occupying Palestine, and not the other way around.

Cohen decides that for all Fatah's faults, at least it wasn't Hamas -- you know, it was a "modern" movement, like Zionism. If Cohen had bothered to do a little research, he might have noticed that Fatah grew out of the Muslim Brotherhood, the same Muslim Brotherhood whose role as the foundation of Hamas is "medieval." He also forgets that back in the day, it was a little too modern, a little too friendly with the Soviets, had a few too many members talking about "Popular Fronts" and things of that nature. And of course, instead of understanding it as a reaction to the Palestinians' dispossession of their land and their subjugation under Israeli military rule, it was simply part of the vanguard of the latest international threat (at that time it was communism, now it's Islamofascism, in case you forgot).

Meanwhile, Cohen writes:
The mistake of the Bush administration is to think, based on not much thinking to begin with, that people are people -- pretty much the same the world over. This is why the president extols democracy. It must be what everyone wants because it is what everyone here wants. To denigrate this kind of talk suggests racism -- You mean we are not all the same? -- or a musty neocolonialism. But the hard truth is that culture and religion matter, and we should not expect moderation just because that's how we would react. Toto knows the truth. The Middle East is not Kansas.
So first of all, to have ideas that do not essentialize and demonize Arabs and Muslims is suddenly to be associated with the Bush administration. Sorry, Richie, you're not going to fit this square peg into that round hole. And just because you take down the straw men of racism and neocolonialism doesn't mean that you aren't a racist, a bigot, and a neocolonialist. Because, by all means, you are all three. Christianity (note the reference to Kansas) and Judaism are simply strong faiths, part of our progressive, modern Judeo-Christian heritage. Islam, on the other hand, is "medeival." Sharon can change. Hamas cannot. Settler fanatics are "virtually" racist, but certainly don't approve of killing innocents (from an old op-ed of his), but Hamas is the Third Reich reincarnate! Richard Cohen is almost a charicature of the Arab-loathing Orientalist and yet he takes the ideas of FrontPageMag and other flagrantly racist websites, blogs, and magazines, and sells them to the broader public in the Washington Post, telling them not to be "fooled."

Comments:
I don’t know about anyone else, but watching the film The War Within has given me a new perspective on terrorism against the United States, especially from a possible terrorist’s point of view. Whether the subject in the film is forced into it through brutal imprisonment or through conscience decisions the film gives a point of view rarely seen in the United States.
 
It's depressing to read such hateful claptrap, isn't it. This is such irresponsible spewing and he gets paid for it, to boot.

Aunt Deb
 
If you took a representative German in 1932 and asked him if he was voting/fighting for national security and the preservation of ethnic and cultural identity, he'd say Jawohl.

Just a thought.

Auntie
 
Anyone here know what happened in Palestine in 1948? If not go to PalestineRemembered.org and then tell me who has the mindset of the Nazis.
 
Also, let me recommend Idith Zertal's "Israel's Holocaust and the Politics of Nationhood" for more about Israel and Israel supporters use of the Nazi label against Arabs and Palestinians.
 
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