Tongue-cutting at Al Jazeera

An overtly racist remark from John Podhoertz is grounded in relentless propaganda about the meaning of Terrorism VIDEO


Tongue-cutting at Al JazeeraJohn Podhoretz

(updated below [Sun.])

I’m currently conducting interviews as a follow-up to the rather acrimonious debate that erupted this week from my argument that “terrorism expertise” is not an actual discipline, but rather (like the term “terrorism” itself) just another instrument for legitimizing the violence of the U.S. and its allies, delegitimizing the violence of their Muslim adversaries, and dressing up state propaganda with the veneer of academic neutrality (for an example of how this works, see this New York Times article this morning on the different approaches taken by the U.S. and French governments to “fighting terrorism,” by which the article exclusively means: Muslims). One reason I think this discussion is so important is because the manipulation of the term “terrorism” this way permits and bolsters (even if unintentionally) an extremely ugly, destructive, and toxic worldview, one which the Editor-in-Chief of Commentary Magazine, John Podhoretz, vividly expressed last night on Twitter when discussing the firing of Keith Olbermann by Current TV:

That’s about as overtly racist a statement from a media figure with a platform as you’ll see (and the it’s-just-a-joke excuse is obviously irrelevant: just imagine analogous “jokes” about how disfavored journalists would be punished at The Jerusalem Post, or Black Entertainment Television, etc.). To Podhoretz, Al Jazeera is filled with Arabs and Muslims, which means: The Terrorists (for many years after 9/11, that was virtually official U.S. government policy). Podhoretz is the same person who wrote a New York Post column in 2006 lamenting that in the early stages of the Iraq War, “we didn’t kill enough Sunnis in the early going to intimidate them and make them so afraid of us they would go along with anything,” suggesting that the big U.S. mistake in the war was allowing “the survival of Sunni men between the ages of 15 and 35.” Remember, though: it’s those Muslims who are The Terrorists (when influential American “terrorism experts” start talking about the John Podhoretzes of the world as terrorism advocates, and about “Shock and Awe“, the assault on Fallujah and the bombing of Gaza as terrorism, and about Ronald Reagan as a “state sponsor of terrorism” for his funding of El Salvadoran death squads and Nicaraguan contras, and about the parties responsible for the assassination of Iranian civilian scientists as international terrorists, then I’ll start to take the honorific more seriously).

I have no doubt that most respected “terrorism experts” would find Podhoretz’s comment about Al Jazeera repugnant. But the mentality on display here — and it’s quite pervasive (which is why this is one of the few remaining forms of overt bigotry that provokes no real sanction) — finds nourishment in the constant discussion of Terrorism, the Supreme Evil, as: acts of violence by Muslims directed at us (but not violence by our own government or those of its allies directed at Muslims).

* * * * *

New York Times Editorial Page Editor Andrew Rosenthal yesterday observed what was a major theme of my last book: that the U.S., in the name of Terrorism, now has “what’s essentially a separate justice system for Muslims.” That’s true, and — along with the fact that the U.S. in just the last couple years has used military force in no fewer than six predominantly Muslim countries — it’s the type of historically significant injustice that should provoke widespread domestic opposition. But it doesn’t, and that’s because the notion that “Terrorism, the Supreme Evil” means “Muslim” has been so effectively inculcated.


UPDATE [Sun.]: Similarly, Sheldon Adelson, Benjamin Netanyahu’s close ally and the super-funder of Newt Gingrich’s campaign, said this week that “all terrorism is Islamic”; Cenk Ugyur has the video:

Glenn Greenwald

Follow Glenn Greenwald on Twitter: @ggreenwald.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Burger King Japan

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Burger King's black cheeseburger: Made with squid ink and bamboo charcoal, arguably a symbol of meat's destructive effect on the planet. Only available in Japan.

    Elite Daily/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    McDonald's Black Burger: Because the laws of competition say that once Burger King introduces a black cheeseburger, it's only a matter of time before McDonald's follows suit. You still don't have to eat it.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    Domino's Specialty Chicken: It's like regular pizza, except instead of a crust, there's fried chicken. The company's marketing officer calls it "one of the most creative, innovative menu items we have ever had” -- brain power put to good use.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    Arby's Meat Mountain: The viral off-menu product containing eight different types of meat that, on second read, was probably engineered by Arby's all along. Horrific, regardless.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    KFC'S ZINGER DOUBLE DOWN KING: A sandwich made by adding a burger patty to the infamous chicken-instead-of-buns creation can only be described using all caps. NO BUN ALL MEAT. Only available in South Korea.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Waffle Taco: It took two years for Taco Bell to develop this waffle folded in the shape of a taco, the stand-out star of its new breakfast menu.

    Michele Parente/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Krispy Kreme Triple Cheeseburger: Only attendees at the San Diego County Fair were given the opportunity to taste the official version of this donut-hamburger-heart attack combo. The rest of America has reasonable odds of not dropping dead tomorrow.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Quesarito: A burrito wrapped in a quesadilla inside an enigma. Quarantined to one store in Oklahoma City.

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Boston Pizza's Pizza Cake: The people's choice winner of a Canadian pizza chain's contest whose real aim, we'd imagine, is to prove that there's no such thing as "too far." Currently in development.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    7-Eleven's Doritos Loaded: "For something decadent and artificial by design," wrote one impassioned reviewer, "it only tasted of the latter."

  • Recent Slide Shows



Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>