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Fall of Saddam leaves Left strangely silent

April 17, 2003

Q: Mr. Answer Man, I notice that R.W. Apple, chief front-page analyst of The New York Times, got caught predicting another quagmire, though he had the wit to avoid the exact word this time. Why does he keep doing this?

A: Quagmireology is not an exact science. Perhaps he was using outdated tea leaves or defunct chicken bones. All we know is that from now on, every general hoping for victory anywhere in the world will crave one of Apple’s dire predictions. It’s the only sure way to know you’re going to win.

Q: A news article in the Times said Bush sat by as Rumsfeld and Cheney watched the toppling of Saddam’s statue “with barely disguised glee.” Aren’t Republican officials allowed to feel joy and satisfaction when a tyrant falls?

A: No.

Q: I also noticed that when it came time to explain why Jessica Lynch and her brother wanted to join the Army, both print and TV reporters paddled over quickly to a purely economic motive — there aren’t many other jobs around these days in West Virginia. Would it have been too much to say that the Lynches appear to be a traditional family with a strong sense of patriotism and high respect for the military?

A: Yes.

Q: As you know, both the BBC and National Public Radio have been criticized for their heavy-handed anti-war tilt. The coalition victory must be a terrible disappointment. How will they cope?

A: Never fear. They will find something gloomy, maybe Gulf War Syndrome or the threat to crops in the Fertile Crescent. Next we will have troubling developments and understandable Arab turmoil as the United States strives to impose its imperial will on an ancient land, and so forth. If any looters get shot, correspondents can always produce stories on how the Nazi occupation troops shot civilians in France and the Netherlands. There’s plenty of room here for creativity.

Q: Didn’t a lot of celebrity war critics make concern for Iraqi kids a centerpiece in their opposition to war? I notice they didn’t say much about the mutilation of Kurdish kids in Saddam’s gas attacks. Now it turns out that Saddam Hussein had a children’s jail. Some kids were in there for years for refusing to join the Baath party’s version of Hitler Youth. Do you think the stars will comment on that, and perhaps give the allies some credit for freeing the children?

A: You ask a lot. These are difficult days at Hollywood’s Foreign Desk. Vicious cable reporters are digging up old TV clips of entertainers talking about Iraq and playing them on the air, thus creating the impression that these stars are ignorant fools! Next thing you know people will not want to watch Susan, Rosie and Janeane, thus violating the First Amendment and re-establishing the McCarthyite era in America. What was your question again? Wasn’t it something about children?

Q: Never mind. Well, if Hollywood hasn’t got much to say, what about feminists? Saddam had state-run rape teams and sent videotapes of the rapes to families. He had gender-specific tortures for women. Uday had 200 women beheaded and hung their heads on the doors to their homes. Surely feminists said something about all this.

A: I’m afraid not. The leadership of the women’s movement is deep into post-colonial relativism and is not inclined to say much about Third World despots. Besides, men are bad everywhere. NOW president Kim Gandy put Saddam and Bush on the same moral plane: “This has become an issue of one dictator vs. another.”

Q: Isn’t there something simpleminded about that? How many women has Bush tortured and beheaded?

A: I guess you would have to ask Kim Gandy to check her figures.

Q: I thought the left was supposed to be concerned about human rights. What about Amnesty International? Surely they must be relieved by Saddam’s overthrow and an end to all the torture and mutilation.

A: If so, they are keeping their relief to themselves. Actually, Amnesty was very strong in indicting Saddam up until 9/11. But since then it has basically shut up and looked the other way. Apparently it didn’t want to keep making a case against Iraq that the West might act on. It issued only two complaints about the current war, both against the allies.

Q: You mean nothing on the horrors of Sadism — fake surrenders, shooting civilians, the revelation about jailed children and all the rest?

A: Not yet. Apparently they’re thinking about it.

Q: Do you sometimes think we need an entire new left side of our political spectrum?

A: Not my call. I report. You decide.

From → Politics

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