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Arab News July 27, 02
James Taranto’s private agenda on OpinionJournal.com
By John R. Bradley, Arab News Staff
OpinionJournal.com, an offshoot of The Wall Street Journal, provides links on a daily basis to a diverse range of articles on the world’s news websites: This, it boasts, is where to come to get “the best of the web.”
However, to get to the links themselves the reader must first navigate the minefield that is the spiteful ranting of its editor, James Taranto, a former “deputy editorial features editor” (whatever that may be) of The Wall Street Journal whose earlier career was similarly defined by a complete lack of distinction and achievement.
Perhaps Taranto is high on finally having got a platform to publicize his bigoted, right-wing drivel. Whatever the reason, he has clearly hijacked the OpinionJournal.com site and is using it to promote a private agenda. And what an agenda it is! Taranto’s passion for Israel is equaled only by his hatred of Arabs. He seems especially to loath everything Saudi Arabian. At best, he thinks the Kingdom is a bit of a joke that will afford him and his readers a laugh. At worst, it is a bizarre place full only of extremes and corruption that symbolizes everything dark, wicked or inexplicable.
I would bet a billion dollars that Taranto has never been to Saudi Arabia. And I would bet a billion more, judging from the arrogance and self-indulgence of his writings, that he would argue that his ignorance somehow does not matter.
In apparent personal revenge for the terrible events of Sept. 11, Taranto, snugly in the driving seat of his massively read website, has been “virtually” crashing it into any and every target he believes shelters his chosen enemy: Muslims of all shades and color, and Western liberal journalists he appears to view as nothing less than collaborators.
Because Taranto’s assaults are virtual, he can simply congratulate himself with a self-indulgent punch in the air after seeing each “Game Over”, then enjoy the thrill of the chase again. This is extreme opinion without reason, accountability or responsibility.
While Taranto’s bile may exist only in cyberspace, and have only the intellectual capacity of a fifth-rate George W. Bush, this does not mean he is not causing damage down here in the real world. Americans wanting to find out more about the Middle East are likely to take Taranto’s twaddle as somehow representative of more than just the author’s own perverted self-indulgence. Of course, the fact that OpinionJournal.com is from The Wall Street Journal superficially gives it credence. On a deeper level, however, that association is more an indication of how absurd the print edition of The Wall Street Journal itself has become in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks than of anything else. Its editorials on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are nothing short of hysterical.
A piece Taranto published on July 23 is revealing of just how extreme and vitriolic a Zionist he is. Even as leading Israeli government figures, including Shimon Peres and the butcher Ariel Sharon himself, were distancing themselves from an attack on a civilian neighborhood in Gaza that killed 15 (nine of them children), Taranto wrote: “If Americans knew Osama Bin Laden was hiding in a particular house in Afghanistan or Pakistan, would we let him go rather than risk killing civilians?” This was more than just a rhetorical question: Taranto had a paragraph earlier scolded White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer for “snorting” a (in fact typically half-assed) condemnation of the attack.
When it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Taranto is about as biased and unethical an American commentator as you could hope to find. What Sharon is doing on the ground, Taranto is doing in cyberspace.
They are a kind of twin evil. Sharon orders the crushing of civilians in their houses in Jenin in response to Palestinian suicide attacks. Taranto later provides a link to an Amnesty International report criticizing Palestinian suicide bombers. But he pointedly fails to provide a link to the same human rights organization’s report on the Jenin massacre. This is not the “best of the web”. It’s the “selective best of the web”.
Bush famously said: “You are either with us or against us.” This perfectly encapsulates Taranto’s view of the world, only he has proved himself even less flexible than Bush when it comes to dissenters. He is particularly venomous when it comes to Western journalists who dare to do what almost no American journalist dares: Openly criticize American foreign policy.
Robert Fisk is routinely described by Taranto as an “American-hating polemicist”. John Pilger is said by him to be “repellent”.
Consider the sheer intellectual effrontery of this insignificant, ghastly little excuse for a journalist dismissing in such crude, absolute terms two of the most distinguished investigative journalists writing in English for the last 30 years. No one alive has more knowledge about the Middle East, more experience of its complexities, and more passion for telling the world about the truth behind events in that region than Robert Fisk. And John Pilger almost single-handedly brought to the attention to the world the horrors of Pol Pot and of East Timor (American foreign policy having been largely responsible for both horrors, let us not forget).
You could say: Well, this in James Taranto’s opinion, and he is entitled to it. Yes, up to a point. But with influence must come responsibility. And the bottom line is that if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.
-- (bwahahaha@Xtian.drivel mongers), July 27, 2002
This dooood nailed it.
The first thing we do is kill all the Kaffirs
-- (firstname.lastname@example.org), July 27, 2002.