FW: A New Blacklist for "Excuse Makers"

From "Mobo Gao" <Mobo.Gao@utas.edu.au>
Date Thu, 28 Jul 2005 09:51:06 +1000
Thread-index AcWS/M7ea2pQSJZRQBiM9YU0389paQACTMxQ

In case you have seen this. 

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From: FAIR [mailto:fair@fair.org] 
Sent: Thursday, 28 July 2005 6:49 AM
To: Mobo.Gao@UTAS.EDU.AU
Subject: A New Blacklist for "Excuse Makers"

                    Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting
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A New Blacklist for "Excuse Makers"
Those who think Iraq War sparks terror are "despicable," says Friedman

July 27, 2005

New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman has urged the U.S. government to
create blacklists of condemned political speech--not only by those who
advocate violence, but also by those who believe that U.S. government
actions may encourage violent reprisals. The latter group, which Friedman
called "just one notch less despicable than the terrorists," includes a
majority of Americans, according to recent polls.

Friedman's July 22 column proposed that the State Department, in order to
"shine a spotlight on hate speech wherever it appears," create a quarterly
"War of Ideas Report, which would focus on those religious leaders and
writers who are inciting violence against others." But Friedman said the
governmental speech monitoring should go beyond those who actually advocate
violence, and also include what former State Department spokesperson Jamie
Rubin calls "excuse makers." Friedman wrote:

"After every major terrorist incident, the excuse makers come out to tell us
why imperialism, Zionism, colonialism or Iraq explains why the terrorists
acted. These excuse makers are just one notch less despicable than the
terrorists and also deserve to be exposed. When you live in an open society
like London, where anyone with a grievance can publish an article, run for
office or start a political movement, the notion that blowing up a busload
of innocent civilians in response to Iraq is somehow 'understandable' is
outrageous. 'It erases the distinction between legitimate dissent and
terrorism,' Mr. Rubin said, 'and an open society needs to maintain a clear
wall between them.'"

The "despicable" idea that there may be a connection between acts of
terrorism and particular policies by Western countries is one that is widely
held by the citizens of those countries. Asked by the CNN/Gallup poll on
July 7, "Do you think the terrorists attacked London today mostly because
Great Britain supports the United States in the war in Iraq?" 56 percent of
Americans agreed. In a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll (7/7-10/05), 54 percent
said "the war with Iraq has made the U.S....less safe from terrorism." Since
they see a connection between Iraq and terrorism, a majority of Americans
are what Friedman calls "excuse makers" who "deserve to be exposed."

Friedman's column urged the government to create quarterly lists of
"hatemongers" and "excuse makers"--as well as "truth tellers," Muslims who
agree with Friedman's critique of Islam. Friedman's proposed list of "excuse
makers" would have to include his New York Times colleague Bob Herbert, who
wrote in his July 25 column, "There is still no indication that the Bush
administration recognizes the utter folly of its war in Iraq, which has been
like a constant spray of gasoline on the fire of global terrorism."

Leading members of the U.S. intelligence community might also find
themselves on such a blacklist, based on a report summarized earlier this
year in the Washington Post (1/14/05):

"Iraq has replaced Afghanistan as the training ground for the next
generation of 'professionalized' terrorists, according to a report released
yesterday by the National Intelligence Council, the CIA director's think
tank.... According to the NIC report, Iraq has joined the list of
conflicts--including the Israeli-Palestinian stalemate, and independence
movements in Chechnya, Kashmir, Mindanao in the Philippines, and southern
Thailand--that have deepened solidarity among Muslims and helped spread
radical Islamic ideology."

Though Friedman calls on the State Department to compile the "Top 10
hatemongers" list in a "nondiscriminatory way," it's doubtful that such a
list would, in fact, even-handedly include all advocates of violence. It
would not be likely, for example, to include someone like Thomas Friedman,
who during the Kosovo War (4/6/99) called on the Clinton administration to
"give war a chance," writing, "Let's see what 12 weeks of less than surgical
bombing does." In a follow-up column (4/23/99) he declared that "Like it or
not, we are at war with the Serbian nation," and insisted that "every power
grid, water pipe, bridge, road and war-related factory has to be targeted."
Despite the fact that by calling for attacks on civilian targets he was
advocating war crimes, Friedman should have no fear that he'll find himself
on a State Department list of "hatemongers."

Friedman's suggestion that those who seek to understand or explain political
violence are not part of "legitimate dissent" comes at a time when calls for
censorship are becoming more and more blatant. Bill O'Reilly (Radio Factor,
6/20/05, cited by Media Matters, 6/22/05) made a chilling call for the
criminalization war opponents:

"You must know the difference between dissent from the Iraq War and the war
on terror and undermining it. And any American that undermines that war,
with our soldiers in the field, or undermines the war on terror, with 3,000
dead on 9/11, is a traitor. Everybody got it? Dissent, fine; undermining,
you're a traitor. Got it? So, all those clowns over at the liberal radio
network, we could incarcerate them immediately. Will you have that done,
please? Send over the FBI and just put them in chains, because they, you
know, they're undermining everything and they don't care, couldn't care

The call for the arrests of Air America Radio hosts was said as though it
were a joke, though O'Reilly is deadly serious when he says that the
commentators on that network are "undermining" the war--and that such
"undermining" is treason.

O'Reilly more recently (7/25/05) went after Herbert's column that argued
that the Iraq War fueled terrorism: "Bob Herbert is most likely helping the
terrorists, but his hatred of Mr. Bush blinds him to that. He's not alone,
but this kind of stuff has got to stop. We're now fighting for our lives.
And those helping the enemy will be brought to your attention."

"Attention," rather than arrests, is all that Friedman has threatened
"excuse makers" like Herbert with. But it's a small step, as O'Reilly's
rhetoric demonstrates, between marginalizing critics of U.S. foreign policy
as "just one notch less despicable than the terrorists"--and criminalizing
criticism itself.

ACTION: Please let Thomas Friedman know that opponents of the Iraq War do
not deserve to be on a government blacklist--even if they oppose the war
because they believe it encourages terrorism. 

Thomas Friedman
c/o New York Times Editorial Page

As always, please remember that your comments have more impact if you
maintain a polite tone.

Read Friedman's column here:
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