Monday, June 07, 2010

OT: B2 calls it right

If AW gets a prediction right, you bet your arses we'll bang on about it. B2 in comments to the last post but one:

Unfortunately Helen Thomas, who has done a lot of excellent journalism in the past, has now rather blotted her copybook by saying that "the Jews should get out of Palestine and go back to Germany and Poland" in front of some cameras. The usual suspects will be calling for her job and I have to say that on this occasion, I will find it hard to disagree with them (not that I think one mistake invalidates a whole career, nor am I particularly keen on the business of trying to rush people out of their jobs, but she's the author of her own misfortunes - it was an amazingly silly and unpleasant thing to say)

See Matt Welch for the video and some good comment.[1] This seems relevant as one of our commenters (OC?) recently speculated that Nick Cohen's apparent leap to the right was partly motivated by his belief that he had to swallow his personal doubts and disagreements with the left consensus for so long. (Not sure I agree in either case, but the argument has some merits.) See also Dave Weigel.

I have quite a lot of sympathy with Thomas, especially as saying that Israel should stay within its 1967 borders gets one denounced as an anti-Semite.

Quick post-publish button addendum. Roy Edroso (via Flying Rodent) reads Jay Nordlinger so no one else has to:

"I smile at two little facts: Sarah Palin, in her governor's office, had an Israeli flag. Siv Jensen, leader of a party in Norway called the Progress party, has an Israeli flag in her office. No, those women are not in power. But they represent a lot of people, who count."

And the Guardian had a nice pic of other proud carriers of the Israeli flag at the weekend.

The Norwegian Progress Party sound just charming. Wikipedia: "The party has generally been ostracized from the other parties on the national level."

I find it very, very hard not to get riled by this sort of thing.

[1] And some indulgent back-patting:

All of which is why I wish even the straightest-edge news outlets would follow Reason's still-lonely example and show us (at minimum) who their staffers are voting for

Slate also published their contributors' choice of Presidential candidates in 2004. And Reason's last effort was also the election before the last one. Hardly mould breaking.


Anonymous Alex said...

Wait, what? We're supposed to be comforted that people at Reason revealed their vote? This supposedly shows that Reason has no ideological biases? Despite the fact that its clearly evident that Reason is a libertarian magazine?

That Reason effort anyway was pretty poor. Look at how many undecideds and so on.

The New York Times prohibits its reporters from wearing campaign buttons

I wish the BBC and other media outlets would prohibit their newsreaders from wearing poppies.

6/08/2010 02:02:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

I'm not sure the 'swallowing doubts' thing fully explains Cohen's swing to the right, but I think it explains quite a lot of what he and Clothes of Chaps in particular write. I think it's a bit different from the Thomas thing, because Nick has afaik always been op-ed, so this doesn't really ring true:

"I censored myself for 50 years.... Now I wake up and ask myself, 'Who do I hate today?'"

But i do think that this other bit rings true of Cohen:

when newsroom lifers would tranfer to the Opinion Dept. and immediately begin producing pieces that sounded like an activist's fundraising letter, caricutarizing the opposing side's absolutely worst argument.

i don't much like the word 'caricaturizing'... What I think fits in with, ahem, my thesis as opposed to this one - there is some common ground - is that Cohen's pieces on things like foreign affairs used to be based more on reason and fact, showing both sides of the issue even while coming loudly down on one side. Now that he views everything according to a pre-existing oppositon to whatever the liberals in his head think, he only really seems interested in presenting caricatures of opposing views. But I think part of that is the advent of the internet in the lives of people who took a long time to be persuaded to use it - ie already-established journalists. That's led them to rely on a few websites they trust, because those websites fit into their worldviews. There can be very little reason other than his love of HP Sauce for Nick to buy the line that the blockade is purely about stopping rocket attacks (as Gisha shows today, it prohibits musical instruments but not fertilizer).

I admire him for dropping out of just journalism - hilariously/worryingly it looks like he's been replaced by douglas Murray - and i do think that at root his opinion on Israel/Palestine is that it's just one dispute of many in the world. The problem is that at the same time he's bought the line that any opposition to Israel is antisemitic. Just to reiterate the point made many times by many people on here - is it really that hard for people like Cohen to understand that the reason people complain more about the people running Israel than the people running Burma is because the former are deeply entranched allies of this state, and thus one might hope our country could exert some influence over them? Is that really difficult to udnerstand?

By the way, sort of on topic, the LRB has a very good review of the latest Anthony Julius book. Subscriber-only, but still:

a very frustrating book – or rather two books within a single cover. One is long and rather good, the other short and bad. Both are clever. The first is analytical history, the second vehemently polemical rhetoric.

6/08/2010 08:00:00 AM  
Anonymous Alex said...

"is it really that hard for people like Cohen to understand that the reason people complain more about the people running Israel than the people running Burma is because the former are deeply entranched allies of this state, and thus one might hope our country could exert some influence over them?"

That, and the fact that there seem to be many more Israeli apologists around, like Cohen, than apologists for Burma.

6/08/2010 11:17:00 AM  
Blogger The Rioja Kid said...

Yes! It's basically impossible to condemn Burma as much as Israel, unless you're prepared to stand around on your own shouting "I condemn Burma, I really deplore Burma, Burma's terrible", as everyone within earshot goes "yes, I know, we heard you the first time, weirdo". The reason people spend so much more time on Israel is that it *takes* more time, because there's a lot of people around making disingenous arguments in support of crimes committed by the Israeli government, but very, very few people doing so on behalf of Burma or Sudan etc.

6/08/2010 12:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That last comment from BB was simultaneously ingenious and utterly ludicrous.
Phil D'Bap

6/08/2010 01:13:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Also good post and comments on Balloon Juice.

6/08/2010 04:45:00 PM  
Blogger cian said...

So explain why, d'Bap.

6/08/2010 06:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Alex said...

In fact, this means Cohen has created the conditions necessary for his own existence. That's quite a good gig he's got going there - he gets paid to write a column, the contents of which create uproar which he uses as the basis for another column, ad infinitum.

One day, we'll all gather round the fire, and everything will be explained:

COHEN: Why must you keep condemning Israel? Are you antisemites?

US: No. We condemn Israel because you keep apologizing for their bad actions.

COHEN: Huh. Well, I keep doing that because you keep condemning Israel.

COHEN: ...

US: ...

COHEN: Want to start afresh?

6/10/2010 07:48:00 PM  

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