Friday, August 18, 2006

Extra, extra, read all about it: Iraq's newspaper war

Now that the decades-long iron grip of Saddam Hussein's tyranny has been lifted from the throats of Iraqi muslims, they are free to practice their religion to the fullest extent of their faith. The result: the Iraqi people currently suffer under the iron grip of an even older dictatorship: fundamentalist islam.

Stories like the following are enough to make one weep from frustration. All that blood spilled, all those lives lost.. for this??
It's as if a surgeon operated without his glasses on, and as a result, became satisfied in only cutting off one of a patient's two gangrenous limbs, pronouncing the patient cured, even as the effects of that gangrene continue before his very eyes... if only the doctor had sufficient vision to see the full scope of the job before him.
The myopia of multi-culturalism and the censorship of political correctness have much to answer for, in Iraq, as the butcher's bill keeps growing more costly... and the solution harder to diagnose.

The pro-suffering/anti-war "peace" protestors whom we protest against, claim that the US is "occupying" Iraq. Oh how I wish that were literally true, for then it would be far less likely that we would allow stories such as the following to occur, where we learn that, of all things, reading the wrong newspaper in Baghdad can now get you killed:

... [Mohammed Shakir] used to offer a selection [of newspapers] from all of Iraq's political movements and parties - but no more. In his majority Sunni neighborhood that has proved simply too dangerous. Two months ago a group of masked men showed up at his stall and ordered Shakir to stop selling papers printed by Shiite groups or government officials, saying that he would be killed if he did not comply.
"They even threatened people who buy these papers in the neighborhood," said Shakir, who took the threat seriously and closed down because most papers he carried dealt with Shiites and Shiite issues.
And it appears that these were not idle threats. Two paper sellers were killed in the last two months in Baghdad's Adhamiya neighborhood, a Sunni area. Another three lost their lives in Dora, a district south of the capital that used to be mixed but is rapidly becoming purely Sunni.

Paper sellers say that no one dares to sell newspapers in these areas since they fell under the control of Sunni militants.
And it is not just paper sellers and their customers who have been caught up in this latest form of sectarian violence sweeping the Iraqi capital. Caf├ęs with televisions have been threatened with bombing unless they stop showing Shiite stations. Several bookshops have also been burned down or targeted by bombers. The attacks come against a backdrop of a seemingly vibrant media environment in Iraq.
After the regime's fall, the media scene flourished.
In summer 2003 dozens of new titles appeared, and after decades of censorship Iraqis were at last able to enjoy diverse viewpoints.
In the last year, however, the Iraqi media has developed a strong tendency toward sectarianism. Many papers, radio, and television stations are now closely affiliated with political or ethnic groups, which often provide them with funds.
Sadiq Abdel Hussein, 35, a schoolteacher from the working class Shiite district Sadr City, points out that it is not just Sunni militants who are trying to stifle press freedom. He says that members of the Mehdi Army, a militia loyal to the radical Shiite cleric Moqtada Al Sadr, are also intimidating paper sellers - and bookshops - in areas that they control.
"The militias try to restrict the shops to selling only religious books and force the paper sellers to circulate leaflets from the Mehdi Army," he said. "The Mehdi Army also banned all papers issued by American troops."
In another development, the Mehdi militia is also said to have forbidden the public showing of music channels Rotana or Melody, Arabic versions of MTV that are popular among young Iraqis. "Anyone who shows these channels publicly might be whipped or tortured by militia members," said Hussein.
Saif Muhsin, a 33-year-old government employee, who lives in the Adhamiya neighborhood, is dismayed at the situation. "I never expected that the country would reach this low point of freedom where people get killed for reading or even carrying this or that paper," he said, adding, "If only the government and the security forces granted citizens as much freedom to read different opinions as militias have to roam the streets."
"But the government sits safely in the Green Zone and the militants rule the streets," he said.

Let's be clear in how to place the blame for this outrage: the Iraqis suffering from the followers of islam are not "victims" of "US occupation", they are victims of their religion's historically demonstrated propensity for inspiring violence.
We play a role in their suffering, however, if we have enabled these followers to practice their religion this faithfully, by defending their right to their violent faith.
"All cultures are of equal value, and therefore deserving of equal status", goes the mantra of multi-culturalism. Then how to justify the protection of a culture that is in itself ruthlessly intolerant of paralell cultures?
If one culture considers it permissable to condemn citizens to death for a "crime" as innocuous as reading a newspaper... how can a multi-cultural relativist ennoble this way of seeing the world?

The story is frightening in its revelation of how quickly things have deteriorated, and shows rather clearly that the more faithfully the religion of islam is practiced, the more of a menace to freedom it becomes.
How many lives must be lost before Iraqi newspaper vendors are not the only ones to get this news?


truepeers said...

I think your analysis makes it clear that the multiculti left do not really believe in a moral relativism in which all cultures are deemed equal. They say they do as a *tactic*, not a belief, in order to disarm their opponent's arguments, beliefs, faith. What they *really* believe in is the idea that the world or history can be explained as a story of victims and victimizers - a position which implies moral or ethical differentiation. And the worse the situation gets in Iraq, the more it seems to confirm their belief that America victimizes the world.

And this is not a morally relativist position, because there is no such "position" in practical reality. Moral relativism is a completely dishonest "stance" and people voicing it should be treated with contempt accordingly. Still, if you really want to believe that all the Muslims are victims of a morally objectionable America or Israel, it helps to "think" that you believe that all cultures are on some level equal because then the objective failure of the Muslim world on the level of the real world can be blamed not on Islam but on America or Israel. But on what level then does the blame of AMerica and Israel exist? on the level of a fantasy ideology, the same fantasy that Muslims tell themselves when they fall for the scapegoating idea that if only Israel or America were destroyed, all their problems would be solved, as if Islam's enemy were only a few million dastardly Jews and not the billions worldwide who are now signed up members of the modern global free market system, the modern conditions under which Islam has so far proven itself a great failure.

Charles Henry said...

I think this sad episode underlines the simple lesson that dis-honesty and lies are the source of so much that is evil in the world today.

The west intervened in Iraq and Afghanistan primarily for "selfish" reasons: to make ourselves safer. Unlike the crusaders of the left, we openly admit that long-term self-interest plays a role in our decision-making, and guides our actions.
(What's suposed to be the alternative: acting *against* one's own long-term self-interest?? Isn't that a symptom of suicidal behavior..?)

A beneficial side-effect, indeed the detail that is supposed to tip the scales and morally justify the costs in blood and treasure for these investments, is that our actions are to be of service to the people of these nations, as well .
Surely, we are morally obligated to be helping ourselves while avoiding making others worse off, but instead through improving the future for both participating parties. Win-win.
It's dis-honest to pose as do-gooders interested in only helping others, with no associated benefits to ourselves. This dishonesty is precisely the stance we usually find taken by the left, who posture as the most selfless do-gooders on the planet. (As you say, their stance is a tactic not a belief)
The "oil-for-food" conspiracy (a genuine, demonstrable conspiracy, not like the phony ones envisioned about missiles and detonations on 9/11) revealed a definite material self-interest motivating many "anti-war" poseurs, for example.

The debate we need to be having about adapting our participation in Iraq and Afghanistan, must ensure we do not become as dishonest as the left regarding the facts at hand: are the citizens of Iraq (in this case) being made worse off, by the approach we are taking to make ourselves better off?
My humble layman's opinion, is that today, the answer is a regrettable, muttered "not yet", rather than an assured, loudly asserted "No!".
We blind ourselves to unpleasant truths in both these nations, and in doing so we make a mockery of Canada's principles (in Afghanistan) and the US' ideals (in Iraq): transactions are supposed to be win-win, not win-lose.
To be pragmatic, both sides don't have to benefit in a mathematical "equality", but there must be a sincere benefit for the Iraqis side, not just benefit for ours. Absent this mutual benefit, do we not become the conquerors that the left tells us we are, instead of the partners we aspire to be..?
Being truthful about islam is a moral necessity, if we are to be of genuine assistance to the people of Iraq (and Afghanistan).

Otherwise, we're no better than the lying left, who act out of naked self-interest while propping up a fantasy about "selfless devotion to humanitarian objectives."

truepeers said...

Yes, the left seek a guarantee of their rightness or self-righteousness in denying their own self-interest (although as you note, this denial can be recouped in the victimary marketplace). So if anyone is still wondering why so much of the west seems to be on a suicidal, or at least non-reproductive, death wish, there's your answer.

As for Iraq, Baghdad is clearly a war zone of sorts, but I think in other parts of the country people are better off than when under the thumb of Saddam. In any case, we are a long way from having a clear picture of what has been unleashed in that country. When the wars have been fought and some kind of order re-established, then and then some is the time to really judge.