Monday, December 12, 2005

Bianca and Ramsey

They seem like strange bedfellows: Bianca Jagger and Ramsey Clark. But I think something the former said can shed a bit of light on the dark and murky thought processes of the latter.

Writing in Friday's NY Post, Amir Taheri reports on a speech given by Bianca at a Foreign Press Association meeting in London. Taheri writes that a prize was given to there to "Akbar Ganji, an Iranian investigative reporter who is on a hunger strike in Tehran's Evin Prison."

Taheri has learned from experience that ordinarily there are certain unwritten rules about awarding such prizes:

Together with several colleagues, I had been trying for months to persuade the Western media to take an interest in Ganji, a former Khomeinist revolutionary who is now campaigning for human rights and democracy [by the way, that sounds like another fairly dramatic "change" story, doesn't it?]. But we never got anywhere because of one small hitch: President Bush had spoken publicly in support of Ganji and called for his immediate release.

And that, as far as a good part of the Western media is concerned, amounts to a kiss of death. How could newspapers that portray Bush as the world's biggest "violator of human rights" endorse his call in favor of Ganji?

To overcome that difficulty, some of Ganji's friends had tried to persuade him to make a few anti-American, more specifically anti-Bush, pronouncements so that the Western media could adopt him as a "hero-martyr."... Would Ganji adopt [this] tactic in order to get media attention in the West? The answer came last January and it was a firm no.

The result was that Ganji, probably the most outspoken and courageous prisoner of conscience in the Islamic Republic today, became a non-person for the Western media. Even efforts by the group Reporters Without Frontiers, and the International Press Institute, among other organizations of journalists, failed to change attitudes towards Ganji.

Taheri was heartened when the Foreign Press Association decided to defy convention and to honor Ganji despite his refusal to denounce the evil Bush. But then, at the awards ceremony, Bianca Jagger turned out to be the speaker of the evening. And it was quite a speech she made:

She started by telling us about her recent trips to Tehran and Damascus, presumably the two capitals of human rights that she likes best, and how she had been told "by officials and others" that she and other Westerners had "no moral authority" to talk about human rights and freedom.

She then proceeded by saying it is all very well to remember Ganji but that should not prevent us from remembering "those held in Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib, and all other secret prisons" that the United States is supposed to be running all over the world.

The rest of the little speech had nothing to do with Ganji and everything to do with the claim that the United States is drawing an almost sadistic pleasure by practicing torture. I couldn't believe my ears.

There was this caricature of a "UNICEF ambassador" equating Ganji — a man who has fought only with his pen — with men captured armed in hand on the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq.

So what does this have to do with Ramsey Clark? Well, Taheri had the following post-speech exchange with Jagger:

Having swallowed my anger, I gave the "UNICEF Ambassador" a piece of my mind. She seemed surprised. No one had ever told her such things, especially not in a polite society of dinner jackets and long robes. "Is Ganji the same as the alleged terrorists in Guantanamo Bay?" I asked.

"Well, yes, I mean no, I mean yes," she mumbled. "But they are all prisoners, aren't they?"

They are all prisoners, aren't they? That's it; that's the key. In Jagger's eyes, all prisoners are the same: victims.

And I think that is also the key to Ramsey Clark: in his eyes, the role of prisoner trumps all others, and immediately makes a person a victim, and therefore a figure of pity. If you've read my piece on Clark, you know the rest.

[NOTE: And, in a possibly doomed effort to head some of you off at the pass, this does not mean that (a) I approve of torture; (b) I approve of the Abu Ghraib goings-on that fell short of torture; or (c) that I don't think Saddam should have a defense lawyer. It's just about two things: (1) the PC need to denounce Bush in order to get any human rights kudos; and (2) the mentality that automatically assumes all prisoners are victims.]


At 12:48 PM, December 12, 2005, Blogger goesh said...

Being thus exposed, let their own words work against them. Any thinking Liberal has to work hard and expend energy disconnecting from the likes of ramzi and bianca. Their bizarre conduct only drives people away from the Liberal camp come election(s) time.

At 2:02 PM, December 12, 2005, Blogger karrde said...

The kiss of death, eh?

I had heard that the Bush administration has also spent a good deal of time trying to get the government of Sudan to put an end to slavery and genocide (in the name of ethnic cleansing).

But I never hear about it...perhaps the Bush "kiss of death" is the reason why.

At 3:28 PM, December 12, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmm. Technically, all prisoners are victims, at least by definition. Their freedom has been taken away, whether for just or unjust reasons.

The problem is, once again, a perfectly binary all-black or all-white belief system, no different from the absolute evil and absolute good that the Roman Catholic church believed in throughout the middle ages. They see the world in terms of the all-benevolent, ever-suffering VICTIM that all people should aspire to be, and the evil barbaric insensitive OPRESSOR that ruins every utopian social theory it touches.

At 4:27 PM, December 12, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I may have cut my comment in half, but at least I didn't erase it entirely.

Anyhow, the left's problem is not so much in seeing both Iranian political prisoners and Guantonomo inmates as victims, but rather a much more pervasive and basic flaw. They beatify all victims, to the point where being victimized by someone - ANYONE - is their highest aspiration. You can see it in the way they try to one-up one another's victimhoods, how they commit supposedly "victimless" crimes like vandalism and harassment in the hope someone will smack them and allow them to claim sainted victimhood, how they bestow upon certain races and religions the hallowed status of "eternal victims" and react with the bitter rage of the spurned when any members of those races or religions decide to stop trumpeting their victimhood and start standing up for themselves.

Heck, you can even see it in their support of gun control. Why, imagine an entire SOCIETY where people can be victimized daily and never fight back effectively enough to be tainted by oppressing their assailants!

The cult of victimhood, mocked throughout the 80s and 90s, is now bearing its grotesque fruit.

At 4:53 PM, December 12, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are wise, although it's unfortunate, that you have to forestall accusations of approving of torture and all the other subject-changing nonsense lefties lay on those whose arguments are too much to handle in the adult way.

You've obviously had experience.

At 7:18 PM, December 12, 2005, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

People can't be prisoners when they are summarily executed. Maybe Jagger is trying to give Bush a hint, what say the rest?

If whoever Jagger supports gets executed, it might tend to stop "victims" wanting to be supported by such peeps.

In the end, if you increase the pot and the stakes, eventually people will either show their real cards or they will fold. Ganji shows his real cards because he knows that getting blacklisted by the aristocrats is a small price to pay to be supported by the Real Power of the US.

(a) I approve of torture; (b) I approve of the Abu Ghraib goings-on that fell short of torture; or (c) that I don't think Saddam should have a defense lawyer.

I approve of death, hanging, and a firing squad. None of this neat and sanitanized "lethal injections" that are more about putting animals compassionately to sleep than to kill breathing human beings.

Gitmo prisoners have been squeezed of all useful information, why have they not court martialed them under field conditions and executed them yet? It ain't like there aren't plenty of catch and release prisoners in Iraq to refill the cells.

So it might be useful to remind people that there are far worse creatures in the human race than Neo of the New England Apple.

And they forget human rights at their own peril. Every human has a right to self-determination, to determine by their actions and choices what their fates will be. Ganji would not imprison people because they spoke out against him, but he is nonetheless imprisoned by others who are bent on destroying his human rights.

And the Left, who are so busy removing human dignity and rights from the equation, can't bother with dealing with competitors.

They can't seem to understand the philosophical distinction between the consequences of the prisoner because of his decisions and consequences derived from the liberal Left's decisions. They always assume that they have power over others, so it is natural to them to think that the GitMo prisoners were controlled and made to do such horrible things.

These power freaks, these Hollywood ignoramuses who have never had a real job in their lives, must be removed from the equation, lest they destroy human rights to the last person.

At 10:08 PM, December 12, 2005, Blogger Harry Mallory said...

Ganji should start writing childrens books denouncing Bush. After "Tookie" Williams gets sent off to the great crack house in the big beyond, maybe one or two "activists" might spare some time for his cause.

At 4:03 PM, December 13, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about ( and RAMSEY? Great minds run in similar directions. Was your favorite comedy "Being There?"

At 5:33 PM, December 13, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, see, the thing is, if you listen to the prisoners, they all *say* they're victims....

My dad was an M.P. when he was in the army, and he said that what really surprised him at first--and that took him a while to get used to--was that without exception, all the prisoners he dealt with, no matter what their offenses or how solid the evidence was against them, *all* insisted until they were blue in the face that they were innocent. Even if the evidence against them was absolutely airtight, they would always come up with some incredibly long, involved and semi-plausible explanation as to why they weren't guilty, and were being treated completely unfairly. He said that in all his time there, there was *one* guy he thought might be telling the truth.

I've often suspected that a lack of understanding of this phenomenon by some on the left might be behind some of the attitudes that neoneo talks about here.

At 11:29 AM, December 14, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

excellent! Linked!

At 3:12 AM, December 15, 2005, Blogger Judith said...

colagirl, I have heard US prison guards and chaplains say the same thing.

At 9:09 AM, December 15, 2005, Blogger Judith said...

This story gets filed under the same heading as "why were no Iraqis speaking at any of the huge antiwar rallies of the past 3 years?"

3rd world people who don't have the right politics are just so inconvenient. . . . .

At 9:33 AM, December 15, 2005, Blogger Judith said...

Actually, this is all about narcissism. And the narcissism gets expressed as competition for victimhood.

But "progressive social activists" are involved in a personal drama between them as heroes and GWBush as the villain, and all these 3rd world oppressed peoples they claim to care so much about are in supporting roles.

Their job is to help Our Hero make Bush/the West/capitalism look bad. They are not supposed to go off script and have their own agenda. Because they aren't real people to the progressive activist, they are backdrops.

The irony is that these same activists get so indignant at the idea of "objectifying" people.


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