not paul berman again!

LI has tried to bite our tongue about the recent rash of Paul Berman. Poison ivy I take, stoically, to be part of summer fun. You will never uproot all of it. But Paul Berman is a skin infection of a different kind. He's a fraud, in our eyes, and not something we want to encounter when turning on the radio. It is hard to write about the man calmly - and calmness is all when you want to stick the knife in deep. There’s nothing like a too eager assassin to muff the job. But since the World radio broadcast insisted on broadcasting an interview about his latest screed in the TNR, my patience is over.

Berman has accrued a lot of media capital over the years by being a conscience. A conscience is such a great thing to cast yourself as. Especially when you can be the conscience not of the powerful, not of the CEOs, not of the plutocracy, but the conscience of dissent - indeed, he's an old Dissenter dinosaur. Being the conscience of dissent means that you get to whack away at, say, the crimes of the Sandanistas as the Reagan administration arms narco thugs in Honduras. It means that you look out at the old and established mafia of CIA ties and Islamic fundamentalism that drove the cold war in the Middle East and you see - liberal softness for Islamic fundamentalism. A conscience means that you reprove unnamed liberals for beamingly looking on as Moslem fundies surgically remove clits, stone women, and generally tread on our freedom to mock, re the famous cartoons of Mohammed - in the age of Guantanamo, Falluja, and Grozney. The age, to put not too fine a point upon it, of Western countries killing lots and lots of Moslems. And Moslems killing not very many westerners. Liberals, as "Conscience" Berman notes with shock, have even dared to criticize heroic women, like Ayaan Hirsi Ali, while making poo-pooing sounds at the Bush administration for banning Tariq Ramadan from coming to the U.S. It is amazing what these non-freedom loving liberals will do – up to and including criticizing the U.S. from banning speech by Tariq Ramadan! Freedom of speech means denying freedom of speech for people who secretly don’t believe in freedom of speech. Don’t we all know this? We all know this at TNR. However, those not in that charmed circle of bile and bad faith can only look at these people with amazement.

The best summary of Paul Berman’s argument is here. (You'll have to scroll down several posts).
However, a recent news item from Iraq forcibly reminds us of what an absurd world this is, where arguments about freedom of speech mounted by warmongers who have not had one word to say about the increasing restrictions on freedom of speech in the West as they harp on freedom of speech issues in Islam-ia garner interviews on the World, while the real suppression of freedom of speech in the service of tyranny – occupation by a foreign power – doesn’t even elbow its way into, say, a decent position in the b section of the NYT. .

Mosul Mayor Sacked in Political Cartoon Fuss
Mayor Refused Demand He Close Newspaper that Printed Maliki-Rice Caricature
06/05/2007 6:24 PM ET
By Namir Huran
Mosul, June 5, (VOI)- Ninewa provincial council approved on Tuesday a decision to sack the mayor of Mosul city for not taking measures to close a newspaper that published a caricature picturing US Secrtetary of State Condoleezza Rice and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, a senior official in Ninewa province said.

"The Ninewa provincial council approved the decision to sack the Mayor of Mosul city, Aamer Jihad al-Jerjeri, as it found reasons to dismiss him," the Head of the council General Salem al-Hajj Iessa told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI).

"The decision was approved unanimously by the district local council," he noted.

A conflict erupted between the mayor and the head of the provincial council last year, when the latter issued a decision obligating the mayor to close "al-Mujtama a-Madani (The Civil Society)" newspaper after publishing a caricature of the U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice embracing Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, but the mayor refused to close it, saying it violates press freedom.

Mosul, a Sunni city, is 402 km north of the Iraqi capital Baghdad.