- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 23, 2003

Being pro-terror

#The philosopher Ted Honderich is a proud man of the left and formerly teacher at University College, London. He argues, however implausibly, that the wealth of the West has come at the actual expense of the developing world and that, consequently, the inhabitants of the developing world have a moral sanction for murdering the citizens of the West. At least that’s a reasonable interpretation of his recent book, “After The Terror.” This is, I think, the veiled message of the far leftanti-war fringe. Their only moralquibble with September 11 is that it wasn’t done in the name of global injustice, rather than in the name of fundamentalist theocracy. Three thousand murders would be payback if Osama bin Laden had just read his post-colonial texts. And then there’s this classic:”I myself have no serious doubt … that the Palestinians have exercised a moral right in their terrorism as certain as was the moral right, say, of the African people of South Africa against their white captors and the apartheid state. Those Palestinians who have resorted to necessary killing have been right to try to free their people, and those who have killed themselves in the cause of their people have indeed sanctified themselves. This seems to me a terrible truth, a truth that overcomes what we must remember about all terrorism, and also overcomes the thought of hideousness and monstrosity.”

The statement speaks for itself. But what strikes me is the use of the word “sanctified” by a leftist. Have some on the secular far left so fallen in love with Islamist terror that they are even beginning to convert to its extremist religious manifestations?

The Duranty Pulitzer

Not even the New York Times can defend the Stalinist propaganda written by its reporter Walter Duranty in the 1930s. Its appointed investigator delivered a brutal verdict on Mr. Duranty’s winning of the Pulitzer Prize two days ago: “They should take it away for the greater honor and glory of the New York Times. He really was kind of a disgrace in the history of The New York Times.”

But the Times has another view. Boththepublisher,Arthur Sulzberger Jr. and the new executive editor, Bill Keller, say that excising the Pulitzer would be a form of Stalinism in itself. Huh? Mr. Keller explained: “As someone who spent time in the Soviet Union while it still existed, the notion of airbrushing history kind of gives me the creeps.” But this is an absurd comparison. Soviet air-brushing of history was designed to eradicate any traces of the historical record in a totalitarian society. The facts and nature of Mr. Duranty’s reporting — and his winning of the Pulitzer — will never be disputed or undone in a free society. What the Pulitzer matter is about is the recognition of an egregious error and the attempt to wipe the Duranty stain off the Pulitzer name. It’s an act not of historical revisionism, but of symbolic renewal and maintenance of standards. The Pulitzer Prize should be revoked. The Times will be better for it. And history will remain intact.

The Rummy memo

It’s the most reassuring statement on the terror war I’ve yet read. The important thing about any administration in its third year is that it not be complacent, that it not be in denial, and that it ask tough questions of itself. Donald Rumsfeld sure is no Robert McNamara. And if I were a terrorist, I’d be alarmed at how earnest the U.S. government now is about tackling the threat. Of course, a MoDo column ridiculing this is now inevitable. Which is more indication that it’s an encouraging sign.

Quote of the week

“I just want to repeat something somebody said earlier, which I thought was brilliant, which is what they do in Hollywood is they soften up their subject like Ronald Reagan. They show some nice pictures. They say some nice things about them that they can’t deny saying nice about them. They do it to soften them up, and they’ll put the dagger in. And this is what they did in the movie “Nixon.” They softened him up in a sentimental way and then stuck the knife right in: he’s a drunk; he’s a bum; he’s a bad guy, a crook. That’s what they always do out there. There is a prejudice that they don’t know out there in Hollywood. And I think in this kind of case it’s too bad you can’t sue the bastards. Because what is happening here is clearly, these are late hits.” — Chris Matthews, Hardball, Oct. 21.

The notion that Ronald Reagan was homophobic — peddled in the biopic — is not substantiated by any historians or contemporary sources. As Martin Anderson said on the same show: “What Lou says is absolutely correct. I remember once in early 1980 on the campaign plane with [the] issue about what do we do about gay groups that want to see him and demanding things. And he sat us down and he said, ‘Now, look. First of all,’ he said, ‘I know a lot of gays. I was in Hollywood.’ And then he reminded us, ‘You know how many of them there are?’ And then he said, ‘Look, leave them alone.’ And that was his policy.”

Yes, President Reagan should have said more about AIDS. He shouldn’t be let off the hook. But to cast him as a homophobe lets real homophobes off the hook.

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