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International Watch - March 25, 2002 - The Ornery American


War Watch
First appeared in print in The Rhinoceros Times, Greensboro, NC
By Orson Scott Card March 25, 2002

Anti-Semitism? Nah ...

Shame on us. We made Sharon negotiate with Arafat again.

We know from past experience what negotiation with Arafat means. Since neither the American people nor the American press actually care what the resulting treaty terms might be, Arafat will be able to accuse the Israelis of violating the treaty, even when they haven't, while Arafat can freely violate it himself, without ever being called to account.

Then the American press can -- and will -- tell the American public that the Israelis are the treaty-breakers, the oppressors, because, after all, Arafat says so.

But what if, this time, Arafat really does keep the treaty?

No, let's not go into fantasy land. Let's just suppose that Arafat actually keeps the ceasefire -- that would be shocking enough.

If, during the negotiations, there are no suicide bombings or sniper attacks or riots by Palestinians, we will learn that Arafat could, in fact, control them all along.

That would mean that all the previous treaty and ceasefire violations happened because he wanted them to.

But if, as is more likely, the ceasefire is as meaningless as any other agreements Arafat makes, we will learn, once again, three things that we should have been smart enough to learn before:

1. Arafat does not have the power to control the terrorists and rioters on the West Bank and in Gaza, in which case what possible use is it to negotiate with him? Or,

2. Arafat does have the power to control the terrorists and rioters, but chooses not to, which means that he doesn't even bother to keep his word during negotiations -- in which case, what possible use is it to negotiate with him? And,

3. Americans seem not to learn these lessons about Arafat, because, after all, Arafat's murders are committed against Israelis, not Americans, and we Americans don't seem to care how many people die in other countries.

It's that last point that makes me most ashamed of my country.

Proud to be an American? Sure, I'm proud -- when America does things to be proud of.

But when Americans behave badly, then I'm ashamed. Why? Because it's my country, right or wrong, so when we do wrong, I have to take responsibility for our errors and name them for what they are so we have some chance of not committing them again.

What is our track record?

We stand by and watch genocidal attacks. Let Serbs slaughter Bosnians and Hutus slaughter Tutsis -- what is it to us? (It's a different story, of course, when a Left-wing president has a dress or an impeachment vote to keep out of the headlines.)

But let Israel take very narrowly targeted action against the organizations -- Al Fatah, Hizbollah, Islamic Jihad, and various others -- that are committed genocidal attacks against Jews -- and the American press is outraged beyond belief.

A recent cartoon in the News & Record showed Ariel Sharon saying, "The only <blank> Palestinian is a <blank> Palestinian. You fill in the blanks."

That cartoon was a flat-out lie.

It is a matter of fact, not opinion, that the Israeli government has never killed Palestinians just because they're Palestinians. No one has ever introduced a shred of credible evidence of such a policy or practice.

On the contrary, the Israelis match us -- or surpass us -- in carefully targeting only persons or specific locations believed to be involved in terrorist activity or military action against Israel.

On the contrary, it is Arafat and the Palestinian terror organizations that have an open policy that "The only good Jew is a dead Jew."

But the News & Record preferred to slander the only democracy in the Middle East, which for fifty years has been fighting for survival, by accusing Israel of the very crime that its enemies are committing against it.

It makes one wonder, doesn't it. Why does the News & Record, along with most of the American press, hate Israel and support the Palestinians in their relentless campaign of murder against Jews?

Is it ... could it be ... anti-semitism?

*

Actually, I think it isn't anti-semitism at all -- I think it's fuzzy-headed leftwing groupthink. But I deliberately raised the question, even though I don't believe it to be true, because that's what John Robinson of the News & Record thinks is an appropriate thing to do: level spurious accusations of bigotry in order to discredit an opponent.

I watched him do it.

The Greensboro library was holding a celebration of the round-robin story by Greensboro writers that the News & Record had published a few months before. I was disappointed to see that the only writer not present was Jerry Bledsoe.

So I publically expressed my wish that he had been in attendance. Only then did I discover that Bledsoe's segment of the story had not been published. (I had been away for much of the summer.)

In that meeting, John Robinson dared to claim that the News & Record refused to run Bledsoe's installment, not because it was a hilarious spoof of the News & Record's attempts to enforce politically correct groupthink on its staff, but rather because Bledsoe's installment contained "racially offensive" material.

This was so outrageously false that I interrupted him and refuted the charge on the spot. I would not allow such a slander to go unchallenged. Of course, readers of this paper have since had the chance to read Bledsoe's installment and can see for yourselves that there's nothing even remotely racist in the things he wrote.

And when Fred Chappell immediately backed me up on that point, Robinson backed down quickly, declaring that he "hadn't meant to imply" what he had plainly said.

Everyone in that room heard him charge Bledsoe with writing racially offensive material, and everyone in that room heard Robinson then deny that he had meant anything of the kind.

What did we learn? That our local paper is headed by a man who is eager to commit slander against anyone who opposes him, though he backs down quickly when face-to-face with people who can expose the lie.

So, in the spirit of John Robinson, let me now deny that I ever implied that the News & Record was anti-semitic. I just ... asked a simple question.

*

To understand what's going on with all the lies and slanted stories going around these days, to understand what's happened to the once-proud Democratic Party and the once-free American press, you need to read a book called The New Thought Police: Inside the Left's Assault on Free Speech and Free Minds.

This book is not by some right-winger. The author, Tammy Bruce, is a lesbian activist who until recently headed the Los Angeles chapter of NOW.

She hasn't changed any of her views. But among her views is a deep commitment to truth, fairness, freedom, and democracy.

That, of course, is enough to get her drummed out of the American Left.

Bruce is one of the few people on the Left who still believes that in a free country, every point of view should get a fair chance to be heard, and then the people should make up their minds.

The rest of the Left believes in or at least tolerates propaganda, borking, slanders, death threats, verbal terrorism, and any other technique that results, not in persuading the people that their opponents are wrong, but in silencing their opponents so that the people never get a fair choice at all.

If the war we're fighting abroad is a war for freedom, then let's make sure our own country returns to being a place where freedom of speech is valued more than political power, and where the thought police don't have the power to destroy people's lives.

*

One benefit of having John Robinson head up our local daily: We're learning how to read newspapers the way Iraqis and Libyans do, and Russians used to -- you have to read between the lines to find the truth.

Of course, I'm not accusing Robinson of anything. I'd never use guilt-by-association to smear somebody just because I disagree with him. That would be ... McCarthyism! That would be ... the way the News & Record operates!

Copyright © 2002 by Orson Scott Card.

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