Onward Christian Soldier! Nothing Sells Like Crusade

The following speech act represents very well what counts for cool in the USA today:

“To The People Of Islam:
Just think: If we’d invaded your countries, killed your leaders and converted you to Christianity
YOU’D ALL BE OPENING CHRISTMAS PRESENTS RIGHT ABOUT NOW!
Merry Christmas”
Pasted from the Ann Coulter Homepage
anncoulter.com
Dec. 30, 2004

NOTE: Will the State Dept. consider this “inciting.” Designate anncoulter.com a terrorist org. Will Fox, etal. refuse to broadcast her opinions via satellite. Or will the double standard apply: Crusade sells, jihad incites. (No question marks needed for rhetorical questions.) –gm

More Research on Al-Manar

From a European reader who wishes to remain anonymous:

Just spent a few boring hours going through the forum of the newspaper “Le Monde” to figure out what was the fuss about Al-Manar TV, not pretty reading, it seems like the anti-anti-Israel is really gaining ground, but anti-Israel (or anti-Zionism or plain anti-colonialism) are also closing the gap on the cultural (or for the believer racial) issue, finally claiming their Semitic identity.

Seems that the protocol of Zion are the problem indeed (since it is forbidden to publish them /sell them and read them it is difficult to figure out if they are only ridiculous or actually a problem) but one book should definitely be taken out and burnt: “The old testament” inciting hatred against most of the non-Jewish middle east, including, in the children book version against Egyptian, etc…… and promoting genocide (of the Amalek), philistines (a minister of the church reminded us that they still exist today and are called Palestinians!).

Other interesting facts collected reading “Le Monde”: 3 separate incident of anti-Jewish acts actually proven not to have been such, first one arson of a Jewish centre for which some Arab kids were actually sent to prison was in fact a accidental fire (caused with cigarettes by the security guard), the infamous non Jewish girl, not attacked by anti-Semite and lastly another arson of a Jewish building committed by a (Jewish) employee, but initially blamed by the entire political class and Israeli establishment, proof that Jews are not safe in France (who is safe or not safe anywhere?).

Occasionally “Le Monde” will remind us that most anti-Muslim act (including police brutality versus teen-ager and act committed by Jewish “terrorist” organization BETAR) are not worth publishing because they are too common, maybe one remembers in “tolerant” Holland the murder of a Muslim family (children rescued by a neighbour) by another nice European. Guess Michael Neumann published a few articles in Counterpunch along that line.

Normally I suspect that censorship is stupid and counterproductive but coupled with the right type of propaganda it is really frightening. I remember last year, the censorship of Al- Jazeera (still not allowed in Irak) and taking down Yellowtimes.org for showing pictures of dead Irakis and a link to Al- Jazeera to get more information. And more recently taking down Indymedia (not very clear where it came from and why exactly).

Sad thing is most are not even aware of the existence of Al-Manar TV and they just have in the periphery of their mind the idea that it is a terrorist organization successfully brought down by joint US_FRANCE operation, for others at least we can ask question about what is going on and may be why some people in Lebanon do not have our vision of Israel/garden of Eden, we can even wonder why exactly we have this ridiculous crusade against Islam (in the name of feminism???) we might even try to discover what Islam is about and why not that there are plenty of other religions practiced on this planet (the one with the Christmas tree, by the way, is definitely not christian) including centuries old Chinese atheism!

Happy New Year

PS: Sorry I could not resist writing all this after reading your second piece on the subject!

Ramsey Muniz Speaks: X-Mas vs. the Power Fools

By Greg Moses

Texas Civil Rights Review

Winter takes the color away, but people put up lights. In my own cul de sac of the global village, the light show this year is fantastic. We have colors like I’ve never seen, electric deer that raise their lit-up heads, candy canes, icicles, y mas santas. At night the frozen ground glows in magical grace. With hope, we have electrified a dying world.

Where does this spirit come from? If you think it comes from Jesus, I get it. If you prefer a pagan yule tide, I get that, too. My own favorite story for this season of lights belongs to Africa, where the Nile River once rose and fell. By x-mas time each year, the water had fallen low, but the low ebb of the river was matched by the high hope of Horus, the baby born of Holy Mother Isis and Green God Osiris, each and every December 25.

Whether the water is low or the snow is high, x-mas in El Norte finds us asking metaphysical questions. Will we believe in the returns of Spring? Stake our cheer on nothing but the future? Or feed our fear on everything we see around us?

For Ramsey Muniz on x-mas, it is neither low water nor high snow. For Ramsey, and so many with him, it is thick walls that must be hoped through. If he had to do it all over again, says Ramsey in an interview with Rolando Garza, he’d rather not run for Governor of Texas. He’d rather serve as minister of cultura for his beloved party, La Raza Unida.

Cultura. Familia. And most important, says Ramsey, is Love.

“Let us celebrate the birth of this historic spiritual man whose destiny was to change the entire world,” writes Ramsey from Leavenworth prison. The email comes from his esposa, Irma. “It is not about a white Christmas. It is about accepting the truth of faith, charity, love, forgiveness, and spirituality. We are in the midst of a world spiritual evolution and those who open their hearts with patience and understanding will witness the resurrection of spiritual power which is greater than any other power in the world.”

Although he says nothing directly about her in this message, Ramsey’s voice reminds me who else is looking out. The Lady of Guadalupe, her resplendent image watching from the East. She is mother to all the children of Aztlan, and it would take a soul made from dry husk not to thank her that you live at this glowing cul de sac while Ramsey Muniz is locked up in Leavenworth.

If the best things come from prison, as Ramsey says, then in what way do the best things exist and why do the power-fools of this earth lock the best things away? In solitary confinement, Ramsey encountered a vision of Ricardo Flores Magón, and, having nothing more urgent at hand, they talked. Was it the same cell where Magon had been beaten to death in 1922, four years into his fourth imprisonment? Magon had coined the slogan, “Land and Liberty.” In his journal, Regeneration, he reminded Mechika readers that “emancipation of the workers must be the work of the workers themselves.”

At the Irish anarchist website, struggle, they say “No Gods, No Masters.” If you think the spirit belongs to this slogan, I get that, too. On x-mas day, the point is never to be caught without the spirit that takes you through the low water times.

Rule by Double Standard?: Readers Reply

Ordonnance du juge des référés et communiqué de presse du 13 décembre 2004. Président du Conseil supérieur de l’audiovisuel. La société Eutelsat sommée de faire cesser la diffusion de la chaîne de télévision Al Manar sous 48 heures.

-My reading of this is that Al Manar was indeed peddling hate and is therefore guilty as charged. There are plenty of noble causes to be defended without anybody wasting much time on these people!

-I recall the time when Salman Rushdie published his hate-filled inflammatory book about Islam, how the entire West was sermonising the Muslims on the great virtues of free speech and tolerance. I don’t know why those damn Iranian Mullas had to issue a fatwa; the CIA doesn’t issue fatwas before they act.

We were told that you can’t have laws which protect you from being offended. The only problem we are clearly facing now is, that you can call the Muslims: terrorists, murderers, fascists, thugs, etc., but you just can’t use any of those words to describe the Jews, because we are told that would be anti-semitic.

Silencing a newsnetwork is like murder, because you silence the voices. Al Manar was in fact murdered in “remove your headscarf, girl” France and “freedom-loving” U.S. My Canadian friend while decrying the fact that an Arab would avenge the assassination of Sheikh Yasin in faraway Montreal, conveniently forgets that the Israeli Government and Sharon have openly declared that they have a right to strike anywhere in the world to protect Jews.

-There is absolutely no link between the murder of Theo Van Gogh and the French court decision, or indeed, for that matter, between Van Gogh and ANYTHING else! All this talk about the Van Gogh murder having had an effect in Europe is crap which I have found to my amazement in some US websites and I can only assume that it is neocon war propaganda designed to hoodwink Americans into believing that there is a wave of anti-Muslim feeling sweeping Europe and to conceal the fact (which some mainstream US media outlets are starting to notice) that hostility to Bush’s war is massive over here (opposition running at 75 – 85%!). Clearly, making Europeans hate Muslims would be very convenient, but it isn’t happening!

….Having been a spindoctor myself, my best guess is that some neocon source fed disinformation to a few pliable outlets, who put it out, and now the whole pack is just repeating each other….

Last point: One of the little oddities of this is that the right foot doesn’t seem to know what the even more right foot is doing! One part of the neocon propaganda machine is proclaiming that Islam is incompatible with Western (sic!) civilization and that Europe’s Muslims are at war with their fellow citizens, while another is trying to force the (largely hostile!) EU to admit Turkey and, indeed force the (moderately Islamist) Turkish government to pursue an application it said it was against during the election campaign! They can’t have it both ways! If the Van Gogh spin is true, then Turkey should not be admitted to the EU and if Turkey should be admitted to the EU, then the Van Gogh story is a lie!

-Did I gather correctly from the article that public speech which might incite terrorism is illegal according to the Patriot Act?

It occurred to me that if speech _and_ actions which incite terrorism are illegal under that act then the Federal Government’s terrorism inciting wars in the Near East must also be illegal. Seems like an open and shut case…

-I too live in Canada and I regard the laws against disseminating “hateful” opinions as dangerous infringements of the right of free _expression. The thick end of this sort of wedge can be seen in the attack on Fallujah’s hospital as a source of “incitement.” The ridiculous conditions of the CRTC designed to keep Al Jazeera off Canada’s satellite and cable TV choices and so on…Only a few days ago a trade unionist was imprisoned in Jordan for explaining to a public meeting the role of the United States in his country. His crime: “incitement.” In truth these laws are designed to appease unthinking ‘liberals’ while immensely gratifying those who believe that all dissenting opinion is dangerous. There is not the slightest attempt to pretend that balance is aimed at: is it not incitement to post large signs outside Community Centres proclaiming that Palestine belongs to the club members forever? It makes my blood boil but I grit my teeth and walk by. The wonder is not that there are attacks on targets openly identifying with Israel but that there are so very few of them. One thing is certain if the _expression of opinion becomes dangerous those who hew to “unlawful” opinions will engage in propaganda involving deeds.

It is no accident that the dangers of abridging freedom of speech are well understood in the South where, it might be argued, Israel went to find much of its current policy towards Arabs and some of its ideology too. But not even Mississippi ever thought of Jim Crow roads bypassing Arab villages and reserved for the herrenvolk.

When No Law Means No Law: Al-Manar Revisited

CounterPunch

The following Q&A with CounterPunch readers (who are opinionated and engaging readers) leads to two conclusions: (1) the State Department’s letter of justification for adding Al-Manar to the Terrorist Exclusion List (TEL) should be immediately de-classified and published in the Federal Register; (2) the Patriot Act should be amended to require the de-classification and publication of all reasons for TEL designations that are based on public acts of speech.

Question: Is there some reason why your article entitled “The New Zeus on the Block” on counterpunch.org contained every relevant fact about the issue surrounding Al-Manar, with the exception of the actual content that is responsible for banning the network? Clearly the freedom of speech does not protect one’s right to disseminate lies and propaganda?

Answer: The answer is classified. According to the Patriot Act, the State Dept. is required to distribute a “classified” letter of justification one week prior to designating a group as a “terrorist organization.” Then, on the day that the designation takes effect, a notice appears in the Federal Register. The Dec. 17 notice in the Federal Register about Al-Manar doesn’t (and doesn’t have to) set forth any of the “classified” reasons. We’ll get back to the USA directly, but first a word about France.

The French ruling on Al-Manar is interesting, because it comes through an administrative court known as Council of State. Reports about the Council’s ruling on Al-Manar focus on the following incident in which a commentator reportedly purveyed Zionist conspiracy theories: “The commentator, who was defined as an expert on the ‘Zionist entity’, described at length how Israel has been trying to spread dangerous diseases, including AIDS, in the Arab world.”

So far, I have not seen very much information about the French court’s proceedings or about the legal traditions that inform French law. For instance, what if I further explore on this page the pros and cons of the Al-Manar commentary about the spread of AIDS? Could this page be banned in France? Or, what is being talked about when the commentator speaks about a Zionist entity? Is this how Al-Manar refers to the state of Israel? Under French law can states claim protection against defamation? There is a lot I don’t know about French law.

Returning to principles of the First Amendment in the USA, I happen to believe that a world without Zionist conspiracy theories would be a better world. But a world where Zionist conspiracy theorists are suppressed by state agents for “inciting terror” is a chilling one. As reported in the media so far, Constitutional justifications for restricting Al-Manar’s freedom of speech have yet to be publicly set forth. If the State Dept. is acting in a Constitutional manner, I would expect stringent standards regarding speech that “incites”.

The Al-Manar ruling appears to designate a “terrorist organization” based solely on public acts of speech. As far as I know, this is new.

In neither the State Dept. briefing of Dec. 17, nor in news reports about the terrorist designation in the USA, were examples of content given that would qualify for “inciting terrorism.” As for what the First Amendment protects, indeed lies and propaganda are broadly tolerated, unless they libel or incite. As far as I know, “libel” does not pertain to states. As for “incite,” the ghost of Abbie Hoffman is here to warn you, that’s a very serious word.

Until a fuller account is given for the Al-Manar designation, we have good reasons to be seriously concerned, because the treatment of Al-Manar is a very practical test of the rights to free speech that will be respected under the jurisdiction of the USA. The First Amendment bans administrative censorship of speech carried out under laws made by Congress: “Congress shall make no law.” If the Al-Manar ruling is to be defended as a justifiable exception to First Amendment protections, the burden of proof must be quite tall. And given the legal precedents that may be set by the Al-Manar example, I believe citizens of the USA are entitled to the gravest procedural courtesies. Instead, I perceive more power, more arrogance, and more state control operating under cover of “anti-terrorism” legislation.

While I may ring with the popular chime that state intelligence about certain acts of terrorism has some basis to be counted as “classified” (for purpose of protecting sources, etc) what can be the basis for classifying “acts of speech” that have been previously broadcast? What possible sources could the State Department be protecting? The Al-Manar file should be immediately de-classified and published in the Federal Register.

In addition, the case of Al-Manar indicates that the Patriot Act should be amended. Whenever a terrorist designation is made on the basis of public acts of speech, the State Department should be compelled to divulge its evidence.

CounterPunch reader writes back: I live in Canada where thankfully they are not carrying this satellite station, and we have quite stringent hate-crime laws which I feel comfortable would keep this garbage off our televisions. I do not disagree with you when you state that using terrorism legislation to punish this broadcaster is not the most logical way to do it, because technically this is not terrorism in and of itself, although I can see how it could very easily incite terrorist actions. If you would like an example I will point out to you the recent arson attack in Montreal Quebec; an 18 year old Montreal man of Arab origin set fire to a Jewish Day School and Library. He left a note at the scene claiming that the attack on the school was punishment for Israel’s assasination of Sheik Yassin. Clearly this is terrorism, and it is almost certainly incited by one-sided news reports from channels such as Al-Manar. Channels that deliberately refuse to show that there are two sides to a conflict and depict only one villain.

What I’m curious to know however, is how you can criticize a government for doing everything it can to get this poison off the airwaves. Freedom to express one’s opinion is one thing, but the lies this station spreads to further it’s political objectives are dangerous. They are not lies which espouse political action, but rather racial hatred. In your article you discussed the removal of the television station and the reasons why it was wrong, but you never discussed the reasons why the station was pulled and whether they had merit. I didn’t find it a very balanced report.

And I Reply That: Regarding structures of law that discourage hate speech or war propaganda, I am ready to listen. But this is not the same thing as asking a state (or an empire for that matter) to do everything in its power. As Mary Ratcliff has pointed out in a Dec. 15 post at The American Street, the Bush administration is using the charge of “propaganda” to prosecute some parties, while it openly organizes “propaganda” campaigns at home and abroad. Based on what I know so far, it appears to me, and to the next CounterPunch reader, that the Al-Manar ruling exhibits a blatant double standard for what counts in the Bush adminsitration as “inciting” and what does not:

Another Reader Writes: Started reading your great piece on Al-Manar and it reminds me of the same BS that the Govt used for deporting formerly Cat Stevens and the so called charity group! Notice, if it’s white, right wing who baits people to do their dirty work as Mr. Byrd, Matthew Shepard, Dr. Slepian et al who cares?! Actually am sure the Triumpherate in the White House and their foot soldiers are celebrating as in a touchdown!?

YOUR articles are for contemplating and learning too!!

Reply: Dear Reader, I love the way you spell Triumpherate. Indeed who or what can this White House not conquer once it sets out? As you suggest, it might even have effects against racism, homophobia, or misogyny in America if it took such things to be any of its business. Now, returning to the example of terrorist crime and the things that incite it:

PS: In a freebie web offering at Stratfor.Com, George Friedman says in a Nov. 17 webinar that Europe has been traumatized by the Amsterdam street killing of filmmaker Theo Van Gogh (great grand nephew to the painter). The killing has been attributed to a man dressed in a traditional Moroccan jalaba, who was allegedly motivated to retaliate against the filmmaker’s work on violence against women in Islamic societies. The example sounds like the one given by my Canadian correspondent above, with important differences. In the Canadian example, we have terrorism that kills anonymous members of a perceived enemy population in retaliation for state actions. In the Amsterdam example, the retaliation is directed against a specific person for acts of expression.

The killing of Van Gogh, says Friedman, has provoked in European civil society a more sympathetic (or less hostile) attitude toward Bush’s war on terrorism. This climate may have something to do with the timing of the French ruling against Al-Manar. If events are linked in this way, then a killing that retaliates against expression is answered by collective, state censorship. The chill we feel in the aftermath of Van Gogh’s murder is answered by the power to chill.

In the Canadian example, my correspondent says that representations of the Israeli assassination of Sheikh Yassin incited the terror, not the assassination itself. It was probably one-sided news reports about the killing, not the killing itself, that incited the terrorist response, says the reader. Therefore, we should shut down the alleged sources of one-sided news reports. This is another discussion altogether. What seems clear however is that nobody has asserted a carefully traced link between Al-Manar’s reporting and some specific act of terror.

My Canadian correspondent has led me to sources that say Al-Manar has broadcast programming based upon the infamous Protocols of Zion. On this point, I take at face value claims that assert the Protocols to be anti-semitic. What’s decisive, however, is that the number one Google source for the Protocols is listed at an Australian domain known as biblebelievers. Again, if anyone has ideas about how to lawfully reduce anti-semitic expression, I’m listening. But if anti-semitic expression is enough to make one guilty of inciting terrorism, then we have quite a legal reformation ahead of us. If there is to be such a legal reformation in the West, then I say let the biblebelievers go first.

Meanwhile, says Friedman, French President Jacques Chirac, for one, wants to restore a working relationship with Bush during the second term, because there are things Bush can give him, such as trade concessions and support in West Africa.

I take note of Friedman’s claims as I think about the synchronized timing of French and American responses to Al-Manar. But I also consider that something profound is taking shape in the nexis of profit and power that involves communication companies such as France Telecom, Eutelsat, and Intelsat, who have been sublimely compliant. Thinking about transatlantic satellites is like thinking about opium in Afghanistan, or oil in Iraq. State power never overlooks such things. As Alex Jones has helpfully noted in his daily news clips this week, there was a French spy satellite launched over the weekend. “Helios 2A is said to be able to spot objects as small as a textbook anywhere on Earth. Its infrared sensors will allow France’s military to gather information at night from space for the first time.” Did the Bush team need some snapshots? Inquiring minds have a right to ask.

Finally, it must be said. The hammer came down on Al-Manar on the Friday before Christmas week. This ensures that nobody but receptionists will be working full time for many weeks to come.

And this just in: CounterPunch reader asks, “Time to dust off the shortwave radios?”