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Swanson: The Hard Bigotry of the New York Times

The Hard Bigotry of the New York Times

By David Swanson

A New York Times editorial on May 7th is titled "The Soft Bigotry of Iraq," and begins:

"Whether out of blind loyalty or blind denial, most Congressional Republicans are prepared to back up President Bush's veto of the Iraq spending bill."

Whether out of blind loyalty or blind denial or corrupt corporate interests, the New York Times pretends to be writing only about Republicans, while building into its editorial the assumption that the Democrats, too, must retreat in the face of a veto. The Democrats, as we all need to be constantly reminded, are in the majority, yet the Times' editorial arrives at this as its penultimate sentence:

"The final version of the spending bill should include explicit benchmarks and timetables for the Iraqis, even if Mr. Bush won't let Congress back them up with a clear timetable for America's withdrawal."

"Mr. Bush" won't LET Congress pass a bill demanded by the vast majority of Americans? Why, because he might veto it again? If he vetoes enough of these war spending bills, Americans will get what they wanted anyway: he'll have to end the war.

The New York Times clearly believes that Americans' attention spans have been reduced to zero, and that we can now forget things even while they are still happening. Bush just vetoed a bill because it included a meaningless non-binding request to end the war while leaving a huge military presence behind and stealing most of the oil. The bill was miles behind the public's demand for peace, but Bush vetoed it, and demanded a bill free of even the nonbinding request to end the war. Immediately, the chant arose from the media: Stand Up to Bush! Don't back down! Send him a bill with no request to end the war!

The criteria for "standing up" were instantly redefined to include "benchmarks", such as oil theft, but no "timeline" to end the war, only "timelines" that might be imposed on those insufferable Iraqis who are handling the occupation of their own country so poorly.

That's right, the way to stand up to Bush, and not back down, and be tough, and stand strong, is to impose demands on Bush's victims. Only in America…

The New York Times' editorial continues: "It is now essential that the revised version not back away from demanding that Iraq's prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, finally deliver on the crucial national reconciliation measures he has spent the last year dodging. And it must make clear that American support for his failures - and Mr. Bush's - is fast waning."

So, now, over four years into a criminal war supported by fewer that a quarter of Americans, Congress should pass LEGISLATION in order to communicate that Americans may soon cease supporting the failures of Nuri Kamal al-Maliki? I'd like to see a poll on what percentage of Americans even know who Nuri Kamal al-Maliki is. Then I'd like to see a poll on whether Americans would prefer for Congress to

A.-pass a bill to make clear that their support for Maliki's and Bush's failures is waning;
B.-pass a bill to cut off the money and end the war.

The New York Times goes on to claim that some even unlikelier beliefs are commonly held: "What Mr. Maliki needs to do to slow Iraq's bloodletting is no mystery. Iraq's security forces must stop siding with the Shiite militias. Iraq's oil revenue must be apportioned fairly. Anti-Baathist laws now used to deny Sunni Arabs employment and political opportunities must be rewritten to target only those responsible for the crimes of the Saddam Hussein era."

The bloodletting is generated first and foremost by the occupation of Maliki's country by a foreign army. Therefore, the first thing he needs to do is to demand that the occupiers leave. Rewriting the laws of a puppet government at this point is not going to restore order. And "oil revenue apportioned fairly" is code for giving Exxon Mobil and other U.S. and British corporations control over most of the oil. This has been explained in an op-ed printed by the New York Times in March:

It's explained well here as well:

But this recent article by the New York Times buried the lead at the bottom of the story:

The May 7th editorial then takes a turn into irony:

"Without these steps, Mr. Maliki and his allies cannot even minimally claim to be a real national government. With them, there is at least a chance that Iraqis can muster the strength to contain the chaos when, as is inevitable, American forces begin to leave."

A puppet government in an occupied land can only be legitimate if it obeys its master. True enough. But why must the New York Times agree so wholeheartedly with Fox News that Americans should only reduce the occupation after Iraqis have shown they can contain the insurgency? The Americans can't contain it. It's going from bad to worse. And were the occupation to go away, so would most of the insurgency. There must be some grim humor intended and secret laughter resulting from this policy of telling the Iraqi people that we will occupy them until their government has shown that it can contain the resistance to our occupation after the occupation is gone.

Then the New York Times goes after Bush for not demanding more of his victims:

"Mr. Bush acknowledges that these benchmarks are important. Yet he refuses to insist, or let Congress insist, that Baghdad achieve them or face real consequences. Each time Baghdad fails a test, Mr. Bush lowers his requirements and postpones his target dates - the kind of destructive denial Mr. Bush called, in another context, the soft bigotry of low expectations. Consider the Baghdad security drive. Last week, The Washington Post reported that Mr. Maliki's office had helped instigate the firing of senior Iraqi security officers who moved aggressively against a powerful Shiite militia. After betting so many American lives, the combat readiness of the United States Army and his own remaining credibility on this bloody push to secure the capital, it is a mystery why Mr. Bush would allow the Iraqi leader to undermine it."

So, even while we pretend that the Iraqis have their own government, Bush is understood to be responsible for what that government does or does not do. Thus we can stand up to Bush by criticizing dark-skinned Arab-speaking Muslims, and avoid the whole unpleasantness of ending the war.

"Then," the New York Times continues, "there is the endless soap opera that is one day supposed to produce a fair share-out of Iraqi oil revenues. The Bush administration prematurely popped champagne corks in February when Mr. Maliki's cabinet agreed on a preliminary draft. Now, in May, there is no share-out, no legislation and even the preliminary agreement is starting to unravel. The leading Sunni Arab party in Mr. Maliki's cabinet is now threatening to withdraw its ministers, declaring that it has 'lost hope' that the Iraqi leader will deal seriously with Sunni concerns."

"Share-out" is a stock market term meaning "hand over the damn oil." The adjective "fair" in this instance is used to mean "handed over primarily to white English-speaking Christians."

There is nothing "soft" about the bigotry that allows the belief that Iraqis cannot best run their own country and manage their own resources.

The Times' editorial concludes: "Mr. Bush, by contrast, sees 'signs of hope' in the Baghdad security situation, urges Americans to give his failed policies more time and seems offended that Congress wants to impose accountability on Baghdad and the White House. The final version of the spending bill should include explicit benchmarks and timetables for the Iraqis, even if Mr. Bush won't let Congress back them up with a clear timetable for America's withdrawal. If Mr. Maliki and Mr. Bush still don't get it, Congress will have to enact new means of enforcement, and back that up with a veto-proof majority."

Again, this is not true. If Congress passes only bills to end the war, and no bills providing new money to extend it, the war will eventually end (following the illegal use of other funds, impeachment, and removal from office) whether the bill is signed or not.


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