June 24, 2012

The Times, They Ain't a-Changing: Why the N.Y. Times Is No Longer a Real Newspaper

Hatched by Dafydd

At some point in the distant past, I'm sure the New York Times must have rightly been considered a real newspaper, if not a great one. It still brags of being "America's newspaper of record," serving up "all the news that's fit to print," according to their pompous and self-delusional motto.

But the rag long ago ceased even to pretend to objectivity or journalistic integrity; over the decades, it twisted itself into nought but a mouthpiece megaphone for millionaire liberals, retweeting any cockamamie policy pronunciamento issuing from the current leaders of the Democratic Party. (Which, for many years now, has generally been the most ideologically radical-Left branch of that party.)

The Times has become Garrett Morris on the old Saturday Night Live, cupping his hands and bellowing -- for the supposed benefit of hearing-impaired viewers -- "OUR TOP STORY TONIGHT...!"

But what could have happened to bring that East-Coast bundle of pulp paper and squid ink to such a sorry state? Here, Exhibit A: The Times' fawning, hagiographic "report" on the ascension of Islamist Mohamed Morsi, long the number-two policy maker in the Muslim Brotherhood, to the presidency of Egypt. The article spans three screens of webness -- yet never once gets around to analyzing what the Brotherhood is and what sort of government it demands.

Readers know they're in trouble from the very first words of this piece of -- of journalistic malpractice:

Egypt’s military rulers on Sunday officially recognized Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood as the winner of Egypt’s first competitive presidential election, handing the Islamists both a symbolic triumph and a potent weapon in their struggle for power against the country’s senior generals.

Mr. Morsi, 60, an American-trained engineer and a former Egyptian lawmaker, is the first Islamist elected as head of an Arab state. But 16 months after the military took over at the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak, Mr. Morsi’s victory is an ambiguous milestone in Egypt’s promised transition to democracy.

Why an "ambiguous" milestone? Is the Times going to tell us that Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood support and abet terrorist bombings in order to bring about a radical-Islamist theocracy, as in Iran? That it calls for a Sharia-based theocracy to rule Egypt? That is has threatened to renege on the Camp David Accords, which ended (everyone thought) the multidecadal war between Egypt and Israel? No; the Times has in mind a very different impediment to true democracy:

After a week of doubts, delays and fears of a coup since a public ballot count showed Mr. Morsi ahead, the generals have showed a measure of respect for some core elements of electoral democracy -- they have accepted a political opponent over their ally, former Gen. Ahmed Shafik, after a vote that international monitors said was credible.

Boiled down, the editors and writers at the Times were terrified that those rightwing generals would snuff out the flame of freedom being unleashed by the radical Islamists in the Muslim Brotherhood. But the military failed to attempt the expected coup d'état... what a relief! Now we'll have heaven on Earth in the Middle East!

This paragraph sets the tone for the rest of the article, casting Mohamed Morsi in the role of William Wallace from Mel Gibson's Braveheart, revolting against a brutal military dictatorship, yet demanding only freedom, civil liberties, and the impartial rule of law. The generals who have ruled Egypt since former president and dictator Hosni Mubarik was ousted are the bad guys, you see -- which of course they are. But, reasons the Times (though I use "reasoned" advisedly), if the generals are bad guys, then surely their enemies, the Muslim Brothers, must be the good guys! Why, they can't both be bad guys; that wouldn't make sense.

That is, it wouldn't make sense to an adolescent mind simmered in the witches brew of pop-culture dualism, which fairly describes the typical New-York liberal: Bad guys are opposed by good guys; it follows that the enemy of my enemy must be my brother... or in this case, my Muslim Brother.

Throughout the piece, Morsi and the top ranks of the Jamʿiyyat al-Ikhwan al-Muslimin (a.k.a., the Muslim Brotherhood), including Morsi's mentor, Khairat el-Shater, are invariably referred to as leaders, democratically elected, discriminated against, yearning only for the freedom to practice their own religion; while those who oppose the Ikhwan, theocracy, radical Islamism, honor killings, and the like receive instead epithets such as rulers, dictators, and strongmen. The Ikhwan are portrayed like unto the patriotic, colonial American Congress, struggling against the wicked and arbitrary dictatorship of King George III; this election is the Nile equivalent of the American Revolutionary War; and Morsi is George Washington.

The reality is more ambiguous and shady and far less black and white.

(When liberals rail against the "black and white thinking" of the Right, they are projecting their own foibles upon their disputants. The Right, not the Left, is better able to distinguish shades of gray and even color, rather than see a stark contrast between good and evil -- the "1% vs. the 99%," for one glaring and very current example.)

Flushed down the memory hole is the inconvenient truth that the Ikhwan was founded in 1928 as a fascist militant organization fighting against British rule of Egypt; since then, it has frequently denounced in words, yet equally frequently embraced in deeds, terrorism, authoritarianism, perpetual and unnecessary war, endless assassinations, extortion, bribery, and brutal, Quran-based totalitarianism. It has also spawned many murderous terrorist offshoots (spiritually, politically, or both), including Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and al-Qaeda. Bin Laden complained that the Ikhwan's principles were sound, but they weren't ruthless enough in execution.

Typically, angry and aggrieved Moslems join the Ikhwan, become thoroughly radicalized and Islamisized, then become impatient and found their own, more violent organizations; Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda's former Number Two and now likely the spiritual leader (and still at large), exemplifies this pattern.

The Wikipedia article on the MB is somewhat tepid, attempting to be non-judgmental; but even so, it cannot help but note a few facts that seem to have flown below the New York Times' radar:

The Brotherhood's credo was and is, "God is our objective; the Quran is our law, the Prophet is our leader; Jihad is our way; and death for the sake of God is the highest of our aspirations." The Brotherhood's English language website describes the "principles of the Muslim Brotherhood" as including firstly the introduction of the Islamic Shari`ah as "the basis controlling the affairs of state and society;" and secondly work to unify "Islamic countries and states, mainly among the Arab states, and liberating them from foreign imperialism".

Note that by "foreign imperialism," they do not merely mean occupation by other nations; they apply the same label to anyone, even a native, who is insufficiently radical in his Islamism, or who has too great a committment to true democracy, to individual liberty, to Capitalism, or to religious freedom. If the Ikhwan ever gets enough votes to fully control Egypt, look for that election to be the last they ever see, or at least the last free and fair election. Once the Muslim Brotherhood scales the heights, they'll pull the ladder up behind them.

They also fundamentally reject freedom of the press; the Ikhwan believe that the only rightly-guided purpose of the press is to indoctrinate all in the ways of the Quran and how to implement them in sharia law... a point the Times might consider and reconsider as it cheers on the Brotherhood's mounting success.

And of course, the Ikhwan also believes in dissembling about its real beliefs, like Yasser Arafat, the Brotherhood uses the hoary, old, but repeatedly effective PLO trick of disseminating an English-language version of its charter -- full of paeons to Western freedoms -- while keeping the true, Arabic-language version hidden away from Western eyes, and stuffed chock-a-block with repression, violence, hatred, racism, terrorism, and absolute intolerance.

Speaking of which, here is Muslim Brotherhood spokesman, Dr. Mohamed El-Sayed Habib, First Deputy of the Chairman of the Muslim Brotherhood, interviewed on Ikhwanweb, the official website of the Ikhwan; he enunciates the party line in the FAQ:

We believe that the political reform is the true and natural gateway for all other kinds of reform. We have announced our acceptance of democracy that acknowledges political pluralism, the peaceful rotation of power and the fact that the nation is the source of all powers. As we see it, political reform includes the termination of the state of emergency, restoring public freedoms, including the right to establish political parties, whatever their tendencies may be, and the freedom of the press, freedom of criticism and thought, freedom of peaceful demonstrations, freedom of assembly, etc.

How freedom-minded of them! But Habib continues in the same question:

It also includes the dismantling of all exceptional courts and the annulment of all exceptional laws, establishing the independence of the judiciary, enabling the judiciary to fully and truly supervise general elections so as to ensure that they authentically express people’s will, removing all obstacles that restrict the functioning of civil society organizations, etc.

Somehow that lofty pronouncement seems to be in a bit of tension with the Ikhwan's stated goal of enshrining Sharia law as "the basis controlling the affairs of state and society." That is to say, turning Egypt into a totalitarian theocracy run of, by, and for militant radical Islamists -- where everybody else is relegated to the second-class status of dhimmi; where women can be slain out of hand by their fathers or husbands for any insult to the family honor, real or imagined; where the charge of takfir (un-Moslem), true or false, opens the accused to penalties ranging from looting his assets to torture to slavery to summary execution by stoning; where infidels are without rights in their own lands -- and where "infidel" can mean little more than supporting a different sect of radical Islamism than the leaders support; and where one and only one religion is given dominion over the people -- certainly appears to be a prime example of "exceptional laws," and Sharia courts are hardly a bastion of an independent judiciary.

Yet the Times has discover none of this; or else, having discovered it, has quickly disowned it, blotted it out, as conflicting with the pre-cooked narrative, "the way things ought to be." They stubbornly persist in seeing the world through a prism of good liberals, such as Mohamed Morsi, Khairat el-Shater, and Dr. Habib, engaged in eternal struggle against wicked tyrants, bandits, fraudsters, "patriots," and religious fanatics -- such as Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI, 80%), the Koch brothers, and Soon-to-Be-President Mitt Romney.

It is for that utter blindness to any fact that fails to fit -- hence is not "fit to print" -- that thinking people on both Left and Right have abandoned the pinched and drained paper of Pinch Sulzberger. They are now demanding, typically from online news sources, something, anything, with more depth and breadth, sophisticated news analysis, and a relatively unbiased outlook than has been found in the Times for donkeys' years.

Something like, say, Highlights, or the Weekly Reader.

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 24, 2012, at the time of 9:48 PM


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