Front page

Are you afraid of the dark?

(Click to invert colors, weenie.) (Requires JavaScript.)

All email will be assumed to be for publication unless otherwise requested.

What's in the banner?

Thursday, March 06, 2003

The Lillis of the Field

A good example of what I mean by childish European anti-American views are the comments by "Lilli" in this post on A Small Victory.

It's not the point that you've waited for 12 years to take the weapons away, the USA gave Saddam years before, (or what do you think where he got the anthrax and all the other stuff from?).

The point is that it's not up to the US to decide. You can't run around and hit people you don't like (For however good reason you might have), just because you're the strongest guy on the schoolyard. If you do you are not the slightest way better than any other second-hand-rambo you prevent to want to fight.

Personally, I wish, the troops would have finished their work 12 years ago and I see no reason why the whole world should suffer now for a wrong decision from 12 years before. Okay - the USA feels threatened. But why do they so? Because they are blamed for everything bad on the world, started by Bill Gates and ended with the weather and the ocone-problem. They have of course their share on it, as any other industrial country has, but there are surely not the only reason for all evil on earth.

As isn't Islam! Islamic extremists are totally dangerous - no doubt. But so are christian extremists, too, all you have to think about is the crusades. If the US wants to go after Saddam for "personal" reasons, they should call them so. They will do it anyway, whatever the UN says and whatever other countries say, but they should be honest about all the reasons, which is what I miss.

From here I see the people in the US being manipulated on a very high level, and for me, when someone tries to manipulate me into something, I get at least a bit careful if there might be other reasons than I am told How about you?

And also:


1) The Bill Gates and weather was ironic. Sorry it didn't come over, I'll try harder next time.

2) I assume we are being manipulated, too. No question, but so are the US citizens. And I don't buy that all the US folks are following it - there are enough who protest. There seem to be many...Here [in wherever she is] is hardly somene to find who would support Bush, even my parents who are really conservative (I always thought they inventet the word), don't like what he's doing.

3) Kamil jr.: [another commenter] You ask who is manipulating you? Ah - that's an easy one - the same people who are telling you, that Saddam himself or at least someone he personally instructed(attention - irony alert) was flying the planes. It was your government who didn't stop setting a connection betweeen 9-11 and Saddam. Here in our papers this is called one of the greatest manipulations ever happened.

4) mj [another commenter] wants to be safe - I guess you'd have to nuke the rest of the world before you could feel safe (aren't the most US citizens killed by other US citizens? So youmight nuke anyone else, too). And no - I don't count the pope into my "extremist christian" league.

I've inserted paragraphs in her comments, which aren't in the originals. She says in the second comment that she was joking about "Bill Gates and the weather" in the first comment, which I guess is clear in retrospect. But her hysterical assertions and sloppy reasoning obscure that.

There are many things to argue with here, but in particular I take issue with this part, from the second comment:

It was your government who didn't stop setting a connection betweeen 9-11 and Saddam. Here in our papers this is called one of the greatest manipulations ever happened.

I asked, in the comments, if anyone had heard that. I remember that Czech intelligence had been following an Iraqi diplomat, and reported after 9/11 that he had met with Mohammed Atta. The CIA wasn't buying it, and later the Czechs said they had been mistaken (although it's my recollection that some factions of the Czech government maintain it was true).

[Here is a FAQ on the subject, by Richard M. Smith, who as far as I know is just some random guy. I wouldn't ordinarily cite such a thing, but it mostly jibes with my recollections (I didn't hear some of the wilder rumors), it seems pretty dispassionate, and he has linked cites (although by this time link rot has claimed three of them).]

Ryan Waxx replied, again in Michele's comments:

The basis of the "americans being manipulated" charge is two-fold:

First, the Czech meeting is not only portrayed as an outright lie, its portrayed as an AMERCIAN one.

Second, there was a poll that claimed to have 'proven' that pro-war people were ignorant. One of the questions asked the responsandants if they believed one or more of the 9/11 hijackers was Iraqi. More pro-war people believed this than anti-war people did.

Of course, the idea that people believe what they want to, never occured to the people using this poll (or more likely, it did and they took advantage).

Lillie said "It was your government who didn't stop setting a connection betweeen 9-11 and Saddam." But it is very clear that the government did stop setting such a connection, last spring. I don't debate these things with people in real life, so I don't really know what people think. I do know that I have not seen that meeting mentioned in a government news conference for a very long time; I don't remember hearing Bush allude to it all. I've not seen it mentioned in pro-war editorials and comments for a long time.

Even at the time, I didn't give much credence to it. There was always the chance for error, and there may have been other explanations. But I don't know what other people, who are not newspaper or TV or blog pundits, think about it. Since I barely remember it, didn't think it very significant, and have heard little about it for almost a year, I assume other people discount it too; but that might not be true.

The poll Ryan mentions is here, by the way. There are no links to individual polls; this is the fifth from the top, "Knight Ridder poll conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates. Jan. 3-6, 2003".

I happened to stumble onto the web page of an acquaintance, and saw this poll used to support this very view: that government propaganda had convinced Americans that Saddam was involved with 9/11. He was very heated about it. I was quite disappointed, because it ruined my respect for this person's reasoning processes. (So disappointed that real-world consequences ensued.) And according to Lilli, the European press believes this too.

Lilli has her own blog. In this post she giggles that she just couldn't resist trying to get us stupid Yankees to think:

And again I just couldn't resist to comment this stuff. I know, I should know better than to expect anything but unreflected flame, but somehow I still hope to help at least the one or the other start thinking. Of course, I'm not in possession of the ultimate truth about Saddam and Iraq, but I know when someone tries to sell me foul eggs for good ones. And the US try to sell these foul eggs at the moment. I don't like too much conspiration stuff, but we can't run from the now dead communist-bashing to Islam-bashing, just because little Georgie needs an enemy. This is really way too silly!

...little Georgie needs an enemy...

Now that's an informed and thoughtful viewpoint on the war.

I wanted to comment on this, but her comments section only allows 400 characters per comment. (By comparison, her short post there was 596 characters.) So it's hardly worth the effort.

I wanted to know what "manipulated" meant. Ryan answered in his comment on Michele's site, but here Lilli has her own answer:

And there are really people who ask what I mean with manipulation? Well, this is part of what I call so. Why would a station have someone speak the translation with an arab-accent? Because of Pawlow. I'd bet people worldwide (not only in the US) have become so much aware of dangers when they hear someone speak with an arab accent, this alone is enough to make anyone feeling uncomfortable.

Again, I include myself here. At our big Roses-Monday Parade (over 1.000.000 people come to cologne and have Carnival - Mardi Gras seemsto be similar) I was really aware the two dark skinned tourists next to me who were speaking with something I thought sounding like Arab or so. (By my luck they were Danes or Portugese, and it was me, being silly). But well, I saw them and what was my association? Terrorists, of course. And I'd bet most of the americans would have the same one.

So maybe this accent of Saddam was just to prevent that people find him nice and fun or so. But who would at all? By all pro or anti war stuff, I don't think there are many countries in the world who would really grieve if he would disappear from the surface today for ever. So what was this for?

[Again, paragraphs inserted for readability.]

The article she links states than an actor faked an Arab accent for Saddam's voice in the translation of his interview with Dan Rather. While this is kind of strange, I don't really understand why she thinks this is "manipulative". Oh, that's wrong, I do see---she says it right there. Americans are going to hear an Arab accent and think EVIL! EVIL! EVIL!

Sorry. I've heard so many accents from native Arab speakers that I would have a hard time telling you that it was an "Arab" accent (there isn't just one, you know).

If I were to give it much thought, I'd say that CBS assumed that their audience was so dim they wouldn't be able to distinguish Rather's questions from Saddam's answers unless they gave Saddam an accent. Either that, or they just have a knee-jerk foreigner=accent attitude, as in old var movies vere ze Chermans alvays haf Cherman accents even zo zere are only Chermans in ze pikcha.

(Also, if they'd used an actual Arab translator's voice, he might well have had an Arab accent. Would that have been manipulative too? My X-Files theory gains in credibility.)

Lilli believes that Americans are being manipulated into war, so she automatically assumes that using a fake accent is a means toward that end. This, you'll recall, would have to mean that CBS is actually pro-war, and that Rather's softball questions were meant to make Saddam look bad.

Lilli's comments about her reaction to the tourists at the Carnival would seem to indicate that she's a giddy thing who can't see a dark-skinned person without thinking, "Terrorist!", if only for a minute---and she thinks that Americans must be just like that too.

Perhaps it's unfair to use Lilli as an example of European opinion. She claims not to speak for all Europeans, which is good. But I'm afraid her dizzy, thoughtless tone echoes what we've been hearing from the "European street" lately. Ils ne sont pas sérieux. (For the voice of the "European elite", see the Regis Debray article.)

UPDATE: Charles Rangel [D-NY] was on O'Reilly a bit ago. He said that Bush had said Saddam had something to do with 9/11. O'Reilly objected, and Rangel "clarified" that Bush said that his job was to protect the American people, and that he wasn't going to let something like 9/11 happen again. Which, if you have all the brains of toast, is clearly saying that Saddam was behind 9/11. When they put the transcript up, I'll link to it.