Float like a bee

Leo Caesius manages to combine detailed knowledge of the Middle East with a laudable willingness to tackle the taboo. So among his first posts are an etymology of the term “Sabaeans”, and a horrible frame-by-frame critique of the video that’s reportedly beaten Paris Hilton to the top of the Internet search stakes (adding weight to the theory that Something Fucking Strange may have gone on, although quite what is very unclear indeed).

Well worth a look.

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See title before last

Based on his photograph and his writing, TCS’s Lee Harris is a dangerous lunatic.

The linked article features the traditional Powellian rhetorical trick of superimposing one’s vile views on ‘the masses’ – “I’m much more civilised than that, of course, but *everyday people* hate the blacks and will probably murder them all if we don’t stop immigration”. Guess which ethnic group it’s applied to this time round? (clue – it’s the ones that we’re entitled to simultaneously invade, slaughter, and blame for their own plight).

It also features an impressively stupid sentence.

From the photographs of men and women jumping from the World Trade Center to the videotape of Nick Berg’s butchery, our enemy has flooded us with images that will haunt us all until our dying day.

Some Saudis blew up the WTC and the Pentagon. One Saudi cut off Nick Berg’s head. Many Iraqis have justifiably (if wrongly) killed the soldiers and mercenaries occupying their country.

To say “from x to z” when x and z are the only examples is a poor trick, and surely not one to which a conservative writer would stoop… so who is “our enemy”, and what else have they done? Answers appreciated [1].

[1] Remember: Bali and Madrid are not in America. Iran is not Arab.

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A thought

I would *happily volunteer* have my head cut off by Al-Qaida, if I believed the result would somehow be to deny George Bush another four years in power.

Obviously I’d prefer to see his head cut off off, ideally after some kind of Charles I-esque trial, but nonetheless…

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Conservative stupidity (reprise)

In this post, Glenn Reynolds links to a blogger named Jeff Quinton, who’s spotted that his blog has seen a huge amount of extra traffic in the aftermath of the Nick Berg decapitation, and that nearly all of the hits are from people Googling for phrases like ‘nick berg decapitation’.

Mr Reynolds believes that because the hit spike has come from this, rather than ‘Abu Ghraib prison scandal’, the American public care about some random nutcases cutting a peace campaigner’s head off far more than they care about the institutionalised vileness that appears to run through the heart of their armed forces – and therefore, that the media is liberal and rubbish.

If his first assertion were correct, then it would be a very good argument in favour of the American press. If people are genuinely too stupid to understand why Mr Berg’s death is sad and evil but inconsequential, whereas the Abu Ghraib abuse is bad and evil and very consequential, then they really *need* the media to show them that the opposite is true.

However, the conclusion is way off. For a start, Mr Reynolds appears to misread Mr Quinton’s post as claiming that the phrases are *the top* Internet search phrases. Certainly the otherwise excellent Natalie Solent reads Mr Reynolds this way, and goes on to claim stuff about The World that’s almost certainly untrue.

Whether or not Mr Reynolds is mistaken, all concerned (even Andrew Sullivan, strangely enough) are suffering from a deeply overinflated sense of self-importance.

The reason their traffic (and mine) has rocketed on Nick Berg-related search terms is that there is a video of the bloke having his head cut off on the Internet – and the number of people weird enough in the head to want to watch a secret snuff movie that you can’t get anywhere else dramatically outweighs the number of people who normally read political blogs.

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Hang Ashcroft

I’ve long been a keen advocate of the procedure outlined in the title of this post.

However, I’ve somehow managed to miss the slime-feeding pigfucker’s [1] latest outrage – the decision to prosecute Greenpeace for being a criminal organisation, under an obscure 19th century law designed to deter corrupt prostitutes from kidnapping sailors.

Whatever you think of Greenpeace (I’m sceptical of many of their campaigns, they unequivocally made things worse for the environment with their lobbying on the Brent Spar case, and opponents of nuclear power are doing almost as much to harm the environment as cigar-chewing Texan oilmen…), this is an outrage.

Speaking of US Justice Department outrages, how’s about using fingerprint identification alone to find someone and hold them indefinitely as a ‘terrorist’? That’s *using a national fingerprint database*, not checking the fingerprints of suspects. With 1 in 2.5 million accuracy, there are 100 other people in the US who it also could be.

But it’s OK – we know this one can’t be a false positive, because the guy’s a Muslim and has already spoken out against the internment of terrorist suspects. Remember kids – if you’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to fear.

(latter story via Made Out Of People, itself via Crooked Timber)

[1] John Ashcroft frequently brings out my inner Hunter S Thompson…

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India’s corrupt sectarian rabble-rousers appear to have lost the election to India’s corrupt secular non-rabble-rousers.

This is an improvement.

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My milk snake brings all the boys to the yard.

And damn right, it’s better than yours.

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The death of American civilian Nick Berg (who actually was a civilian, not a mercenary) in Iraq at the hands of decapitating lunatics is sad.

It doesn’t, however, matter in the slightest in wider terms – and the commentators using it as a counterexample to the prison brutality in Abu Ghraib are incredibly wrong.

Of course the decapitating lunatics will murder civilians: that’s what they’re there for. The US Army, however, is not. The fact that American soldiers don’t (so far) appear to have recorded videos of themselves *murdering* prisoners is not something to feel terribly proud about.

It’s as if I were to try and justify the worst excesses of the British empire by using the vilest actions of anti-colonialists. In other words, offensive to all concerned, and an extraordinarily stupid thing to try and do.

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