A community of NPR critics monitoring NPR for its corporatist, Pentagon friendly, pro-US foreign policy coverage of the news.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Why I Didn't Send Scott Simon a Valentine

Wow...the power to post on the front page! That's awesome! With it comes some responsibility, I suppose. I must train myself to refrain from referring to Scott Simon as a "moist flushable wipe." That's gonna be hard, but I can do it!

My antithapy to the well-liked Simon demands some explanation. I liked Simon well enough until the unilateral invasion of Afghanistan when he spoke and wrote in support of the so-called "war on terror." Simon wrote an op-ed for the October 11, 2001 WSJ titled, "Even Pacifists Must Support This War" whose tone was condescending towards people who didn't see the wisdom of unilateral pre-emptive invasion and occupation of a sovereign country. In the first paragraph he likens the anti-war protesters who were clogging streets of major cities around the world as "a Halloween parade."

After more confused and "holier-than-thou-because-thou-art-too-holy" polemics, SS determines that
The war against terrorism does not shove American power into places where it has no place. It calls on America's military strength in a global crisis in which peaceful solutions are not apparent.
Here he implicitly endorses a pivotal flaw in his argument: that a "war on terror" fought with military might makes any sense in the first place. (See Lakoff on this.)

I don't know if SS is a deliberate shill for the war machine, or if he actually believes his own drivel. He seems to actually believe it - but how convenient to believe such nonsense when it allows you to collect a giant salary for very little effort (I'd guess he shows up in the studio maybe 40 days of the year.) If he is a true believer, then he is a useful idiot for military/industrial/bankster complex who have profited hugely from the invasion/occupation.

Howard Zinn responded to SS's nonsense in December of 2001, saying of Simon
He tried to use the pacifist acceptance of self-defense, which approves a focused resistance to an immediate attacker, to justify this war, which he claims is "self-defense." But the term "self-defense" does not apply when you drop bombs all over a country and kill lots of people other than your attacker. And it doesn't apply when there is no likelihood that it will achieve its desired end.
No duh, huh? No wonder the folks at NPR were sore enough with Zinn to invite Horowitz to opine at his NPR obit.

What makes it all the worse is that these "just war" zealots never really bother to examine their cause in any detail. Where is SS's response to bogus phone calls that Ted Olson has claimed to have received? Simon lumps questions about 911 together with believing in Martians questioning the moon landing. It's this sort of intellectual dishonesty that makes me loathe Scott (MFW) Simon (oh, damn, I'm trying to resist it, I really am!) - whether he is a true believer (useful idiot) or not.


Afterthought 1: Helena Cobban wrote more considerately about Scott Simon in in The Friends Journal a few years ago. She labels him aptly as a Liberal Hawk, but says,
Of course, we should not engage with these former liberal hawks in any kind of a gloating way that says, "Ha! We were right and you were wrong." Instead, we could simply invite them to join with us in reflecting more deeply on what went wrong with the project to improve Iraqis’ lives through the application of military force, and to entertain the idea that now and in the future, when we are concerned about harms suffered by vulnerable others in distant places around the world, there are ways for our country to respond that would be a lot more effective than the use of military action—even if this action is dressed up in the fine (though very misleading) words "humanitarian intervention." We need to strengthen our country’s commitment to the UN and the essentially egalitarian principles it embodies. We need to work hard to develop the capacities of all nations—including our own—in nonviolent conflict resolution and the nonviolent prevention of future wars. And we all need to work much harder than we have thus far to build the kind of equitable world order that is needed to enable all of God’s children to flourish, in whichever part of the globe they’re born.
Fair enough. Though the UN doesn't seem to have redeemed itself well in places like Haiti and Liberia. And God ain't my daddy.


Afterthought #2:

larry, dfh said...
I realized that the purpose of these npr shows, and the sleepy, reassuring voices of the hosts, is in fact to make us feel secure, and not ripped off.
Yeah Scott Simon as much as says this in the third of the video clips posted here.
The distribution system is going to change [..] and people are not going to put up with the relation they used to have with the media [..] what we're hoping to do is to use whatever [trust] we have to [..] amuse, provide company for people in the lonely hours of the night, be with people during times of national tragedy, pass along a joke.
Notably absent from his list are the hopes to
  • investigate
  • report the truth

Afterthought #3 (yes, I am a ponderous fellow)

I may be faulted for describing the invasion of Afghanistan as unilateral and preemptive. See The Myth of Preemptive Self Defense for a more accurate accounting of this:
Both the United States and the United Kingdom notified the United Nations Security Council that Enduring Freedom was an exercise of individual and collective
self-defense in compliance with the terms of United Nations Charter Article 51, which permits the use of force in self-defense against an armed attack.
The article continues to observe how this was a slippery slope that led to the unilateral and preemptive invasion and occupation of Iraq. Certainly, if it proves true (and there is significant unexplored evidence to support the contention) that 911 was a false flag operation of some sort, that would tend to undermine the legality of the invasion...to put it mildly.

In 2008, a top UK judge observed that
If I am right that the invasion of Iraq by the US, the UK, and some other states was unauthorised by the security council there was, of course, a serious violation of international law and the rule of law.

For the effect of acting unilaterally was to undermine the foundation on which the post-1945 consensus had been constructed: the prohibition of force (save in self-defence, or perhaps, to avert an impending humanitarian catastrophe) unless formally authorised by the nations of the world empowered to make collective decisions in the security council ...

But then the niceties of the rule of law have been rendered quaint by the war-criminal Bush regime.


Miranda said...

Excellent, auspicious debut, gdoggy. Wonderful to see the Team site up and running, and with this powerful post.

Mytwords said...

Nice opening post!
I'm glad to see the recap of SS's mawkish/hawkish blessing for the endless war. Gad, what a failure of imagination and compassion...alas.