Wednesday, May 10, 2006

KURDS AND COCKTAIL JOURNALISM


"If you were to ask me if I'd ever had the bad luck to miss my daily cocktail, I'd have to say that I doubt it; where certain things are concerned, I plan ahead." ~ Luis Bunuel.


Sometimes a headline can tell you everything you need to know about an article without having to wade through the bilge, or in this case, the agitprop, that follows, usually written by someone called "journalist," who knows absolutely nothing about the subject upon which he or she chooses to educate the rest of us.

The article I refer to is from an unknown little news site called The Brooklyn Rail, and it's being carried on KurdishMedia, although I really don't know why this trash is being carried on KM without a rebuttal or without a posting of the fact that the trash in question appears to have been written by one of those on the Lunatic Fringe. This Lunatic Fringer goes by the name of Ryan Grim.

As the story appears, old Ryan got curious because the American media rarely reports anything about Kurdistan. They never report on Turkey's little Kurdish "problem," the one Turkey has had for 80-odd years. Nor do they report on Iran's little Kurdish "problem," the one that not even so-called Iranian progressives will talk about because, if they ever do get up the gumption to overthrow and slaughter the mullahs, they intend to treat Kurds no better than the mullahs do . . . or the Shah did, for that matter. Nor does the American media report about the Kurds of Syria, still suffering under Saddam's ideological brothers in Damascus.

South Kurdistan, the part occupied by Iraq, makes it into the American media for two purposes. The first is to support the Bush administration's decision to go to war. The second is to criticize the Bush administration's decision to go to war. It's never really about Kurds and it's never really about questions of justice or injustice; it's really only about America.

Ryan's little piece is no different. Check out the title: Bush's Hopes in the Hands of Gangsters--A dispatch from Kurdistan. In a little flash of deja vu, from another Lunatic Fringer--Justin Raimundo--America is told that Kurds are gangsters. Not only are Kurds gangsters, but they are the gangsters that will make all of Dubya's hopes and dreams come true. That's hilarious because I can recall the fit that Michael Rubin had late last summer, in which he made a 180-degree turn and began criticizing Kurds for not towing the administration's line, for not being team-players, you might say, or for not being good party members. It was good for Rubin's administration of choice when the Southern Kurds were restive against Saddam, but when they continued to act in Kurdish self-interest, in spite of America, then they became intolerable.

Ryan Grim is doing the very same thing by using Kurds against the Bush administration. Take a look at what old Ryan claims he found out about South Kurdistan:


What I found was not a newly free and democratic region, but a locked-down, corrupt police state run by gangsters with militias who took power following the Kurdish uprising in ’91. And these thugs—Bush’s democratic darlings—may be on the brink of tearing the country apart, and with it the dream of a stable Republic of Iraq.



A "stable Republic of Iraq" is whose dream?

Even old Ryan is no different than Michael Rubin or Dubya. He is an ardent supporter of a unified, stable Iraq, something Kurdish threatens, according to Ryan, Rubin and Dubya. It will be people like Ryan who will be the first ones to support death camps for Kurds because it was people like Ryan who supported mass graves and the use of chemical weapons against Kurds. After all, Kurds are "thugs" and "gangsters," so they deserve death camps and nerve agent.

South Kurdistan is a police state, all right, and the proof of this is the fact that Ryan's interpreter had a Kurdish version of a warrant out on him for "suspicious" parking. Suspicious parking? Give me a break! And this was in Hewlêr! If anyone's ever been to Hewlêr and has seen and experienced parking in Hewlêr, you'd be handing out tickets too. When a driver in Hewlêr returns to his badly parked car and sees a ticket on the windshield, what is the usual procedure? Flip the ticket out from under the windshield wiper, look at it, mumble something, wad it up, throw it away and drive off. No problem! I have news for Ryan: In a real police state, like the US, if you did something like that with your parking ticket, you'd get another ticket for littering.

Ryan expresses some concern about the fact that pêşmerge guard South Kurdistan's borders pretty hypocritical, given that Americans are so hypersensitive about their own borders, especially with Mexico. His claim that he had to register with South Kurdistanî police is irrelevant. He told the Turks that he was a journalist (possibly one of the dumbest things anyone could do), and he must have done the same thing in South Kurdistan. Like all other journalists in Kurdistan, he'd have to get press credentials or only end up talking to the ordinary folk, the kind he wouldn't be caught dead hanging out with in New York at cocktail hour.

Did our intrepid reporter--who really went to Kurdistan because he didn't have the proper male anatomy to qualify for a trip to Baghdad--tell us anything about the recent student protest in Koya? Or about the protest in Helebce? Or about the PÇDK protest in Silêmanî? Did he bother to find out about what is going on with building new infrastructure for water or electricity? Did he bother to find out why gasoline prices have skyrocketed in the last few months? Did he bother to find out what the "locked-down, corrupt police state run by gangsters" was doing about all these matters? Of course not, because this isn't about Kurds and it isn't about corruption. It's only about America.

You can bet that when Kurds begin protesting government and party corruption in earnest, or if the neighbors begin carving up South Kurdistan to add it to the parts of Kurdistan that were aportioned to them by the West, Ryan Grim and the cocktail crowd at The Brooklyn Rail will be far from the action.

There is a reference to a Knight-Ridder report, too. That is a blast from the Rastî past, and it's something to remember. Ryan Grim and Justin Raimundo both reference a news outlet that has proven itself to be firmly anti-Kurd. Coincidence? Not on your life.

I have one piece of advice for anyone who is going to get information from the Internet. Always check the "About" page, if a website has one, because it can be a useful open source for information for whom is writing what and why. The Brooklyn Rail's "About" page turns out to be a very fruitful source, if you're not nauseated by the time you finish reading. Clearly, this source is perfectly in-sync with "PR-driven journalism" because it is "PR-driven journalism," hence my characterization of its "gangster" article as agitprop. In spite of the claim that The Brooklyn Rail has no agenda, The Brooklyn Rail clearly has an agenda. If they were honest about it, they'd admit it. Continue reading at that page and pay attention to all the self-congratulatory, elitist back-slapping going on.

Naturally, the back-slapping is never so extreme as to cause one of these intellectuals to spill even a molecule of their cocktails.

10 comments:

kn said...

There will be no carving of Northern Iraq by Turkey or Iran. It appears the current leadership in America needs to use stronger language with these two states because they continue to undermine stability in the region.

Anonymous said...

Great article. Kurdmedia tends to post this negative crap, because they are highly critical of the KRG.

kn said...

Sorry for the broken link, Mizgîn. Here is a workable link.

PHILIP said...

I hear Ryan Grim is inviting a new guest to his cocktail hour...STEPH!

arcan_dohuk said...

hey phil are you going to pay MEIC 12 dollars to become a member?

Mizgîn said...

Of course I agree, KN, that the US could and should use stronger language against Turkey and Iran but, at least in the case of Turkey, the US should have been using stronger language and taking stronger measures against them years ago. It would have helped if they had not become so intimately involved with setting up the Ozel Timler as well. But everyone stood back and did nothing as Turkey invaded N. Cyprus, so if Turkey makes a grab for South Kurdistan's oil fields, we have a pretty good idea of what the reaction of the US and others will be.

I would hope that if such a thing happened, the Turks would never have any rest. On the contrary, I would hope that such an action would spur a united Kurdish uprising against the Turkish state. Now anyone with a brain can see that 200,000 to 300,000 Turkish troops deployed to fight 5,000 Kurdish gerîlas (oh, that's Turkey's figure, by the way) which they claim are in South Kurdistan is totally absurd. That amount of troops is double what the US has in Iraq right now, so don't let anyone be foolish enough to think that I believe this is about PKK. It is about Turkey doing a N. Cyprus on Kurdistan.

As far as Iran goes, they are not likely to listen to anyone and the US is not likely to be able to do anything about it. This means that I am in complete support of all of PJAK's operations, from armed resistance to calls for civil disobedience. The fact that Iran has been bombing South Kurdistan means that Iran has committed an act of war (aka stepping on one's own gonads in public), and I believe that this is why they are claiming that the US was collaborating with PKK. IN addition, Iran managed to bomb a bunch of civilians. The nature of gerîla warfare is such that gerîlas can pick up and go on a moment's notice. Villagers can't do that. So Iran really f***ed up and I'd love to see a few daisy cutters dropped on some of their civilian targets as a little bit of payback.

If Turkey really wants to invade, they'll need the same treatment.

Anonymous, I think KM is critical of more than just the KRG. I have no problem with criticizing the KRG. Criticism of corruption is legitimate and so is criticism of repression, but I really have a BIG problem when the criticism is solely for the purpose of furthering someone else's political interests, interests which are totally divorced from the Kurdish situation. People who make those kinds of criticisms do not give one damn about Kurds. They don't give a damn that Kurdish children are held in remand custody in adult prisons in Amed; they don't give a damn that there is no free press in Kurdistan; they don't give a damn that women in Helebce have a dozen miscarriages, one after the other; they don't give a damn that Kurdish boys are flogged to death by the mullahs for eating during Ramadan; they don't give a damn that a Kurdish shêx is murdered by Damascus for speaking for Kurdish rights.

To carry this particular type of article without a rebuttal does absolutely nothing for Kurds as a whole, as far as I'm concerned.

Philip, you just made me flash on Jean Paul Sartre's No Exit, giving it an entirely new spin. What you refer to would be the cocktail party from hell--literally.

philip said...

Mizgin, i wasted several minutes of my life reading that RAIL self-profile...gaaaagggghhh, it gives new meaning to the terms "self-congratulatory" and "self-absorbed."

But don't feel too bad, Mizgin, I bet your blog has 5X as many readers as the "Brooklyn Rail," hehehehe.

philip said...

Oh, Arcan, yes I DID pay my subscription price, I just hope it weeds out the you-know-who's...;- )

Ryan said...

A quick response: You're absolutely correct that my article was more about America than it was about Kurds or Kurdistan. I'll also concede that name-calling like gangster was unnecessary. But the point that Southern Kurdistan is not the democracy Bush claims it is still stands.

You're also right that one reason I went to Kurdistan and not Baghdad is because I didn't want to get killed. Call that cowardice if you want.

One place you're wrong: I have no wish to see a unified Republic of Iraq. My point is that such a vision is Bush's dream, and he relied on the Kurds to help him achieve it, even though the Kurds do not share that dream. For myself, I agree with Peter Galbraith that the Kurds already are--and should continue to be--independent.

Also, I don't live either in Brooklyn or anywhere in New York, and have never been to a cocktail party there. But if it makes your argument against me better to say so, feel free. I don't see the point of that, though.

Ryan said...

A quick response: You're absolutely correct that my article was more about America than it was about Kurds or Kurdistan. I'll also concede that name-calling like gangster was unnecessary. But the point that Southern Kurdistan is not the democracy Bush claims it is still stands.

You're also right that one reason I went to Kurdistan and not Baghdad is because I didn't want to get killed. Call that cowardice if you want.

One place you're wrong: I have no wish to see a unified Republic of Iraq. My point is that such a vision is Bush's dream, and he relied on the Kurds to help him achieve it, even though the Kurds do not share that dream. For myself, I agree with Peter Galbraith that the Kurds already are--and should continue to be--independent.

Also, I don't live either in Brooklyn or anywhere in New York, and have never been to a cocktail party there. But if it makes your argument against me better to say so, feel free. I don't see the point of that, though.