Over at Salon today, Glenn Greenwald has posted a terrific, take no prisoners rebuttal (more a demolition) to an article published in the NY Times about how the citizens of Pakistan harbor dark and paranoiac thoughts about the United States, and of course, Israel (and India). It’s a well-established fact that some absolutely insane conspiracy theories are widely believed by the Arab man in the street. Even elite media types—people who travel a lot for work—fall prey to and propagate such memes—like the long discredited anti-Semitic text Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which was made into a TV mini-series in Egypt. Yes, it’s safe to conclude that utterly false, and quite unhelpful conspiracy theories about the USA are common currency in the Arab world… but… but what about the batshit crazy stuff Americans believe about the Middle East, Islam and Arabs?
Initially, it’s worth asking how these “conspiracy theories” compare to this: from the front page of The New York Times, September 8, 2002:
More than a decade after Saddam Hussein agreed to give up weapons of mass destruction, Iraq has stepped up its quest for nuclear weapons and has embarked on a worldwide hunt for materials to make an atomic bomb, Bush administration officials said today. . . . In the last 14 months, Iraq has sought to buy thousands of specially designed aluminum tubes, which American officials believe were intended as components of centrifuges to enrich uranium. . . . An Iraqi defector said Mr. Hussein had also heightened his efforts to develop new types of chemical weapons. An Iraqi opposition leader also gave American officials a paper from Iranian intelligence indicating that Mr. Hussein has authorized regional commanders to use chemical and biological weapons to put down any Shiite Muslim resistance that might occur if the United States attacks.
He goes on to give example after example of mind-numbing misstatements of fact, fear of the other—and just plain awful reporting—all courtesy of America’s chattering classes, i.e. the folks who are supposed to be better informed than the public, the media elites.
It’s not hard to conclude that there are extreme misconceptions on both sides of the equation. If you watch, say, Al Jazeera in English (which is all we really have access to) it’s a pretty measured news organization, much more BBC than Fox News, that’s for sure. But look at our media here and the flouting of woefully misinformed—just fucking stupid—people like Sarah Palin as opinion makers. There was an article I came across just today about how the CIA was planning to make a phonied up video of Saddam Hussein screwing a little boy (before abandoning the idea because they realized it wouldn’t have the same taboo shock value over there as it would here!). I mean, this is the shit the CIA admits to! Is there any wonder at why the average Pakistani citizen would feel that the United States is the Great Satan and not trust us?
Paranoia? Or rational fear?
I highly suggest reading Glenn Greenwald’s entire piece, this is just a teaser for it.
Those irrational, misled, conspiratorial Muslims (Salon)
In conclusion, here’s a lovely bit of homegrown convoluted thinking… the maker of this video actually seems to believe in his heart that this man is a liberal plant at a Tea party! The Democrats sent him! Blame Obama! (To be clear, the guy is right to fuck with the idiot, but to call him a Democrat plant is quite a leap, I think you’ll agree! Can’t just be a conservative idiot, can he, he’s got to be a liberal plant? Or ACORN! WTF?)