Monday, September 27, 2010

Fisk on Fisking

Fisking is an internet term for a "point-by-point debunking of lies and/or idiocies", which is not necessarily fun to read. It started when Robert Fisk wrote the following lines about a beating
If I was an Afghan refugee in Kila Abdullah, I would have done just what they did. I would have attacked Robert Fisk. Or any other Westerner I could find

Apparently, the reporter was setting himself up for a different kind of bruising. In the blogosphere, Fisk's article was widely mocked for its mawkishness. The Ur-fisking below is blogger Andrew Sullivan's takedown of Robert Fisk's page one account of being attacked by Afghans. Sullivan's fisking was nearly a fisting, some bloggers observed, before promptly imitating the tiresome style. Geekish wingnuts soon became particularly prone to the pastime of fisking, and it's the usual modus operandi of the text-scourers who run the so-called Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA).

Here's Sullivan, back in 2001 when he was also penning loveletters to "Rummy", the reprehensible Donald Rumsfeld.

THE PATHOLOGY OF ROBERT FISK: His account of his ordeal at the hands of an Afghan mob – a mob that apparently cried “Infidel!” as they attacked and tried to rob him – is a classic piece of leftist pathology. You have to read it to believe it. Even when people are trying to murder Fisk, he adamantly refuses to see them as morally culpable or even responsible. I’ve heard of self-hatred but this is ridiculous: “They started by shaking hands. We said, 'Salaam aleikum' – peace be upon you – then the first pebbles flew past my face." That sentence alone deserves to go down as one of the defining quotes of the idiotic left. If it weren't so tragic, it would be downright hilarious. Who needs Evelyn Waugh when you have this?

"I WOULD HAVE DONE THE SAME": But wait, there's more. "A small boy tried to grab my bag. Then another. Then someone punched me in the back. Then young men broke my glasses, began smashing stones into my face and head. I couldn't see for the blood pouring down my forehead and swamping my eyes. And even then, I understood. I couldn't blame them for what they were doing. In fact, if I were the Afghan refugees of Kila Abdullah, close to the Afghan-Pakistan border, I would have done just the same to Robert Fisk. Or any other Westerner I could find.” What does this mean, you might well ask? What it means is that someone – anyone – is either innocent or guilty purely by racial or cultural association. An average Westerner is to be taken as an emblem of an entire culture and treated as such. Any random Westerner will do. Individual notions of responsibility or morality are banished, as one group is labeled blameless and another irredeemably malign. There’s a word for this: it’s racism. And like many other members of the far left, Fisk is himself a proud racist, someone who believes that the color of a person’s skin condemns him automatically and justifies violence against him. So the two extremes touch and are, in fact, interchangeable. Rightist racism springs from the premise that some races are somehow morally superior. Leftist racism springs from the premise that some races are also morally superior. The only difference is the color of skin. Alleged “victimization” sanctifies any evil perpetrated by the oppressed race. Just as the Nazis and Communists claimed self-defense for the mass-murder of their “oppressors,” so some modern leftists claim the absolution of self-defense even for a mob attacking a carful of innocent, harmless journalists. Or a sky-scraper for that matter.

THE VICTIM OF THE WORLD: You know the expression: you wouldn't understand a culture if it actually hit you in the head? Fisk has now officially retired that expression as a metaphor. He goes on: “There were all the Afghan men and boys who had attacked me who should never have done so but whose brutality was entirely the product of others…” Notice that phrase – “whose brutality was entirely the product of others.” What can that possibly mean? We’re not talking about extenuating circumstances – things that might help us understand or contextualize the hatred of one people for another. We’re talking about a priori moral absolution. Take this passage: “Goddamit, I said and tried to bang my fist on my side until I realised it was bleeding from a big gash on the wrist – the mark of the tooth I had just knocked out of a man's jaw, a man who was truly innocent of any crime except that of being the victim of the world.” No, Mr. Fisk, that man who attacked you was not truly innocent of any crime. You were. He was not the victim of the world. You were the victim of a thieving, violent mob. For those who believe that the left-wing intelligentsia is capable of critical thought or even a modification of their ideology in the face of evidence, this incident is a wonderful example of why it won’t happen. They won’t recognize reality, or abandon their racism, or moderate their spectacular condescension to the inhabitants of the developing world – even when reality, literally, crushingly, punches them in the face.

When the Feral Beast encountered Robert Fisk this weekend, the topic of fisking was raised. As a reporter whose name has become a verb, what does he feel about fisking nine year on?

"But that only exists on the internet, not in the real world, so it's of no concern," the veteran war reporter mused between sips of his gin and tonic. This Brit still eschews the hate-spewing virtual world. He is a reality maven, and quickly comes across as an erudite trainspotter, planespotter and weaponry gearhead. The Independent's intrepid reporter, who has expanded his beat outward from the Middle East to include Southwest Asia and now India, takes pride in remaining a cyber-Luddite. The sun doesn't seem to set on Fiskworld. His command of dates and details while speaking extemporaneously is most impressive. And he doesn't mince words, self-censor or run with the hack pack. Oddly, his fans have designed a couple of Facebook pages for him anyway.

No comments: