"Baghdad residents celebrate the downfall of Saddam Hussein."
Eight words. That's the entire coverage of the celebrations in Baghdad provided by Media Transparency's anti-war website, Cursor.org. Terse, isn't it? Especially when you consider how much Cursor.org usually has to say about the war - the rest of the day's coverage is a litany of complaints. Why so quiet about the main events of the day? It seems the anti-war crowd has a problem - yesterday was a great day.
Not that Cursor.org's coverage was particularly bad, compared to the rest of the anti-war crowd, both left and right. Faced with joyous Iraqis celebrating in the streets, toppling statues of Saddam Hussein in cooperation with American troops, those against the war faced a dilemma - how could they maintain their beliefs and their credibility in the face of directly contradicting evidence? Their first response, it seems, was to deny their eyes.
As the Iraqis' support for the U.S. military appeared on the television, the first instinctive reaction of Democratic Party activists at the popular discussion site Democratic Underground was to deny what was actually happening. One claimed there was only "2 dozen" Iraqis celebrating, and claimed they only celebrated out of fear of our troops. Another sarcastically questioned the Iraqis' sanity, writing "I think I just read where they released all the mental patients." Others didn't believe the protestors were 'real' Iraqis, arguing that the event was staged and those celebrating were exiles returned by the American army. Another expresses his total racist contempt for the Iraqi people by writing, about the Iraqis who trampled Hussein's statue underfoot, "Okay, we're dancing, massa. you going to give us some food now or what?" But this was remarkably polite, compared to other comments. One Democrat best kept Underground, if his party wishes to avoid a complete rout next year, wrote that "being anti-Bush is being pro-American, because George Walker Bush Jr. is an unelected fascist piece of s**t dictator. And you can quote me on that."
With pleasure - it's quite revealing. But these anonymous commentators, the bastion of the left-wing of the Democratic Party, aren't the only ones who think our own government is worse than Hussein's. Take Jane Fonda, a prominent anti-war activist since the Vietnam era. According to NewsMax.com, Jane Fonda was in Vancouver, Canada, claiming that Operation Iraqi Freedom will make the whole world unite against America. Fonda suffers from the particular leftist belief that America is the dictatorship. "I don't know if a country where the people are so ignorant of reality and of history," she said, "if you can call that a free world." Aside from America's sizeable coalition of supporters, Jane, the Iraqis in Baghdad don't appear to be 'uniting against us' - but at least this time you weren't speaking over enemy radio.
Anti-war columnists who filed the night before were completely caught by surprise. On the day American troops were greeted by cheering Iraqis, antiwar.com's Christopher Deliso wrote about the swelling frustration of the Muslim world. You'd think the Iraqis weren't Muslim. His fellow antiwar.com writer, Justin Raimondo, spent his column writing about a conquering American imperialism, posted just as it became clear that the Iraqi people didn't have to be conquered. Journalists in the print media fared little better. For example, Molly Ivins tore into the American administration in her own syndicated column, criticizing the government for listening to Iraqi émigrés and believing the Iraqis would welcome the invading coalition with open arms. "Anyone who has studied the history of emigre groups knows the endless infighting and delusional quality of the emigre culture," she wrote, but the welcome of our troops was hardly a delusion. And Thomas Friedman, who wrote that our presence was "a scene of humiliation, not liberation," and declared that "we must do better," got his scene of liberation before the New York Times hit my doorstop. What a difference a day makes.
The popular Internet news sites of the anti-war crowd, normally a hive of continually-updated activity, were curiously quiet about of the liberation of Baghdad and the happiness of the Iraqis. If you perused the headlines at BuzzFlash, you'd never know that statues of Hussein were falling in Baghdad, and Iraqis were dancing in the streets. You will, however, read that "Looters Accompany Liberation - Ain't War Grand?"
Do the maintainers of BuzzFlash really have nothing positive to say about the toppling of a dictatorship? The clearing-house web site antiwar.com is also quite silent, posting only bare-bones reports from Reuters as their usual flood of linked media pessimism slowed to a trickle. Instead of sharing in the joy of the Iraqi people at the collapse of the Baathist regime, they too focus on the sporadic looting taking place in Baghdad and Basra. If these people won the lottery, they'd complain about having to pick up the check. And we've already seen how Cursor.org got the main events of the day out of the way in eight words to resume their stream of criticism. Left-wing gadfly Michael Moore, who has been posting collections of links daily on his web site, is condescendingly dismissive - "Liberation comes," he writes, "but don't believe the hype." One can practically see the clouds of dust as these left-wing pundits ran past Iraqi freedom to get to territory more to their likely. And they say the 'mainstream media' is biased?
As their theories were being crushed by reality, many anti-war commentators knew enough to simply keep quiet. Look at Eric Alterman, a liberal commentator who thinks there was more diversity in the Soviet Union's press than on American talk radio today. Alterman writes a blog for MSNBC called Altercations, which asks us "Is this the right room for an argument?" None came on Liberation Day. Every previous day, Alterman has criticized both the war on Iraq and the Bush government, often in the crudest terms - in his most recent Nation column, he argued that the war is not in the interests of the Iraqis or Americans, but the Jewish "Likudniks" in the Bush administration. But when Iraqis got their freedom, Alterman gives us Lou Reed. A long, rambling story about Lou Reed, mysterious curses, and restaurant harassment. The political cartoonist Tom Tomorrow is similarly silent about the war - 'one of those days', he writes. Liberal blogger Atrios was busy, posting a dozen time, but for some reason decided to skip any discussion of statue-toppling.
A dozen entries in an eight-hour day, Atrios, and the only one that mentions the liberation of Baghdad is about Wolf Blitzer's technical difficulties? At least Atrios was covering current news. The American Prospect's blog, TAPPED, mentions the liberated Iraqis only briefly, when they complain about the New York Times for reporting a statement of President Bush too quickly. "Were the President's thoughts so urgent that they had to be headlined the moment they were uttered?" TAPPED wrote. TAPPED, was the trampling of Hussein's statue by cheering Iraqis so peripheral you preferred to spend your time quoting extensively from Thomas Friedman's already out of date column?
Disturbingly, some news sources on the left actually began to censor news of Iraq liberation. The network of Independent Media Centers, financially supported by a variety of left-wing charitable foundations, showed their hypocrisy by declaring their support for 'Open Publishing' while systematically censoring anything that disagreed with them. 'Open Publishing', a concept where the readers of a website contribute to it directly, allows for a diversity of views, but if one looks at the stories Indymedia has removed from their front page, one sees systematic ideological bias. Conservative viewpoints have been progressively eliminated. One reader notes the hypocrisy, writing "Iraqi Information Minister to Join SF Indymedia Censorship Committee." This dissent was hidden just as quickly. What did Indymedia have to say about the happiness in Baghdad? Absolutely nothing.
So it goes. After a day of liberation, the anti-war movement has absolutely nothing to say. The major anti-war organizations - International A.N.S.W.E.R., Not in Our Name, Win Without War, United for Peace and Justice - all tell us nothing, even as they continue organizing their protests. The organizations behind them - the Workers' World Party, the Revolutionary Communist Party - again, they say nothing. But this shouldn't surprise anyone; in the face of the freedom of the Iraqi people and the nobility of the U.S. military, their anti-American harping rings hollow. But the criticism will return anew. If Iraq does not immediately rise to the level of prosperity and freedom found in America, the leftists will cry foul, conveniently forgetting the enormous progress already made by the removal of Iraq's evil dictator.
Already they are switching tactics, focusing on minor negatives in the face of a great good. They will continue to focus on the few accidental deaths caused by coalition forces in Iraq. As the anti-war news site Alternet.org reported reported, there are two stories coming out of Iraq. One, the liberation of the Iraqis, will be permanent. The other, the sensationalistic reporting of accidental deaths by Iraqi collaborationists like Peter Arnett, is strictly temporary. While devastating for the unfortunate victims and their families, these accidental deaths are kept to a strict minimum by the careful actions of the American military, and far less than the damage caused by the butcher of Baghdad's dictatorship. Once the military campaign reaches its inevitable end, these accidents will cease completely.
Yesterday was a victory - for Iraq, for America, and for freedom. Thousands of people in Iraq took to the streets to celebrate their liberation as the Baathist regime of Saddam Hussein all but collapsed. The images of cheering Iraqis and the American military cooperating together to topple statues of the dictator were seen around the world, including on Arab media; such images of freedom have not been seen since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union. The vast majority of Americans, those who support our troops and our government, were not surprised - this had been expected from the start. Only the anti-Americans in our midst are unable to explain it; and therefore they must ignore it. The rest of us know better.