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Accentuating the Negative By: Alan Nathan
Washington Times | Monday, August 15, 2005


The Left's hunger for genuinely progressive principles is rivaled only by Paris Hilton's craving for privacy — both are appetites less than ravenous. They reveal this by demonstrating a double-standard tolerance for the intolerance of Islamic extremists and their apologist governments in the Middle East.

The congressional record shows that in the aggregate, Democrats have voiced greater outrage over American abuse of prisoners than they have over Muslim support for atrocities. This became manifestly salient when Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin likened American soldiers at Guantanamo Bay to those who had served under Hitler, Pol Pot and Joseph Stalin.

They use their free-speech rights to support the very timetable withdrawal that would further enable dictatorial forces in the region to continue depriving their own citizenry of those same rights to free speech. These are regimes that, if given their druthers, would divest from the Left their own current entitlements of expression so as to pre-empt eventual dissent. It seems so counterintuitive.

Sens. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts and Barbara Boxer of California are also emblematic of this syndrome. Mr. Kennedy harps monthly about Iraq as a "quagmire" or "the new Vietnam," and Mrs. Boxer recently mimicked the European Left's sentiment to the Commonwealth Club of California arguing that, "Terrorism is a result of this war." Where is the causation given that Osama bin Laden killed 3,000 on our soil a year-and-a-half before the war began?

Whether abroad or here, supposed progressives seem not to realize that the tenants of liberalism are unable to thrive unless they exist within the environs of a country possessing a representative government whose leaders rule by the consent of the governed — such as the one we're helping to create in Iraq.

The mainstream media has also shown complicity in this endeavor. Its reporting of the war in Iraq has focused on setbacks at the exclusion of equally verifiable triumphs. Our successful kills of the enemy consistently receive less news prominence. The Sunni political leadership now participating in the drafting of their country's new constitution garners little attention, though its earlier absence was once at the heart of liberal and press ridicule. Additionally, infrastructural advances have minimal reporting, though the examples are many. One of the most dramatic was a mission involving a 700-ton, 260-megawatt combustion turbine generator secretly hauled over 640 miles through the insurgency dominated Anbar province.

Thanks to coalition forces, the citizens of Kirkuk will soon have power for their families. But you'll not hear Mr. Durbin speak of miracles like this. He's more outraged by terrorist prisoners not receiving their rightful servings of chateaubriand chased down by magnums of Cristal.

This practice narrows the journalistic picture of Iraq instead of expanding it, and consequently marginalizes our nation's collective grasp of the advancements in that burgeoning democracy.

Pundits who recognize this tendency for not reporting progress alongside setbacks in Iraq will rationalize it by arguing that good news is rarely covered. Paul Begala, former CNN host and White House counsel for Bill Clinton, once said on my show "Alan, please, you never cover planes that land on time and safely." It's a reasoning that's beyond bizarre. What drives the legitimacy of a news story isn't whether it's good or bad. What drives it is whether or not it's eventful. We report good news all the time, i.e., stock markets rising, housing starts increasing, unemployment dropping and teenage pregnancy declining. The reason we're not covering planes that land on time and safely isn't because it's good news — it's simply not eventful.

A vexing truth about the Left is their insistence to block some of the more effective methods of stopping these Muslim terrorists whose perfect universe is one in which all the Left's professed ideals (like equality for women and the right to choose or reject a religion) would be quashed immediately. One strategy they repudiate on every level is that of racial profiling even if it's only applied to monitoring.

Just as it made sense to look at Southern white males when tracking suspected members of the KKK in the '60's and '70s, doesn't it make equal sense to look at Middle Easterners when tracking members of al-Qaeda? While the vast majority of Southern white males didn't belong to the KKK, most cross-burners in the KKK were Southern white males. Conversely, while the vast majority of Middle Easterners don't belong to al-Qaeda, almost all terrorists in al-Qaeda are of Middle Eastern descent.

Don't these numeric realities dictate that demographic origins have at least some relevance to our system of profiling?


Alan Nathan, a combative centrist and "militant moderate," a columnist, and the nationally syndicated talk show host of "Battle Line With Alan Nathan" on the Radio America Network.


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