Freedom Fries


Here’s a fun piece in Saudi Arabia’s Arab News, by sometime CounterPunch contributor Linda S. Heard, about the upcoming U.S. elections. Not sure the Kingdom of Saud is well served with this one.

Heard tells readers that “passions on either side of the divide are running high” — which is true enough, I guess — and then launches a blistering an attack on Bush supporters, “the ‘them and us’ guys and gals with ‘them’ being those envious terrorist enemies of America who hate freedom, and ‘us’ translating into the flag-waving, gas-guzzling, gun-toting, French-bashing believers in the natural supremacy of the US with all that entails for the rest of the planet.”

Bush backers, writes Heard, look to the president to keep America free from “swarthy foreigners, Kumbaya-humming tree-huggers, death penalty opponents, the pro-choice brigade and anything with the label ‘Made in France.’” The core of Bush’s supporters, she informs the Saudis, “are eschatological evangelicals, many of whom are waiting anxiously for the battle of Armageddon as a prelude to the Second Coming. In their eyes, their Creator-invoking president can do no wrong…He’s their ‘born-again’ main man.”

The leaders of these evangelicals, she writes, “are not intellectuals but ideologues.” She lumps the board of the Project for the New American Century (take a look; not lot of prominent evangelicals there) in with “Islamophobic preachers, such as Pat Robertson Jerry Falwell, Franklin Graham and Jerry Vines” and then segues into an attack on Bill O’Reilly.

Heard does admit that “the entire Bush camp isn’t made up of such fanatics.” Some good salt-of-the-earth people back the president, she argues, because they’re scared to death of waking up one morning to find that a dirty bomb has gone off “outside their local Walmart.”

The article continues for a bit with the usual conspiratorial anti-corporate jabs and charges that the American left has decided to acquiesce to Bush’s reign of pure evil. Not sure how to reply to this collection of clichÃ(c)s, caricatures, and insults (“Allawi deserved a sesame seed cracker”), all passed off as insight to an audience that I hope knows better. Her misrepresentation of evangelicals constitutes a mass libel. It could be just ignorance but the column shows too many signs of actual malice for me to believe that.

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  • Phil Blackburn

    The piece in Arab News is partisan enough, it doesn’t need to be distorted just to make a cheap dig. The Arab News piece says that the core of the pro-Bush group are ‘eschatological evangelicals’ and that the *gurus* of the pro-Bush group are ‘not intellectuals but ideologues’. There may be an overlap between these two sets of people, but that doesn’t mean they are one and the same.

    Jeremy Lott’s inversion of logic to pretend the article is a ‘mass libel’ against evangelicals is a basic error. Overall this piece looks as slanted as the Arab News article it complains about. Why do that?

    What is interesting is that the Arab News (which from a cursory examination looks to take a fairly standard pro-Saudi-government line) has commissioned and printed such a partisan piece in the first place. It looks as though the Bush administration might have some fence-mending to do with Saudi Arabia.

  • Jeff the Baptist

    Phil has a point. The “intellectuals but ideologues” comment was directed at the leaders of Bush’s supporters in general, not the evangelicals in specific. However applying that generalization is probably ok.

    What is really sad is that the article isn’t even written well. Take this sentence:

    “Not for them an analysis of the jobless figures, the deliberate alienation of America’s traditional allies, and the rampant anti-Americanism on city streets from Manila to Mexico since Bush grabbed office from under the nose of the obscenely willing to capitulate Al Gore.”

    She writes professionally and you come up with sentences like this? What a mess.

  • Paul Barnes

    Could the publication of this not even be considered deadly? It seems that if Saudi’s only hear about the “evil evangelicals” and how they run America along with the “Jewish Zionists” that there could be real consequences?

    It is not that I defend President Bush, but painting him in a false and misleading light is deadly serious in these times. Some Muslems may actually believe what is written…

  • Jan Bear

    I’m with Paul Barnes. Saudi Arabia is a wary ally in the war on terror with problems managing its own anti-American population. Her words could, to a lot of people’s minds, justify the actions of the 9/11 hijackers.

    What was she thinking?

    If it were the NYT, it would be annoying. In the Arab News, it’s dangerous.

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