uploaded : Saturday 14th May 2005 at 20:12
by : Carol Gould
The editorial below first appeared on this site and in 'FrontPage Mag' last October 2004.
'The Power of Nightmares,' in which the BBC's Adam Curtis purports that a group of mostly Jewish American neoconservatives are as heinous as bin Laden, has now premiered at the Cannes Festival.
Please read our views on this documentary, which we found offensive and dangerous in its scurrilous accusations.
The 'Myth' of Terror
by Carol Gould
29th October 2004
Right now on British prime time television, a series entitled ?The Power of Nightmares? is being aired and is receiving accolades from columnists across the nation. The programme, directed and written by Adam Curtis, (I also wrote about it last week in ?Current Viewpoint? when it premiered) purports that the predominantly Jewish neoconservative movement that now dominates White House policy bears a stunning resemblance to al Qaeda in its methods of getting its message across.
Aside from attempting to prove this by linking the Leo Strauss movement?s worries about the decline in American moral fibre to the abhorrence of Western immorality by Muslim radicals, Curtis asserts that the threat of terror is a ?myth and fantasy? meant to frighten the people of America, Britain and the world when in fact there are no nutty imams out there preaching Death to the Infidel. The idea of Leo Strauss, Paul Wolfowitz, Irving Kristol and Richard Pipes being akin to those who advocate the stoning to death of immoral women is absurd enough, but the assertion on a national mainstream broadcast that world terror is a fantasy is a form of scurrilous mischief.
Journalist after journalist has jumped to declare this a milestone in factual television. The writers of the documentary series ridicule the fears that Blair and Bush have tried to instil in the public when there is no real threat. (Try telling an Israeli security official about imaginary threats when hundreds of terror attacks are thwarted weekly across the tiny nation.)
The arrogance of the BBC thinking that ?there is no threat? is frightening. Were the Achille Lauro; the Munich Olympic massacre and Baader Meinhof deeds a fantasy? Do the programme-makers not understand the periods of quiet and symbolic numerology between attacks? (World Trade One 1993; African embassies 1998; Buddhas 2000; the October 12 USS Cole and October 12 Bali and ?3/11? of the Spanish attacks) The idea that there is no threat is so absurd as to be amusing were primetime shows like this not so popular and influential. I remember writing long before 9/11 about the symbolism of the two embassies and the two Buddhas, which I saw as representations of even bigger ?twin targets? of the future, and was stunned and gratified to hear on BBC ?Question Time? this week an American woman mentioning the same symbolism.
So, it is all the more galling that my long-time female friends in Britain have decided that a woman who grudgingly agrees with those who feel that the Bush team may be the one to deter the terrorists is a dangerous near-criminal. I am aware of the plight of one eminent feminist scholar in the United States who has been on the receiving end of fury from liberals for supporting the aspirations of the Bush Administration. Imagine if Israeli leaders had been vigilant before the Yom Kippur War instead of allowing the post-1967 arrogance to overtake their perceptions of the threat to hand.
In recent days I have seen my friends from the liberal and feminist movements apoplectic with rage when someone in our group praises aspects of the Bush years and timidly expresses apprehensions when John Kerry discusses terrorism. When some Americans, understandably apprehensive about the 'Patriot Act' fulminate that Ashcroft has created a police state and that Cheney has begun the fascist transformation of America, one has to ask them: where are your scars? When were you last taken into a little room and tortured? Have the thought police raped you? How many of your friends and relatives have been ?disappeared? a la Argentina and Chile? When you go to the post office to mail a parcel are you taken into a cell to emerge two weeks later in a wooden box, unrecognisable like Steve Biko?
The easy use of the word ?fascist? is an insult to the souls who endured unspeakable tortures and deprivation in Europe in the 1930s. The idea that some sort of totalitarian, oppressive regime now runs America is a travesty when one thinks of the suffering of millions under Japanese occupation and in Soviet gulags.
When mention is made of the improved conditions for Afghan women on radio and television panel programmes, audiences that include plenty of women boo and stomp, because those baddies Tommy Franks and Rumsfeld?s Raiders got out their six-shooters and kicked ass in Afghanistan. Is anyone going to seriously believe that Al Gore would have left the Taliban in place after 9/11? When Rumsfeld tells the papers that he knew he was involved in ?transformation? when he had to order stirrups and other livery for the special forces? steeds, the left screams that a maniac is running the Pentagon, but had a Gore appointee been in place, would he or she have left the troops to ride bareback?
When strident women friends screech at me that America is now a giant Nazi encampment I want to know how their lives have changed since January 20,2001. I really do. Their anger is frightening and irrational. One woman turned grey and nearly fainted in a restaurant the other night when I said I thought Rumsfeld spoke with eloquence when he said he could see Israel from one side to the other from the top of a hotel, and that a tiny state had a right to keep the lands it had won in endless wars started by its belligerent neighbours. A fellow Democrat turned to me at a luncheon and said ?the Jews are always complaining about the Final Solution, but they have been trying to perpetrate the Final Solution in Palestine for fifty years.? That same individual became apoplectic when I said it was more likely that as we ate lunch the Final Solution was being planned by the Islamists in mosques in Edinburgh, Glasgow and other major towns. Conversely, many people confided in me that they loved Tom Ridge when he visited us; he endeared himself to the British public with what was perceived as a gentle demeanour amidst calls for a similar Homeland Security unit to be established over here.
What sort of world is this that those who know that we face the most heinous threat to our existence since the days of Hitler are told by the BBC that the Jewish neocons who bully Bush, Rumsfeld, Ashcroft and Cheney are the greatest threat to our lives? How many Americans can prove they have suffered unspeakable personal harm at the hands of these men? Yes, medical insurance costs and drug prices are crippling many Americans, but they were even under Democratic regimes when I was young. On a recent trip to the USA it was a fellow Kerry campaigner, not a Bush supporter, who flew into a fit when I mentioned the glories of the British National Health Service, shouting at me, ?You?ll be out of politics for life if you ever mention socialised medicine again.? So much for fascist bullying in the Bush world. In fact, my run-ins with fellow Democrats are breathtaking, but that is another article?
Back to the BBC?s fantasy terror world: Every Israeli woman has lost a grandfather, father, son, brother, sister or daughter in a terror attack or in a war or Intifadah. Every day, one does not know if the person with whom one is having breakfast will be buried by sundown. That is how I feel every day about my fellow Americans since 9/11. I absolutely and unequivocally believe that the terror networks of the world are gaining strength every day and that they are the most serious threat to our lives since Hitler. The idea that the Iraq War has exacerbated terror is a dangerous and naive fiction. With Western nations preoccupied with the Soviet threat for fifty years, Klinghoffer; Munich, the Yom Kippur War and the Khobar Towers occurred, and nobody had attacked a sovereign Arab nation.
My distinguished colleague in America has dared to express confidence in the Bush doctrine and has been duly -- and loudly -- admonished by her former sisters. Women with the courage to see the threat we face are shouted down at lectures and, in the case of my American colleague, asked to recant in a public forum. Another colleague was subjected to a two-hour screaming session from two women she had known for ten years, demanding she ?admit? that her ?poor American education? and ?brainwashing in American schools? had contributed to her ?distorted, racist and dangerous? view of the world. Incidentally, since when has it become ?racist? to say ?the Arab world must get to grips with its dictatorships and subjugation of women?? If every commentator who daily refers to Israel as an ?apartheid state? was accused of racism by the ADL there would be a paper trail miles long.
Those who think the threat of terrorism is a fantasy and myth generated by scare-mongering fascists are blind and in denial. Those who see fellow Americans as hateful enemies need to live a few days in Syria, Sudan or Sierra Leone and see how true oppression manifests itself. Frankly, I do not think John Kerry or John Edwards have the crazy notions of the BBC or of the women who want their conservative sisters silenced. But if Bush is returned to office, and in four years? time millions of Americans are in shackles in gulags, I will eat my hat.
The other part of this editorial appeared the day before:
October 28, 2004
by Carol Gould
....And that brings me to ?The Power of Nightmares,? a BBC series that could easily be branded scurrilous were it not based on such an absurd premise. This is the BBC outdoing itself, claiming in the first teaser- minute of episode one that the war on terror is a product of the collective paranoia of George Bush, Tony Blair and a bunch of Jewish neoconservatives who have been obsessing about the ?mythical? ( the BBC?s word) threats out there since 1949.
This extraordinarily bizarre programme explained that the nineteen hijackers of 9/11 can trace their origins to an Egyptian student, Sayyid Qutb, who spent time in America in the 1950s and decided that the way Americans fixed up their lawns -- yes, their lawns -- was just one of many signs of the immorality and selfishness of Western infidel culture that must be destroyed at all costs. Yep, he was angry about their lawns.
To be fair, the BBC explained that the Egyptian had attended school dances and had been mortally offended witnessing the ?lustful? dancing of youngsters in their suits and crinoline dresses. So, that was offensive, too, but not as bad as the lawns.
His life unfolded as a radical thinker back in Egypt and he ended up being executed by Nasser, only to inspire one wealthy, middle-class Dr Ayman al Zawahiri to start a youth movement in his memory, culminating in the assassination of Anwar Sadat and the Iranian Revolution. Unless you live on Mars you will know that more recently Dr al-Z has been bin Laden?s deputy and all-round maven.
Now, if you are still awake, pay attention: the BBC then equates Bill Kristol?s genial-looking old dad, Irving; Richard Pipes and Leo Strauss with the radical ideologues who assassinated Sadat and create mayhem all around the world with kidnappings, hijacks and beheadings. Along with Paul Wolfowitz; Richard Perle and Kristol the younger ( the BBC included token gentile Donald Rumsfeld to be fair and balanced) the producers then use trick footage and weirdly-juxtaposed soundbytes to convince the viewer that the ideas of the neoconservatives pose as much a threat to the world as do those of the followers of al Zawahiri.
I rang the BBC before the show had even ended asking them if this ?documentary? was an April Fool. I reminded them that their credibility was seriously in question because they had used Dr Izzan Tamimi as a talking head. I had heard Tamimi speak at the University of London earlier this year, and his near-hysterical rhetoric about the need for the elimination of Israel (?please understand I do not want to harm any Jews??) led the crowd of begowned Arab students to chant ?jihad!jihad!? as my goose pimples turned to chills.
Thankfully, several other journalists, including the eminent Charles Moore of ?The Telegraph? and Melanie Phillips have registered alarm in their columns about this shameful piece of left-wing television agit-prop. One of the assertions made by the programme makers is that the mesmeric Jewish neocons-plus Rummy led various Republican Presidents to Christian religious fervour in the name of anti-Communism. I seem to recall Adlai Stevenson, darling of my left-wing ancestors, being as tough as nails to the Soviets with his ? Hell freezes over? speech and the fierce anti-Communism of Jack and Bobby Kennedy.
Heaven knows what episodes two and three of the BBC series will bring; what is so terrifying is that every one of my friends in the UK has asked me if I had seen the ?brilliant;? ?sensational? ?chilling? programme about the way ?American reactionaries have led us to the abyss where we are today.?
All right: those who feel the Iraq situation is a disaster and that the Middle East is sinking fast into Armageddon will say the neocons have a lot to answer for. But for the BBC to equate the evolution of the Leo Strauss movement with that of the murderous, sadistic and racist, misogynist jihadists is nothing short of heinous.
As I said in my previous piece of 12 October, ?where will it all end?? This week ?The Guardian? has come under fire for trying to influence voters in Ohio with a letter-writing campaign. On BBC ?Question Time,? panellist Clement Freud and an audience member got huge ovations for asserting that American troops are inferior to the Brits and that ?putting British forces under American command is a recipe for total disaster.? (Hey, anyone heard of Eisenhower; Bradley; Patton; MacArthur and Schwartzkopf?)
The people who say I imagine anti-Americanism live in denial. But I am more worried about the great British public being brainwashed by irresponsible and fanciful documentarians who would attempt to equate the Straussians with those who threw Leon Klinghoffer into the sea. Melanie Phillips goes so far as to use the ?Goebbels? word to describe this BBC offering, and I thank her for having the courage to be one of a handful of voices who see the United Kingdom sinking into a kind of madness.
Please also read: