Accuracy in Media

MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann, who acts like he’s on the verge of a nervous breakdown, was outraged over U.S. officials describing the threat of Islamic terrorism as comparable to fascism. Olbermann thinks the Bush Administration is close to fascism. But Thomas Friedman, considered to have saintly status in the stable of liberal pundits and commentators, used the term “fascist” to describe the Islamic radicals in Iraq and around the world long before Bush started using the phrase.

Back on January 23, 2005, Thomas Friedman of the New York Times wrote a column referring to the “fascist insurgents” in Iraq.

In a subsequent column, dated February 3, 2005, he referred to how democratic elections in Iraq had “made it crystal clear that the Iraq war is not between fascist insurgents and America, but between the fascist insurgents and the Iraqi people. One hopes the French and Germans, whose newspapers often sound more like Al Jazeera than Al Jazeera, will wake up to this fact and throw their weight onto the right side of history.”

His references to Al-Jazeera are significant, in light of its spawning of an English-language spin-off, Al-Jazeera International, which wants access to your family room with messages from al Qaeda.

To his credit, Friedman noted the pernicious influence of Al-Jazeera, commenting that he had interviewed two 18-year-old French Muslim girls in a Paris immigrant district and found they were avid consumers of the Arabic channel.

He said, “Both girls I interviewed wore veils and one also wore a full Afghan-like head-to-toe covering; one was of Egyptian parents, the other of Tunisian parents, but both were born and raised in France. What did I learn from them? That they got all their news from Al Jazeera TV, because they did not believe French TV, that the person they admired most in the world was Osama bin Laden, because he was defending Islam, that suicide ‘martyrdom’ was justified because there was no greater glory than dying in defense of Islam, that they saw themselves as Muslims first and French citizens last, and that all their friends felt pretty much the same.”

Do we want an English-language Al-Jazeera International reaching American Arabs and Muslims with the same kind of incendiary messages?

By the way, in the same column, Friedman quoted Bernard Kouchner, the founder of Doctors Without Borders and “one of the few French intellectuals to support the ouster of Saddam,” as saying, “The most important threat [to the West] is Islamic terrorism” that has a violent “fascist” Muslim minority.

Kouchner went on, “We [in the West] have always been allied against fascism since the Second World War. We have to be together, America and Europe, because our enemies are the same, Muslim extremism and fascism.” Right now, however, he said that, unlike in Bosnia, “we are apart.”

What he didn’t mention was that, in Bosnia, France and the U.S. (under Clinton) were together because they were on the side of supporting the Muslims. It was Clinton’s pro-Muslim policy in Bosnia and Kosovo that backfired on 9/11.

Yet, when Friedman appeared on the premier broadcast of the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric, he accused Bush of “exporting fear and not hope” after Bush had adopted Friedman’s terminology in describing the threat as fascist in character.

Was Friedman exporting fear when he described our enemies as “fascists?”

Friedman is a double-talker whose support for the Iraq War got him into trouble with the liberal-left. Now he is taking an anti-Bush tone in order to ingratiate himself with those who abandoned him. He doesn’t fool us.

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