Ralph Nader turns up to an Al Gore book-signing event. According to Dana Milbank in the Washington Post, two men in the line approach Nader and say: “Thanks to you we had Bush all these years, how many are dead in Iraq because of that?”
It would take a highly creative legal team to build a case against Nader for causing the bloodbath that is Iraq. But we live in a time when people closer to power make increasingly outlandish claims against their foes. Rather than call for heads to roll, it becomes the job of liberals and the Left to prove, say, that the men who committed suicide in Guantanamo Bay were, far from working for an ad agency, deprived of the dignity of zoo animals.
You can imagine the board meeting: “It’ll be the ultimate in experiential marketing, three boys in orange hang themselves by their beards, and the whole word will turn against the US.”
In line with this culture of blaming the persecuted, Post columnist Charles Krauthammer sums up the killing of Palestinian Huda Ghalia’s family on a Gaza beach last week thus: “This is another example of the Palestinians’ classic and cowardly human-shield tactic — attacking innocent Israeli civilians while hiding behind innocent Palestinian civilians.”
Hullo? Charles? In a poorly concealed attempt to wash blood off the hands of what he calls the ‘clumsy as ever’ Israeli army, Krauthammer invites readers to look again at the picture of the young Palestinian woman surrounded by dead loved ones on the beach: “… ask yourself: Who is responsible for the grief of that poor Palestinian girl.” The implication is the Palestinians, because they prefer “victimhood to statehood”. “This embrace of victimhood, of martyrdom, of blood and suffering,” he writes, “is the Palestinian disease.” So it is the fault of the dead that they are dead: in life they were part of this ‘diseased’ mass.
It begs the question of which other people you can talk of as being collectively diseased without being accused of racism? It is left to The Guardian to take apart the Israeli army’s account. Any hunt for culprits to be brought to justice will have to wait — rightwing columnists buy time while the US-Israel alliance washes the blood from the walls. I am reminded of Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta’s characters picking flesh off the backseat of a car where they’ve just killed a boy in Pulp Fiction.
In a visual culture, nothing short of video evidence will force columnists such as Krauthammer to abandon their lies. There is a chance, of course, that their intention is not to deceive. After all, it may yet transpire that the 24 people murdered in cold blood by US soldiers in Haditha were working for Ogilvy & Mather as part of an Al-Qaeda in Iraq PR drive. And in London, the young Muslim man shot by police in his home — apparently on suspicion of being a young Muslim man in his home — was working for Saatchi & Saatchi or, who knows, Nader & Gore.