Friday, December 12, 2003

Paradox of the week
If the involvement of communists invalidates pro-peace demonstrations in the West, does the involvement of communists invalidate pro-peace demonstrations in Iraq?

If the absence of coverage of the recent pro-peace/anti-terrorist/pro-American demonstrations in the pro-war media is anything to go by, then apparently it does.

Perhaps it was the prominence of secular leftists and feminists in the demonstrations that led them to be blanked by media appealing to a conservative readership.

From an editorial point of view, if your aim is to cater for people who support the war you want to see US flags being waved by grateful natives, not red ones by people opposed to your political outlook but who depend on US and coalition forces for protection.

Coverage in conservative Arab media was also minimal, but emphasized the role of the Iraqi communists, as though to underline the marginal character of the demonstrators and the cause they represent.

In his recent debate with Christopher Hitchens, Tariq Ali made the point that the Iraqi communists could have committed themselves to lending a secular character to the resistance, but made a mistake in choosing to work with the occupiers, thereby becoming dependent on a US government hostile to their general aims while alienating large sections of the public.

The media response and non-response tends to make his point for him. The demonstrators were too pro-American for the anti-war media and not pro-American enough for the pro-war media. In exposing themselves they simply became a source of political embarrassment to the CPA.

They made the fundamental mistake of believing in promises, of mistaking moral issues for the real issues that these are meant to conceal. Well, they’re committed now. They’ve made a bet that Iraqi opinion is with them and not scared to reveal itself in future demonstrations, and I hope for their sake that they’re right. The latest from salam pax sounds ominous though.

The strangest moment was when an American convoy came out of the nearby tunnel while the maddah was praising the deeds of the so-called resistance, the TV sets showing pictures of funerals of Iraqis killed by coalition fire. Everyone turned around and looked at the convoy. Not good.