Saturday, August 25, 2007

Christiane Amanpour: God's Holy Warriors

Larry King showcased this programme on CNN. In his usual phlegmatic way, he tried to tease out some valid responses from his three guest panel: A Jew, a Christian and a Muslim. I found Rabbi Hier's voice the most lucid and valid. Here is an excerpt from the transcript:

"KING: Isn't the majority, then, moderate?

HATHOUT: Exactly.

KING: So why don't the moderates have a bigger voice?

HATHOUT: Because they are screaming in the bathroom that's locked. How many reporters like you will call on me to say what I say? How many times did I appear -- no, I can tell you, you are with the stretch of imagination, the second one.

KING: There are more moderates than anything else, aren't there?

HATHOUT: Because they are screaming in the bathroom that's locked. How many reporters like you will call on me to say what I say? How many times did I appear -- no, I can tell you, you are with the stretch of imagination, the second one.

KING: There are more moderates than anything else, aren't there?

AMANPOUR: Of course there are. Even in the Middle East, in many of the countries we've been to say that is the case, that people are actually moving away from this extremism and that, you know, it is a more moderate reality than an extremist reality.

But the key point is that the extremists, those who are fundamentally committed, are much more energized and therefore much more active and much more politically successful. That's the reality, and that's the question I was trying to ask. In fact, all of you, how do those majorities who would prefer to see peaceful co-existence, whether it be in Judaism, whether it be in Islam or in Christianity, how do they get their voices heard, and how do they act within the framework of the political dynamic that they find themselves in?

ING: Rabbi Hier?

HIER: First let me say one thing. We can't have gatekeepers. One of the greatest tragedies, I think, that prevents moderation is when you'll excuse me for the comment is that when you have a gatekeeper -- nobody knows what's in God's mind. He doesn't have a cell number. Or if he does, it's not connected, and nobody has spoken to him personally. Nobody can say, who's going to be admitted in heaven and who's not going to be admitted. Judaism believes that it ought to be based on deeds, not dogmas."

Solomonia's post, here

Roger L. Simon, here

Phyllis Chesler, here

I'm not sure I agree with Chesler's biting indictment of Christiane Amanpour's affiliations. Amanpour was a good friend* of the fabled Oriana Fallaci who considered her some sort of a kindred spirit. It's hard to reconcile that friendship with Amanpour's craven depiction of the jihadists in this programme.

I also found her behaviour as an interviewer in the segment about Muslim Religious Warriors distinctly odd and unprofessional. She was simpering at her interviewees when they were declaring their absolutist beliefs in their own rightness, wagging her finger coyly at one who explicitly made a misogynistic comment. Altogether, she conveyed an attitude of being ill-at-ease and toadying in what should have been a much more consistent and insistent attempt at confronting them with their own murderous ideologies. The difference in the way she handled herself with these Mullahs and the way she confronted the other (Jewish and Christian) "Warriors" in the two other segments was quite astonishing for a journalist of her experience. Quite frankly, in the Muslim segment, her behaviour resembled that of a weak, abused person trying to curry favour with a bully while pretending to act confidently.

Here is a review of Amanpour's personal documentary ''Revolutionary Journey'' (2000).

Here is her interview with Charlie Rose (02/24/2000) about "Revolutionary Journey", in which she asserts with much confidence that Iran will become a more "normal" society, with liberal press and moderated religiosity.

Hmm. This certitude hardly points to perspicacious judgment or great political acumen in the speaker, considering how Iran has radicalized its stranglehold over the population and its policies vis-a-vis the West (Ahmadinejad's dark shaddow leers ironically at these rosy conjectures).

This comment was placed on Charlie Rose's website, in response to "Revolutionary Journey":

Dear Christian:We have a few points to bring to your attention and the attention of the world. You do not know IRAN. You know those who approach you. Mullah Khatami is a Mullah, part of the establishment. He prolonged the misery of people by promises and promises for the survival of this REGIME. Khatami was the MARKETING segment of the establishment. Khamenei is an Akhond, not recognized by the grand Ayatolahs or people. THIS REGIME IS IMPOSED ON PEOPLE. People are ashamed of the so-called barbaric revolution of 1979. They wish to wake up of this nightmare and be back in the good old Time of pre-1979. We are living in the darkest history of the Persian History. The so-called Cultural , educational, artistic CONTACT between US and Iran YOU TALK ABOUT Is CONTROLLED, SHAPED AND ARRANGED by the I.R. REGIME and THE REGIME's members are the participants. DEAR Christian: Ordinary IRANIANS are struggling to Make ends meet. They do not have time, money, energy or even interest about politics! SANCTIONS SHOULD BE DIRECTED AT REGIME, NOT PEOPLE. Last, but not least, it takes far more than just sitting in an office in US'or UK, having a beatiful face, a couple of degrees from University, and interview a few members of the ESTABLISHMENT to talk about true states of Affairs in Iran. How many years you have lived in Iran in the last 27 years? Most probably not much, if any! Just take a look at the following Video smuggled from Current Iran TO SEE THE TRUE IRAN AND IRANIANS . Thanks. Iran Khanoom.

I fear Christiane Amanpour has been swept along the current wave of "new" liberalism which Oliver Kamm, here, describes as "unilateral liberalism":

Something has happened in the arena of liberalism.
Positions that were once commonplace or even axiomatic are now heterodox. There
is, for example, a particularly corrosive notion common among liberals, and most
particularly egalitarian liberals, that respect for the views of others is a
keystone of a civilised society. By this logic, Sir Salman Rushdie is a
provocative figure for unpardonably affronting the deepest convictions of people
throughout the developing world. The principles of secularism and free
expression are the victim.

To state that there is nothing wrong with mocking
the sense of the sacred held by Muslims or the adherents of any other religion
is to invite the bogus charge of Islamophobia. To say that Tony Blair was an
important reforming prime minister and a powerful influence for good at home and
abroad is to inspire derision (bring it on).

The phenomenon Anthony identifies is not liberalism
but what the Irish polymath and statesman Conor Cruise O'Brien once termed
unilateral liberalism. It exhibits, said O'Brien, an acute sensitivity to
threats to liberty arising from the actions of democratic states, combined with
a curiously phlegmatic attitude to threats to liberty from the enemies of those
states. These days, it is not only in the remediable flaws of western societies
that unilateral liberals identify oppression but also in their highest

One more thing:

I find it ironic that Jimmy Carter is deferred to as a cool-headed voice in a programme about religious fanaticism.

Here's Hitchens on same:

"Here is a man who, in his latest book on the
Israel-Palestine crisis, has found the elusive key to the problem. The mistake
of Israel, he tells us (and tells us that he told the Israeli leadership) is to
have moved away from God and the prophets and toward secularism. If you ever
feel like a good laugh, just tell yourself that things would improve if only the
Israeli government would be more Orthodox. Jimmy Carter will then turn his
vacantly pious glare on you, as if to say that you just don't understand what it
is to have a personal savior."


* As evidenced in Fallaci's Pride and Rage essay:

"Chirac didn't do this. Last week as you know he was here on a formal visit.
It was a visit scheduled some time before, not an ad hoc visit. He saw the ruins of the Tower, he learned that the number of dead is incalculable, nay inadmissible, but he didn't give weight to this. During his interview on CNN my friend Christiana Amanpour asked him four times in what manner and to what extent he intended to align himself against this Jihad, and four times Chriac avoided giving an answer. He slithered away like an eel. You wanted to shout at him: "Monsieur le President! Do you remember the debarkation at Normandy? Do you know how many Americans died there to drive the Nazis out of France?"


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