By Kambiz Zarrabi, June 1, 2016
Imagine a kind of news and information media where the programmers, the show hosts, their guests and the reporters are all people of honor and integrity and not beholden to special interest groups or lobbies just to keep their privileged positions and tenure. Well, keep on deluding yourselves with such utopian dreams.
That said, let’s turn to a recent program aired Monday evening, May 23rd, on CNN, and repeated on Saturday, Memorial Day weekend.
I never had much respect for Mr. Fareed Zakaria or his syndicated GPS show that follows the State of the Union program every Sunday morning on CNN. I do watch certain so-called news and information programs on television, not to get “informed” about world events, but to read between the lines and see what might be going on behind the scenes, which is really my true passion.
The well-advertised “Why Do They Hate Us?” program by Mr. Zakaria was no different and did not surprise me at all. The “they” were, of course, Islamic terrorists; and the “us” were the Americans and, by extension, our Western allies. By the time we reach the end of the one-hour program we are supposed to be convinced that the reason can be found in the Islamic religion or ideology, whether wrongly or even correctly interpreted, which is, Mr. Zakaria tries to demonstrate, opposed to true civilized values of freedom, democracy, human rights and tolerance.
Taking advantage of the fact that the attention span of the average viewer does not extend beyond cliches and short clips, Fareed throws in some carefully chosen and cunningly worded phrases to drive in his points.
He goes back to the very first, as he maintains, seeds of the hatred of Western values planted in the Islamic world by Seyyed Qutb, a young Egyptian student who was horrified by what he saw at a church social he had attended in a Colorado town in 1949. According to Fareed, this man, who had opposed Gamal Abdel-Nasser’s westernization programs in Egypt, and was jailed and executed as a result, founded the anti-West ideology that led to the rise of people like Bin Laden and his mentor, Aimen Al-Zawahiri, as well as the Wahhabi style Islamic extremism in Saudi Arabia, etc.
Seyyed Qutb’s exploratory journey to America to see firsthand what the Western civilization had to offer that might be worthy of emulation by the Egyptian state was, interestingly enough, coincident with the establishment of the state of Israel, a non-indigenous Western transplant in the heart of a traditional Islamic culture. Contrary to Fareed Zakaria’s portrayal, Seyyed Qutb was not a cartoon character who, after hearing some innocent dance music played on the turntable, and seeing young women with their breasts amply profiled in their tight sweaters at a church social, storms out of that town in disgust and returns to Cairo condemning everything Western as vile and corrupt. No, Fareed; you should read what the man also wrote in praise of Western democratic values and industrial progress, particularly the former, which was perhaps the main reason the Egyptian dictator, Nasser, had him incarcerated and finally executed.
While debating a hot-headed English “Imam”, who is no less prejudiced in his ideas as is Mr. Zakaria in his own, Fareed asks the Imam to explain why the Vietnamese or the Cambodians don’t resort to terror and violence against America, even though their countries were also bombed by the Americans. Rather than answer that question, the Imam begins his usual bombastic diatribe and goes on a tangent about the horrors of Abu-Ghuraib and other diversionary issues.
It was quite clear why Mr. Zakaria had sought out this self-proclaimed “Imam” to interview; this nutcase played right into his hand by exhibiting the fanaticism and unmitigated hatred that Fareed wanted to amplify as demonstrative of Islamic attitude toward the West. Had Fareed bothered to ask a better educated and savvy antagonist of the West, the response would have been markedly different; something like: “There is no oil or Israel in Vietnam or Cambodia; stupid!”
In another segment, Fareed asks a Moslem lady scholar if it is true that martyrs of Islam are rewarded by 72 virgins once they arrive in Heaven. The lady corrects him by explaining that the word huris mentioned in the Ghor’an has been misinterpreted as virgins, while the true meaning in the Arabic language of the times was sweet raisins. Fareed then shows a bagful of raisins and repeats with clear sarcasm: “72 raisins!” and jokes about the surprise the young martyrs must feel being rewarded a mere handful of raisins upon arriving in Heaven.
Mr. Zakaria is not an illiterate man; with a degree from Harvard, even if having majored in needlepoint, one cannot be regarded as illiterate. He must know that it is not inferred in the Ghor’an that the Heaven’s gatekeeper is going to carefully count 72 little raisins out of a bag and hand them to each martyr upon their arrival. He must also know that here “72” does not indicate a number between 71 and 73, but it has a historically symbolic or metaphorical significance; and neither does the word raisins refer to actual grapes. The phrase is simply a promise of sweet rewards for those who have sacrificed their lives in the cause of religion. I was somewhat surprised that Fareed did not pursue the issue further and suggest that the female martyrs’ reward of 72 virgins in Heaven might have rather intriguing connotations!
In short, Fareed Zakaria has struggled to show that the hatred against “us” and the attempts by “they” who want to do “us” harm is purely and simply ideological and rooted in Islam’s religious ideology. He does not point to any real and down to earth pragmatic or material socioeconomic reasons for any mistrust and anger against the West, which has evolved into the mayhem, bloodshed and terrorism increasingly rampant in the region, and now targeting the Western homelands. How nice and comforting to know that we are not to be blamed for any wrongdoing; the blame falls strictly on them and their religious beliefs, and that it is their responsibility to break out of their dark ideological cocoon.
But, let’s not gloat in our own delusional self-righteousness: The reality is that the breeding grounds of they who hate us has been the Islamic world of the Middle East, and even the us-haters outside that region have been inspired and are increasingly guided by sources inside the Middle East, and not from Indonesia, China or India with the largest populations of Moslems in the world. But why is it the Middle East where we find the roots of practically all the animosity toward the West?
It was long before Seyyed Qutb’s journey to America that the imperial, colonial Western powers divided the Middle East into their desired spheres of influence, regarding the indigenous populations with less concern than in dealing with various species of animals in Africa’s hunting grounds or game reserves. Despots and ruthless dictators were installed in various strategic areas of the chopped up Middle East to rule over their hapless populations, while protecting and preserving the economic and strategic interests of their Western masters. The newly discovered oil reserves in the region, as well as the trade routes and markets for Western goods, made the Middle East a highly prized piece of property to hold and control. Worn out, deposed or dead dictators and despots were replaced by new ones, protected and supported by their masters as long as they could maintain the kind of “stability” that the colonial powers desired. That meant decades of tyrannical suppression of the disenfranchised populations, from Arabia, Iraq, Syria and Jordan, to Egypt and Libya, and beyond.
Perhaps of all that exemplified this unmitigated intrusion into the world of the Middle East, the most consequential was the formal establishment of the Jewish state of Israel in 1948, the seeds of which were already planted by the European Zionists in the late 1800s. To ensure the survival and security of this foreign transplant, a non-indigenous entity that the host body would by nature reject, no effort was spared by the colonial European powers, and later by the United States of America, to pump money and pour military and diplomatic support into this organ, and to create an existential dependency by the regional rulers to remain obedient to the mandates of the Western imperial powers. It mattered none at all how unpopular regional military juntas and dictators have been, and continue to be, among the populations they rule over. And it has mattered even less how the entire Palestinian nation has been treated by the expansionistic occupying Israeli apartheid state.
The three principle reasons for the United States to stay involved in the Middle East region have been control over the hydrocarbon resources, curtailing Soviet Union’s expansion toward the warm waters of the Indian Ocean, and protecting the Jewish state. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the remaining rationale for America’s deployments in the Middle East remains oil and Israel.
Interestingly, but not surprisingly, regional political instability, social unrest and internecine military conflicts between the regional states have provided ample justification for the United States to remain directly and indirectly engaged in the region’s political and socioeconomic affairs. The management of the region’s dictatorships and preserving America’s control over the vital hydrocarbon trade did not cost much at all, at least not until the 9/11 wake-up call. Oil moneys paid to the kings and despots were recirculated back into major financial institutions in New York and London, and what excess money they had left was spent on Western technologies or for the purchase of surplus, mostly outdated equipment from American arms suppliers!
Arabia under the Saud clan’s leadership had become host to American military bases to not only safeguard the Persian Gulf region from disobedient rogue (read “independent”) elements, such the Islamic Republic of Iran, but to provide more support for the Saudi Kingdom, which had quietly become Israel’s ally of convenience and had allowed the presence of Israeli bases inside Islam’s so-called holiest land.
Osama Bin Laden’s stated main target was the Saudi regime, and by extension, the House of Saud’s principle protector, the United States.
Has anyone bothered to examine why it took so long, some fifteen years, to track down and eliminate Osama Bin Laden? During that period Afghanistan was driven back to the Stone Age, and Iraq’s infrastructure was basically wiped out, with almost one million casualties, and at a cost of perhaps two-trillion dollars. If instead of the original twenty-five-million dollar reward for the capture of the 9/11 culprit, a mere pittance, the reward money was set at twenty-five or even fifty-billion, not even the Pakistani military command would have hesitated to hand him over dead or alive. If we were serious about eliminating Bin Laden, that would have done the job, and had saved us trillions, not billions, of dollars and spared the hapless populations over a million lives! But quite understandably, a perpetuation of instability and bloodshed in the region has been serving manifold purposes: the major industries that feed our military (the Military-Industrial Complex) depend on such, actually manageable, regional unrests that our policy makers in Washington can turn on and off as the situation demands. Our obedient regional “allies” are told to be scared of Iran’s nuclear ambitions, a fabricated myth that has been serving the purpose; these Gulf States have already purchased hundreds of billions of dollars of “defensive” arms from the United States and some from our European partners. And our so-called best and most trusted ally in the region, Israel, has been, with the help and unquestioned support of our Congress, selling us the big lie about facing an existential threat from Iran, for which it has received billions of dollars of financial and military aid, plus a free hand in expanding its illegal settlements in the Palestinian homeland and immunity from condemnation and punishing sanctions by the international community for its barbaric atrocities committed against the Palestinian people.
To me it was extremely significant that during that entire hour-long program the word Israel was not mentioned once, not even once; and no reference was made to the decades-long Palestinian plight, the biggest issue in the Islamic World of the Middle East. Why?! What happened, Fareed; you invited us to your cheeseburger party, but held back the buns, the meat and the cheese!
So, Mr. Zakaria, there are more real, pragmatic and material reasons for the anger against the policies of the United States in that part of the Islamic World. The Islamic ideology, which is clearly taken out of its true context and amplified by the extremist elements to commit their atrocities, has been serving, not as the cause, but as a rallying flag for the frustrated and disenfranchised people whose ignorant fanaticism is being exploited, encouraged and further inflamed by some of our friends and allies in the region, from Turkey to Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and also Israel, to serve their own special interests.
Finally, why did Fareed Zakaria embark on producing such a big farce of a program? Had he failed to amply demonstrate his servitude to those who feed the catfish? Some seven years ago I resembled him to a bottom-feeding catfish who was struggling to reach the top of the food chain by resorting to similar sycophantic tactics.
I wished Jeff Bezos of Amazon who owns the Washington Post newspaper would fire this catfish’s ass as a columnist. As for the CNN, it is simply the flip side of the Fox coin when it comes to issues dealing with foreign affairs, especially concerning Israel.
I am neither an Islam apologist nor supportive of the barbaric savageries committed by the Da’esh or IS fanatics. I have simply tried here to expose Mr. Zakaria for the journalistic fraud that he is. I think Donald Trump should consider Mr. Zakaria for a new Cabinet position, should he be elected President this November: The Secretary of Self-Righteous Indignation!
About the author:
Kambiz Zarrabi is the
author of In Zarathushtra's Shadow and Necessary Illusion.He has conducted lectures and seminars on international affairs,
particularly in relation to Iran, with focus on US/Iran issues. Zarrabi's latest book is Iran, Back in Context.
... Payvand News - 06/01/16 ... --