Carol Platt Liebau: Anthony Lewis: Wrong, As Always

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Anthony Lewis: Wrong, As Always

Writing in The International Herald-Tribune, former New York Times-man Anthony Lewis gives his anti-American impulses full play (HT: Hugh Hewitt):

In the view of the administration, then, it is "humane" to make a detainee urinate on himself, force him to bark like a dog, or chain him to the floor for 18 hours.

It would be interesting to know where Mr. Lewis receives his information. And it should be noted that his judgment in similar matters has been somewhat "lacking" in the past, to put it charitably.

Take this excellent piece from April of 2001 by Jeff Jacoby. Titled "Pol Pot's Cheerleader," it details The New York Times' shortsighted and wilful blindness to the real threat posed to the Cambodian people by Pol Pot (recently back in the news, thanks to Senator Dick Durbin).

Despite President Ford's entreaties to the Democratic Congress that it continue to aid the pro-American government currently in power, and Republican assertions that a bloodbath would ensue if America withdrew, the Democrats (true to form) cut off all support, paving the way for Pol Pot.

On the op-ed page [of The New York Times], Anthony Lewis was calling "the whole bloodbath debate unreal. What future could possibly be more terrible," he demanded, "than the reality of what is happening to Cambodia now?"

As the death marches out of Phnom Penh proceeded, Lewis went on making excuses for the Khmer Rouge. He mused that the mass expulsions were "the only way to start on their vision of a new society." Americans who objected were guilty of "cultural arrogance, an imperial assumption, that ... our way of life" would be better.

Let's be clear. What happened under Pol Pot was real torture. If you've got a strong stomach, check out this. Here is a little written reminder of what real torture was like (and to what Durbin compared our soldiers' behavior), courtesy of this piece in The Christian Science Monitor:

Some of these class enemies were killed immediately; others were imprisoned and tortured. Arrest presupposed guilt, so interrogators sought to force prisoners to reveal their treason. "Why did you betray the Party?" they would ask. "Who else belongs to your secret network?" The Khmer Rouge utilized a wide range of torture techniques - electric shocks, asphyxiation, immersion in water, forcing the consumption of feces and urine, stringing prisoners up in the air, and prolonged bodily stress . . ..

Between one and two million people were murdered by the Khmer Rouge. Contrary to Anthony Lewis' assertion, the "bloodbath debate" was painfully real for them. And note that even the worst behavior ascribed to Americans, if true, wouldn't come anywhere close.

How to reconcile Lewis' cavalier treatment of the Cambodians with his concern for the 500 (out of 10,000 captured on the battlefield) at Guantanamo? How to reconcile his tolerance for the Khmer Rouge with his outrage at the U.S.? There's a theme here, isn't there? Whatever makes America seem bad or wrong -- that's what Anthony Lewis, and others of his ilk, will believe and propagate.


Blogger Mr.Atos said...

What is the view of the major television networks, affording negative coverage of the treatment of violent detainees at GITMO, when teir treatment of contestants on so-called reality programming like "Fear Factor" is far far worse then what was depicted by one anonymous FBI agent having been done to a butcher who helped plan the massacre of some 3000 Americans? Obviously it is a rhetorical question.

2:22 PM  
Blogger Fred said...

Perhaps Mr. Lewis recieves his information from one of those sophisticated European diplomats that hang around Manhattan:

"....The (senior German consulate offical), however, was just getting started. Bad as U.S. economic policy was, it was as nothing next to our human-rights record. Had I read the recent Amnesty International report on Guantanamo? "You mean the one that compared it to the Soviet gulag?" Yes, that one. My host disagreed with it: The gulag was better than Gitmo, since at least the Stalinist system offered its victims a trial of sorts.

Nor was that all. Civil rights in the U.S., he said, were on a par with those of North Korea and rather behind what they had been in Europe in the Middle Ages. When I offered that, as a journalist, I had encountered no restrictions on press freedom, he cut me off. "That's because The Wall Street Journal takes its orders from the government."

By then we had sat down at the formal dining table, with our backs to Ground Zero a half-mile away and our eyes on the boats on the river below us. My wife and I made abortive attempts at ordinary conversation. We were met with non sequiturs: "The only people who appreciate American foreign policy are poodles." After further bizarre pronouncements, including a lecture on the illegality of the Holocaust under Nazi law, my wife said that she felt unwell. We gathered our things and left...."

9:03 PM  

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