May 19, 2005

Column 2005-5-19 Commentary

I'm fairly busy right now, and Brooks gets enough right in his column that I don't feel there's anything I can really sink my teeth into, so this commentary will be pretty short. Anyway, this whole Newsweek flap is fairly stupid. After all, Newsweek is hardly the first organization to report a story without accurately sourcing it. But because some Taliban used this report as an excuse for violence in Afghanistan and Afghan soldiers and police, unused to the concept of dispersing crowds peacefully, fired at protesters who were protesting against the Afghan government and the American occupation as much as against allegations that Korans had been flushed down toilets at Guantanamo, right-wingers cried "Newsweek lied, people died" and the administration did everything but demand that the editors of Newsweek appear to beg for forgiveness in sackcloth and ashes for having the temerity to publish such a story, apparently because it's obviously not credible (we will beat, rape, and kill prisoners, but we would never flush the Koran down the toilet). Naturally the left had to respond to these stupidities, and most did get the point that the right and the administration are trying to use this to further suppress the press, but some got caught up in defending Newsweek, which is too bad since they screwed up, and the veracity of the Koran-toilet allegation, which is too bad because it would be much more productive to focus on worse abuses, such as the murder of two prisoners at Bagram Air Base documented in Friday's Times. The whole thing has been completely blown out of proportion, and I don't feel like writing any more about it.