Thursday, June 09, 2005
In December 1996, Robert Fisk of the London newspaper The Independent traveled to the mountains north of Khartoum where he met Osama bin Laden. The opening sentences of the article he wrote about the meeting went as follows:
First of all, Mr. Windschuttle gets two very simple, checkable things, very, very wrong. The story is from December 1993, not 1996. And the place the author meets bin Laden is not the mountains north of Khartoum, but the desert in Almatig, Sudan.
Osama Bin Laden sat in his gold-fringed robe, guarded by loyal Arab mujahedin… . With his high cheekbones, narrow eyes and long brown robe, Mr. Bin Laden looks every inch the mountain warrior of mujahedin legend. Chadored children danced in front of him, preachers acknowledged his wisdom.
Whoops! But I’m sure the self-correcting blogosphere will take care of that one.
Copyright 1993 Newspaper Publishing PLC The Independent (London)
December 6, 1993, Monday
SECTION: INTERNATIONAL NEWS PAGE; Page 10
LENGTH: 1088 words
HEADLINE: Anti-Soviet warrior puts his army on the road to peace; The Saudi businessman who recruited mujahedin now uses them for large-scale building projects in Sudan. Robert Fisk met him in Almatig
But what of those ellipses? What could be missing there? Anyone want to venture a guess? Let’s replay that lead, with the omission in bold:
Osama Bin Laden sat in his gold-fringed robe, guarded by loyal Arab mujahedin who fought alongside him in Afghanistan.
Uh-oh. Is this the same bin Laden that helped defeat the Soviets? The same immortalized in Rambo III? The same backed by U.S. money and weapons? Interesting omission Mr. Windschuttle.
But that doesn’t stop our critic from concluding that many war-reporters hate Jews the world over because Jewish lands "contained no aristocrats" (read it to believe) and of course, hate America and are cheering for the other side to win. Did we mention that he believes, from this passage quoted above, that Arab culture “reeks of homoeroticism.” Did we mention that Instapundit links approvingly?
Read the whole thing, as they say.
I'm certainly glad we have mind-readers and motive-diviners like Keith Windschuttle and Glenn Reynolds around to spread the knowledge. One wonders if they even scanned the rest of Fisk’s article from 1993 (not 1996!) Here’s a choice quote:
Outside Sudan, Mr Bin Laden is not regarded with quite such high esteem. The Egyptian press claims he brought hundreds of former Arab fighters back to Sudan from Afghanistan, while the Western embassy circuit in Khartoum has suggested that some of the ''Afghans'' whom this Saudi entrepreneur flew to Sudan are now busy training for further jihad wars in Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt.
Or how about this one?
When the history of the Afghan resistance movement is written, Mr Bin Laden's own contribution to the mujahedin - and the indirect result of his training and assistance - may turn out to be a turning- point in the recent history of militant fundamentalism;
Isn’t it clear? Fisk was rooting for us to fail, in 1993, when no one knew who the hell bin Laden was, when no one was even paying the slightest bit of attention to any of this, when no one other than Robert Fisk was doing any reporting on this.
Look, there are good criticisms to be made of this man’s reporting. This just doesn't happen to be one of them.
Is there anyone who doesn't doubt that the U.S. -- in a very big way -- helped create Osama bin Laden? I would imagine only the most rabid and delusional partisans would.
UPDATE: Just wanted to see what kind of scholar wrote that laughable and error-riddled screed. Well, here's the bio:
Keith Windschuttle is an author and publisher who is a frequent contributor to The New Criterion and Quadrant. He is author of The Killing of History: How Literary Critics and Social Theorists Are Murdering Our Past, which is now in its fourth edition from Encounter Books, and five other books on contemporary social issues. His book The Fabrication of Aboriginal History, Volume One, Van Diemen's Land 1803-1847, will be published by Macleay Press, Sydney, in November.
He is publisher of Macleay Press, Sydney. He is a graduate in history from the University of Sydney and in politics from Macquarie University. He is a former academic who taught history, social policy and media studies the University of New South Wales and other Australian universities. His principal research interests are in historiography, especially of Australian and American history, and in the theories of history produced in the last two hundred years.
Pray for his students.