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Balanced Fare: We Report, You Deride

Monday, May 13, 2002

My letter to Robert Fisk

Rober Fisk burst across the blogosphere heavens last December with an account of his beating at the hands of a crowd of angry Afghans. Since then, this particular anti-American, anti-Israeli Euro-bleater has had a bit of a rough go, as he describes in this touching column. Because he seems to want friendlier e-mails, I tried to oblige, below.

Dear Mr. Fisk;

I hope this e-mail reaches you. I wasn't sure whether to address it to the news desk, the features desk, or the comics section, but away we go:

I think you make a valid point in your recent column, "Why does John Malkovich want to kill me?" In the Middle East, Palestinians strap explosives around the waists of teenagers and send them into Israel with the hope of killing themselves and as many Jews as possible. Meanwhile, back in London, you are receiving hateful e-mails. Civility has certainly disappeared on both sides.

I marvel at your blithe assertion, in your description of your beating in Afghanistan, that "I could not blame my attackers, that if I had suffered their grief, I would have done the same." But there are roughly 3,00 dead in the US, and hundreds dead in Israel. Perhaps the people attacking you over the internet are also feeling pain and grief. Where is your sympathy for them? Or are they not hitting you hard enough to feel it?

I actually do have a vague recollection of your original piece describing your beating at the hands of a crowd in Afghanistan. I had originally taken it as intended for the Onion, or perhaps a suitable British counterpart - you know, amusing satire, sharp wit, very British. If I may paraphrase the part I found most biting:

"I understood the helpless anger of the crowd - 200 years of British imperialism, the brutal Russian occupation, now yet another atrocity committed by yet another group of foreigners, this time American bombers - or perhaps they were just trying to steal my camera." You truly have a masterful comic insight.

I also enjoyed a bit near the close, which I must rephrase from memory:

"My face was bloody as they struck me with rocks. As I wallowed in self-pity and anti-imperialist self-loathing, my life flashed before my eyes. But then I said, "Oh, piss on it. What would Margaret Thatcher do? What would George Bush do?" So I drew myself up to my full, imposing Western height and smacked one of my assailants in the face. Hah! They ran like schoolboys! In fact, as I wiped the blood from my eyes, I could see that they WERE schoolboys! Hey, sometimes this "fighting back" idea really works!"

Oh, it was a brilliant piece all right. For a new column, why don't you travel to Ramallah and interview "Palestinians in the Street". Ask them whether they are worried about corruption in the Palestinian Authority, whether they would like supervised elections, and whether they think they will be able to get their lives on track if they don't succeed in killing all the Jews. Then you can report back on how the Palestinians treat a Western journalist who doesn't suck up to them. You just might make John Malkovich's day.


The MinuteMan

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