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April 3, 2006 | by  | in Features | [ssba]

Robert Fisk is a Hero.

We live in a world in which people are lied to, frequently, by those that lead them.

It chills me that this is not a debatable fact. The evidence is irrefutable. It is not often highlighted and made public, but it has become a substantiated truth that has crossed over from the realms of conspiracy theory.

The last five years have been characterised by these lies on a global political scale by these lies. The war on terror, and its implications on what was already a pretty inconsistent American foreign policy, is still head and shoulders above any other global issue in terms of news space. It is given prominence over far more pressing and neglected issues.

We live in a world that against its own will has been dragged into a constructed war of ideology by its global forces.

But so what? It is not new that leaders have lied to the public. Clinton and Kennedy were pussy hounds who had considerably varying degrees of success in covering this up. Reagan was a cold and unfeeling President both economically, and in terms of foreign policy. Nixon hated Jews with a passion and, as it transpired, was actually a crook.

In the information age, it’s becoming harder for a country’s leaders to hide their lies. I’m not really willing, or able, to claim whether leaders are getting more dishonest, but people would know a lot less about George W. Bush if he was in power 30 years ago. It might be nicer to have a degree of ignorance towards dear George, but I can’t. And what is more amazing, is that the information is out there. Some of the most horrendous statistics and facts would meet a simply inquiring mind regarding Bush if enough people were looking.

But people aren’t looking. There aren’t people pointing out the facts of Bush’s failings. There aren’t balanced and measured arguments informing and educating a public. The press keeps people stupid, and the government takes care of the rest. We are talking about someone who ignored the advice of most of his top military officials to invade a country they all told him he couldn’t ever leave once he entered, and who fired them for disagreeing with him on troop projections. This was all for a war that, once entered, castrated the United Nations, violated international law and killed hundreds of thousands of people. People were telling Bush that Iraq was a near impossible country to keep the peace in long before the war began. These people don’t work for Bush anymore. And most of them campaigned for Kerry. But Bush still won the election, with nothing but horrific results to show from his first four years.

The agenda is set, and somehow people are just not seeing. People are not seeing the lies and the bullshit. We might here in New Zealand, snug in arrogant pacifism that comes from never being in the middle of anything important. But in the States there are many who just don’t get why Bush is bad, even with the facts in front of them.

Which to me is an indictment on the press. The press is failing. Big time. The wool has been pulled. The nasty motherfucker everyone wanted Clinton to so badly be, arrived, and got away with it. The fog of ignorance may now be lifting, the Bush administration is running out of steam and puff, but people need to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

This is but one small aspect of why Robert Fisk is so utterly relevant. His fame, which I am sure will be a gripe of Mr. Holm’s, is what gives platform to Fisk’s exceptional work. Robert Fisk has balls of steel: he published immediately after September 11 what is widely believed now – that 9/11 was used as a blueprint to rewrite and violate international law. He had the gall to write a piece identifying with the Afghani hoard that beat him up, in the heart of the white man versus archaic Arab stupor that followed 9/11. Hell, any man who has raised the ire of John Malkovich strangely earns my respect.

The anti-Bush culture has turned into an industry thanks to Michael Moore. I’d give Michael Moore a kick in the crotch if I saw him, for using the same propagandist techniques of the right in his criticisms. Moore’s methodology brings disrepute to a good argument and its unintelligence allows the whole point to be jeopardised. But Fisk has a journalistic background, something that I would debate Moore knows much about. And while Fisk’s rhetoric is similar, it runs a far more educated line and has considerably more depth than Moore’s.

Fisk has been a fierce campaigner in the Middle East, as a reporter getting right into the conflict at the risk of his own life. His columns are brutal in their honesty, yet impeccably researched in their opinions. Fisk has become trendy, I will say that, but becoming revered in much the same way Moore once was – while annoying – is important. Fisk’s narrative crossing over into the mainstream sees a far more intelligent, researched and harder to discredit voice speaking out against the major governments of the world and reporting on the undeniable truth of the frontline.

It gives me confidence that, politically, in 20 years time the global political scene will not be characterised by another dishonest president.

Nick’s Right of Reply
To even mention Robert Fisk and Michael Moore together in the same paragraph is to cut straight to the quick of the problem with Fisk. This is a man who is allegedly the world’s most objective human being, yet who has been completely and utterly commandeered by a politically distinct slice of the community.

The problem doesn’t appear to lie with Fisk himself, who seems sincerely sick of having to black-and-white the world into Bush equals bad formulas. Rather it seems the cult of Fisk has eclipsed the man himself, and any words he wishes to say bear little in the way of comparison to what his worshippers will hear. And for the record, if we’re kicking Michael Moore in the nuts, I’m off to buy a pair of steel caps.


About the Author ()

James Robinson is a university dropout turned journalist who likes to pretend he has an honours degree. Turn ons include soup, scarfs, a hot bath and some FM-smooth Kenny G-esque instrumental jazz. Turn offs include student politicians, the homeless, and people who pronounce it supposebly.

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