The Journalism That Failed—Anne Barnard’s New York Times Agitprop on Imam Feisal Rauf

Anne Barnard: Reporting, or playing Wonderland croquet with herself?

After reading a studious account of Imam Feisal Rauf’s Malaysian activities by my journalist colleague Alyssa Lappen, and listening to an interview of the courageous investigative reporter Steven Emerson, who has compiled recorded evidence of Rauf’s Islamic radicalism based upon hours of audio taped lectures and statements,  I read Anne Barnard’s New York Times 8/21-22/2010 piece, entitled “Balancing Act for Imam in Muslim Center Furor.”

Reading Ms. Barnard’s story reminded me of Arthur Koestler’s description in  “The God That Failed” of working for the Soviet Agitprop EKKI as a  “delegate of the Revolutionary Proletarian Writers of Germany.” Koestler was a brilliant writer, but before qualifying for this particular writing assignment, he had gradually learned from his willing Communist  indoctrination,

…to distrust my mechanistic pre-occupation with facts and to regard the world around me the world around me in the light of dialectic interpretation. It was a satisfactory and indeed blissful state; once you had assimilated the technique you were no longer disturbed by facts; they automatically took on the proper color and fell into their proper place.

Extraordinarily well-paid for rather minimal effort, Koestler described how it was

…a pleasant feeling to have a nest egg in the Socialist sixth of the earth. In exceptional cases the State Publishing Trust is even authorized to convert part of the sum into the author’s home currency and to send it to him in monthly installments. I know of two famous exiled German authors in France who for years drew monthly royalty checks of this kind, though one of them had never published a book in Russia. Both were passionate and lucid critics of democratic corruption; neither of them has ever written a word of criticism of the Soviet Union.

Similarly, you will not find a word of criticism of the irredentist Islamic societies Feisal Rauf frequents in Ms. Barnard’s hagiography of the “peacemaking, moderate imam.” Instead, Ann Bernard and those of her ilk consciously champion the Sharia-based Islamic totalitarianism embraced by the Muslim Brotherhood ideologue, Imam Rauf. Koestler’s story, contrastingly, is a brutally honest, wrenching mea culpa which concludes with insights thus far unattainable by doctrinaire, willfully blind cultural relativist journalists such as Barnard. Her work epitomizes the journalism that has failed.

Arthur Koestler’s experiences, and reflections upon them, are critically relevant to the present age.  Anne Barnard and an entire generation of like-minded journalists, so enamored of Islamic totalitarianism, ignore Koestler’s insights on Communist totalitarianism at great peril to our most fundamental freedoms. Will she, and they, continue on in the ignominious path of the New York Times’ own “Pulitzer Prize-winning” shill for Communist totalitarianism, the utterly mendacious Walter Duranty*, who despite first hand knowledge to the contrary, denied the genocidal famine the Soviets deliberately orchestrated in the Ukraine, and unlike Koestler never recanted those reports? [*See Robert Conquest’s “Harvest of Sorrow,” pp. 319-20]

What follows is Koestler’s own eyewitness account of the images he saw during the Ukrainian famine, and his indoctrinated mindset at that time:

I saw the ravages of the famine of 1932-33 in the Ukraine: hordes of families in rags begging at the railway stations, the women lifting up to the compartment window their starving brats which—with drumstick limbs, big cadaverous heads, puffed bellies—looked like embryos out of alcohol bottles; the old men with frost-bitten toes sticking out of torn slippers. I was told that these were the kulaks who had resisted the collectivization of the land and accepted the explanation; they were enemies of the people who preferred begging to work. The maid in the Hotel Regina in Kharkov fainted from hunger while doing my room: the manager explained that she was fresh from the countryside and through a technical glitch had not yet been issued her ration cards; I accepted the technical hitch.

I not only accepted the famine as inevitable, but also the ban on foreign travel, foreign newspapers and books, and the dissemination of a grotesquely distorted picture of life in the capitalist world…[P]ropaganda was indispensable for the survival of the Soviet Union surrounded by a hostile world. The necessary lie, the necessary slander; the necessary intimidation of the masses to preserve them from shortsighted errors; the necessary liquidation of oppositional groups and classes; the necessary sacrifice of a whole generation in the interest of the next—it may all sound monstrous and yet it was so easy to accept while rolling along the track of faith….[This] mental world…is difficult to explain to the outsider who has never entered the magic circle and played Wonderland croquet** with himself.

(** “Alice thought she had never seen such a curious croquet-ground in her life; it was all ridges and furrows; the balls were live hedgehogs, the mallets live flamingoes, and the soldiers had to double themselves up and to stand on their hands and feet, to make the arches.”)

Andrew G. Bostom is the author of The Legacy of Jihad (Prometheus, 2005) and The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism " (Prometheus, November, 2008) You can contact Dr. Bostom at @andrewbostom.org

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