How better to introduce John Pilger than to quote from a notorious piece he published in The Guardian in July of 2002? The piece in question, we hasten to point out, isn’t much more appalling that many of the other things he’s written during his more than half-century-long career. But it certainly is representative, and it spells out his worldview with considerable – and disgusting – clarity.
“It is 10 months since 11 September,” he wrote,
and still the great charade plays on. Having appropriated our shocked response to that momentous day, the rulers of the world have since ground our language into a paean of cliches and lies about the ‘war on terrorism’ – when the most enduring menace, and source of terror, is them….There is no war on terrorism; it is the great game speeded up. The difference is the rampant nature of the superpower, ensuring infinite dangers for us all.
Those sentences pretty much sum up Pilger’s worldview. Everything that happens in the world can be explained by a single, overarching, black-and-white narrative: the West, with the U.S. at its helm, is an evil force, poisoned by cutthroat capitalism, bloodthirsty imperialism, and an abiding illusion of freedom (Pilger refers to America and its allies as “societies that call themselves free”) and motivated by an unflagging lust to overpower and control the rest of the planet.
All the tensions in the Middle East, therefore, are the fault of Israel, which is nothing more or less than a terrorist outpost of the West, run by the likes of “supreme terrorist Ariel Sharon.” (“[T]he Zionist state,” Pilger has written, “remains the cause of more regional grievance and sheer terror than all the Muslim states combined.”) Hamas, Hezbollah, all of them, are only reactive forces, lashing out in defensive response to the West’s vicious assaults.
In the same way, Castro is a hero, and Cuban freedom fighters are terrorists. Today’s Japan is “very ultra-nationalist…the kind of Israel of Asia, for the United States,” while today’s Communist China is an innocuous country that seeks only to develop its economy without Western interference. The Sandinistas in Nicaragua were saints; their opponents were demons. When it comes to sheer wickedness, the worst Taliban fanatics, in Pilger’s view, have nothing on “the Christian Right fundamentalists running the plutocracy in Washington.” Ukraine’s 2014 democratic revolution was “Washington’s putsch in Kiev,” and it turned Ukraine “into a CIA theme park right next to Russia.”
On and on it goes. Ho Chi Minh was a good guy; the U.S. waged the Vietnam War not just against North Vietnam but against all of Vietnam, “north and south, communist and non-communist.” (No mention, of course, of Ho’s epic brutality, of the pernicious role of China, or of the dark reality of Communism in postwar Vietnam.)
Even Osama bin Laden himself was not so horrible compared to the real bad guys: “Al-Qaeda’s training camps in Afghanistan,” wrote Pilger, “were kindergartens compared with the world’s leading university of terrorism at Fort Benning in Georgia.” Yes, he actually wrote that. All too often, his stuff reads like some kind of parody of knee-jerk anti-Americanism.
Who is this clown? We’ll dig deeper tomorrow.