America’s most dangerous professor?

No sooner had we spent a week covering some of the more appalling useful idiots on California university faculties – much of our information being taken from the invaluable Canary Mission website – than that site trumped itself with a new report on a man whom it calls “the most dangerous professor in America.”

Hatem Bazian

As a graduate student, Hatem Bazian ran the Palestinian students’ group at San Francisco State University and the Muslim Students Association at Berkeley. Now a lecturer in UC Berkeley’s Department of Ethnic Studies, he also serves as provost and as a faculty member at Zaytuna College for Muslim Studies, which he co-founded. He also founded Students for Justice in Palestine as well as Berkeley’s Center for the Study of Documentation of Islamophobia.

Canary Mission cites a 2004 event at which Bazian asked an audience at Berkeley: “How come we don’t have an intifada in this country?” Though he later claimed he was not calling for violence, he said at another event: “The only language that the slave master understands is the language of violence.” In addition, he refused to condemn terrorist actions by Hamas and Hezbollah. In 1999, Bazian was reported by the Detroit News to have cited with approval a line from the Hadith: “The Day of Judgment will not happen until the trees and stones will say, ‘Oh Muslim, there is a Jew hiding behind me, come and kill him.’” In a 2017 lecture, Bazian identified Middle East scholars Martin Kramer, Daniel Pipes, and Steven Emerson as “Islamophobes.”

After 9/11, he published a largely incoherent, semi-literate, and altogether strange series of statements about Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and PLO leader Yasir Arafat: “Sharon has been working earnestly to create or fomenting [sic] internal tension within the Palestinian Authority in such a way that can bring about a decision from an inside group, which no longer views Arafat [sic] actions to be in their best interests, and undertake his assassination.” He went on: “Sharon have [sic] decided that it would be better for Israel to have the Islamic forces in charge of Palestinian affairs because he would have more sympathy in the West fighting ‘Islamic Fundamentalist’ terrorism….We most certainly will hear some Israelis with the distinct N. Y. English accent remained [sic] all of us of the often used cruel statement that the ‘Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.’”

As one commentator wondered years ago, apropos of these odd reflections: “How can university deans and chancellors, in good conscience, hire professors who cannot speak or write grammatically? How do those same professors maintain credibility, let alone win Ph.D.s, when they cannot pass a standard written English test?”

The Canary Mission website describes Bazian as a “chameleon”: “In the academic world, he is slick and intellectual. In his writings he has a sophisticated anti-Zionist narrative that delegitimizes the Jewish people’s history, identity and connection to Israel…[A]t rallies the veneer falls away and we see his crude racist rhetoric — a rhetoric that is aggressive and pro-violence.” The website added that Bazian was unusually menacing because of his “mesmerizing influence over many students.” Canary Mission further noted the importance of his role as founder of the SJP, chapters of which have held events at which members chanted “Intifada, intifada, long live the intifada” – which, Canary Mission pointed out, is “exactly what Bazian preaches.”

John Pilger’s “great game”

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John Pilger

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.

johnpilgerThis is the aforementioned “great game.” Every non-Western nation is a victim of this game; every non-Western people is virtuous; every non-Western culture is superior to the West.

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.

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With Hugo Chavez

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.”

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Ho Chi Minh

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.

Karl Vick, dishonest reporter

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Karl Vick

In our last couple of outings, we met Karl Vick of Time Magazine, who in recent months has made a fool of himself gushing over the “charm” of Havana’s rubble and enthusing over Cuba’s “social equality” – meaning, of course, that everybody there except for members of the top brass is dirt-poor.

But in fact Vick’s role as a useful stooge for Castro is a new one. For the past few years, serving as Time‘s Jerusalem bureau chief, he’s served in the same capacity in relation to various armed entities in the Mideast which, despite their unwavering hatred and violence, he continually represents as having turned over a new leaf. He assured readers that the reformist rhetoric of the “Arab Spring” was totally legit; he’s insisted repeatedly that the Muslim Brotherhood is a moderate force; and for years he’s been claiming that Hamas has turned friendly (or is about to turn friendly any minute now) toward Israel.

Meanwhile he routinely smears Israel.

Time cover-resizeTake his 2010 Time cover story “Why Israel Doesn’t Care About Peace.” The article’s premise: while the world views Israel through the prism of “the blood feud with the Arabs whose families used to live on this land,” Israelis themselves are too busy “making money,” hanging around Tel Aviv cafes, and lying on the beach to care about the peace process. The Honest Reporting (HR) website gave Vick a “Dishonest Reporting Award” for the piece, noting that he “appears to subtly reject Israel’s historic claims to the land and to imply that Israelis are at fault in the conflict, since the land really belongs to the Arabs.” Also, he “distorts Israeli resilience in the face of a decade of rocket attacks and terrorism into an image of decadence.” While Israel, argued HR, had made numerous peace moves – “Ehud Barak’s offer of a state at Camp David, Ariel Sharon’s withdrawal from Gaza, Binyamin Netanyahu’s settlement freeze” – Vick “blame[d] Israel for years of stalemate”; at the same time, “[w]hile there have been no parallel moves from the Palestinians to advance the peace process, only ever-increasing demands on Israel, Vick gives the impression that the Palestinians have been doing everything they can to make peace possible.”

HR wasn’t the only outfit to criticize Vick’s article; the Anti-Defamation League protested too, saying that Vick’s “insidious subtext of Israeli Jews being obsessed with money echoes the age-old anti-Semitic falsehood that Jews care about money above any other interest, in this case achieving peace with the Palestinians.”

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The article “Why Israel Doesn’t Care about Peace” featured this photo, captioned “Israelis at the beach in Tel Aviv”

A few months after Vick’s cover story, violent Syrians on the Golan Heights tried to charge across the Israeli border; Israel denied Syrian state media’s claim that IDF troops killed 22 of them. Vick reported it this way:

Television images on Sunday…showed apparently unarmed Palestinian civilians marching peacefully down a hill toward Israeli soldiers who had assumed firing positions. Then came a crackle of gunshots; bloodied bodies were then carried back up the hill. It went on for hours, with 20 people reported dead according to Syrian state television. The human cost was high but for a Palestinian movement trying to reframe itself, the footage at least set it on a course along on the lines of Birmingham, Soweto and Gandhi’s Salt March….

HR commented: “Aside from falsely presenting Palestinians as Gandhian acolytes, this description certainly does not correspond with other media reports that confirmed that the IDF had issued clear warnings in Arabic and fired tear gas before firing over the heads of the Palestinians in an attempt to convince them to halt. The use of live fire and then, only used selectively, was solely a last resort.”

A Palestinian woman and a child walk together on their way to a celebration for land that was recently returned to the Palestinians after Israel rerouted a section of it's controversial barrier which separates the Jewish settlement of Modiin Illit (seen in the background) and the West Bank village of Bilin, near Ramallah July 1, 2011. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman (WEST BANK - Tags: POLITICS)
This picture of a woman and child accompanied one of Vick’s articles on Palestinians

Not long afterward, a poll of Palestinians showed that 62% supported the kidnapping of IDF soldiers, 53% thought it was a good idea to teach children songs about hating Jews, and 73% approved of the indiscriminate killing of Jews. Most media reports on the poll downplayed these disturbing numbers, but Vick, according to HR, was the “[w]orst offender.” Recalling Vick’s article “Why Israel Doesn’t Care About Peace,” based on “anecdotal street interviews with a few unrepresentative Israelis,” HR’s Simon Plosker asked: “what happened when Vick was presented with statistical evidence that it may be Palestinians and not Israelis who have issues with peace?” What happened was that Vick wrote the following:

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Vick’s articles about Palestinians are rarely if ever accompanied by pictures like this

Palestinians are trudging down the same long road as Israelis. Yes, they want peace. No, they don’t think the other side will play ball. So for now their priority is private life: Getting food on the table and keeping the kids safe.

As Plosker observed, this was quite a contrast to Vick’s portrait of Israelis in his 2010 cover story: When a few random Israelis prioritized private issues over diplomacy, they aren’t interested in peace according to Vick’s previous article. But in his latest offering, when Palestinians say the same thing, they are presented as pro-peace despite rejecting a two-state solution and expounding Jew hatred.”

We’re not done. More tomorrow.