Not Waters, but a swamp

Roger Waters

Time to revisit Roger Waters. In November 2015, we spent several days pondering the aging rocker and former Pink Floyd front man. We noted that in 2012, he defended Hamas terrorists, characterizing them as victims of Israeli “apartheid,” “ethnic cleansing,” and “occupation.” In 2013, his concerts featured “a pig-shaped balloon adorned with Jewish symbols, including a Star of David.” He also compared Israelis to Nazis. “The parallels with what went on in the 1930s in Germany are so crushingly obvious,” he said of the supposed Israeli mistreatment of Palestinians.

Robbie Williams

In 2015, Salon ran an open letter by Waters to singer Robbie Williams, who was scheduled to perform in Tel Aviv. Waters informed Williams that Israelis view Palestinian children “as grass to be mowed” and instructed him that if he took the stage in Israel, he would be supporting “the deaths of over 500 Palestinian children last summer in Gaza…and condoning the arrest and abuse of hundreds of Palestinian children each year living under Israeli occupation.” Later that year, Salon published an even more virulent rant addressed to the band Bon Jovi, whose members he accused of being complicit in the murder of babies.

Liel Leibovitz

We were so awed by Waters’s bile that we named him one of the top ten stooges of 2015.

As we noted in our 2015 articles, Waters has been heavily criticized in some quarters for his anti-Jewish bile. Some very smart and well-informed people have tried to talk sense to him. But none of it has sunk in. He’s hung in there, sprewing his enmity. One of his most recent explosions was recounted by Liel Leibovitz in The Tablet on July 11. “[I]t takes a lot to move me, especially when it comes to the never-ending torrent of bigoted drivel produced by Israel’s shrillest detractors,” wrote Leibovitz. “But this week, Roger Waters proved he still has the stuff, producing a masterpiece of hate that deserves a moment of consideration.”

That anti-Semitic pig

Leibovitz went on to explain that at a performance in London’s Hyde Park, Waters had displayed “political slogans on the Jumbotrons.” They were inane: “Resist the Military Industrial Complex!” “Resist Rattling Your Sabre at Iran.” And so on. But the most absurd was this: “Resist Israeli anti-Semitism.” Meaning what? Meaning, apparently, that in the mind of Roger Waters, as Leibovitz put it, “the world’s only Jewish state is guilty of Jew-hatred.” Commented Leibovitz: “It’s not only an idiotic statement, but an astonishingly pernicious one as well. It begins with Waters appointing himself the arbiter of what passes for anti-Jewish persecution….And it continues with the rock star searching for evidence of anti-Jewish bigotry and finding it in the only place in the world where Jews are fully responsible for their own collective destiny.”

Waters might or might not know this, but as Leibovitz pointed out,

Blaming the Jews for their own misfortune…isn’t a new trick. It’s been a seminal feature of anti-Semitic rhetoric for millennia, and it served well squadrons of hissing haters who argued that if so many people want to exterminate the Jews, well, it must be for some good reason. But the modern incarnation of this ancient hatred is particularly grotesque: Speaking the hollowed-out language of the regressive left, Waters not only blames the Jews for their own troubles, but does so while claiming to be a champion of human rights. He’s telling his fans that it’s very important to take anti-Semitism seriously, and then adding that the only way to do it is to target the Jews.

Three cheers to Leibovitz and The Tablet for calling Waters out. But why isn’t there more rage at his bigotry? Why does he still have a career? “In an age when entertainers can lose their livelihood for one gauche tweet,” Leibovitz mused, “you can only wonder why no one seems too eager to censor this singing anti-Semite.”

A pornographic mind: Randa Jarrar

Randa Jarrar

Last week, the death of Barbara Bush’s death occasioned a series of exceedingly ugly tweets that made headlines. The tweets, as we discussed on Tuesday, were written by Randa Jarrar, a Professor of English and teacher of creative writing at California State University in Fresno. Who is Jarrar? Over to Wikipedia:

Randa Jarrar was born in 1978 in Chicago to a Greek-Egyptian mother and a Palestinian father. She grew up in Kuwait and Egypt. After the Gulf War in 1991, her family moved back to the US, living in the New York area when she was 13. Jarrar studied creative writing at Sarah Lawrence College, receiving an MA in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Texas at Austin, and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Michigan. She has taught College Writing, Creative Writing, and Arab-American literature.

No one who knows Jarrar would be surprised by her Barbara Bush tweets. As the Daily Wire reported on April 18, Jarrar has a history of unpleasant tweets. “I can’t wait for the old white guard of literary writers and ‘critics’ to die. Their time is fucking up, too,” she tweeted in January. More recently she has tweeted about “fucking white women” and told someone on Twitter to “fuck outta here with your white feminism. I said don’t at me bitch. I’m a professor.”

Her own so-called “creative writing” is awash in similar nastiness. In one of her tweets, she called Barbara Bush a racist; in fact, Jarrar confesses in her own oeuvre that she’s a racist.

O.J. Simpson and lawyer Robert Shapiro

In one memoir, for example, she recalls cheering the “not guilty” verdict in the O.J. Simpson double murder trial. “I was siding with Simpson,” she explains, “because he was a person of color.” In other words, she knowingly cheered the acquittal of a brutal wife-killer because he was black.

At the time she was a young waitress. But in the piece, no longer young, she gives no indication of regretting that youthful moment of jubilation. She is not the reflective sort, not a nuanced thinker. Racial identity and the racist label are, to a considerable extent, what she has in place of actual thought. Consider, for example, a piece for Salon, Why I Can’t Stand White Belly-Dancers,” in which she accused white woman who engage in belly dancing of racist cultural appropriation.

Barbara Bush

But enough about race. The important point here is that Jarrar is just not that good a writer. The memoir mentioned above, “What Love Is,” is a rambling mishmash the premise of which seems to be that anything that ever happened to her is, because it happened to her, by definition fascinating. Shoveled into this single essay are anecdotes about the time she got a nose ring, about her parents’ kooky diets, about a school friend whom she admired because she worked as a stripper, and so on; the main story is about her involvement with a violent boyfriend who got her pregnant and then engaged in “reproductive coercion” – i.e., he forced her to have a baby.

We wrote recently about third-wave feminist books with titles like Bitch and Shrill. Here’s another one, to which Jarrar has contributed: Nasty Women

In another memoir, “Neither Slave nor Pharaoh,” she writes about her involvement in sexual bondage and discipline: “I met Abdallah on Tinder. He was looking for a dominant woman to step on his cock. I was looking for a submissive man who would let me step on his cock. He’s here now sitting on the wood floor right across from my chair, on a chair attached to my foot. My foot is on his balls.” This piece appeared in Salon.

“What Love Is” is a tacky piece of work, deriving most of its impact from sensationalism – vulgarity and violence. The same is true of “Neither Slave nor Pharaoh,” although it shades from mere sensationalism into porn.

Then there’s “Being a Bad Muslim Helped Get Me Out of a Bad Marriage.” It’s meandering, sexually graphic, flippant about adultery, and, yes, just plain tacky. It appeared in Buzzfeed. These pieces all have one big thing in common: they’re heavy on self-absorption, but light on self-knowledge. They’re the same thing over and over again. They’re the work of the kind of person who invites you over and then reads to you from her diary.

Jarrar has found a formula – full-on confession – and partly because of the sleazy nature of her own life material and partly because of the Arab woman angle, it’s the kind of stuff that certain editors will snap up and certain “judges” will reward with literary prizes.

There you have it, then: the pride of Fresno State. Send your kids there, pay their tuition, and after four years, if you’re lucky, they’ll be able to write porn for Buzzfeed. And, in their spare time, tweet unspeakable things about the recently dead. 

Ben Norton, baby-faced Bolshevik

norton2
Ben Norton

Is there a far-left media institution with which he doesn’t have a connection? Although only three years into his career as a pundit, baby-faced Ben Norton, a young American dude based in New York City, has already written hundreds, if not thousands, of articles for such noxious websites as the anti-Zionist Mondoweiss, The Intercept (run by the notorious Glenn Greenwald and pro-Castro scribe Jeremy Scahill), Eric Alterman‘s AlterNet, Middle East Monitor (pro-Hamas), Electronic Intifada (pro-Palestinian), FAIR (Marxists pretending to be objective media critics), Muftah (a Muslim hangout), and the Center for American Progress’s ThinkProgress (where he worked as an intern in 2014). Most prominently, Norton is a regular contributor to Salon. In addition, he blogs frequently at his own website and tweets constantly. As a result, there’s already a massive amount of material out there that proves definitively that Ben Norton is one of the top useful stooges of his generation.

obamahiro
Obama at Hiroshima

Where to begin? For one thing, Norton is no fan of America, which he’s called a “rogue state.” (“[T]he real American exceptionalism,” read one of his headlines, “is selling the most weapons in the world by far.”) He wrote approvingly about a UN official’s charge that America is an “apartheid state.” (“The US is indeed horribly repressive,” Norton commented, “and its police force is incredibly racist.”) When Obama went to Hiroshima, Norton wrote that America “should apologize for its criminal atomic bombing” of Japan and “stop its nuclear escalation.”

chomsky2
Noam Chomsky

A corollary of his contempt for America is his disdain for “neoliberalism” and affection for socialism. He pays tribute on a regular basis to the likes of Jeremy Corbyn and Noam Chomsky. This spring, he was a passionate tub-thumper for the presidential candidacy of Bernie Sanders; in May, when Sanders made public his ridiculous list of picks for the Democratic Party platform committee – race hustler Cornel West (who’s also one of Norton’s icons), enviro-hustler Bill McKibben, Israel-hater James Zogby, Muslim Congressman Keith Ellison (who’s cozy with such Islamist front groups as CAIR, the Muslim American Society, and the Islamic Society of North America), and Native American activist Deborah Parker – Norton gave it a standing ovation.

CdDjfBCWAAIIbBg
An image of Palestinian women tweeted by Norton on International Women’s Day 2016

There’s more. On International Women’s Day this year, Norton celebrated the holiday as “an important symbol in communist, socialist, anti-imperialist, and other liberation movements” (although he lamented that a day of commemoration founded by socialists had been “co-opted by large corporations like Microsoft in order to celebrate the increasing diversity of the ruling class”). “U.S. politics today,” he suggested in April, “demonstrates just how correct early-20th-century socialist economist and revolutionary heroine Rosa Luxemburg was when she famously declared that society faces two options: socialism or barbarism.” This statement would seem to reflect a remarkable ignorance of – or indifference to? – the history of the twentieth century, in which socialism proved, in one nation after another, to be the very gateway to barbarism.

More tomorrow.