Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Stupidity on display

Michelle Malkin is upset that the New York Times accurately reported that the terror plot against JFK was high on intention, but low on capacity for actual execution and that initial reports of the plot had sensationalized it as a catastrophic terror attack that had been averted; and thus accuses the paper of having an agenda to pretend that terrorism does not exist, despite the Times having written

No one would second-guess the authorities for pursuing and arresting suspected plotters. An enduring lesson that the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, have taught prosecutors and the Federal Bureau of Investigation is the danger of inaction.

But as with many post-9/11 terror plots, the line between terrible aspiration and reality can get lost in a murky haze.
So let's spell that out for Malkin. The New York Times is saying that, yes, we should take seriously, pursue, and arrest terrorist plots. But we should be careful that we present the reality of these cases in such a way as not to engage in fear-mongering.

But Malkin is incapable of making that distinction or recognizing the reality of the situation. Islamofascists almost blew up the JFK airport and we should be in a state of panic willing to support anything that President Bush says needs be done to protect us from this grave danger, and that's all there is to it.

At the end of her post, Malkin provides a Dr. Seuss cartoon from WWII (he was a young political cartoonist at the time) in which Seuss shows Americans ignoring the threat of Hitler by putting ostrich hats on and then sticking their heads in the ground. Malkin says the cartoon has"timeless relevance."

This is Malkin putting her stupidity on display. Let me explain.

First, no one is denying the threat of terrorism or arguing that we should not pursue and arrest terrorists. What is being argued is that we should report terrorists plots realistically ... which I would consider the opposite of sticking one's head in the ground.

Secondly, the ostrich cartoons were a recurring theme for Dr. Seuss during that time, as he directed them towards isolationist Americans (primarily America First-ers) who refused to see Hitler as a danger. The cartoon Michelle provides is from April 29, 1941. By that time (see here for a timeline), Germany had begun persecuting Jews, invaded Poland,Denmark, Norway, Belgium, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Romania, and had begun planning an invasion of Britian with a world war already having broke out.

The suggestion that those who see the JFK terror plot for what it is (e.g high on intent, low on capability) and report it as such non-hysterically are comparable to Americans in April 1941 who did not see Nazi Germany as a threat or Americans like Charles Lindbergh (himself a frequent target of Seuss) who saw in Germany a potential ally is, simply put, idiotic.

Update: New York Times editor Suzanne Daley further explains the paper's coverage of the JFK plot.

Here's the basic thinking on the J.F.K. story: In the years since 9/11, there have been quite a few interrupted terrorist plots. It now seems possible to exercise some judgment about their gravity. Not all plots are the same. In this case, law enforcement officials said that J.F.K. was never in immediate danger. The plotters had yet to lay out plans. They had no financing. Nor did they have any explosives. It is with all that in mind, that the editors in charge this weekend did not put this story on the front page.

In truth, the decision was widely debated even within this newsroom. At the front page meeting this morning, we took an informal poll and a few editors thought the story should have been more prominently played. Some argued it should have been fronted, regardless of the lameness of the plot, simply because it was what everyone was talking about.
Blogger's Note - Slight modifications made from initial posting.


Larry Gwaltney said...

Suppose that someone on Sept. 10, 2001, was alarmed over a report that a bunch of guys with box cutters were going to kill thousands of people in NYC and Washington DC the next day.

You probably would have thought THAT was ridiculous, too.

Malkin's use of Geisel's cartoon was perfectly appropriate. By June 5, 2007, Muslim terrorists have killed thousands of people in NYC, Spain, London, Malaysia, Indonesia (just for starters).

Tell me, how many people did Hitler kill in New York City? By April 29, 1941? By April 29, 1942? By April 29, 1943? By April 29, 1944? By April 29, 1945?

The truth is, terrorists have succeeded in direct attacks on American citizens in a way Hitler never did.

Talk about someone with his head in the sand.

C2H50H said...


Excuse me, but it was Bush who blew away "Bin Laden determined to strike in US" -- not us.

If I heard that a bunch of people armed with box-cutters had plans to hijack planes September 10, 2001, I'd have wanted the FBI, the CIA, and in fact the entire executive branch, as well as local police all over, to check it out.

Perhaps you are unaware, but the old rule for dealing with hijackers was to humor them, try to get the plane down safely, and then try to defuse the situation.

Malkin is a pathetic, hyperventilating mental midget, in my opinion. Her ability to conflate the most dissimilar situations speaks volumes about her inadequate intellect. Have you seen her "cheerleader" video? Inappropriate is the least powerful adjective that could be applied to almost her entire output.

The wannabees in the most recent case had no understanding of the basic operation of chemistry. They had no capacity to get the explosives they would need, and in fact had to approach an FBI operative for them. The plot was originally disclosed by a drug offender in order to obtain a shorter sentence (now there's a selfless, reliable informer).

The 9/11 hijackers were a disciplined group, with monetary backing, a hierarchical command structure (some didn't even know they were on a suicide mission until it was underway) to preserve security, and they spent months in preparation and planning.

These guys were: a 63-year old with a big mouth and no skills, and three people not even in the US.

I've said this several times, but it bears repeating: the damage done to the airlines economic health by hyping this all over the news far outweighs any damage these bozos could have ever managed.

Hume's Ghost said...

Suppose that someone on Sept. 10, 2001, was alarmed over a report that a bunch of guys with box cutters were going to kill thousands of people in NYC and Washington DC the next day.

I think that alarm would be proper. So see if you can figure out the difference between that situation and the one that I have written about here. And see what c2h50H says above, that may help.

Tell me, how many people did Hitler kill in New York City?


Seriously, c'mon. Reporting accurately on 4 guys with a half-baked plan WHO HAVE ALREADY BEEN CAUGHT vs. Americans turning a blind eye to Nazi war machine tearing through Europe. Does that really need more explanation of how utterly ridiculous a comparison that is?