May 06, 2003

Ashleigh Banfield On Rotation Erik,

Ashleigh Banfield On Rotation

Erik, over at Intellectual Poison, steered me to this speech by uber-hottie anchorwoman Ashleigh Banfield. Now, although I don't dispute Erik's claim that Banfield is very attractive (I would very much consider it an honor if my private parts were to intermingle with hers), I do take umbrage with some of her claims. As Erik pointed out, Banfield gets pretty longwinded during the speech, so I'll only excerpt those passages that stuck in my craw, thus becoming craw stickers.

That said, what didn't you see? You didn't see where those bullets landed. You didn't see what happened when the mortar landed. A puff of smoke is not what a mortar looks like when it explodes, believe me. There are horrors that were completely left out of this war.

Let's play a little game. Let's pretend that you're a reporter. You have the option of being embedded with a superior fighting force that is well organized, well trained, and it is widely believed that this fighting force is going to cut through the enemy like a magnified sun beam through a June bug. Or, you can tag along with a loosely organized band of fedayeen thugs who very likely would not hesitate to strap you to a bunker if it meant buying time. Which would you choose?

Granted, Banfied makes a valid argument that we don't see ALL the carnage left in the wake of a successful strike, but at the same time I think it's a stretch to assume that, just because we only see the puff of smoke of a mortar round, we're not conscious of the fact that the impact is more severe than it appears. I, for one, watched the news and realized that every explosion probably resulted in the death of an enemy soldier and possibly a civilian from time to time. But, hey, if Ashleigh feels it would drive the point home further by planting herself at the coordinates of a mortar strike, more power to her. Hope her flak vest is nice and tight, because shrapnel doesn't distinguish between enemies and reporters. Finally, if you really had a hankering to see the civilian death toll, Al Jazeera kept on top of every dead civilian it could find and photographed them several times from several angles for full shock and effect. This is the age of the Internet. You can find anything anywhere if you take the time to dig.

The other thing is that so many voices were silent in this war. We all know what happened to Susan Sarandon for speaking out, and her husband, and we all know that this is not the way Americans truly want to be. Free speech is a wonderful thing, it's what we fight for, but the minute it's unpalatable we fight against it for some reason.

Of all the craw stickers, this stuck in my craw the most. Here we have a journalist, someone supposedly at the top of her game, apparently oblivious to the true meaning of the freedom of speech. Okay, class, can anyone see the flaw in Ashleigh's statement? Anyone? Yes, Mr. Rhodes, go ahead.

People didn't fight against the first amendment and free speech because we found Sarandon's mindless babble unpalatable. People spoke against Sarandon because her mindless babble was unpalatable. People used their right to free speech to rip on Sarandon's use of her right to free speech. We were fine with Sarandon speaking out, hell, more power to her. But, that doesn't mean we necessarily liked what she had to say. Celebrities are a funny bunch. They get to be famous because we lowly plebes elevate them there, yet they seem absolutely offended if we disagree with them, so they yell and scream that they're being denied their right to free speech. No. THIS is being denied their right to free speech: "Shut the hell up or we'll stick red pokers in your nostrils." So, I'm going to have to insist that Ashleigh consult the Constitution so she can brush up on her first amendment rights, both as a journalist and as a U.S. citizen.

Well, the message before we went in was actually weapons of mass destruction and eliminating the weapons of mass destruction from this regime and eliminating this regime. Conveniently in the week or two that we were in there it became very strongly a message of freeing the Iraqi people. That should have been the message early on, in fact, in the six to eight months preceding this campaign, if we were trying to win over the hearts of the Arab world.

Banfield conveniently seems to forget that the war in Iraq was actually just the next step in the continuing war on. . . anyone? Yes, Mr. Rhodes, go ahead.

The war on terror. Remember that? It was a U.S.-declared war on terrorism that included striking at regimes that harbor terrorists and terrorist sympathizers. True, we used WMD as the primary justification to try and convince the ineffective bureaucratic monolith that is the U.N. to please, please, please let us invade Iraq. Few people seem to remember, however, that the U.N. seemed unimpressed by evidence that Iraq supported terrorism. So, we went ahead without the U.N., and lo and behold we found terrorists, and terrorist training camps, and links to Al Queda.

As for Ashleigh's assertion that Iraqi liberation should have been our message early on, let's just assume for a second that Colin Powell went before the U.N. security council and asked for Iraqi liberation. Let's see, the U.N. Human Rights Commission is chaired by Libya, and Cuba is a longstanding panel member. How impressed do you think the U.N. would have been by a plea for Iraqi liberation? Exactly. Let's move on.

So I wasn't the least bit surprised to see these marches and these pilgrimages in the last few days telling the Americans, "Thanks for the freedom to march to Najaf and Karbala, but get out." You know, this wasn't that big of a surprise. I think it may be a surprise though to the Pentagon. I'm not sure that they were ready to deal with this many dissenters and this many supporters of an Islamic regime, like next door in Iran.

It's good to know Ashleigh is so enlightened as to the mindset of the Pentagon.

When you hear the word Hezbollah you probably think evil, danger, terror right away. If I could just see a show of hands. Who thinks that Hezbollah is a bad word? Show of hands. Usually connotes fear, terror, some kind of suicide bombing. If you live in the Arab world, Hezbollah means Shriner. Hezbollah means charity, Hezbollah means hospitals, Hezbollah means welfare and jobs.

Hezbollah, the organization, also means intolerance of the Jews, refusal to recognize anything but a pure Palestinian state WITHOUT Israel, and a drive to sacrifice its ignorant adherents through suicide bombings to scare Israelis and elevate their cause to the 6 p.m. news. In Ashleigh's world, Al Queda shouldn't be feared because, translated, it simply means "The base." That's so innocuous, it CAN'T be dangerous.

And that's some of the problems we have in dealing in this war in terror. As a journalist I'm often ostracized just for saying these messages, just for going on television and saying, "Here's what the leaders of Hezbullah are telling me and here's what the Lebanese are telling me and here's what the Syrians have said about Hezbullah. Here's what they have to say about the Golan Heights." Like it or lump it, don't shoot the messenger, but invariably the messenger gets shot.

Ashleigh is so damned cute when she whines. Listen lady, if you choose to say something, you had best be willing take responsibility for your flapping gums. Just as I take full responsibility for any D&D gamers who think I'm a prick for making light of their hobby, so, too, should you not be taken aback when you assert that Hezbollah "ain't so bad."

We hired somebody on MSNBC recently named Michael Savage. Some of you may know his name already from his radio program. He was so taken aback by my dare to speak with Al -Aqsa Martyrs Brigade about why they do what they do, why they're prepared to sacrifice themselves for what they call a freedom fight and we call terrorism. He was so taken aback that he chose to label me as a slut on the air. And that's not all, as a porn star. And that's not all, as an accomplice to the murder of Jewish children. So these are the ramifications for simply being the messenger in the Arab world.

I'm curious here, whether Banfield, who really gained national attention due to her ground zero reporting heroics on 9/11, considers the hijackers of those flights "terrorists," or "freedom fighters." I'm just curious. Calling her a slut may be harsh. Calling her a pornstar may be harsh. An accomplice to murder? Perhaps not, but by being a media cheerleader for groups that promote indiscriminate killing, you kinda have to wonder whether she's serving their hate-filled agenda more than she realizes.

>From there, Ashleigh pretty much goes on a whine fest about American attention spans, chastising us for not taking more of an active interest in Afghanistan and the unfolding situation in Iraq, augmenting her point by explaining that her beloved cable news channel has plummeted from millions of daily viewers to a few hundred thousand. Read her whining if you wish, or don't, it's entirely up to you. Myself, I'd rather watch her on TV. She's at her best when you can look at her.

Posted by Ryan at May 6, 2003 11:16 AM
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