Some time ago Elaine Ganley, Associated Press Writer, referred to the French politician Philippe de Villiers as “a presidential hopeful who opposes Muslim immigration” and as a “far-right politician.” She wrote, with thinly disguised contempt, that de Villiers “claimed” to “base his book, “˜The Mosques of Roissy,” on intelligence reports,” while “many saw the book as a publicity grab.”
This kind of coverage is typical. Philippe de Villiers is no more, and no less, “far right” than the late Democratic Senator Henry Jackson, or for that matter than the late Democratic Senator Hubert Humphrey, or William Proxmire, or any number of others. Philippe de Villiers is as “far right” as Raymond Aron, or Alexis de Toqueville, or Benjamin Constant. He is as “far right” as Jean Moulin, fighting the more obvious Fascists of the more obvious army, the Wehrmacht, in France.
This kind of epithet should not be in Elaine Ganley”s report for Associated Press, but it is typical of such reports. It is intended to frame the reader’s reception, to make him already hostile to this supposedly “far-right” politician. Philippe de Villiers has been consistently, over the past few years, possibly the most intelligent commentator on the menace of Islam among figures in French political life. That is what has earned him this epithet.
During the war that the Muslims, the “Palestinians” and the locals unleashed on the Christians of Lebanon, a phrase appeared all over the Western world. It was always and everywhere “the right-wing Christians.” Ionesco observed that “the paper that everyone reads” (he meant Le Monde; he did not have to specify further) always called the Lebanese Christians “right-wing.” In what, Ionesco, wondered, did their “right-wingness” consist? Were they for a certain economic policy normally associated with the “right-wing”? Were they supporters of, or supported by, Fascists and unreconstructed Nazis all over the world? No, the Fascists and the Nazis, including known war criminals, had always been on the side of Muslims. Hitler himself expressed outrage and dropped ready crocodile tears over the “oppression” of the “Arabs of Palestine,” especially in 1938, when he was also deploring what the horrible Czechs were doing to those poor and oppressed Germans of the Sudetenland, carefully called “Sudeteners.” Unfortunately for Hitler, the “Palestinian people” had not yet been invented, so “Arabs of Palestine” it was.
Why do newspapers, or the radio, or television, permit this propagandistic use of epithets for which not the slightest evidence is presented? The word “far right” or “right-wing” should not be used, as it has been used, to blacken the name and reputation of anyone at all who happens to grimly perceive the menace of Islam. What made Pim Fortuyn, the bemused libertine, “right-wing,” as he was routinely called, so stupidly, in the French, British, American press? What? There was nothing. Was Bertrand Russell “right-wing” because of how he saw Islam? Churchill — was he “right-wing” or “far right-wing”? Spinoza? Hume? John Quincy Adams? Jacques Ellul? Are they all “right-wing” because they grasped the essence of Islam?
The AP is now out of control. Their editors apparently delight in the sensationalism of the photographs (contextless, and very doubtful in other ways) provided by its nearly all-Arab staff in southern Lebanon. This is akin to the fact that Hassan Fattah and Jad Mouawad were the reporters selected during Israel’s incursion into Lebanon last year for their ability to be fair in their dispatches from Lebanon for The New Duranty Times. The Times could not quite conceive of the notion that no Muslim reporter could possibly convey the real nature, attitudes, and atmospherics, of the entirely unequal — but not in the way the Arabs present it — battle between Israel and the bezonians of Hizballah. Nor could they, of course, possibly convey the conflict between Israel and the monstrously biased presentation of Israel given to us by monstrously ignorant reporters and by those who employ them. Neither those reporters nor their employers have any sense of context, or of warfare, or of the teachings of Islam, or of the asymmetry of the aims: the Israelis not wishing to wipe out, efface from the earth, Lebanon or the Arabs or the Muslims, but the other side, Hizballah and behind it the Islamic Republic of Iran, have gleefully and repeatedly declared that that, sooner or later, that will be the goal for Israel. They have announced it well in advance, and mean someday to attain it.
But to point that out would be “right-wing.”