June 13, 2010 by Ted Rall
Wherein your humble hirsute narrator presents, for all to see and regale, the result of 14 days of non shaving in preparation for his August trip back to Afghanistan.
June 9, 2010 by Ted Rall
Helen Thomas Learns That Free Speech is a Myth
This is why a lot of people think Jews control the media.
Not me. I’ve worked in the media most of my life. So I know that the media is controlled by morons.
Still, what happened to Helen Thomas will feed the rants of wild-eyed conspiracy theorists.
On June 7th the professional life of Helen Thomas came to an end. The acid-tongued “dean” of the White House press corps since the Kennedy Administration got fired by her newspaper syndicate, dumped by her speakers’ bureau, and disinvited by a Bethesda high school that had asked her to address its commencement ceremonies. The White House Correspondents Association condemned her. President Obama took time out from not doing anything about unemployment or the Gulf oil spill to weigh in.
Chastened, reviled and subjected to the kind of national opprobrium normally reserved for international terrorists and blind baseball umpires, Thomas apologized and announced her retirement.
All in one day.
So what did Thomas do to merit such derision?
No, it wasn’t that journalistic career killer, plagiarism.
Actually, in America today, stealing people’s words and ideas and pretending they’re yours is A-OK. Mike Barnicle, fired by the Boston Globe for ripping off a column from a George Carlin book in 1998, landed on his feet at the New York Daily News and now works for the Boston Herald. And he’s on MSNBC. Monica Crowley, who plagiarized in the Wall Street Journal in 1999, is now at Fox News and The Washington Times. (Jayson Blair has yet to reappear in print, but that’s different. He’s black.)
No, Helen Thomas didn’t participate in the attempt to throw a presidential election.
Unlike George Will. The right-wing columnist may or may not have stolen President Jimmy Carter’s 1980 debate briefing book and handed it over to the Reagan camp, as Carter has claimed. But Will did admit in a 2005 column that he had seen the purloined document at Reagan economic advisor David Stockman’s house during the campaign. Will had a legal obligation to describe what he had seen to the police, and an ethical duty to his readers to report a blockbuster story to his readers. He did neither. Yet Will still works for Newsweek and the Washington Post, publications whose readers must not care about the truth.
No, Thomas didn’t say anything racist.
But racism doesn’t get you fired from journalism. Just ask Pat Buchanan, another MSNBC regular.
Here’s what killed Thomas’ illustrious career: “Tell them [Israelis] to get the hell out of Palestine,” she told a rabbi in a spontaneous video interview. “Remember, these people [Palestinians] are occupied, and it’s their land; it’s not German, it’s not Poland’s.” Asked where Jewish Israelis should go, she replied, “They should go home” to “Poland, Germany… America and everywhere else.”
No doubt, Thomas’ comments were simplistic. Three generations of Jews have made their homes in Israel. Asking them to back up and “return” to places where they’ve never visited, much less lived, would be inhumane, not to mention impractical. Of course, this is no different from current U.S. immigration policy, which calls for the arrest and deportation of undocumented people whose parents brought them here as small children.
Her words also demonstrate historical ignorance. Surely Thomas, who is 89, ought to know that most Israeli Jews were born there. As for the rest, many came from the former Soviet Union, not Poland or Germany (which murdered most of their Jews during, and even after, the Holocaust).
But are these remarks so beyond the pale that their utterance ought to mean the end of your professional life?
Ari Fleischer, who ought to be in prison for defending torture and concentration camps as press secretary for George W. Bush, called Thomas a fan of “religious cleansing.” Equating opposition to Israel with anti-Semitism, ex-Clinton spokesman Lanny Davis called Thomas “an anti-Semitic bigot.”
“If she had asked all blacks to go back to Africa, what would White House Correspondents Association position be as to whether she deserved White House press room credentials —much less a privileged honorary seat?” Davis asked.
Davis is entitled to his opinion. But so is Helen Thomas—not that you’d be able to tell by reading the avalanche of self-righteous yowling by politicians and editorialists.
Thomas isn’t unusual. Like it or not, supporters of the State of Israel should understand that Israel’s creation was and remains highly controversial—and not just among anti-Semites.
The postwar decision to establish a Jewish homeland by seizing land from Arabs who had nothing to do with the Holocaust—instead of, say, Germany—continues to bewilder. The fact that hundreds of thousands of Palestinians are living in refugee camps, where old men and women still wave the deeds and keys to their old homes when they see a reporter, attests to the freshness of the wound. Feeling sorry for them and taking the position that they have a right to be compensated doesn’t make you a Jew-hater.
Moreover, the might-makes-right tactics of Israeli political leaders doesn’t make them any friends in the world. Acting above the law, they ignore resolutions issued by the same U.N. that made their country possible in the first place. Dissembling about their own “secret” (and illegal) nuclear weapons, they bomb an Iraqi nuke plant and threaten to do the same to Iran. Mossad operatives traveling to Dubai to assassinate political opponents.
Israel’s policies vis-à-vis the Palestinians turn off a lot of people who don’t have a bigoted bone in their body.
Settlements in the occupied territories, apartheid-like economic planning, bulldozing the homes of the relatives of accused Palestinian terrorists, the Berlin Wall-esque “security fence,” and now the outrageous blockade of Gaza have angered millions of Americans. What makes these acts even more appalling is that Israel, as the number-one beneficiary of U.S. foreign aid, is America’s de facto representative in the Middle East.
Lanny Davis’ attempt to draw an analogy between Israelis and African-Americans is historical nonsense. Blacks were brought to the U.S. forcibly as slaves. Israel is occupying Palestine, and not just in Gaza and the West Bank. Eventually, the world—even Muslim countries—will come to accept the existence of the State of Israel as a fait accompli. But that will require the passage of time, as well as Israeli politicians who work harder to accommodate themselves to the Arabs inside and outside their borders.
So is Helen Thomas an anti-Semite? I don’t know. I do know that her comments were not inherently anti-Semitic.
The bigger question is: What if she were? Should she have been fired?
Of course not. Free speech must be defended no matter what—even that of cranky anti-Semitic columnists (if that’s what Thomas is/was). Unless we are truly free to say what we think—without fear of reprisal—free speech is not a right. It is merely a permission.
Besides, if every American columnist or politician lost his job over bigotry, what would that mean for all those “family values conservatives” who bash gays, not to mention the nativists who attack Latino immigrants and Muslims?
We owe Helen Thomas an apology.
(Ted Rall is the author of the upcoming “The Anti-American Manifesto,” to be published in September by Seven Stories Press. His website is tedrall.com.)
COPYRIGHT 2010 TED RALL
June 7, 2010 by NBM
The prolific French cartoonist Lewis Trondheim keeps a public diary in comics form — doodles with casual but impressive watercolors — translated into English as “Little Nothings.” (For whatever reason, he draws himself with an ungainly, monobrowed bird’s head.) In the third volume, LITTLE NOTHINGS: Uneasy Happiness (ComicsLit/NBM, paper, $14.95), he figures out how to deal with a mouse in his home, travels to Fiji, feels guilty about wanting an iPhone and so on. It’s very gently funny but splendidly assured and evocative of place — if a friend had drawn you a page of it as a letter, you’d treasure it forever.
Doug Wolk in Sunday’s NY Times Book Review
June 3, 2010 by NBM
Writer Eric Hobbs is putting on a writing contest around the theme of the forthcoming The Broadcast graphic novel announced for August and presently being solicited. Here’s his release on this fun challenge:
In 1938, Orson Welles used fake news bulletins to convince more than one million Americans the Earth was being invaded by visitors from the planet Mars. Most were outraged when Welles eventually stepped out of character and revealed the elaborate ruse, but everyone was relieved.
Almost everyone, that is.
Coming from NBM and already named one of the “hottest graphic novels of summer” by GraphicnNovelReporter.com, THE BROADCAST is about a rural Indiana town that loses power halfway through the infamous radio play having never learned the so-called attack is a hoax. Fearing the worst is upon them, four diverse families band together in an effort to make it through the night. But tensions build, as differences surface, and it isn’t long before everyone involved realizes they have as much to fear from each other as they do the “alien invasion” heading their way.
In anticipation of the book’s release, writer Eric Hobbs and Harvey-nominated artist Noel Tuazon are launching the “Your Broadcast” Writing Contest where one winning writer will receive a signed copy of THE BROADCAST along with an original piece of art based on their story.
“I’ve always been fascinated by that night,” Hobbs explained. “Not only by the stuff that happened with Orson… but by the events that took place all across the country. There are thousands of true stories but an endless number of stories writers can tell.”
Interested writers are asked to submit short stories that take place on the night of Welles’ infamous WAR OF THE WORLDS broadcast. Hobbs will read the entries, and Tuazon will create an 11X17 sketch that serves as a depiction of the winning story.
“Noel’s work is perfect for a project like this,” Hobbs continued. “Forget the signed book. Someone’s going to get a beautiful piece of art for their wall by one of comic’s most unique talents.”
Stories should be sent as attachments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Entries should be no longer than 2500 words and must be received by August 30, 2010
THE BROADCAST is available in the June issue of PREVIEWS (page 301) and can be pre-ordered using order code JUN10 1062. Visit erichobbsonline.com for an exclusive 21-page preview of the project.
Eric Hobbs previously wrote the underground mini-series, AWAKENINGS, set to be collected this winter from Arcana. Noel Tuazon work on ELK’S RUN was nominated for the Harvey Award. His most recent work, TUMOR, debuted exclusively on Amazon’s Kindle before being collected by Archaia.
June 3, 2010 by NBM
John Hogan over at GNR must like us, we guess, as he’s put most of our summer output on their Hottest Graphic Novels for the Summer list. That includes Networked: Carabella on the Run, The Broadcast, The Axe-Man of New Orleans and even includes Noe’s latest salacious (and indeed bitingly funny) Pin-Up Artist from NBM’s Eurotica imprint (sorry can’t link here as you need to be over 18 but look at Coming Up in Eurotica in July)!
But then again that may be just because we’re that good.
June 3, 2010 by Ted Rall
Activists Finally Fight Back—And Win
They call themselves activists. But leftist activists rarely do anything. They march. They chant. They whine.
Then they go home, satisfied that they’ve said their piece without taking a personal risk.
Oppressive governments love such phony “activists.” Not only can they carry on as usual, they point to the toothless demonstrators as evidence that they’re not so bad. Each side legitimizes the other.
Since the ’70s, passive resistance has become a religion of sorts among American “activists.” The exceptions, such as 1999’s Battle of Seattle between Seattle riot cops and anti-WTO protesters, have been notable—not least because they mark the few times the left has won.
So when Israel dispatched a group of armed commandos to seize a flotilla of Turkish ships attempting to break its blockade of the besieged Gaza Strip, they had every reason to expect the usual pathetic pacifist response: rolling over and playing dead.
“We prepared for an operation involving light resistance,” an Israeli navy officer told The Jerusalem Post about the clash on the Mavi Marmara, the biggest ship. “We anticipated that the soldiers would get spat at and maybe slapped. We did not expect that the soldiers would be met by a mob armed with bats, knives and metal pipes.
“We thought there would be verbal and passive violence, but not to the level we encountered,” the Naval officer continued. “Everyone who came toward us wanted to kill us.”
For the record, the Turkish activists (no quotes, as they’re worthy of the name) claim the Israelis opened fire first. Nilufer Cetin, wife of the Navi Marmara’s engineer, recalled: “The operation started immediately with firing. First it was warning shots, but when the Mavi Marmara wouldn’t stop these warnings turned into an attack,” she said.
IDF forces shot and killed nine passengers in the melée. Up to 60 passengers and 10 IDF soldiers were injured.
Whether the Turks defended themselves or attacked first, no one will ever know. Nevertheless, their willingness to use violence is notable. Here were lefties with guts!
This naturally came as a shock to government officials in Israel and its allies, not to mention the media outlets they control. Government thugs view violence as their exclusive purview. They’re free to bomb and torture and blockade and starve and otherwise oppress hundreds of millions of innocents. Let one of their victims fight back, however, and they’re stunned.
Officials responded to the Navi Marmara incident like any bully who finally gets the bloody nose he deserves.
Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon accused the convoy of a “premeditated and outrageous provocation” and described the flotilla as an “armada of hate.”
“The provocation was as cynical as it was carefully orchestrated,” complained Ralph Peters in the right-wing New York Post.
Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich, a spokesperson for the IDF, said: “They chose to use violence. They had stocks different kinds of sticks, of knives, of metal objects. They took two pistols from our navy SEALs. They used the entire magazines on these pistols. They wounded our soldiers.”
Interesting perspective. In the official narrative heavily-armed commandos who take over a ship on international waters are not “choosing to use violence.” Only individuals forced to resort to sticks and knives have “chosen” violence over the path of peace. As for the gunplay, the SEALS might have avoided getting shot had they not brought guns with them in the first place. Or if they’d stayed home.
It goes without saying that the friends and families of the nine who died will never get over what happened. But they can take some comfort in the fact that they died for a noble cause: ending the joint Israeli-Egyptian blockade of Gaza, home to 1.5 million stateless Palestinians whose lives have been devastated by the resulting economic collapse. Nine lives have been lost; thousands will be saved when the blockade ends.
A U.N. fact-finding mission recently concluded that Israel’s blockade of Gaza should be prosecuted as a war crime at the International Criminal Court if it continues through September: “Israeli acts that deprive Palestinians in the Gaza Strip of their means of subsistence, employment, housing and water, that deny their freedom of movement and their right to leave and enter their own country, that limit their rights to access a court of law and an effective remedy, could lead a competent court to find that the crime of persecution, a crime against humanity, has been committed,” wrote South African Judge Richard Goldstone, head of the panel.
Was violence justified against the Israelis, even in self-defense? Maybe yes, maybe no. The point is: it worked. Had the six hundred-plus Turkish activists acted like American lefties, allowing themselves to be led off like sheep to be arrested, processed and deported, the blockage of Gaza—and the resulting humanitarian crisis—would have continued without an end in sight.
Instead—because of those pipes and axes and knives—the embargo is doomed. Israel finally went too far. The activists finally went far enough.
(Ted Rall is the author of the upcoming “The Anti-American Manifesto,” to be published in September by Seven Stories Press. His website is tedrall.com.)
COPYRIGHT 2010 TED RALL
June 2, 2010 by NBM
Our main release this month is an intense psychological thriller with Orson Welles’ famous radio dramatization of The War of the Worlds as background:
Eric Hobbs • Noel Tuazon
On the day of the historic broadcast of The War of the Worlds by Orson Welles which triggered panic in many places it sounded so real, a family in the countryside fears for its life and also has to deal with strangers and neighbors coming in for help. The tension brings to the surface long suppressed emotions and conflicts and a violent reckoning in a dark stormy night.
6×9, 180pp., B&W, trade pb.: $13.99, ISBN 978-1-56163-590-0
See previews. You might remember Noel Tuazon from ‘Elk’s Run’ published by Villard.
Also from Eurotica:
Banana Games makes its long-awaited return, by Christian Zanier. This star-studded issue also has Kevin Taylor’s Girl, Peanut Butter, Kristina Queen of Vampires, and Omaha the Cat Dancer!
Quarterly magazine, 81/2 x 11, 64pp., b&w: $5.95
AND NOTE: we’ve got all the rest of the year’s books posted up now, so you can see all of the goodies we’ve got planned for 2009!
Meantime, over at Papercutz, we’re busy launching Smurfs graphic novels! What most people don’t realize is that it all started with these classic comics by a Belgian giant, Peyo. We’ve got a $1 comic book coming to stores in July as well as the San Diego comic-con and the books start coming out in earnest in August/September.
You may have heard: a mixed live action/animated movie is in principal photography with Sony/Columbia to come out in August of 2011…
All of this being solicited at your comic bookstore now or you can order from us online right here.
June 1, 2010 by NBM
On Jazma online:
June 1, 2010 by Ted Rall
There’s a good overview of my publisher at Comic Book Bin today:
NBM also ventures in prose and fiction books. They’ve supported cartoonist Ted Rall, while most of America called him a traitor for his criticism of former President George W. Bush after the September 11, 2001 attacks. Nowadays, almost a decade later, it’s easy to see the mistakes that administration did. But it took more guts to stand behind a maverick cartoonist back then. One of my favourite NBM book is by Ted Rall and is called the Silk Road to Ruin. It’s a perfect book if you’re looking to learn about the central Eurasian republics that used to be part of the Soviet Union. Name me one comic book publisher that publishes books that can be used in the classroom as text books by academics and university students not in a literary survey function?
Indeed, NBM has always taken chances, especially with me.
May 31, 2010 by Ted Rall
History has been made! The Comics Journal has just given me my first ever positive review. Here’s a peek:
At first blush, I was tempted to think the book lacks thematic unity, a literary value much fancied by critics. If you wanted to write — to create — a story about sex as a means of survival, you might entitle the story The Year of Loving Dangerously. But you wouldn’t include the balloon bombing or road trip episodes: They have nothing to do with sex as a survival technique. But those two seeming extraneous events do pertain to unmitigated candor and to Rall’s conviction that autobiography should not spare its subject, its author. One must include everything, warts (so to speak) and all. And so Rall includes the wart plus evidence of his youthful stupidity. The book’s unity, then, is as exemplar of its genre.
Is this book worth reading? Yes, assuredly. Rall’s is an engaging story, gripping and suspenseful. His predicament is bleak; his solution is startlingly unconventional but, given the circumstances, entirely logical. And his deployment of the resources of his medium is exemplary. Rall may think of the book as “a metaphor for the insecurity of capitalism,” but his readers are likely to think of it as a metaphor for how to survive by the exercise of human ingenuity untrammeled by the niceties of polite society.