Lightness Versus Darkness

by Christian Bleuer on 4/24/2008 · 4 comments

Mr. Foust has just below posted an entry picking on Laura King of The Los Angeles Times. Yes, the LA Times is a waste of paper and when I was last there in January I had to go to a chain bookstore to find a New York Times. Reading the entry reminded me of a 1993 Los Angeles Times article by Carey Goldberg. Seriously. Here is a humorous excerpt:

Valery Romantsov, a blond [Russian] sergeant with aquamarine eyes, displayed the medal he won when his group of six men managed to capture eleven Afghan arms smugglers….”We weren’t even armed but we took them anyway,” he said, his chest puffing. “We’re marines.” Tajikistan’s National Security Ministry shows videotapes of Afghan arms smugglers and fighters caught at the border, mountain men with thick black beards and one line of thick black eyebrow across their foreheads.

Well, thank God that there are some heroic caucasians to protect civilization from the hairy savages who roams about with their AK-47s and unibrows. And double plus good when they have aquamarine eyes which the Moscow correspondent for the LA Times can gaze into. For example, a typical blue-eyed Russian:


But this is just a small part of a wretched article in which Carey Goldberg is spoon-fed some propaganda and hysteria about Iranian-fueled pan-Islamic chaos that will imminently spread to all of Central Asia if the Popular Front doesn’t win the civil war in Tajikistan. And bonus points for being fed that info from Ghaffor Mirzoev himself.

The article was so bad and so inaccurate that John Schoeberlein saw fit to include it in his PhD dissertation as an example of western ignorance and hysteria over non-existent threats (especially of the hairy Muslim variety), plus some good old left-of-centre newspaper racism thrown in for fun (Yes, there is racism in left of centre media as well). It’s like Goldberg is trying to paint a portrait of…..aliens.

It's A TRAP!

The article is: “Warriors and refugees rattle border guards in Central Asia” by Carey Goldberg. Los Angeles Times. January 19, 1993. And no, there is no link. Al Gore had not yet invented the internets.

But elsewhere in my dusty old collection of articles on Tajikistan’s civil war is an article by another Moscow-based journalist. It is a breath of fresh air. This reporter actually went out into the wild, crazy dirty rural countryside among the hairy dark people to do something related to real journalism. And she nailed her story. And she got the facts rights. Facts that eluded even some in-country PhDs. She has now moved on to bigger and better things (after a stint in Chechnya), namely to become the Pakistan and Afghanistan correspondent for the New York Times. That would be, of course, my absolute favorite reporter in the world, Carlotta Gall.

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Joshua Foust April 24, 2008 at 3:03 pm

I love both that photo, and Carlotta Gall. That lady is ballsy. I’m also a big fan of Scott Peterson at the Christian Science Monitor — he does good work as well.

johnnie b. baker April 25, 2008 at 10:49 pm

The LA Times is a much better newspaper than the allegedly liberal but zionist NY Times. Of course it is not perfect, and stupid articles can be found (esp. when you look back 15 years) but it is consistantly the most liberal major newspaper in the US. Didn’t parrot the Bush line re: Iraq like NYT. Probably the last paper in the US I would trust regarding the Muslim world is NYT. Their bias is well known, even with Charlotta Gall, whose complete misunderstanding of Muslims was evident in her Chechen work, where she repeated the old “extremist fundamentalist Islamic bandits” line perpetuated not only by the Russians, and the ignorant West in general. Of course, she was writing for LAT then, but at least now she is working for a paper where essentializing Muslims is the accepted norm.

Michael Hancock April 26, 2008 at 1:46 am

It’s one of those labels so emotionally charged, the fact that it’s in your vocabulary says something about you. It’s akin to labeling people fascists, niggers, or islamists – it’s going about politics looking for arguments and fights instead of answers and solutions.
I mean, sure, the NYT has a Jewish bias – could that be for a perfectly respectable reason, like they’re being a lot of Jewish people reading and writing the NYT? It’s like blaming Al-Jazeera for being so decidedly anti-Christian, anti-West. Doesn’t mean they won’t report otherwise, just that their perspective is going to be affected by their own cultural, geographical, political, economic, and religious world view.

While some Chechens may well be freedom fighters, I think their terrorist actions in response to Russia’s extremism warrants pointing their extremist Islamic ways. The only way, it seems to me, that religious extremism wins over the opposition in democracy [slowly but surely] is nonviolence. And sadly, “Turning the other cheek” is not something Isa [Jesus in the Qu’ran] is known to have said. Clay birds into real birds, sure, but no sermon on the mount. I tend to think that the greatest gift to Christianity has been a deeper understanding of the sermon on the mount as history has progressed…

but what has That got to do with Central Asia? [rhetorical]

Joshua Foust April 28, 2008 at 12:58 am

Little, to answer your point. I think, in light of the Beslan Massacre and the standoff at that theatre in Moscow, that calling elements within the Chechen resistance movement “extremist bandits” is not at all uncalled for.

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