You know, for me, reading a Time or Newsweek is like reading a John Le Carre novel. Every time I finish one, I promise myself I'll never read another.
And, yet, like Charlie Brown misplacing his trust in Lucy as he tries to kick the football, here I was again this morning.
I'm posting this from the Austrian Airlines Business Lounge in Vienna. It's quite nice in here and I've quite literally got the place to myself. I've already finished the crossword in the USA Today (America's high school newspaper). There are no Herald Tribunes on the magazine rack, otherwise I'd occupy myself with the New York Times puzzle. As I was perusing the magazine selection, I spied the Person of the Year issue of Time with my hero, George W. Bush, on the cover. So, I picked it up.
I didn't even make it through the "Letters" section before getting so disgusted that I threw it down. There were two letters in particular which disgusted me. The first was from a Michael Foster of Fareham, England. This git feels that Yasser Arafat was given short shrift by Time in their Nov. 22 issue. He asks, "Isn't it somewhat disrespectful...to focus primarily on the benefit that his [death] brings to the peace process? ...shouldn't we concentrate more on what Arafat gave to the world during his life?"
And, what would that be, Mikey? Arafat is directly and indirectly responsible for the murder of thousands of Palestinians and Israelis. He helped popularize suicide bombings which are doubly despicable because they incite Arab teens and young adults to murder innocent civilians. Arafat was also a thief on a grand scale. He swindled his own people out of billions of dollars in monies intended for their benefit. Finally, he repressed and terrorized the Palestinians, and precluded any chance at a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
It is one of the supreme ironies that this murdering, stealing thug died peacefully in his bed, surrounded by his wife and various sycophants at age 75 when he ruined and shortened the lives of so many others. It seems Mr. Foster is upset that none of Arafat's "contributions" were mentioned in the piece about which he was belly-aching. Sounds to me like Time was following the old adage that if you can't say anything nice...
The next letter was from a Deborah Mathijsen in Ghent, Belgium. She questions whether the Palestinians are even a threat to Israel and the need for Israel to build a security wall. She then goes on to establish her euro-credentials by...
(wait for it)
...blaming America! That's right. She writes that she is "...disappointed that Americans don't seem to care about the world outside [our] borders".
Pardon my French, but this really chaps my ass! Where to start? Ok, let's start with the glaringly obvious. Like how Belgium might today be called West Rhineland if it weren't for the United States? How about the several hundred million people who now live under fledgling representative governments because of the American-led (and funded) NATO which opposed Soviet expansionism during the Cold War?
If Americans care so little about the outside world, how is it we are the only country (ably backed by the Brits and Aussies) willing to do something outside our own borders to try and help people? This is what really burns me up about the criticism of America for the War of Iraqi Liberation. The fact that the leading international bodies of the political Left (the American Democratic Party, the European Union, and the United Nations) almost unanimously characterized the Hussein regime as evil and a threat - as long as it didn't mean actually doing anything about it!
Now as bad as the above sentiments are, I think the fact that Time even printed these letters says as much about Time as it does about the letters' respective authors. If I had submitted a letter praising America's actions in either arena, do you think it would have seen the light of day in the pages of Time?
As Merlin tells young King Arthur in John Boorman's Excalibur, "Never again!"