Monday, April 16, 2012

Christina Patterson Misuses Freedom of Speech Defense

In the wake of the Gunter Grass controversy the Huffington Post does what it always does: marches out the bloggers to defend whoever is bashing Israel this time around. Like Helen Thomas and Rick Sanchez before him, Gunter Grass now has an army of Huffington Post writers to defend him because he was "brave" enough to go after the Jewish state. Most of the articles really weren't worth discussing, but a new one by Christina Patterson (veteran Huffington Post blogger) is notable because she throws the "freedom of speech" card almost immediately without much in the way of analyzing.

Ms. Patterson reiterates the whole story, as usual, including the statements made by Netanyahu and Liberman on the topic and Israel's decision to declare Grass persona non grata. She also analyzes the poem which you can read if you want to but that's not really what I care about this time around. What I care about is this:
"If a Nobel prizewinner can't express a political opinion, it's hard to see who can."
The statement just hangs there, like a shirt on a clothesline, completely unsupported by any fact. I am confused as to why this is here: Who exactly has been trying to "silence" Grass? Yes we hear a non constant refrain on the Huffington Post that "any critic of Israel is muzzled by the lobby" that is never backed up by any facts, but this is a blogger that we are talking about. So what steps have happened to make it so that he "can't" express this opinion about something?

Oh wait, I see the problem. Ms. Patterson didn't like that Grass was able to express his opinion....and his critics were as well. It seems like only people on the left conflate being disagreed with by being silenced. In other words it's the classic 'freedom of speech for me but not for thee,' defense in which only Ms. Patterson's friends are allowed to speak and people who feel otherwise just have to sit there and take it.

This ridiculous argument, so very common on the Huffington Post, is then supplanted by an even more ridiculous one:
"In Israel, you're meant to be free to say what you like, but if you're not Jewish, and you criticize the policies of the Israeli government, you're likely to be called an anti-Semite. And you are, it seems, because this is what the Israeli government has just done to G√ľnter Grass, quite likely to be banned from the country."
One of the great anti-Zionist strawman, put forward in black and white for everyone to see. The only people who ever say this are those who are "critics" of Israel's "policies" already. Not even people like Bradley Burston, who actually do live in Israel and do criticize the government, really think that. Also this doesn't even make sense because Ms. Patterson seems to think that Israel is endlessly deporting non-Jews for "criticizing" (always a hilarious word when deployed by Israel haters) the government. It's a miracle that Zoabi is still in the Knesset, in that case.

Though this paragraph is quite informative: It shows that Ms. Patterson really doesn't know what she's talking about and is simply repeating what "everybody knows." In other words, what other people tell her and what gives her comfort to believe. Not what is actually true. This seems to be confirmed by one last political statement:
"But he does say that Israel has been allowed to stockpile nuclear weapons without any inspections from anyone, and that Iran, which wants to, hasn't. Which, even angry Israelis would have to admit, is true.... he's certainly right to say that the West's attitude to Israel, and its nuclear arsenal, involves an awful lot of hypocrisy."
Leaving aside the remark about "angry Israelis," this is another classic pro-Iran talking point that always has the same answer: Iran signed the NPT. Israel did not. Therefore Iran is held responsible for its own declaration not to seek nuclear weapons, while Israel never made one. Is it unfair? Is it hypocritical? Maybe to someone who doesn't know about the NPT, sure. But I don't see how someone who does know would be upset at the West for treating the two countries differently. They are different. One promised not to seek nuclear weapons and is now breaking its word. The other one did not.

But that's a classic talking point of the left: both sides are wrong. That way we don't have to pick a side.

(But if we did that side would be Iran.)


  1. Ugh, I try to maintain a feeling that I disagree with the Leftist anti-Israel crowd and will fight them using facts and logic, but it's very difficult to not have a "I LOATHE THESE IDIOTS" swell of anger when reading work like Ms. Patterson's.
    Just to be brief because she doesn't deserve a huge dossier in response: Grass hasn't lost a single iota of free speech rights, and in fact his work is useful for being seen far and wide as an example of just how stupid the anti-Israel/pro-Iran argument can really get. The reasons Iran having nuclear weapons would be horrifying are not based on whether or not they signed up to the NPT, nor is that treaty sacrosanct (or ever been treated that way). And the idea that non-Jewish critics of Israel are never anti-Semitic is as ridiculous a strawman argument as the idea that they always are. They often are, but Grass doesn't seem to be, and that doesn't make what he wrote any more wrongheaded and disgusting--it makes that part of a different argument.
    Articles like this one are the reason the Left and its home bases like the HP will neither disappear or win over the overwhelming majority of the world that is either disinterested or cannot respect/stand them.

  2. Isn't this Christina Patterson the creep who lives near a Jewish area in London and wrote an article about how awful the Jews are and how much she hates them? Of course, it is all the Jews' fault that such a nice girl as herself has to hate them, and she holds that against all Jews everywhere as well.

    She is the sort of person who thinks the Fogle family deserved their fate because they were "settlers" and is only sorry that the heroes of the Arab people who struck a blow for freedom missed three of the kids.


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