Monday, May 29, 2006

The Internet and Middle East Reform

Thanks to a reader for letting me know about this article by Jonathan Rauch. The piece does a terrific job of outlining the disastrous effects of the lack of intellectual freedom in the Arab world, and how a few brave intellectuals are trying to change this situation, via the Internet:

Odd though it may sound, somewhere in Baghdad a man is working in secrecy to edit new Arabic versions of Liberalism, by the Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises, and In Defense of Global Capitalism, by the Swedish economist Johan Norberg. He is doing this at some risk of kidnap, beating, and death, because he hopes that a new Arabic-language Web site, called in Arabic—can change the world by publishing liberal classics.

Odder still, he may be right.

Interviewed by email, he asks to be known by a pseudonym, H. Ali Kamil. A Shiite from Iraq's south, he is an accomplished scholar, but he asks that no other personal details be revealed. Two of his friends have been killed in the postwar insurgency and chaos, one shot and the other "slaughtered." Others of his acquaintance are in hiding, visiting their families in secret. He has been threatened for working with an international agency.

Now he is collaborating not with foreign agencies but with foreign ideas. He has made Arabic translations of all or parts of more than two dozen articles and nine books and booklets. "None," he says, "were previously translated, to my knowledge, for the simple reason that they are all on liberalism and democracy, which unfortunately have little audience and advocators in the Middle East, where almost all publishing houses and press outlets are governmental—i.e., anti-liberal."

Please read the rest:

In Arabic, "Internet" Means "Freedom"

Memorial Day

On this day, please take a few minutes to remember all those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for this nation. Click here to find out how you can offer your support.

Monday, May 22, 2006

More from Scott Savage

Courtesy of LIS News, here is a letter Scott Savage wrote to the Columbus Dispatch, debunking the continued efforts of one of his accusers to defend the indefensible:

I’m starting to feel like the cleanup crew that follows the horses in the parade. I trudge along behind history professor Christopher Phelps as he parades from forum to forum, and I shovel up the humbug he leaves behind concerning my treatment at Ohio State University-Mansfield for suggesting conservative books in a committee ("Newspaper off base in criticism of harassment reports," letter, last Saturday.) I thank God the events of this case have been meticulously documented in e-mails and faculty meeting transcripts, all of which are in the public record.

Phelps says the faculty "decided not to request an investigation as a body," in response to my suggesting a book, The Marketing of Evil, as a title for the campuswide first-year-reading experience. He claimed that the complaint wasn’t even about sexual harassment. In fact, during the public faculty meeting on March 13, even after being warned by the campus dean that it would violate my rights to even discuss the accusations, faculty members repeatedly accused me of "sexual harassment" because of the book suggestion.

Please read it all.

"Lazy Ramadi"

Click here to see a hilarious rap video put together by two Indiana National Guardsmen on the ground in Iraq. I give it two thumbs way up.

Fabricating War Crimes

If this guy was a Special Forces/Ranger type, then so am I. If our troops really are the murderous war criminals that radical leftists claim they are, you would think that fabricating evidence of their "atrocities" wouldn't be necessary.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

On JS Mill

Norm Geras points out that yesterday was the 200th anniversary of John Stuart Mill's birthday. Mill is arguably the most important political philosopher of classical liberalism, and his works remain especially valid today. For more on Mill and his writings, see the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, and

In the meantime, I will leave you with the Mill quote that has most influenced me:

War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things: the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks nothing worth a war, is worse. When a people are used as mere human instruments for firing cannon or thrusting bayonets, in the service and for the selfish purposes of a master, such war degrades a people. A war to protect other human beings against tyrannical injustice; a war to give victory to their own ideas of right and good, and which is their own war, carried on for an honest purpose by their free choice,—is often the means of their regeneration. A man who has nothing which he is willing to fight for, nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety, is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself. As long as justice and injustice have not terminated their ever-renewing fight for ascendancy in the affairs of mankind, human beings must be willing, when need is, to do battle for the one against the other.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Iran Imprisons Another Intellectual

Sunday's New York Times reports the arrest of a pro-democracy Iranian intellectual:

An Iranian philosopher and writer who also holds Canadian citizenship has been detained for three weeks without formal charges, raising concerns that his arrest could signal greater repression of intellectuals.

The scholar, Ramin Jahanbegloo, was arrested at the Tehran airport late last month as he headed to Brussels to attend a conference sponsored by the German Marshall Fund. He had just returned from a six-month teaching program in India.

Unfortunately, Mr. Jahanbegloo's arrest and imprisonment is anything but an isolated occurence:

The arrest coincided with a crackdown on student advocates. A court has issued a suspended five-year sentence for Abdullah Momeni, a student leader, and an 18-month sentence for Mehdi Aminzadeh, another leader. Each was accused of being part of the pro-democracy demonstrations in 2002 during which students demanded the release of Professor Hashem Aghajari, who received a death sentence after questioning the authority of high-ranking clerics.

However, he has been arrested by the Ministry of Information, unlike the others, who were arrested by the judiciary. His arrest was a shock since he was not involved in activism and had advocated dialogue and tolerance in his writings.

Mr. Momeni said the arrest of Mr. Jahanbegloo made sense only as an effort to frighten dissidents. "He was just a university professor and intellectual who advocated philosophical theories," he said. "He had no access to any classified information."

"It seems that the authorities want to intimidate freethinkers and professors," he added. "They do not want intellectuals to have the freedom to advocate secular and democratic theories which can lay the foundation for democracy."

(emphasis added-DD)

As the recent letter from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to President Bush makes clear, hatred and contempt for liberal democracy is a core belief of the Iranian regime. The crackdown on dissidents inside Iran is just one manifestation of this attitude. Once the Iranian regime brings its nuclear weapons program to fruition, it will begin in earnest to end the nascent process of democratic reform underway in the broader Middle East.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Iraq Update

Bill Crawford takes over where Arthur Chrenkoff left off, with a lengthy, fact-filled update on the progress being made in Iraq despite the best efforts of the Baathists, jihadists, and other assorted thugs.

Chomsky Embraces Hezbollah

MIT professor and far left polemicist Noam Chomsky has embraced numerous violent and despotic radical movements and regimes over the years, including even the Khmer Rouge. Now, the Grand Old Man of anti-Americanism has found a new object for his affections: the Iranian-sponsored Lebanese terrorist organization Hezbollah.
MEMRI has the details, including quotes from Chomsky himself.

Hezbollah is second only to al-Qaeda among terrorist movements in terms of the number of Americans it has killed. It is openly anti-Semitic and anti-American, and its objective is an Islamic world subject to the Shia version of Islamist totalitarianism. If the US is forced to resort to military action to keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons, Hezbollah can be counted on to attack American interests at Tehran's behest. The organization is active right now in the United States.

That Chomsky would decide to support Hezbollah is yet further evidence of his moral and intellectual vacuity.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Al Qaeda's War on Intellectual Freedom

On May 12, Agence France Presse reported the following:

A VIDEO by an al-Qaeda member posted on the Internet overnight calls on Muslims to attack Denmark, Norway and France for publishing cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.

"Muslims avenge your Prophet .... We deeply desire that the small state of Denmark, Norway and France ... are struck hard and destroyed," said Libyan Mohammed Hassan, who escaped from US custody at Bagram airbase in Afghanistan last July.

"Destroy their buildings, make their ground shake and transform them into a sea of blood," said Hassan, dressed in military fatigues and a black turban, and holding an assault rifle.

Such statements echo the recent comments of Osama bin Laden, in which he called for the murder of "heretics" and "freethinkers", and should lay to rest any doubts about whether or not the jihadists hate freedom. As Amr Hamzawi points out, bin Laden and al Qaeda not only hate freedom, they also fear the consequences of its spread in the Muslim world:

The second remarkable aspect of bin Laden's videotape was his addressing, albeit by assailing them, Arab liberals. In previous videotapes, he accused pro-Western Arab governments and official religious institutions of seducing their populations away from the path of jihad. But this time he blamed Arab liberal intellectuals and writers for betraying the true spirit of Islam. For bin Laden, the liberals disseminate "blasphemous ideas" of democracy, human rights, and moderation, and in so doing diminish the degree of popular support for Al-Qaeda's jihad. The Al-Qaeda leader's decision to open a front against Arab liberals may threaten them, but it is also a testimony to their moral and political influence in the Arab world of today.

Arab reformist Dr. Shaker al-Nabulsi echoes these sentiments, and argues that al-Qaeda's threats against "freethinkers" are a sign of weakness. The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) summarizes Dr. al-Nabulsi's views as follows:

Bin Laden's explicit threat, in his recent audio tape, to murder freethinkers and secularists in the Arab world is further proof that "the forces of oppression and darkness are drawing back every day, while the forces of light and enlightenment are advancing every day, albeit slowly."

Al-Qaeda's war against intellectual freedom is an integral part of their struggle to impose their barbarous totalitarian vision over the Islamic world. If they succeed, they will eagerly seek to wipe out intellectual freedom here in the West as well. If we choose to sacrifice the freedom and safety of Dr. al-Nabulsi and others for our own comfort, we will simply place ourselves and our liberties in even greater jeopardy.

The Pro-Dictator Left

Ian Buruma has a superb essay in today's Sunday Times on the continuing trend among many Western leftists to sing the praises of foreign despots. This phenomenon exists in microcosm in my own profession, witness the adulation among the radical left on ALA Council for Fidel Castro. Buruma himself cites the example of the Maximum Leader in his essay:

When the Cuban novelist Reinaldo Arenas managed to escape to the US in 1980, after years of persecution by the Cuban government for being openly homosexual and a dissident, he said: “The difference between the communist and capitalist systems is that, although both give you a kick in the ass, in the communist system you have to applaud, while in the capitalist system you can scream. And I came here to scream.”

One of the most vexing things for artists and intellectuals who live under the compulsion to applaud dictators is the spectacle of colleagues from more open societies applauding of their own free will. It adds a peculiarly nasty insult to injury.

I imagine that this is exactly how the independent Cuban librarians, brutally repressed by the Castro regime, while Mark Rosenzweig and company openly celebrate their persecution, must feel. Unfortunately, as I noted above, pro-Castro librarians are merely a small subset of a broader leftist trend:

Last year a number of journalists, writers and showbiz figures, including Harold Pinter, Nadine Gordimer, Harry Belafonte and Tariq Ali, signed a letter claiming that in Cuba “there has not been a single case of disappearance, torture or extra-judicial execution since 1959 . . .”

Arenas was arrested in 1973 for “ideological deviation”. He was tortured and locked up in prison cells filled with floodwater and excrement, and threatened with death if he didn’t renounce his own writing. Imagine what it must be like to be treated like this and then read about your fellow writers in the West standing up for your oppressors.

Sadly, as Buruma points out, this phenomenon is again repeating itself, with Venezuela's thuggish Castro wannabe Hugo Chavez the new object of adulation. Buruma traces the source of this infatuation with Third World despots to an almost pathological anti-Americanism:

The common element of radical Third Worldism is an obsession with American power, as though the US were so intrinsically evil that any enemy of the US must be our friend, from Mao to Kim Jong-il, from Fidel Castro to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. And if our “friends” shower us with flattery, asking us to attend conferences and sit on advisory boards, so much the better.

Criticism of American policies and economic practices are necessary and often just, but why do leftists continue to discredit their critical stance by applauding strongmen who oppress and murder their own critics? Is it simply a reverse application of that famous American cold war dictum: “He may be a bastard, but he’s our bastard”? Or is it the fatal attraction to power often felt by writers and artists who feel marginal and impotent in capitalist democracies? The danger of Chavism is not a revival of communism, even though Castro is among its main boosters. Nor should anti-Americanism be our main concern. The US can take care of itself. What needs to be resisted, not just in Latin America, is the new form of populist authoritarianism.

One can oppose specific American policies or even not like the United States. That's all part of freedom of thought. However, all too many on the Left are willing to embrace the cause of any despot who is suitably anti-American.

Will Everything be on the Web?

Today's New York Times Magazine has a fascinating essay on the Google digitzation project and its implications:

The dream is an old one: to have in one place all knowledge, past and present. All books, all documents, all conceptual works, in all languages. It is a familiar hope, in part because long ago we briefly built such a library. The great library at Alexandria, constructed around 300 B.C., was designed to hold all the scrolls circulating in the known world. At one time or another, the library held about half a million scrolls, estimated to have been between 30 and 70 percent of all books in existence then. But even before this great library was lost, the moment when all knowledge could be housed in a single building had passed. Since then, the constant expansion of information has overwhelmed our capacity to contain it. For 2,000 years, the universal library, together with other perennial longings like invisibility cloaks, antigravity shoes and paperless offices, has been a mythical dream that kept receding further into the infinite future.

Until now. When Google announced in December 2004 that it would digitally scan the books of five major research libraries to make their contents searchable, the promise of a universal library was resurrected. Indeed, the explosive rise of the Web, going from nothing to everything in one decade, has encouraged us to believe in the impossible again. Might the long-heralded great library of all knowledge really be within our grasp?

I, for one, am all in favor of anything that heightens the visibility of libraries and makes our collections more accessible to users. However, there are several major obstacles to such a "library of all knowledge". One is the status of copyrighted items. Can they be digitized and, if so, who would have access to them? Also, the usability issue is another major concern. I am still not sold on the idea of reading an entire text online. It's nice to have it available there, but no e-book comes close to being as user-friendly as the hardcopy book.

The Purple Star?

After last week's Zarqawi/SAW nonsense, Powerline reports that the New York Times has now outdone itself in displaying its abject ignorance of military affairs. This quote from the Times' corrections section practically speaks for itself:

The article also misstated the name of a service medal that a general presented to Sergeant Gomez's mother. It is a Purple Heart, not a Purple Star.

Purple Star? It boggles the mind...

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Scott Savage Speaks

Scott Savage, the OSU-Mansfield librarian who was charged with harassment for recommending conservative books for a freshman reading list, has written an essay that is well worth reading. Savage's piece was originally written for ALA's monthly magazine, American Libraries, but is available from WorldNetDaily after the former changed their minds about publishing it:

In early March, a group of professors on a committee assigned to choose a book for our campus-wide reading experience became enraged after I asked if we could consider picking a book that the students might actually enjoy reading, as opposed to any of the left-of-center, polarizing titles the other members had come up with so far. A faculty member quickly replied, basically saying it was our duty to choose books that reflected the "values" of Ohio State University concerning homosexuality (it's good!) and Christian "fundamentalism" (it's bad!). In reference to one of the books on the original list – Jimmy Carter's extended polemic against conservative Christians, "Our Endangered Values" – the professor e-mailed this response:

Please read it all.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

More on Comedy Central's Capitulation

Allow me to leave you for the weekend with a link to a great Weekly Standard article by Duncan Currie. In his piece, Currie discusses the recent South Park episodes that dealt with the Danish cartoon controversy, and Comedy Central's cowardly refusal to allow a depiction of the Prophet Mohammed to be shown there:

"EVER SINCE THOSE CARTOONS in Denmark, the rules have changed. Nobody shows an image of Muhammad anymore." When a character on the animated TV show South Park made that avowal a few weeks ago, he could easily have been speaking for media outlets across Europe and North America. This past winter's Cartoon Jihad occasioned far fewer robust defenses of press freedom than it did craven surrenders to the threats of radicals. Now, even South Park, Comedy Central's irreverent powerhouse, has felt the backlash.

The Cartoon Wars are Over

Whether you like South Park or not, you have to applaud Trey Parker and Matt Stone for their willingness to stand up against censorship.

RIP, Jean-Francois Revel

On April 30, one of France's few remaining voices of sanity passed away as political philosopher and writer Jean-Francois Revel died at age 82. My first encounter with his work came in 1985. While most of my high school classmates celebrated our graduation by going out and partying, I went out and bought a copy of Revel's How Democracies Perish (yes, I was a geek even then). I found it a powerful and persuasive essay on the West's decadence in the face of the Soviet threat. Thankfully, the leadership of Ronald Reagan, the courage of Eastern European freedom fighters such as Lech Walesa, and the ideological bankruptcy of Soviet Communism were enough to prove Revel's pessimism wrong.

In the wake of 9/11, Revel returned to prominence as one of a brave few among French intellectuals who resisted their country's growing tide of anti-Americanism. His 2003 work Anti-Americanism is a superb study of this long and inglorious phenomenon, and should be required reading for anyone who believes that French anti-Americanism emerged from nowhere with the coming of George W. Bush.

For more on Revel's long and distinguished career as a public intellectual, see Stephen Schwartz's piece for the Weekly Standard. Revel will be missed, and I offer my condolences to his family and friends.

Bin Laden: Death to "Freethinkers"

Some critics of the War with Radical Islamism, such as Michael Scheuer, have argued that it is wrong to say that Osama bin Laden "hates freedom". In their view, bin Laden is simply angered by specific American policies, and would cease to be an adversary if only those policies were to change. Implicit in Scheuer's writings is the idea that if only America would pull out of the Middle East and throw Israel to the wolves, we could enjoy peaceful relations with Caliph bin Laden and his Islamist superstate.

In some of his more recent remarks, such as his October 2004 channeling of Michael Moore, and his January 19th offer of a truce, bin Laden himself disputed the idea that he hates freedom. However, in his videotape released on April 23, Osama bin Laden finally put the lie to the idea that he doesn't hate freedom, but merely opposes specific policies. Here is a portion, courtesy of the invaluable Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI):

"To the entire Islamic nation...: This speech comes to further urge you and prompt you to [come to] the aid of the Prophet and punish those responsible for the vile crime being committed by some journalists from amongst the Crusaders and the apostate heretics, who have insulted the Prophet Muhammad…

"Imam Ahmad [3] said: 'Whoever reviles the Prophet or belittles him, be he Muslim or infidel, should be killed.' The freethinkers and heretics who defame Islam, and mock and scorn our noble Prophet - their case and the law concerning them have been clearly expounded by Imam Ibn Qayyim [Al-Jawziyya]. [4] He made it clear that the crime committed by a freethinker is the worst of crimes, that the damage caused by his staying alive among the Muslims is of the worst kind of damage, that he is to be killed, and that his repentance is not to be accepted...

(emphasis added-DD)

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that someone who believes that "heretics" and "freethinkers" who "defame Islam" should be murdered does indeed hate freedom. In fact, bin Laden even demanded that the Danish cartoonists who drew the controversial images of the Prophet Mohammed be handed over to al Qaeda, for trial and certain execution. Bin Laden's deputy, the Egyptian Ayman al-Zawahiri, stated in early March that freedom of speech was to blame for the Danish cartoon controversy. The obvious implication is that al Qaeda and its allies would do away with this troublesome concept if given the opportunity, and not just in the Muslim world.

Does bin Laden hate specific American policies? Yes, because he considers us "infidels", and thus whatever we do is wrong. See, for example, his condemnation of any effort to halt the genocide inflicted by the Islamist Sudanese regime in Darfur. However, as his recent remarks make clear, he desires a world with no place for "freethinkers". This is not something that America, or the rest of the civilized world, can live with.

Bad News from ALA

Sadly, Greg McClay reports that his bid for a seat on ALA Council has failed:

Since I'm the only person who listed a website as their place of work I think that had to perk enough interest for people to actually read the profile. So 2000+ voted for me and 12,000+ voted against. That's unfortunate. Especially since there will probably be another resolution on the Boy Scouts in NOLA, and there will definitely be one calling for the impeachment of the President. So ALA is going to continue to be run roughshod by the inept and unprofessional (the anti-intellectuals so to speak ). And there's plenty of weak-kneed fence-sitters who are going to let them. If that's what the voters wanted then that's what they got.

First of all, I wish to thank Greg for having the courage to run. While myself and others dropped out of the organization, he was willing to stay in and fight for his beliefs. This leads Greg to make an obvious point:

What now? I run again. Voting was up but its still only 25% of membership. And maybe if some of those librarians who said they would vote for me if they hadn't passed on renewing their membership were to re-up (a-hem) then maybe we can get that vote total up.

This raises several key questions. For starters, are there enough such people to make up the 10,000 vote gap? This leads directly to the question I asked in the wake of my "infamous" Chronicle article: Is it worth it to fight to restore ALA to a non-political course, or is the association a lost cause?

I didn't have the answer then, and I still don't. There are plenty of people dissatisfied with the current direction that ALA is taking. If we were all to join (or rejoin) the association, would there be enough of us to make a difference? Unfortunately, I remain skeptical.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Jihadists vs. Intellectual Freedom

In an article on its English language website, the German magazine Der Spiegel reports that a jihadist group has called for violence against all the European newspapers that published the controversial set of cartoons about the Prophet Mohammed:

The publication of cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad by the Danish newspaper in September eventually sparked violent demonstration in the Islamic world, where millions were offended by the caricatures. European consulates were set on fire in Damascus and Beirut, people were killed at demonstrations in Afghanistan, and Danish products were boycotted for weeks in the Middle East. Then things quieted down again and the crisis seemed to have passed. But has it?

A special issue of the online journal of Ansar al-Sunna, which means "Supporters of Sunni Islam," could respark the flames. The online journal has taken the unprecedented step of listing dozens of European newspapers that reprinted the Muhammad cartoons. The list inludes German dailies such as Die Tageszeitung, the Berliner Zeitung, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and Die Welt.

Terrorism experts who follow the site believe the journal's authors are trying to motivate potential assasins to engage in acts of retaliation. There's nothing new about this tactic. Terrorist leaders like Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri don't give orders to engage in specific terrorist attacks. Instead, they orchestrate Islamist violence by means of violent demagoguery, counting on their followers to act on their own initiative.

(link courtesy of LGF)

As I have stated before, radical Islamists don't just seek to destroy intellectual freedom in the Islamic world, they wish to destroy it in the West as well.

Debunking Loose Change

Pat of Brainster's Blog has co-created a new site devoted to debunking the 9/11 conspiracy film Loose Change. It's a great place to look for rebuttals of many of the claims made in that film:

Screw Loose Change

The Times Defends Zarqawi

In the course of enjoying my day off from the Army, I actually bought a New York Times this morning. As I read the Times, two items in particular caught my attention. One was a Maureen Dowd column that confirmed her utter inability to write intelligently about anything other than shopping for women's footwear. The other item was this article by C.J. Chivers:

An effort by the American military to discredit the terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi by showing video outtakes of him fumbling with a machine gun — suggesting that he lacks real fighting skill — was questioned yesterday by retired and active American military officers.

The video clips, released on Thursday to news organizations in Baghdad, show the terrorist leader confused about how to handle an M-249 squad automatic weapon, known as an S.A.W., which is part of the American inventory of infantry weapons.

This passage in particular raised my ire:

The weapon in question is complicated to master, and American soldiers and marines undergo many days of training to achieve the most basic competence with it. Moreover, the weapon in Mr. Zarqawi's hands was an older variant, which makes its malfunctioning unsurprising. The veterans said Mr. Zarqawi, who had spent his years as a terrorist surrounded by simpler weapons of Soviet design, could hardly have been expected to know how to handle it.

Frankly, this is utter crap. In basic, we had about one hour's worth of instruction on the SAW. Even I, who had arguably the worst combat skills in our company, was able to load and fire it without any problem. In fact, I found the SAW quite easy to use. It's certainly simpler than the M240B.

So Zarqawi was only familiar with Soviet-made weapons? So what. I wasn't familiar with any weapons beyond an M-16 when I was taught to use the SAW.

If a short, geeky librarian willing his way through Basic Training could figure out how to use the SAW, surely a veteran jihadist like Zarqawi could be expected to do the same.

It's Good to be the Commandante

Fidel Castro, Cuban dictator, book burner, and hero of the Progressive Librarians' Guild, is worth an estimated $900 million. Volokh Conspiracy has the links and the details.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Press Freedom in the Islamic World

In the wake of the Danish cartoon controversy, the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies has compiled a highly informative overview of the status of free speech and the media in various Muslim countries:

On September 30th, 2005, the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published a series of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed. The resulting riots, often fanned by repressive governments and radical Islamist organizations, threw light into the deep chasm between Western concepts of freedom of the press and the strict control placed on media throughout much of the Muslim world.

Backgrounder: Oppression of the Press in the Muslim World

Women Under Saddam

The status of women is just one of many causes for concern in post-Saddam Iraq. However, the notion peddled by some war critics that Baathist Iraq was a beacon of women's rights defies credibility. In a piece for the Wall Street Journal, A. Yasmine Rassam ably debunks this notion:

Anti-war revisionist liberals and radical feminists alike are trying their best to come up with comparisons of the Saddamist and post-Saddamist eras in Iraq with the aim of discrediting the historic liberation of Iraq from Saddam Hussein in 2003. With Iraqi women they think they have found a seemingly incontrovertible argument since Saddam, according to his apologists, was a "secular" ruler who gave liberal rights to women.

In a complex society like Iraq's, with its labyrinthine political and social development over the past 40 years, it is foolhardy to make simplistic comparisons based on a mere three years of post-Saddam liberation. Still, it is worth setting the record straight on how women really fared under the rule of this allegedly "benign" dictatorship. Revisionist history-writing must not prevail.

Women's Lib