The Campaign Spot

Sometimes, It’s Okay to Tweet Ill of the Dead

From this edition of the Jolt . . . apparently a few readers have missed the perpetual daily nagging and reminders. Yes, it’s subscriber-only. No, there is no charge. No, I can’t help fix tech issues (I’m nudging the powers that be to include some separate e-mail address for that, since I just write it; the magic box helps bring it to readers). It’s written late at night and early in the morning, and gets to readers hopefully by midmorning if Chaka knows what is good for him.

Nasr? No, Sir!

As somebody who’s on Twitter, who has been known to send out the occasional silly or stupid comment, I cringe when I see the headline, “CNN editor loses job over tweet.”

Then again, you have to be deeper in a cocoon than the very hungry caterpillar* to not recognize the epic firestorm of controversy, entirely justified, when you write, as CNN’s Octavia Nasr did, “Sad to hear of the passing of Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah . . . One of Hezbollah’s giants I respect a lot.”

“One of Hezbollah’s giants.” . . . Was he tall?

She attempted to clarify on her blog, but the explanation actually makes her original reaction even more baffling: “I used the words ‘respect’ and ‘sad’ because to me as a Middle Eastern woman, Fadlallah took a contrarian and pioneering stand among Shia clerics on woman’s rights. He called for the abolition of the tribal system of ‘honor killing.’ He called the practice primitive and non-productive. He warned Muslim men that abuse of women was against Islam. . . . In 1983, as Fadlallah found his voice as a spiritual leader, Islamic Jihad — soon to morph into Hezbollah — bombed the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, killing 299 American and French peacekeepers. I lost family members in that terror attack.”

How do you “respect a lot” someone who had a hand in murdering members of your family? Presuming her statement is accurate, wouldn’t you expect her first reaction to his death to be something akin to, “good, it’s overdue, I hope the internal bleeding hurt and the painkillers failed in his final hours”? Just how much is this woman grading Middle Eastern men on a curve when a kind word or two about women’s rights balances out incinerating some branches of the family tree? I’m reminded of what I suspect is the smartest thing Bill Maher ever said, a quote that I strangely cannot find attributed to him: “You can’t give Hamas credit for starting a widows and orphans fund when their day job is creating widows and orphans.”

No, the initial response makes sense only if you figure Nasr needed to publicly express condolences to remain on the good side of some sources.


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