Street Wise

One final belated word about the war and then I genuinely intend to ignore reality for the rest of my life and live in a world of books and art and elaborate sexual fantasy.

It is this: before, during and after the war we have heard a lot about the reactions of the so-called Arab Street. And I am tired of it. They are morons, and I don't care what they think. Like streets all over the world, they are loud, bigoted and ignorant. You might as well extrapolate British national sentiment by interviewing a bunch of football hooligans.

Who has time to prance around for camera crews burning American flags and calling on Allah to make the infidels' beards grow awry? A bunch of idle fucking layabouts, that's who. I sometimes fantasize that it is the same twelve inbreds being flown from city to city to behave like arses in front of Western journalists, and it may as well be.

From watching television you could easily get a picture of the whole Muslim world from Tangier to Karachi as being one vast sweaty bazaar packed with gibbering religious maniacs itching to jihad. And, you know, I don't get around much, and maybe that's the case. If it is, we should certainly be told about it and take steps accordingly. And by all means let those steps be violent ones. I'm a fairly liberal fellow but I could cheerfully cluster-bomb all of those oafs I see on the telly just for being rude and uncouth.

Except I know that's not the whole picture. I know, because for one thing there was that excellent Panorama where a selection of Arab and Muslim intellectuals put their views across incisively and articulately - some pro-war, some anti-war, some explaining grievances, some saying, yes, we'd like our societies to be more like yours, but we'd rather not have it imposed by you, thankyou very much - or whatever. And I think we should have more of that, and less footage of a bunch of loudmouthed cretins burning American flags and saying things like, 'This war is an attack on all Muslims,' and 'God will curse you with effeminate sons, you Zionist dogs.'

If you can find someone with an I.Q. over 80 who will say things like, 'This is an attack against all Muslims', fine. And let things then be explained to them by means of a simple bloody Venn diagram.

I'm the last person to encourage the media to be more PC, or to accuse them of purveying negative stereotypes, and I certainly wouldn't want them to suppress the truth. But every once in a while let's have someone who can use words like 'perceived'. If there's a mood out there that needs to be reported, at least find some Arab intellectual who can say things like, 'This is perceived as an attack on all Muslims by those useless fucking slobs in the market-place that I have to deal with every day, ya see what I have to put up with, you try being an intellectual in a shithole like this.'

I picture an eminent Arab writer rushing frantically about his apartment tidying up and grabbing hold of his wife:

'Quick, quick! Where's my speech? How's my hair looking? Western reporters are here! They're sure to want to talk to me. I'm going to explain everything, tell it like it is.'

'Relax. They've already gone. They filmed a few of those spare bollocks in the bazaar and fucked off again.'

'Whaat? You mean...they filmed...Them? The retards?'


'Oh no! Not again! Why? Of all people, why them? Every fucking time! What must everyone think? bad was it?'

'The usual.'

'Did they do "Western Zionist pigs"?'

'Of course.'

'Oh, shit...Did they do "Sea of blood"?'


'Did they do "We are not afraid to die" and "There is no God but Allah"?'

'What do you think?'

'Did they do Twin Towers jokes?'

'Yep. And they burned the American flag.'

'Properly, at least?'

'No, they set themselves on fire as usual.'

'Unbefuckinglievable. Thirty years they've been burning that flag and they still can't do it without setting fire to their thumbs. I give up.'

Those who think the media are displaying an anti-war bias in endlessly showing scenes like that are wrong. It's not anti-war, it's pro-war. Pro eternal war, maybe.

PS: Nate from the thrice-blessed points out: 'Edward Said used to get coverage as a talking head, but the dilemma of "Said said" against "said Said" coming through the wires all in lowercase threw copy editors into logical loops.'

Posted 26th Apr 03