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Losing street cred

For a long time, one of the big pet phrases of the anti-war movement (also known as the anti-Israel movement, the pro-Islamist movement, the anti-American movement, and a host of other terms) has been "the Arab Street." This seemingly-mythical creature, they warned, would rise up and strike back against the US with great wrath should we not heed their wise counsel.

But for various and sundry reasons, the beast seemed to slumber, only occasionally rousing itself for a brief, yawning squawk before returning to somnolence.

Until recently.

In the last two months, I can honestly say I have seen the Arab Street actually rise up, make its voice heard, and bring about great changes.

The first was in Iraq. There the Street, in valiant defiance to the threats of the "insurgents," turned out and voted in the first free, democratic election in the Arab world.

The second was in Lebanon, when the Street finally stood up to Syria's nearly-30-year occupation and demanded their freedom.

After years of warnings, the Arab Street is finally speaking -- nay, shouting. And in contradiction to the predictions of the Left, it isn't calling for Death to America, Death to Israel, Death to the Infidels, Death to the Invaders, Death to all those who oppose us.

It's crying out for freedom.

They've seen us. They've seen what we are, and what we have. And they don't want to destroy us -- they want the same things we have.

The Arab Street is finally speaking, in a voice too loud to ignore. But how will it be answered -- with encouragement, or yet more brutal oppression?

J.

(Author's note: There have been several accusations of "plagiarism" about this piece, comparing it with this one by Christopher Hitchens. The genesis of my piece is this:
I read the first couple of sentences of this piece, which cited and quoted Hitchens. I then stopped reading it and decided to write my own take on the phrase "the Arab Street." My initial title was "Down in the street there is violence / and a lots of work to be done," the opening lines of Eddie Grant's "Electric Avenue." I wasn't quite satisfied with that, so I rewrote the title several times, trying to work in variations of "Dancing In The Streets," "Racing In The Streets," and "Sesame Street" before settling on "Losing Street Cred," inadvertently lifting from Deacon.
I'm usually better about citing my sources, and I should have done so this time.

To Deacon and Christopher Hitchens (presuming either of them read this), I apologize for the sloppiness. To kgowan and Brian (more kindly to KGowan, who was more polite), my thanks for reminding me of my obligations.

There are very few original thoughts in the blogosphere, or in the world in general. But integrity demands we at least acknowledge when we build on others' work to make our own.)


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Comments (39)

J, you must have read that ... (Below threshold)
kgowen:

J, you must have read that Christopher Hitchens article, too!

I should point out that Hit... (Below threshold)
kgowen:

I should point out that Hitch's take was from a different angle from J.'s. His was a remark that we used to hear fearful observations from Mideast commentators all the time about the 'Arab Street' and how it would rise us and bring to naught all our plans so we must not do anything to rile it up. But nobody seems to be using the term 'Arab Street' any more, for quite some time now. Hitch (rightly) thinks the term is conspicious by its absence.

I may be missing something,... (Below threshold)
LCVRWC:

I may be missing something, but weren't there free elections in Afghanistan? That would make Iraq's elections the second time there was a, "free, democratic election in the Arab world."

(It's a minor point, I concede.)

Er... Afghans aren't techni... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

Er... Afghans aren't technically Arabs, are they?

I think you might have got me there, LCVRWC... dang.

J.

Apparently the Arab street ... (Below threshold)

Apparently the Arab street has gone inside.

Maybe it's raining?

Seems to me the Arab Street... (Below threshold)

Seems to me the Arab Street is principally ticked off. Occasionally, the target is the United States. Occasionally, the target is local governments. Occasionally, the target is other pedestrians on the Arab Street.

--|PW|--

And they don't want to d... (Below threshold)
Justin B:

And they don't want to destroy us -- they want the same things we have.

What J, by the same things we have do you mean they want 48% of their people trying to vote to place them back into brutal dictatorships?

That is the amazing part is that the entire world is changing around us, and 48% of Americans preferred to keep it the way it was. Planes into buildings. Brutal Dictatorships. Murders. Rape Rooms. And the 48% are too prideful to admit that what Bush did is working and to jump on the worldwide bandwagon and be happy with the changes.

Justin B: No, t... (Below threshold)
Lurking Observer:

Justin B:

No, they did not. 48% of the American people voted for John Kerry, but they did so for a variety of reasons.

Not all of them voted against democracy---some did so because they felt that increased deficits were bad; some did so because they were afraid of changes in Social Security; some did so because they opposed the war; some did so because they worried about the prospects for abortion after the next round of Court appointments.

The 48% that voted for Kerry (or, in many cases against Bush) are no more monolithic than the 52% who voted for Bush (or, in some cases, against Kerry). Did they all support each and every one of the President's moves and initiatives? Of course not. Some voted for the war; some voted to stay the course; some voted to drill in ANWR; some voted to keep government philosophically limited.

Both the Democrats and the GOP are "big tents," as they must be in a two-party system. Demonizing either one ill-serves that aim.

Pennywit:

While much of the Arab Street is ticked off, the reality is that they are far more likely to be ticked off at their own governments than at the US. For all that the Juan Coles, etc., apparently view Israel as more demonic than, say, the PA or the Egyptians, if all politics is local, as Tip O'Neill used to observe, local failures are not the fault of the Israelis, nor the US, but of the local governments. And without democracy, there is no way to change those local authorities.

Hence, when the street has a real chance to speak up, w/o the intervening aspects of state-run press and state-run agitators, they're far more likely to oppose the local governments than to march against the US.

The major weakness in your ... (Below threshold)

The major weakness in your arguement is your blind faith that the Iraqi elections were "free and fair." In reality, they were neither.

While the photo-ops of blue fingers were inspiring, they masked the fact that the Iraqi elections were a rubber-stamp of the Bush regime puppets, carried out under the guns of a foreign occupying force.

Plagerize Hitchens much? G... (Below threshold)
Brian:

Plagerize Hitchens much? Give credit guys, this is a blatant rip off. Didya think no one would notice?

YooHoo Capt. "Normal":... (Below threshold)
TruthTeller:

YooHoo Capt. "Normal":

Iraq's majority Shiite party, the United Iraqi Alliance, picks Interim Vice President Ibrahim al-Jaafari as its nominee for prime minister. The move followed the decision by Ahmed Chalabi to withdraw from consideration. Al-Jaafari must now be approved by the Iraqi National Assembly.

Al Jaafari is not a US puppet, he's more of a Iranian puppet. Chalabi, who I'm betting you think is US puppet is not even running. You need to do your homework before posting.

Don Meyers was admonished:<... (Below threshold)
Patrick Chester:

Don Meyers was admonished:
You need to do your homework before posting.

Aw... but he's more fun if he does otherwise! :)

Plagerize Hitchens much?... (Below threshold)
mantis:

Plagerize Hitchens much? Give credit guys, this is a blatant rip off. Didya think no one would notice?

Brian, just because Jay's talking about the same thing as Hitchens, doesn't mean he's plagerizing. Did you read the Hitchens piece? The two differ substantively. Hitchens is claiming the death of the term Arab street, used by the anti-war lot, and says:

"This doesn't entitle those of us in the regime-change camp to claim the "street" either. It simply means that those who once annexed the term have been forced to drop it, and for a good reason. The struggle for public opinion in the region is a continuing one and cannot be determined in advance, least of all by pseudo-populists who grant the violent Islamists their first premise."

Neither side can claim to know that a variety of nations with conflicting interests and often governments will move together in one direction or another. Jay is making claims about the "Arab street" the same way Hitchens warns against. Basically Hitchens is saying it's not as simple as some singular group, and Jay is saying it is (at least in this post, his last post looked at particulars). I like the Hitchens piece more, but Jay is certainly not plagerizing.

The heading of this piece i... (Below threshold)
Brian:

The heading of this piece is Losing Street Cred. The Hitchens piece is referenced on the Powerline Blog under the heading Street Cred. So J did not see the Hitchens piece, did not see the Powerline post, and on the same day came up with the same topic under a similar heading. I'm just saying, it looks like some credit is due.

Brian, read the update. I d... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

Brian, read the update. I did NOT read Hitchens (but I think I will later). I DID read half of Powerline, and about an hour later inadvertently used a too-similar heading. Credit is due, and has been given.

J.

I didn't read Hitchens eith... (Below threshold)
bullwinkle:

I didn't read Hitchens either but I posted this at Captain's Quarters yesterday:
I can't even begin to count how many times I've read left-leaning articles claiming that "the Arab on the street" believes one thing or another that is contrary to Bush's claim that they want to live in democracies. How many of those lefties are noticing that these Arabs on the street are proving them wrong? How many are going to write about it? It's easier to hate another nation when you hate your own and are constantly told the problems with your nation are caused by another, but when that other nation actually does what it should and you can the results right next door it's very hard for your leaders to perpetuate the lie. That picture is proof of that.

Posted by: bullwinkle at February 28, 2005 11:57 AM
So Jay must have gotten his idea from me. If Hitchens posted his article at 11:26 AM Pacific time he may very well may have gotten the original idea from my post. Yeah, right.........

...the Iraqi elections w... (Below threshold)
kgowen:

...the Iraqi elections were a rubber-stamp of the Bush regime puppets, carried out under the guns of a foreign occupying force.

AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Man, that sounds just like the shrieking moonbats over on DU or moveon.org. I must say Mr. Myers has got his parody schtick down solid.

Don Myers blathered<p... (Below threshold)
DavidB:

Don Myers blathered

While the photo-ops of blue fingers were inspiring, they masked the fact that the Iraqi elections were a rubber-stamp of the Bush regime puppets, carried out under the guns of a foreign occupying force.

{uproarious laughter}

{crowd rolling on floor}

Hey Don, take your medication, damn it!

Wait a minute Don, I though... (Below threshold)
bullwinkle:

Wait a minute Don, I thought you leftheads claimed the elections were a rubber stamp of the American puppet Allawi. Didn't they end up with someone else? Didn't the leftheads say at one time Saddam was our puppet? Just exactly how many puppets do we have over there? Would the left be calling anyone that was elected an American puppet to cover their collective asses after assuing everyone over and over that the elections would never happen?

DavidB:Are you cla... (Below threshold)

DavidB:

Are you claiming that Iraq isn't under occupation? Because with all the foreign troops there, that seems a bit...well, dumb.

kgowen and bull:

Do you have something to offer besides poorly-written personal attacks?

Why do you consider questio... (Below threshold)
bullwinkle:

Why do you consider questions you can't or won't truthfully answer poory written attacks? If I had wanted to attack you personally you'd have noticed quite a bit of difference in the wording, something along the lines of calling you goofy leftist butt pirate, but you never will see anything like that from me.

But integrity demands we... (Below threshold)
mesablue:

But integrity demands we at least acknowledge when we build on others' work to make our own

Someone should tell that to Ward Churchill.

Wait, I thought the electio... (Below threshold)
Lurking Observer:

Wait, I thought the elections were being run by the Shi'ites, with the hand of the Iranian mullahs behind them?

Is the US Government now operating in conjunction with the Iranians?

And did the presence of US troops in large numbers in West Germany in 1955, or Japan in 1952, mean that those elections were not legitimate? Indeed, those US forces were present throughout the Cold War---I take it then that Don believes those elections occurred under occupation forces (which is the term applied to them throughout at least the 1950s)?

Hitchens wrote: "The battle... (Below threshold)
anonymous:

Hitchens wrote: "The battle for clarity of language is a part of this larger contest, and it is time for the opponents of terror and bigotry to become very much less apologetic and defensive on this score."

This is one of the main reasons why many people didn't vote for Senator Kerry. When asked to explain his policy on Iraq, Rep. Pelosi, the House minority leader replied that she couldn't. Even when Kerry sounded strong, his "wrong war at the wrong place at the wrong time" made everything clear as mud. When Kerry was asked by Diane Sawyer if he was going to allow Iran to have nuclear weapons, Kerry refused to answer. When Sawyer asked President Bush the same question, his final answer was, "No."

Kerry could never seem to take a firm position, explain it, and hold onto it.

Bush is frequently criticized for having simple positions based on principles and talking about those positions using simple, uncomplicated words.

Kerry can't seem to communicate with educated Americans. It appears that the Arab street -- friend and foe -- understands Bush very well.

Hitchens is right: it's time for straight talk.

Wow, Don...I guess we're "o... (Below threshold)
ginabina:

Wow, Don...I guess we're "occupying" Kosovo and Bosnia, too.

Oh and of course Japan and Germany.

Loser....

Bull:The question ... (Below threshold)

Bull:

The question I asked you was "Do you have something to offer besides poorly-written personal attacks?"

the answer is "No, Don, I do not."

'For a long time, one of th... (Below threshold)

'For a long time, one of the big pet phrases of the anti-war movement (also known as the anti-Israel movement, the pro-Islamist movement, the anti-American movement, and a host of other terms) has been "the Arab Street."'

Here begins the lesson: I'm going to take your cute little straw man and show you how completely callow and dishonest your method is. The Pope is anti-war, so therefore you consider him anti-Israel, pro-Islamist and anti-American. And so, based on your 'reasoning,' I can consider you an anti-Catholic bigot. I can tell you are just so proud . . .

Are you claiming that Ir... (Below threshold)
TruthTeller:

Are you claiming that Iraq isn't under occupation? Because with all the foreign troops there, that seems a bit...well, dumb.

Uhhh, yeah. And you are infinitely more reasonable because (from your website):

I now have both nipples pierced, but I think that'll do it for me in the piercing department.

I have, in the past, been registered as a Democrat and (briefly, around 1992) as a member of the Socialist Workers Party.

I tend to find the Democrats slightly less horrifying than the Republicans.

The answer is that those ar... (Below threshold)
bullwinkle:

The answer is that those are not poorly written attacks, they are legitimate questions that you still can't or won't answer. Go ahead, you seem to think you are capable of judging my writing ability, give us a shot at juding your ability to answer those questions. I'll save you breaking a nail scrolling up to read them again. Here they are:

Didn't they end up with someone else? Didn't the leftheads say at one time Saddam was our puppet? Just exactly how many puppets do we have over there? Would the left be calling anyone that was elected an American puppet to cover their collective asses after assuing everyone over and over that the elections would never happen?

Now dazzle us with your intelligent answers and witty banter.

TruthTeller [sic]:... (Below threshold)

TruthTeller [sic]:

What, pray tell, do my nipples have to do with the occupation of Iraq?

I mean, they are quite nice and all, but they're sphpere of influence doesn't entend much past my apartment, let alone the Middle East.

My condolences, Don. My nip... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

My condolences, Don. My nipples have been known to interfere with satellites before. I once got the Hubble telescope to spy on a certain nude beach. How do you get by with such flimsy protruberances?

J.

My nipples are more powerfu... (Below threshold)
uliejay:

My nipples are more powerful than all of yours combined. (And, they're bi-lingual, too!)

Any nipples that can't cut ... (Below threshold)

Any nipples that can't cut glass under the right circumstances -- unassisted by added hardware -- are just sad.

McGehee: Do you cut crystal... (Below threshold)
uliejay:

McGehee: Do you cut crystal?

Don whined<... (Below threshold)
DavidB:

Don whined

Are you claiming that Iraq isn't under occupation? Because with all the foreign troops there, that seems a bit...well, dumb.

Well, no Don, I didn't make that statement. Go back and take a look if it doesn't challenge you too much.

What I did find particularly funny about your post (rant?), was the wording.

"While the photo-ops of blue fingers were inspiring, they masked the fact that the Iraqi elections were a rubber-stamp of the Bush regime puppets, carried out under the guns of a foreign occupying force."

Now Don, watch the news every night, you can do that, can't you? You may notice that you see many mens in uniform. Those are mens of a fighting force that liberated Iraq, and just FYI, IT'S NOT A SECRET! So, nothing has been masked, with the screaming exception of your ability to see straight.
No pun intended . . .

Now, look again at the news reports, or maybe read a paper or two, you can do that, right? You may notice that the supposed candidate the nasty old Bush Administration supported did not get much in the way of votes. You may notice that there was no decisive winner. You may also notice that they are currently negotiating to form a government.

Kinda crumbles your puppet theory, huh?

"Under the guns of an occupying force" . . . . I still have a hard time typing that without rolling on the floor in laughter. You twit, no one was forced to vote for anyone by that occupying force. The only purpose of the occupying force being in the general vicinity of polling places, was to allow those who wanted to vote freely for the first times in their lives the chance to do so.

Oh BTW Don, bull didn't make a personal attack on you in his first post. I did notice that you avoided a thoughtful reply though and instead attacked him.

Now remember Don, that's an oral medication, it won't work correctly if you use it the other way.

Don bleated:Are y... (Below threshold)
Patrick Chester:

Don bleated:
Are you claiming that Iraq isn't under occupation? Because with all the foreign troops there, that seems a bit...well, dumb.

So Germany and Japan don't have "real" democratic governments? Wow.

I agree with The Third Poli... (Below threshold)
Jon:

I agree with The Third Policeman. The weak straw man argument has no place in reasonable discussions about something as serious as our country and the decisions involved in military actions. It is simply name calling. If you cannot accept the validity of a person's good-faith disagreement with your position, you demonstrate closed-mindedness that weakens the rest of your perhaps valid points.

The term "Arab Street" has ... (Below threshold)

The term "Arab Street" has always been overly simplistic. A better analogy would be several various and overlapping neighborhoods all with their own motivations and conflicts. And some of those groups have been quite vocal. Since the war started there have been 27 bombings that have killed more then 20 people. The last one killed 122 people. Minor acts now happen several times a day and are getting worse, not better.

The elections were undoubtedly a good thing, but we shouldn't kid ourselves by overestimating their significance.

Yeah, let's keep it in pers... (Below threshold)
julie:

Yeah, let's keep it in perspective. We get about a 1,000 murders in LA Co a year. Occassionally, a few by car bombs, too.




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