January 10th, 2005
Malkin and Pipes 'Turning Japanese'
1) I got your picture - I got your picture
As a self-described mean-spirited crank, I have a certain
love/hate relationship with so-called "Revisionist history."
It's great for laughs, and provides hours of amusement at the
authors' expense. But, while often laughable, the act of rewriting
well-established history can't be entirely dismissed as antinomian
masturbation: history is rarely as open and shut as pop historians
would like us to believe.
On the other hand, some of those "alternative" historians,
and their core audience, mistake edginess for insight, and political
incorrectness for cultural relevancy. They may also have fairly
creepy - if not outright racist or fascist - ulterior motives.
And some folks just want an excuse to stick it to the "liberal
media elite," who have somehow managed to rewrite history
to make certain authors' pet causes (like the Confederacy, or
Holocaust revisionism) look bad.
To be fair, the Left does have its own, equally-suspect Revisionist
history, in which Ché Guevara was a hero, Shakespeare
was a lesbian and the Mayans are credited with having invented
television. But, while spurious, such outlandish claims don't
seem anywhere as harmful to our understanding of history as tales
of Jews dying en masse from lice-borne typhus, rather
than Zyklon-B, during the Holocaust.
Meanwhile, there is a disturbing trend in the mainstream American
Right to engage in its own sort of revisionism: one that divorces
itself from overt racism and/or conspiratorial airs, and tries
to repackage atrocity as common sense, or at least "something
to think about," rather than recoil from. Insensitivity
to ethnic, racial and religious differences is now marketed as
something to laugh at, with everyone being all too willing to
gang up on the nauseatingly "politically correct" without
stopping to think if there's a real issue at risk.
Which brings us to Michelle
Malkin, who has been kind enough to inform us that - contrary
to popular belief - the American government was wrong to apologize
for having Interned over 120,000 American residents and citizens
of Japanese ancestry during World War II. It also brings us to
Dr. Daniel Pipes, who
has been kind enough to back
Both stand accused of revisionist masturbation, but the wank
may have worse consequences than usual...
2) So I can look at you from inside as well
In Malkin's latest book, In Defense of Internment: The Case
for Racial Profiling in World War II and the War on Terror, we
discover that what we thought was the result of wartime hysteria
and long-seated West-coast racism against Asian immigrants was
actually the well-considered application of wartime intelligence.
That is, even if most of the people who pushed for the Internment
never actually saw that intelligence at the time, at least not
that we know. But we know now, even if they
didn't know then, which immediately nullifies whatever
less-than-fair motives they might have had. So there!
(Just to show you a little more insight into Malkin: she went
from calling the Internment "abhorrent
and wrong," while Clinton-bashing back in 2000, to pronouncing
it the right thing to do a scant four years later. I'll leave
you to form your own conclusions on how one can go from one extreme
to the other after just 16 months of research.)
Malkin claims to have made this atrocious - and fairly
- apologia as a blow against those who, distasteful of
what we did to Japanese Americans, are more than a little hesitant
to do the same thing to Arab/Muslim Americans. She blames this
well-meaning antipathy towards wide-eyed and panicky racism on
"revised" history, starting with a congressional panel
"Stacked with left-leaning lawyers, politicians, and civil
rights activists," and then pushed through by the likes
of the late Robert
T. Matsui (D-CA), himself
a victim of Internment.
It's highly ironic that Malkin accuses others of having revised
history, while engaging in the exercise, herself. Even more ironic
is that she has immediate ancestral roots in a country where
Al-Qaeda sympathizers are known to operate. Couldn't this mean
that, in the event of a widespread crackdown, she, too, might
be under consideration for "indeterminate detention,"
right along with those Muslims and Arabs we shouldn't be afraid
3) You wrote I love you - I love you too
Or maybe Malkin's hoping one of her many friends on the Use-America
Right will save her from being indefinitely detained, a'la Oskar
Schindler. If that's the case, then you couldn't hope for a better
friend than celebrated "middle east scholar" Dr. Daniel
Pipes: darling scholar-for-hire of the "Use-America Right,"
writer for many above-board magazines and newspapers, and Director
of the Middle East Forum
- courtesy of which, Dr. Pipes gets millions
of dollars every year to teach us that Muslims are not all
bad people, but shouldn't be trusted, anyway.
At least, that's the gist of his recent
defense of Malkin's book. I will let that defense - and his
reaction to the recent poll that sparked the defense - speak
for itself. And if you're curious as to how a serious scholar
could sign off on something that has enough holes to sink a continent,
I offer this
But Dr. Pipes isn't just a hired mouth - he's an appointed
one, too. Until just this month he was an recess appointee of
President Bush to the United States
Institute of Peace.
President Bush nominated Dr. Pipes for the post over the strenuous
- and admittedly shrill - complaints of various organizations
and Congressional Democrats. Rather than having his nominee have
his kiester handed to him via the confirmation process, President
Bush snuck him in via a recess
That meant that Dr. Pipes could only serve until the next
congress, as opposed to the standard four year term. But we have
yet to discover what damage he could have done. The USIP exists
to provide the "widest possible range of education and training,
basic and applied research opportunities, and peace information
services on the means to promote international peace and the
resolution of conflicts among the nations and peoples of the
world without recourse to violence."
Does this mean that he got to advise other nations around
the world that, if you've got problems with people, just stick
them in an internment camp?
4) I often kiss you when there's no one else around
On the surface, this all seems like bog-standard revisionist
masturbation. It starts when someone sticks their neck out to
defend the indefensible, and then the masses cry foul on cue.
Then various other folks stick their necks right alongside the
initial offender, trying to make the hatchetman's job that much
more difficult. Even more galling is the fact that sometimes
the executioner is too busy laughing at the charges to try and
do his job: "You said WHAT?!?!?"
The difference, here, is the high-profile nature of the offenders.
Malkin isn't just some danky, late-night radio host going on
about the Space Bankers, JFK or how JFK was a Space Banker -
she's a "syndicated columnist." Real newspapers actually
pay her to dribble and drool all over their op-ed pages, and
real publishers have fronted up for her books.
(Though Regnery, which
published her latest, seems more of a front for right-wing pabulum
than anything else.)
And then there's a Presidential apointee to the USIP... my
my my. Has anyone asked President Bush if he stands by
Dr. Pipes' comments? (Does he bother to read anyone's comments,
given his antipathy to newspapers?) Maybe someone should ask
- really loudly, at that.
Maybe we should also wonder if we haven't turned a very nasty
corner. Time and distance - and a dying survivor population -
have helped make it easier for Holocaust deniers to do their
dirty work. Pro-Southern types don't have to worry about actual
witnesses being about to refute their claims with firsthand,
And now that the children of the Internment - like Robert
T. Matsui - are passing away as well, the living reminders of
the wrong we did are slipping away from our immediate sphere
of context: becoming just so much history for people like Malkin
and Pipes to pervert for their own pet reasons.
But what could be next? I've heard some rumblings along the
stranger reaches of the American right that, given what a monster
Uncle Joe Stalin turned out to be, we should have teamed up with
Hitler to invade the Soviet Union. With the post 9/11 renaissance
of the Neo-Cons - many of whom are beholden to Israel - such
errant views can't hope to gain much of a toe-hold. But how long
before we see fascism "rehabilitated," along with other
dirty words, in the name of countering "revisionism?"
Michelle Malkin's book, and Dr. Pipes' defense of it, may
stand revealed as so much Revisionist masturbation, but the money
shot hasn't landed yet. Barring the hatchetman's putting away
his copy of Headsman's Quarterly, and actually doing his
job, we could be looking at a frightening reworking of our own
history to suit the needs of people who should just be ignored.
For those who didn't get the joke: back in 1980, a British band called The Vapors had
a hit song called "Turning Japanese." It was a fun,
catchy "I really love this girl" number with amusingly
corny pseudo-asian guitarwork. The song was doubly amusing when
you realized that "Turning Japanese" was a reference
to masturbation. It got a lot of play on MTV, but it wound up
being their only real international hit, and - after only two
albums - The Vapors wafted away, much like their namesake. C'est