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January 6, 2004

Poor James Taranto over at

Daniel Radosh

Poor James Taranto over at the WSJ has really got himself twisted into knots this time. His first item today concerns a report that Turkish rumors about American soldiers raping Iraqi women have incited at least one terrorist attack. The rumors were generated by two (false) articles in the Turkish press, one of which cited as its source a Dr. Susan Block.

Here's where Taranto goes nuts. Block is an American sex therapist who, back in April, wrote a genuinely lunatic essay comparing the invasion of Iraq to rape. (Par for the course, JT blithely describes the essay as "pro-Saddam," by which he means "objectively pro-Saddam," or, as normal people would say, "anti-war").

"But whatever, she's just another harmless left-wing nut case, right?" says JT. "Unfortunately, wrong." Responsibility for the car bomb that killed a dozen people is laid squarely at Block's door. "Since Sept. 11, Why do they hate us? has been a stock question of the anti-American left," writes JT. "One reason they hate us is because of the diligent efforts of homegrown haters like Susan Block."

In the spirit of bloggery, I'll allow JT his typically foamy contention that writing shrill and stupid propoganda constitutes a "diligent effort" to make people hate America. But he does two simply dopey things in his attempt to make the link between Block and the bomb. First he ignores Block's own response: "'I am a sex therapist and I use sexual terminology for political commentary. I did not say American troops are literally raping Iraqi women." In other words, some Turkish writer, not Block, invented the rumor that incited the attack. Perhaps he was inspired to invent this story after reading Block's metaphor. Or maybe he had the idea already and Googled "Iraq rape" in search of a source to attribute it to. Or, most charitably, he doesn't understand English and misread Block wildly. Either way, he was only one of two journalists to claim that Americans were raping Iraqis. The other one did not attribute his story to Block. The fact is, angry Muslims wanted to spread this lie for their own purposes and would have whether or not Block or any other "homegrown hater" had said anything even remotely similar.

But the real problem for JT is that in order to draw a sketchy line from Block to the rumor to the attack, he has to draw a connecting line firmly and clearly through the Iraq war. After all, the alleged rapes took place in the context of the invasion and occupation. For JT's version of events to stick, he has no choice but to affirm that if the Block essay is indirectly responsible for the attack, the war itself is directly responsible. You simply cannot say "if there hadn't been this essay, there wouldn't have been this attack" without also saying "if there hadn't been an invasion, there wouldn't have been this attack." But, uh oh -- hawks are never, ever supposed to admit that the invasion of Iraq led to increased terrorist attacks.

To swat a completely meaningless gadfly, JT has just conceded a major point to the mainstream antiwarriors.

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