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Thursday, January 05, 2006

Sandy Shanks: Idiot

I read Al Jazeera's English site pretty frequently and am often surprised at the objectivity of the headlines. The site seems to present the biggest news stories in a rather straight forward fashion, and the website seems credible until one takes a gander at the right column--the "opinions" and "interviews" sections which amount to little more than unqualified shmoes mouthing off and spewing the latest party line. The grand pooba of this nonsense is Sandy Shanks, a Southern California based columnist for Al Jazeera.net who describes himself as an "avid historian". While I may not be a huge fan of Paul Krugman's work, at least the guy is a professor, with an actual degree and credentials which amount to slightly more than a library card and a creepy photo of himself sitting in front of a computer.

Shanks, in a June 2005 article, believes he answers American's question of, "Why Do the Terrorists Hate Us"? in under a thousand words. He skips over rather important sections regarding the rise of Islamic fundamentalism, focusing instead upon the Crusades, the Balfour Declaration, and the Suez conflict. Three historical events do not a Jihad make. More importanty, however, the fact Shanks posts such nonsense on AlJazeera--the Arab world's most popular news site--lends credibility to his arguments merely by being an American. Indeed, unqualified folks with a self indulgent and egotistical belief of their intellectual greatness will always spout off, yet Al Jazeera--by hiring such a hack--illustrates its inability or unwillingness to find a qualified American to act as a columnist regarding uniquely American topics.

Regarding the "Interview" section, Aljazeera.net recently interviewed Nayef Rajoub, a Hamas candidate for the Palestinian parliament. Ironically, Rajoub illustrates that politicians have trouble answering questions in any language, instead falling back upon fallacious logic rather than critical inquery. My favorite exchange:

AlJazeera: Will Hamas ever contemplate recognising Israel?

Rajoub: Will Israel ever contemplate recognising Palestine?

AJ: But Hamas is dedicated to Israel's destruction.
R: Isn't Israel also dedicated to Palestine's destruction?

Touche indeed, Mr. Rajoub.