A person is rarely a master of his associative thinking. At least I am not in control of my own wild and willful one.
Why is that each time I see the picture of Roger Cohen, the venerable columnist of the New York Times, I am always thinking about this image*:
Wherever there is turmoil, wherever the world waits for the outcome of the struggle, you can be assured that Mr Cohen will appear, report, rejoice, analyze and at the end come out with a succinct article (or five) that will glorify the strife, hail its progress and come to a totally wrong conclusion. Turkey (Islam is the youngest of the world's major religions. Its accommodation to modernity is a virulent [sic!] work in progress.)... Iran ("flawed but vibrant democracy")... Egypt ("Islamic parties can run thriving economies and democracies like Turkey’s" - brilliant, seeing the slow but sure descent of Turkey into Islamism and watching the almost assured ascension of Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt)... these are only the relatively recent** examples of the man's willful blindness. The problem is that blindness, when it gets an exposure and support like Cohen's does, stops being his private business and becomes an ongoing deceit of the readers.
Recently Roger Cohen provided another proof of his consistent blindness in his missive titled The Goldstone Chronicles. In this one he doesn't hide his displeasure by Goldstone's timid attempt to recover some of his tarnished image by retreating from a libelous charge of deliberate/intentional killing of civilians during Cast Lead operation. Cohen's tone is amazing. Even knowing that his references to his own Jewish roots usually serve as a prelude to another anti-Israeli rant, his unhappiness with demise of this libel is mind boggling. For a single moment Cohen doesn't allow that Goldstone may have spoken the truth as he sees it. The following quote is a typical part of the whole:
In short there is a mystery here. Goldstone has moved but the evidence has not, really. That raises the issue of whether the jurist buckled under pressure so unrelenting it almost got him barred from his grandson’s bar mitzvah in South Africa. Is this more a matter of judicial cojones than coherence?Of course, calling Golstone partial about-face "a mystery" is easier than to change one's mind. And Mr Cohen's mind on Israel was set a long time ago and quite firmly. Of course, there is no need to rehash the fact that there never was any evidence of intentional targeting of civilians to start with. Of course, it would be typical of Mr Cohen to state (ostensibly as a hypothesis, apparently under advise of NYT legal dept) that Goldstone buckled under pressure and to mention the famous bar mitzvah, only to add later "I don’t know. I asked Goldstone."
As for judicial cojones: I have to give it to Mr Cohen: his own cojones must be huge. A man that makes all the wrong points so tirelessly, so consistently, for so long and so publicly must carry the said cojones in a wheelbarrow, to be sure.
And, to finish this post: I intended to make up a fake title or a fake quote from a future imaginary article Mr Cohen will write on Bin Laden demise. No need, the real article with a real quote is thoughtfully provided:
Osama Bin Laden is dead — and so is an old Middle East. That they died together is fortuitous and apt. Bin Laden lived to propel history backward to the reestablishment of a Muslim caliphate. He died a marginal figure to the transformation fast-forwarding the Arab world toward pluralism and self-expression.What can I say?
(*) The image is of a garden gnome, of course, from the superb French movie Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amélie Poulain (Amélie outside of France, I believe) with the delicious Audrey Tautou. If you haven't seen it yet, stop reading this post, for crying out loud, and go rent it!
(**) Many more by Soccer Dad here.
Cross-posted on Yourish.com