When you begin reading the output of MEMRI, the Middle East Media Research Institute (memri.org), you are at first blown back by the intensity of the hatred, deliberate lies and fantasy that characterize so much of the journalism from the Arab and Middle Eastern press. MEMRI dutifully translates it without comment. Here you can read transcripts of interviews with leading Arab commentators who explain that the United States is engaged in a war of extermination against Muslims, that Israel calls all of the shots in Washington, D.C., and that 9/11 was a hoax.
But there are other voices, too. There are figures within the Muslim world who make the case for democracy, liberalism (small l) and historical accuracy better than we do. Actually, that isn't terribly hard. We are so internally riven, so crippled by political correctness and so guilty about our success that we do not make the case for ourselves very well at all. Besides, those unfamiliar with the level of fantasy and invention in the Arab press are ill equipped to fight the battle where it needs to be engaged.
Magdi Khalil, on the other hand, an Egyptian/American writer, really seemed to score points when he appeared on Al Jazeera last month to debate Mahmoud Al-Mubarak, a Saudi expert on international law. They began with the resolution Congress passed (over the administration's objections) condemning the Armenian genocide 100 years ago. Mubarak heaped contempt on the United States, asking, "Who if not Congress legislated laws in 1848, permitting the annihilation of the Indians?" and what of "Andrew Jackson, whose portrait is on the $20 bill, considering the killing of Indians a duty, and he even mutilated corpses of Indians?"
The United States, Khalil responded, "has made mistakes in the past with regard to the blacks and the Indians, but it has paid the price and acknowledged its mistakes. Hundreds of books in America acknowledge what happened to the blacks and the Indians." Museums have been erected, he added, telling the stories of these events. Yet, in Turkey, it remains a crime to say that genocide was committed against the Armenians.