April 21, 2004

Gilligan's Back!

No, not this one.

This one.

He's in Baghdad writing for the Spectator as their "defence and diplomatic" editor.

In a piece entitled "The Smell of Napalm in the Morning" (sorry, I meant the "Sound of Rockets in the Morning") Gilligan helps showcase why he got the Beeb in such trouble (subscription required):

1) Knee-jerk anti-Americanism:

"The Americans’ new Clerical Enemy No.1, Muqtada al-Sadr, might also come into the category of a manufactured difficulty...Stern pictures of al-Sadr holding up an admonishing index finger decorate many public buildings in Sadr City. You do wonder how anyone who can allow himself to be depicted in so cheesy a manner can become such a big deal. The answer, of course, is the Americans."

Of course, I mean, who else!

2) Dripping condescension:

"Later, in a different part of town, I have a chance to observe the truth of this maxim for myself. I am at the al-Mustansria University when it is raided by the Americans for the second time that day. Sausen al-Samir, the head of the English department, is showing me the damage they did on their first visit — smashed doors and windows, broken furniture, a trashed photocopier — when the campus is again surrounded and men in boots burst up the stairs. ‘F—ing get out of here,’ screams one of the soldiers, pointing his gun at us. ‘This is a Coalition operation.’

Al-Samir, furious, stands her ground, demanding to be taken to the commanding officer, Major Williams. ‘I want an apology for this morning,’ she says. ‘Ma’am, I’m not in the apology business given what we found here,’ he replies. Later the major takes me aside and shows me the haul: nine Kalashnikovs, a pistol, a rocket-propelled grenade and leaflets calling for violence against the Coalition. The raid is perfectly justified, but you can’t help thinking they could have done it more politely. Was it really necessary to break all the doors down? Don’t the university staff have keys? How do the soldiers know that the leaflets were produced on the photocopier they smashed — and anyway, don’t rather a lot of other people need the copier, too? ‘We will look into all that, sir,’ says the major. ‘But you do see what we’re up against.’ I do, which is why it makes sense not to manufacture even more difficulties for yourself."

Don't you wish you were that Major and had, er, a different answer to relay to so pompous and self-righteous Gilligan?

3) Finally, Gilligan (who is only about 35 years old), inadvertently describes himself (via a description of Moktada Sadr!):

"Rather like a Western supermodel, though of course in reverse, it is impossible to obtain an accurate report of his age. His followers claim he is 32, but unkind critics say he is only 24. Like so many other kids these days, al-Sadr may be a little low on all that religion stuff, but he does understand the virtue of branding."

To be sure, like so many "kids" these days--Gilligan understands the power of branding too.

He's branded himself as something of a martyrized ex-Beeb hack who remains valiantly bull-headed in reporting the unvarnished truth--as long as said "truth" makes George Bush (or Tony Blair) look as bad as possible.

The martyr:

"Looking at things from a distinctively Iraqi perspective, they all seemed convinced that the British government had put me in prison. I had to reassure them that Lord Hutton did not have quite such impressive powers as Saddam Hussein."

And the almost irrational Bush-Blair animus:

"The insurgents, on the other hand, know exactly when the US and British elections are going to be. There are now 40 hostages, of 12 different nationalities, held in Iraq. But the real hostages are George Bush and Tony Blair."

Incorrigible, no?

Posted by Gregory at April 21, 2004 04:38 PM
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