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COLUMN

Happytown

The week when Haridopolos learned how to lie on YouTube, Republicans falsely conjured reparations and objectivity was kicked out of the Middle East. This is the week we'll never forget?

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Oh yes, the presidential race. Once Pigford II is finally approved (stay tuned to Bloggytown for updates), prepare for plenty of references to farm animals from the conservative pulpit (again!). Republicans ranging from conspiratorial message board trawlers to crisp-suited National Review subscribers have pegged the Pigford settlement as, naturally, pork. In July, Rep. Michelle Bachmann, R-Minn., attacked Pigford during a visit to Iowa, calling the settlement “proof positive of fraud” – though she didn’t bring forth the said proof. (For what it’s worth, her colleague, Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, said Pigford II amounted to “modern-day reparations” for black people.) Surely, we’ll be keeping an eye on Bachmann’s campaign when it stops in Mississippi.

As you may be able to tell from the subject of this week’s cover story, or perhaps, from our July 7 piece, “Point of no return,” at least one of us here at Happytown has an unhealthy interest in Middle-Eastern affairs. It’s for that reason we braved traffic and boredom to make our way to the University of Central Florida on Sept. 1 to hear New York Times Beirut bureau chief Anthony Shadid speak about his wild year in the Middle East – in March, Shadid and three of his colleagues at the Times were shot at, captured and held captive for six days by forces loyal to the now-deposed Libyan president, Col. Moammar Gadhafi. In the following months, Shadid hung out with young Syrian activists who were learning the art of resistance on the fly, an education which included shooting onions from plastic pipesvia ignited hair spray.

Shadid’s feelings on the Arab Spring were obvious – he referred to Arab governments’ soldiers and police as “thugs,” and regarded the Libyan capital of Tripoli as “liberated,” rather than, say, “under rebel control.” Surely, we too would be upset for being forced to urinate in a jarnext to our filthy coworkers in a Libyan prison cell, but shouldn’t a New York Times journalist have a little more “objectivity” about all of this (ha!), whatever that may be? “I don’t believe in objectivity,” he replied. “I think it’s an excuse to make conflicts that are unequal, equal. … When I go to Tripoli and I know that Col. Gadhafi is shooting protestors with anti-aircraft guns, in the head, I know what’s right and wrong.”

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