I get criticized from time to time over the contents of this blog—bad language, dissing religion, mixed metaphors, behaving like an all-around asshole, you name it. One of the biggies, though, is that my conservative friends (yes, I have them) like to hit me with the “liberal bias” complaint. It would be easy for me to simply say: “Hey, I’m a liberal, the fuck do you expect?” but that answer seems lacking in, I dunno, consilience or something.
So, in the spirit of debunking myths, I’m gonna take a poke at some popular fallacies that are favorites among liberals.
Except for me, of course. Cuz I’m spesh-ul.
A number of years ago I went to hear Michael Moore speak. Now, I like Mr. Moore, not as much as some people do, but enough. He gets a little iffy with me when he gets a little iffy with his facts. That night at the University of Denver, Moore opened his talk with an extended diatribe against all things conservative, some of it on target. But then he really wandered off into the Land of the Fluffyheads, when he suggested that climatologists, and scientists at NOAA, were taking racist pot-shots at Mexicans by naming a troublesome, recurring weather pattern El Niño. The audience, made up mostly of college students, cheered and clapped their approval. I wasn’t one of them, however, for a couple of reasons. First, I was at least a decade older than the majority of the crowd. And, Second, I had spent less of my time looking for ways to demonstrate my unimpeachable moral bona fides, and more time doing wacky stuff like reading books. And it was in one of those pesky books that I had previously learned the origins of the term El Niño.
Contrary to Moore’s weird idea (where he found it, apart from up his butt, I haven’t a clue), the term was first coined by Peruvian sailors, and appears in historical documents dating back to 1892. The Peruvians who first described the phenomena to Spaniards and other Europeans explained that, since the effect occurred most often around Christmas, they had named it El Niño, which means “the boy,” and is a reference to Christ.
The El Niño effect is characterized by ocean currents with dangerously high temperatures that can spread around the Pacific and cause freakish and frightening damage to ocean life, tidal estuaries, and inland agricultural production. And not one of those things is the fault of a single Mexican.
I know, I know, proclaiming one’s moral superiority is such a freakin’ rush, dude! But get your facts straight first, otherwise your morality looks an awful lot like vacuous gibberish.
Osama bin Underrated
Returning again to one my favorite themes of late, I have a couple of quick points to make about the late psychopath, Osama bin Laden, both “facts” that liberals continue to spout about him, and which are simply not true.
As it happens, the first one was another favorite of Michael Moore’s, one he still tosses around the punditverse with gloating abandon. Not, mind you, that he was, or is, the only disseminator of this fiction. The story goes like this: Osama bin Laden couldn’t possibly have been hiding anywhere in Afghanistan, at any point after 9/11, because he was on kidney dialysis.
I’ve looked around a bit in an effort to find the birthplace of this thing, but it seems to have leapt into the conversation from several sources at once, and has gotten a huge amount of airplay over the years. The single piece of “evidence” cited by adherents is that bin Laden was known to drink a lot of water. Yes, dialysis patients often require serious amounts of H20, but there is another, simpler, explanation for bin Laden’s above-normal intake. See, when he was in Afghanistan in the 1980s, helping (sort of) the Afghan mujahedeen bitch-slap the Soviets, his encampment was hit several times by chemical weapons. He inhaled the gas, which does all sorts of nasty things to the human body, one of the biggies being a thorough frying of the victim’s throat and vocal chords. Bin Laden rarely spoke above a whisper. Not because he was being mysterious, but because he couldn’t, and he drank lots of water to sooth his throat, as well as to keep his body hydrated, chronic dehydration being another side-effect of damage by chemical weapons.
And if that’s not enough to get rid of the dialysis myth, consider the following. Bin Laden was an enthusiastic athlete. He played volleyball (which is an image I cannot get out of my brain), was a mountain climber, and he was an avid horseman, sometimes riding 50 miles or more on his outings. No one in need of dialysis is going to do these things, at least not with the vigorous regularity bin Laden did them.
The second bin Laden myth I want to talk about runs this way: America got what it deserved, because bin Laden was trained by the CIA.
Again, nope, so sorry, hate to disappoint, need a cookie…?
When the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979, the primary resistance they encountered, and which would eventually drive them out, was the Afghan mujahedeen, with special stress on the word Afghan. These were the fighters the CIA assisted with training and weapons, turning Afghanistan into another proxy conflict between the two Cold War powers. The anti-Soviet combatants that no party involved in the clash wanted much to do with, not even the native Afghans, were the Arab insurgents, many from Saudi Arabia (and including a much younger bin Laden), who showed up to “lend a hand,” but generally didn’t do much except get in the way and antagonize their Afghan hosts.
In numerous interviews conducted after the departure of the Soviet soldiers, Afghani mujahedeen spoke in detail, and unflatteringly, about the Arab mujahedeen. The Arab interlopers, it seems, looked upon their Afghani brethren as uneducated, incompetent, bumpkins, and set about constructing their own camps, plotting their own raids, hording their own money and weaponry, and refusing to interact with, or accept assistance from, the hated CIA. Then, after spending lots of cash to accomplish next to nothing, and after being repeatedly bombed and gassed, the Arabs packed up their stuff and hightailed it out of there.
Osama bin Laden was not “trained” by the CIA. More than likely, the first representative of the American government bin Laden ever saw in the flesh was the SEAL Team soldier who blew his god-poisoned brains out last year. It was a really short meeting.
Hope you enjoyed.
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