Security

CNN Caves To Right Wing Neocons By Firing Its Mideast Reporter Octavia Nasr

nasrOn Sunday, Octavia Nasr — CNN’s Senior Editor of Mideast Affairs — acknowledged the death of Lebanon’s Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah by tweeting:

Sad to hear of the passing of Sayyed Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah.. One of Hezbollah’s giants I respect a lot..

Fadlallah was well known for a number of relatively liberal views, such as his support for women’s rights and fatwas against the brutal practices of female circumcision and honor killings. But Nasr’s comment was enough to spark fierce outrage from the various precincts of the neocon blog/twittersphere, who went after Nasr for her egregious failure to reduce Fadlallah to an anti-Israel, anti-American terrorist bogeyman.

Responding to the uproar, Nasr wrote, “It was an error of judgment for me to write such a simplistic comment and I’m sorry because it conveyed that I supported Fadlallah’s life’s work. That’s not the case at all”:

Here’s what I should have conveyed more fully:

I used the words “respect” and “sad” because to me as a Middle Eastern woman, Fadlallah took a contrarian and pioneering stand among Shia clerics on woman’s rights. He called for the abolition of the tribal system of “honor killing.” He called the practice primitive and non-productive. He warned Muslim men that abuse of women was against Islam. […]

Sayyed Fadlallah. Revered across borders yet designated a terrorist. Not the kind of life to be commenting about in a brief tweet. It’s something I deeply regret.

A good clarification, but almost certainly not enough to silence the sanctimonious neoconservative whining.

Mediate now reports that, based on an internal CNN memo, Nasr will be leaving CNN. “[A]t this point,” writes CNN Senior VP Parisa Khosravi, “we believe that her credibility in her position as senior editor for Middle Eastern affairs has been compromised going forward.”

And so, once again, the neocons have managed to help make us all a little bit dumber. The punchline here is that Sayyed Fadlallah was the religious guide, or marja’ al-taqlid, to numerous members of Iraq’s ruling Da’wa Party, including Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. This means that they looked to Fadlallah as a source of religious authority on matters relating to correct Islamic life and practice, and committed to following his edicts on those matters.

So here’s the neocon logic: When a reporter acknowledges the passing of a revered, if controversial figure in a way that doesn’t sufficiently convey what a completely evil terrorist neocons think that figure was — that’s unacceptable. But when the United States spends nearly a trillion dollars, loses over 4,000 of its own troops and over 100,000 Iraqis to establish a new government largely dominated by that same “terrorist’s” avowed acolytes — that’s victory.