Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Chris Selley sees the logic through

In expressing my exasperation at Naomi Klein' s baffling, circuitous and slippery attempt to defend her and her cohorts' protest against Israeli films at the Toronto International Film Festival — or, if you believe her, against the way these Israeli films have been “packaged” — I neglected to follow her argument, such as it was, through to its logical and damning implications.

For those of you lucky enough not to have read her piece in The Globe and Mail, and foolish enough not to have read this morning's Full Pundit, I will summarize her reasoning: Israel did bad things in Gaza, and is trying to resuscitate its international reputation through a re-branding campaign, which doesn't help Gazans any, and threatens to let Israel off the hook for the aforementioned bad things. The package of Israeli films to be shown in Toronto may or may not be related to this re-branding exercise — this is the most equivocal part of Klein's article — but it nevertheless “matches Israel's stated propaganda goals to a T.”

This is a standard (and odious) political play: “You yourself may not be [insert bad thing here], but your actions facilitate [the bad thing], and thus are misguided.” National Post readers will be familiar with it from the debate over Section 13 of the Human Rights Act, and free speech in general. Ezra Levant isn't a neo-Nazi, his opponents might say (and have said), but his campaign for absolute free speech nevertheless emboldens neo-Nazis. Why does Ezra Levant want to embolden neo-Nazis?

But here's the thing. If Klein believes showing these films as a package is wrong because it happens to intersect with the propaganda goals of an unrelated third party, then it's only fair that her actions be scanned against the propaganda goals of other third parties for points of intersection.

So, would the most bug-eyed, missile-launching fanatics of Hezbollah and Hamas support or oppose showing these films? I think they'd oppose it. Indeed, one might argue that cancelling the event would match their propaganda goals to a T. One might even argue that Naomi Klein was, in fact, facilitating misery in Israel. I sure as hell wouldn't argue that, but someone might. Someone like... well, like Naomi Klein.


Chris Selley, Leonard Cohen, Naomi Klein and boycott politics