January 08, 2007

Zizek in NYT: Denying the Facts, Finding the Truth Thanks to "Ron-Ron" for pointing out Zizek's editorial in today's NYT. ONE of the pop heroes of the Iraq war was undoubtedly Muhammad Said al-Sahhaf, the unfortunate Iraqi information minister who, in his daily press conferences during the invasion, heroically denied even the most evident facts and stuck to the Iraqi line. Even with American tanks only a few hundred yards from his office, he continued to claim that the televised shots of tanks on the Baghdad streets were just Hollywood special effects. In his very performance as an excessive caricature, Mr. Sahhaf thereby revealed the hidden truth of the ''normal'' reporting: there were no refined spins in his comments, just a plain denial. There was something refreshingly liberating about his interventions, which displayed a striving to be liberated from the hold of facts and thus of the need to spin away their unpleasant aspects: his stance was, ''Whom do you believe, your eyes or my words?'' Furthermore, sometimes, he even struck a strange truth -- when confronted with claims that Americans were in control of parts of Baghdad, he snapped back: ''They are not in control of anything -- they don't even control themselves!'' What, exactly, do they not control? Back in 1979, in her essay ''Dictatorship and Double Standards,'' published in Commentary, Jeane J. Kirkpatrick elaborated the distinction between ''authoritarian'' and ''totalitarian'' regimes. This concept served as the justification of the American policy of collaborating with right-wing dictators while treating Communist regimes much more harshly: authoritarian dictators are...

Jodi Dean

Jodi Dean is a political theorist.

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