03 Nov 2006

Michelle Malkin Is Being Silly

Lord knows I like and respect Michelle Malkin.

Nobody on the right side of the Blogosphere works harder than Michelle, and she is the most spirited fighter we conservatives have.

But every once in a while, I feel obliged to reflect that Michelle’s performance could be improved if her brakes were upgraded.

Yesterday, Michelle fell for an indignant posting from an easily alarmed busybody named Winfield Myers (who monitors Middle Eastern Studies on college campuses), all about the president of the University of Pennsylvania posing with a student named Saad Saadi Halloween-costumed as a suicide-bomber-cum-terrorist.

I must confess that I was taken in briefly myself, and started writing up my own outraged posting, until I followed up the photo links (Mr. Myers’ posted images were of poor quality) to the student’s facebook page (the Halloween photos have since been removed), and discovered no evidence of Islamicism or political intent whatever. Saad Saudi, a senior at Penn majoring in Engineering, was obviously just a nerdy college kid, blowing off steam at Halloween by trying for a topical and outrageous costume.

There was no endorsement or support from Penn President Guttmann. She was simply acting in her presidential role as hostess of a seasonal party for Penn undergraduates, attended by more than 700 students. Along came Mr. Saudi, who posed beside her for a picture. Posing for pictures with students, and remaining affable and unflapped in the face of harmless undergraduate tomfoollery in terrifically bad taste is a basic part of her job description.

President Guttmann deserves kudos for her good humor and sense of perspective. Mr. Myers needs to get a life. If he is too obtuse to differentiate undergraduate monkeyshines from meaningful political statements, he shouldn’t be blogging.

Our fierce and valiant Michelle needs to be a bit more careful of her sources.


Unfortunately, all this ado over nothing attracted other leading conservatives.

And Michelle is still swinging away with her broadsword at an undergraduate’s Halloween.costume.

Gentlemen and ladies, there are far more significant issues infinitely more worthy of your valuable attention.

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Speech and symbols usually evade any form of redress since it’s nearly impossible to measure degrees of offense or even harm caused by them. Perhaps your impatience with Ms. Malkin is that there is, arguably, no sufficient remedy Mr. Saadi and Ms. Gutman can offer because there is, arguably, no specific harm they have caused?

At this moment, this matter runs the risk of petering out in mutually deaf assertions. What we have is, “I’m sorry, but not that sorry,” and “You’re sorry, but not sorry enough.” I guess I fall into the latter category because I want Mr. Saadi and Ms. Gutmann to acknowledge more fully their carelessness.

Never for a moment forget the intense degree of hatred often expressed toward Israel and America on our college campuses — to the point of principles of free speech and academic freedom being infringed. Never forget that a Muslim University of North Carolina student rammed his SUV into a crowd earlier this year. Never forget that jihadist networks exploit American universities to prosecute their wars against the United States and its allies. It’s a thin line that separates an anarchistic, ill-formed personality like that of Mr. Saadi from deliberately abetting, or joining, organizations that sponsor suicide terrorism. A lot of us want to make that a thick line — and want to see the Mr. Saadis and Ms. Gutmann’s of our elite universities help paint that thick line.

I support Ms. Malkin’s efforts, and in fact have posted twice about this issue in recent days.

best wishes,

Dominique R. Poirier

We all make mistakes. In the case of Michelle Malkin, the problem is that she is a popular figure and that everything she says and writes interests a large public.
She is a public personality, which means that, subsequently, she has to think twice before releasing any of her statements, critics, and thoughts. All public personalities and even statesmen are expected to say, at least, one blunder or nonsense in their life; and, when it happens, the sanction is always harsh and painful for the self. Doubtless, Michelle Malkin got a lesson from having jumped a bit too quickly on a fact behind which there was, in fact… nothing.

That happens, and my point of view is that it doesn’t constitute substantial ground for blaming her too hard, or for questioning her good will. As far as I can see it, Michelle Malkin is not one among those aggressive persons who leave the embarrassing impression of seizing the opportunity of political claims and public fame as a way of exteriorizing what seems to be an unmistakable suppressed aggressiveness, or (and) a chronic discomfort with life and people. Karl Marx, Adolf Hitler, and many others well known as perpetually angered men made profitable use of politics to exteriorize their aggressiveness; and, yes, I guess I spotted some birds like those in both U.S. parties, who, for worse, and for my concern, seem to be successful at getting their share of praise and fame. Those persons share the common and visible characteristic of being fanatic ideologues and humorless drudges, and they do much more harm than good for the ideas they pretend defending.

Michelle Malkin’s mistake demonstrates, I believe, that she is a person sincerely and deeply involved in her beliefs and in her undertakings. She was certainly not looking for a nice opportunity of raising further her popularity by questioning the attitude of an unknown schoolboy.

On the long run, her deep personal involvement may entail the risk of seeing things she is looking for where there are no such things, as it can happen when one invests too much of oneself in one’s belief. Michelle Malkin is a true believer in the good sense of the term, I think. But, she has to bear in mind that too much personal involvement, as I witnessed it with my own eyes in France, can easily transform people into which she is not, doubtless, and fortunately.

The best and infamously known case, in America, illustrating the extremities one may reach in such context is this of Joseph McCarthy, and I find regrettable, and even saddening, that some see it as praiseworthy. The real enemy, the one who has not been yet spotted, is looking for that, and he is prone to making good profits from it.

Beware of yourself. Beware of your own mind; it is our worst enemy. Beware of not looking too much for what we are looking for. Beware, also, of what others would like us to see sometimes. Do your best to spot the misleading dead ends or traps in which some attempt to drive us into.

Now, it looks like a boy who dressed in terrorist has been successful beyond his expectations in his endeavor to find the most frightening costume for the Halloween night. He apologized for on his personal webpage, and, it is of my assumption that he has certainly been frightened too at some point.

It’s all about Halloween, I tell you.


Always good to read constructive criticism in the “Rightosphere.” He’s not a boy, though. He’s a less than exemplary student at a top-tier university, and she’s a less than exemplary university president.


I don’t know if you were there in time to see his Facebook collection of photos, or if you looked through his various material on the web.

I did. And concluded:

(1) He is a harmless, nerdy college student, devoid of any beyond the most conventional kind of political opinions.

(2) President Guttmann looked none too pleased at being drafted for a photo with Saad.

I am able to remember college well enough to believe strongly that undergraduate behavior in terrible bad taste will be always with us, and that –absent deaths or serious injuries– it is the kind of thing one never takes seriously. They do grow out it.



Why I think calling attention to this item was a “good catch” on Ms. Malkin’s part:

* It pressured Penn’s president to take a firm stand against careless or ambiguous displays of “terrorist chic.” She did not – score one for conservatives.

* There is no guarantee Mr. Saadi will “grow out it”; in fact, there is reason to suspect that he will become even more reckless. View his site, including the Zapruder footage (home page drop down menu) and Happy Memorial Day video. If he does “grow out of it” it will be despite not because of his U Penn education.
This opinion is significantly informed by my college experience at UC Berkeley in the 90s when I took several opportunities to socialize with students who were ethnically Arab and politically Left. (I was very leftwing at the time). The academy-based Arab left in America is a habitually strident bloc. An example is when Fadia Rafeedie turned her 2000 UCB valedictorian speech into a rabble-rousing indictment of the U.S. for imposing sanctions on Iraq. So I strongly support applying pressure, as Ms. Malkin does in her culture warrior fashion, to members of this bloc.

* This item did not raise only Ms. Malkin’s pique. Notably, Victor Hanson and Hugh Hewitt weighed in on it. (I linked it my Nov. 1 post.) So I suppose you think they’re being silly, too?


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