The Lileks Zone

A big tent, indeed

Another Canadian conference, another fellow describing 9/11 as an “inside job.” The subject was “Muslims in the media,” and a few speakers bailed because conference included some questionable sorts – like the “cultural attache” for Iran, for example.

Hamid Mohammadi said media deception has caused hatred and fear of Muslims by presenting the “false belief that religion is incapable of running a country” and that Iran is therefore illegitimate.

Oh, I don’t know. Vatican City seems to do well enough. As for the other speakers:

. . . the Christmas Day underwear bomber was described as the tool of an Israeli plot; Barack Obama was referred to as “Mr. Black Man”; al-Qaeda was called “the figment of the imagination of the West”; and a video was shown that mocked 9/11 by putting the Muppet Show logo over slow-motion footage of the second plane’s impact, with screams of terror for audio.

Muppets? Well, there are Al-Qaeda connections.

This was interesting:

The keynote speaker, given the absences, was Michael Keefer, a professor of literary theory at the University of Guelph.

And so much more: this YouTube page describes him as the “former president of the Association of Canadian College and University Teachers of English,” so he has been borne aloft on the shoulders of his peers and carried ‘round the room to shouts of huzzah, mortarboards thrown in the air, school songs sung in competing keys, and so on. He is, after all, a man who’s not afraid to speak the truth about the media:
(he) said that all mainstream news media is “systematically fake” because “news editors have internalized the values of their advertisers.”

Speaking on behalf of journalists everywhere: we have advertisers? Thought they’d all gone to the web. Well, which advertisers? One of the major advertisers on the paper where I work is the Amish Heater Company, which sells portable furnaces made by C. Everett Coop look-alikes. Another big advertiser sells Lasik surgery at an affordable price, and given the number of the people in the newsroom with spectacles, I can testify to a remarkable failure to internalize the value of drilling your orbs with focused light beams. And there’s Macy’s. Oh, and Big Zionist Furniture. Other than that, I don’t know what this fellow is talking about.

Of course I’m blinded by the experience of actually working in a newspaper. (Nothing Lasik wouldn’t cure, now that I think of it!) The good professor, able to view things from the Olympian heights, knows better, just as he could properly diagnose disease by riding a hot-air balloon over a hospital. I believe it’s called the Flight-Assisted Etiology Theory, and they’re teaching it at all the best colleges. But I’d suggest that “internalizing the values of the advertisers” means we go along with a realtor’s belief that selling a house for a profit is a good thing, as opposed to confiscating all property and handing out houses for free.

He described 9/11 as a “planned demolition” run by Americans, and the Toronto 18 bomb plot, which led to convictions and guilty pleas, as a “police frame-up” over “nothing of significance.”

He’s a Truther, of course. An interminably tiresome lecture of his beliefs on the media and the world can be found here, where the Keefer-friendly site describes the event thus: “The program was held on Feb 14 2010 to celebrate the 31st anniversary of the Islamic Revolution in Iran.”

You know, I can see showing up for the 30th just for appearances’ sake, but you really have to be a fan to show up for the 31st. It’s one of the great mysteries of the West: the unfailing ability of the professorial left to pimp for people whose definition of “academic freedom” is letting jailed teachers walk around the exercize yard for half an hour a day.

He also offered a curious piece of gossip that shows Conrad Black’s influence on Canadian media lingers long into his absence.

Begging the apology of Mohamed Elmasry, his partner at the Canadian Charger alternative media website, Prof. Keefer told the story of Mr. Elmasry writing to Lord Black to protest treatment of Islam in his many newspapers.

“Why don’t you buzz off,” was how Prof. Keefer paraphrased the handwritten reply. “If you want a newspaper to reflect your opinions, why don’t you start one of your own?”
“We have attempted to do just that,” Prof. Keefer said.

That would be a reference to the Canadian Charger, an online-only joint that raised eyebrows when it used this Taliban-enthusiast nutter for a fundraiser.

We’ve come a long way from the idea of the Ivory Tower, were learned men peered over steepled fingers at a bust of Plato and pondered the Ideals. The rot began in the 60s, to state the obvious, and for an interesting look at how marvelous things were in the Spring before the Summer of Love, read this article on a “student” riot and the occupation of Columbia buildings. It’s about a professor who was sympathetic in spirit to the protestors, but advised the to ramp it back, lads, because totalitarianism often steps in when either side goes nuts. In return for his friendly advice, they burned all of his research. Chief miscreant was a fellow named Rudd. This passage caught my eye:

On April 23, 1968, Rudd led a noontime rally to protest the planned punishment. At first the protest faltered. To many observers, it seemed that the SDS leaders were making a self-serving pitch for support. But then members of the Student Afro-American Society, the main black student organization on the campus, joined the protest. Their takeover of Hamilton Hall, which housed classrooms and faculty and administrative offices, lent the demonstration an air of legitimacy.

There you go: taking over people’s offices by force bestows legitimacy. The most extreme positions are the most authentic, don’t you know. Oooh, hard core. So no one really wants to criticize an honored professor who shows up at pro-Iran parties and believes 9/11 was arranged by the government, because on some level it’s kinda truthy, no? The government does do bad things, and we did support the Shah, so anything that smacks of comeuppance or echoes the left’s core certainties is useful.

And Arianna is worried about Glenn Beck.

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