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May 17, 2005



Hmm, why do I have this lingering thought that Gore Vidal proposed the same conspiracy yesterday - beating Mailer by a good 24 hours - in a piece in some Italian periodical?

Based entirely on the fact that Vidal is a loon who makes Chomsky sound like Walter Lippmann.

Or does Chomsky make Vidal sound like Lippmann?

Either permutation works for me.



Your post speaks of "inevitable suggestion" pertaining to Newsweek. Well, I've got your "inevitable" for you:


Charlie Quidnunc

Jim Geraghty caught another one in the Huffington Pest:
http://www.nationalreview.com/tks/063273.html also Ace of Spades at http://ace.mu.nu/archives/082450.php covered the same. I blogged it in my Podcast today. Give it a listen if you have a minute. It also includes a clip from Scott McClellan's deft answer the the accusation that the White House was censoring Newsweek. Good stuff.


I noted a bunch of them on Monday night, including this one from a large mammal in the TTLB.


I kinda liked Mickey Kaus' suggestion (at least I think this is what he suggested) that it was a dirty trick by the Clintons to get back at Isikoff. There's no evidence of that - but hey, it's plausible, right?


As the WaPo http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/05/17/AR2005051701315.html>reports today Newsweek's basic story is nothing new. It has been reported several times over the past two years.

Lurking Observer

Really, gt?

Then you can point us to an article from the past two years that indicates that US government officials have confirmed that Korans were desecrated?

Because, after all, that was the point of the "Periscope" story, wasn't it?

Of course, if it wasn't, then one has to wonder exactly why Newsweek thought the story worth publishing in the first place?


gt - Those reports may be common because toilet-related abuse of the Koran is something of a popular urban legend.

Paul Zrimsek

I'm surprised we haven't heard more reports of prisoners being forced to watch as poodles are stuffed into microwave ovens.

Next week: Detainees start to come forth with recovered memories of being raped with magic wands by clowns and robots.

Tom Maguire

The dirty Clinton trick was indeed suggested by Mickey.

Good job by Charlie Quidnunc with the Geraghty post.

Love the Jack Shafer link - he hasn't asked yet, by why do the same folks who believe the Koran was desecrated *not* believe that soldiers were spat upon during the Vietnam war?

And gt, let's go - the Daily Kos told us on Monday that this was old news, and both LGF and Andrew Sullivan picked it up.

However, there is a useful tidbit in the WaPo story - they close with it, and I would put it a lot higher up in the story:

The Pentagon issued those rules on Jan. 19, 2003, requiring that the Koran not be placed on "the floor, near the toilet or sink, near the feet, or dirty/wet areas."

OK, that is shortly after the WOT began, but... why did they issue those rules? Is it unreasonable to presume they were issued in response to something?

In fact, I will go further - since "we" were all surprised by the raction to this story in 2005, why mightn't the guards at Gitmo have been comparably insensitive to the cultural/religious implications of the Koran in Dec 2002?

Hmm, the case could be made...

I need to do an UPDATE.


I think the historical parallel is to the Sepoy mutiny, when mixed regiments of Hindu and Muslim troops rioted against the British after rumours spread that their cartridges (which they had to bite open) had been sealed with cow and pig fat. This might have been true although it was unlikely given the alternatives available, but the higher class of historian tends to concentrate on the question of how it was that a climate was created in which such a rumour was bound to take hold. If it hadn't been this it would have been something else.

I think Tom is right to draw the parallel with the spitting dolchstosslegende - the literal truth of the question "were Korans flushed"? is now so hopelessly politicised that anyone looking for a simple answer in terms of physical objects is likely to be out of luck.

Lurking Observer


I don't seem to recall "Punch," "The Illustrated London News," or "The Economist" reporting that unnamed sources at Whitehall or the Colonial Office (or even in New Delhi) had investigated said charges and found them to be true.

Yes, the higher class of historian might well inquire as to how this came about. Methinks that this was not done in 1857, or even 1858, but perhaps a bit later on. Hibbert, for example, I don't believe wrote his book on the subject for at least a decade or two.

But during that particular little "incident," mutinous sepoys were fired from cannon (or tied in front of the muzzles), and some had their heads crushed by elephants. Others were hung. One wonders whether the crushing of said rebellion was hastened by such measures---and whether they would meet with approval today?

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