January 18, 2003

THIS PIECE BY ANN MARCHAND IN THE WASHINGTON POST quotes a lot of people from A.N.S.W.E.R. but says nothing about the group's pro-Saddam, pro-North Korea, anti-American leanings. Even if mentioning that it's a front for the Workers' World Party, as David Corn has reported, is out -- calling people communists, I suppose, might sound McCarthyite, even though surely that isn't the case when they really are communists -- I would think that mentioning that it's a group that's actively rooting for the other side would only be fair.

If the Ku Klux Klan organized a pro-war rally, even if a lot of the protesters were just useful idiots who didn't know who was behind it, I somehow think the Post would manage to ask a few tough questions.

UPDATE: Reader John Fenton points out:

Scroll down far enough and you'll see that she refers to the organizers of the counter-demonstration as "conservative."

But of course. Count on the Post to look for the political motivations behind the patriotic slogans! Well, sometimes.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Greg Sperla writes:

Just wanted to let you know that you're 100% right about the roots of ANSWER. I attended a seminar they put on at my campus at SFSU and probably heard more about the Socialist Workers Movement than I heard about ANSWER. They aren't shy about it either, most of the members are very forthcoming about their political assocations, I don't understand why this comes as such a shock to some people.

I guess it's a shock to people because they haven't read about it in the Post.

But this article in the Mercury News does point out some, though not all, of ANSWER's unsavory connections and notes that many peace protesters don't care because they feel that worrying about them would hurt the cause. No enemies on the left, and all of that.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Here's a later, but similarly friendly story in the Post by Manny Fernandez and Justin Blum. Fernandez wrote another story earlier this week, reproduced on A.N.S.W.E.R.'s website, that briefly raises but dismisses any concerns with the organization.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Rand Simberg has questions about A.N.S.W.E.R.:

Can a group whose basic premise seems to be that the US government under its constitution is the source of all evil in the world, and that all of its initiatives are to be opposed, in a knee-jerk fashion, be said to be in any way patriotic?

That would be a "no," Rand. But I don't expect the Post to point it out.

ERROR CORRECTION UPDATE: Greg Beato praises my courage for daring to criticize the Washington Post despite my MSNBC gig, but takes me to task for inexactitude in characterizing the Marchand piece as interviewing "a lot of people from A.N.S.W.E.R." He's right, and I was wrong. A better way of putting it would have been "a lot of people from the antiwar movement, and some people from A.N.S.W.E.R.," as the article talks a lot about A.N.S.W.E.R. but also quotes mostly people who aren't clearly actual members of A.N.S.W.E.R. I don't think that affects my basic point, though, about the sloppiness, or dishonesty, of talking about A.N.S.W.E.R. at length without examining the organization's essential anti-Americanism. And calling A.N.S.W.E.R. anti-American isn't just a pejorative, but descriptive.