critical.montages at gmail.com
Wed Aug 1 09:46:42 MDT 2007
Ayub Nuri, a Kurdish man from Halabja, was a fixer for the Western
media in Iraq (he is now based in New York City, having received a
scholarship from Columbia). A fixer, in the words of Nuri, is "a
journalist's interpreter, guide, source finder and occasional
lifesaver." Local fixers, more or less, shape what foreign
journalists, most of whom cannot speak any of the local languages well
and are not familiar with local politics and culture, see and hear.
Without them the Western media are unable to do their work.
Who become fixers for the Western media? Those who speak a language
of the West, especially English, in the literal sense, of course, but
also the language of the West in the figurative sense, the language of
political liberalism and humanitarian imperialism.
It is no surprise that the point of view of a Kurdish man from Halabja
largely overlaps with that of of the liberal, humanitarian empire. It
would be astonishing if it didn't. Many Kurds must have felt about
America precisely the way Albanians in Kosovo felt about it: their
best shot at independence from the country of which they have never
felt themselves to be an integral part. And they felt this feeling
more deeply than Albanians, as Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath Party
government was incomparably more brutal toward Kurds than the Yugoslav
government ever was toward Albanians.
But it is not just a Kurdish fixer who thought that way in Iraq. In
an essay Nuri published in New York Times Magazine, he says, "I
supported the war, as did many of my countrymen and _pretty much all
the fixers_" (emphasis, "At War, at Home, at Risk," 29 July 2007,
<http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/29/magazine/29iraqi-t.html>). That is
the power of hegemony. Just about all countries have ethnic and
regional disparities and grievances, some of them very severe, which
the empire can exploit, but even without them the empire can find a
faction who support its doings, especially among the better off or
better educated than the average, in just about any country it wants
to conquer. And it is through the eyes of that faction that we in the
West see their country, for they are the ones who speak our language.
You can watch a video of Nuri speaking about his work as a fixer --
"What Is a Fxier?":
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