Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Propaganda of Michael Totten

Michael Totten has a new entry here in which he tells his version of the "bravado" story of Christopher Hitchens being roughed up by members of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party after defacing one of their memorials. The story is filled with so many lies and distortions that I don't even know where to begin. In any case, here are a few observations:

1. Michael Totten, Christopher Hitchens, and Jonathan Foreman, are three western neoconservative commentators and self-proclaimed intellectuals who can't read, speak, or understand Arabic, and who have never read any material on or by the SSNP, who nevertheless find themselves qualified enough to make judgments about the Party. It appears their entire display of arrogance was intended to make the claim that the SSNP is a Nazi tool of the Syrian regime employed in Lebanon to do the dirty work of Bashar al-Assad. Michael Totten even went as far as accusing the SSNP of committing all the assassinations in Lebanon, thereby bypassing the investigation and the "international court" that they so proudly flaunt and issuing a full and final verdict. Never mind that there is absolutely no evidence linking the SSNP to any of the assassinations, but then again, propaganda doesn't need or even want evidence.

2. Michael Totten and Co. apparently have a problem with the emblem of the SSNP, to which they refer as a "swastika" when in fact it is a Cyclone with no ties or relations to the Nazi swastika. The Cyclone is in fact a historical Syrian symbol that represents continuous movement and dynamism. In addition, it has a specific meaning in the SSNP flag, as its four corners represent the motto of the SSNP, namely "Freedom, Duty, Discipline, Strength." And in any case, whatever their distaste is for the Party emblem, it is quite an arrogant argument they make that they have a duty to deface any poster or memorial which contains a "swastika." What if a different person thought they had a duty to deface any object that contains the British flag? I wonder how they would be viewed in the western world in general and in Great Britain in particular. And I wonder if anyone would pity them if they were to be roughed up upon being caught engaging in such an act.

3. Michael Totten, who quite clearly and openly displays his utter ignorance when it comes to any matter relating to the Middle East in general and to the SSNP in particular, makes it a point to insist that the SSNP is a "nazi" party, thereby justifying their criminal actions in the streets of Beirut. It is of course of no surprise to anyone who has read the writings of Antoun Saadeh (founder and leader of the SSNP who was murdered by the Lebanese government) that the type of nationalism espoused by the SSNP is one of SOCIAL nationalism, which includes all elements of society within the definition of the nation, and is completely contradictory to the RACIAL nationalism of National Socialism and the POLITICAL Nationalism of Fascism.

But Michael Totten doesn't bother with actually reading up on a matter on which he is utterly ignorant, as he dismissively and mockingly states "Many say they cannot be National Socialists, as were the Nazis, because they identify instead as Social Nationalists, whatever that means." So the intellectual vigor of this individual leads him to the brilliant conclusion of "whatever that means." What that means Mr. Totten is that while National Socialism is a racist ideology, which excludes all elements not of a specific racial origin from the definition of the nation, combined with a socialist economic philosophy, Social Nationalism is one that includes all elements of society and does not discriminate between one racial group or another. In fact, if Mr. Totten or his pals had bothered to read Antoun Saadeh's book on sociology, The Genesis of Nations, they would find that the founder of the SSNP was very critical of European racism which he believed to be irrational and not based on any scientific principles. Moreover, if they bothered to read the Principles of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party, they would find that in the Fourth Basic Principle Saadeh states that "the alleged purity of the blood or race of any nation whatsoever is a groundless myth," and he goes on to argue that "this principle would free the nation from blood-tie bigotries that are apt to cause the people to neglect the national interests and to direct their energies towards internal strife, corruption and apathy. For those Syrians who believe or feel within the country or nation that they are of Aramaic extraction would no longer be actuated to fan Aramaic blood-loyalty, so long as the principle of Social Nationalist unity and the equality of civic, political and social rights and duties are guaranteed, and no discrimination between one blood or race in Syria is made. In the same way, those Syrians who claim to descend from a Phoenician (Canaanite), Arab, or Crusader stock, would no longer care also for any other than the cuase of their community, within which all matters affecting them would take place, and on whose fate would depend the fate of their family and of their descendants, their hopes and their ideals." Instead, Michael Totten relies on an analysis of the SSNP made by an "Israeli" in a publication called the Atlantic, whatever that means.

4. Michael Totten, again in a show of utter ignorance and pure propagandistic nonsense, accuses the SSNP of wanting "to resurrect the ancient pre-Islamic and pre-Arabic Syria and annex Lebanon, Cyprus, Jordan, Iraq, Kuwait, Israel, and parts of Turkey and Egypt to Damascus." Of course, there is nowhere in the writings of Saadeh or any of the Party intellectuals any mention of annexing any part of the Syrian homeland to "Damascus". The truth is that the SSNP believes that the people of the entire fertile crescent form a single nation that was historically known as Syria. This has been established by historical, sociological, and anthropological findings. The SSNP merely advocates for the national unity of the people of this homeland and aims to persuade them of their true national identity. This is a far cry from wanting to forcefully annex different parts of the nation to a single city or political entity.

5. Mr. Totten goes on to state that the SSNP is made up of predominantly Christian members. I don't know how Totten comes to this conclusion as the SSNP has never conducted a census to determine the sectarian make-up of its members, for it is a truly secular party completely opposed to sectarianism or any other divisive mentalities. I can also guarantee that Michael Totten did not himself conduct a survey of SSNP members to arrive at his conclusion. The truth is that Social Nationalists include Syrians from all political entities and from various religious and ethnic backgrounds, and the SSNP does not know, nor will it ever care, what the specific sectarian and ethnic breakdown of its membership is.

6. Michael Totten then propagates the myth that the anthem of the SSNP is sung to the tune of the German anthem under Nazi rule, "Deutschland, Deutschland uber alles." Given that Mr. Totten and his friends have most assuredly never heard the anthem of the SSNP, and probably have never even heard the Nazi German anthem either, it is most likely that Mr. Totten merely regurgitated this information from some other propagandist, perhaps Daniel Pipes, without even bothering to check its veracity. The fact is that the SSNP anthem, which is titled "Syria, peace be to you" and not "Syria, greetings to you" as the ignorant Totten proclaims, is not sung to the tune of the Nazi German anthem nor does it have any relation to it. But again, the likes of Hitchens and Totten are more interested in spreading propaganda to further their own agenda then they are in relaying accurate information.

7. Michael Totten makes the argument that Beirut in general, and the Hamra area in particular, is a "liberal and cosmopolitan “March 14” stronghold," and that the SSNP has no popularity there. Well, what would probably be shocking news to Mr. Totten, is that the SSNP is in fact the oldest party in Lebanon and has had a strong presence in Beirut and elsewhere since long before the current "March 14" groups ever existed. Furthermore, to call the parties that make up the "March 14" alliance "liberal" is akin to calling Rush Limbaugh tolerant.

8. The most arrogant position by Totten and Co., however, is their justification of their own actions. That they went to another country and defaced a memorial there is treated as an act of heroism when in fact it was a criminal act of vandalism over which they would have been prosecuted in any other country. Had they done the same in the US they would have been arrested and at the very least fined for their offense. Had they committed vandalism in Singapore, they would have been caned.

In the end, Michael Totten and Christopher Hitchens prove they are but neocon propagandists, who are willing to support sectarian, feudal, reactionary groups such as the Future Movement and the Progressive Socialist Party (which is neither progressive nor socialist and is run by a feudal, sectarian, war criminal who is responsible for the deaths of thousands of Lebanese) in order to further their own agenda. I believe it is a good lesson they learned that they don't in reality have a right to go into a foreign country and deface and vandalize whatever objects they dislike.


Maysaloon said...

I'm just happy he got a bloody good hiding!!

Nour said...

No kidding. And if you read on in his blog it appears he wants to be paid for it too.

Anonymous said...

You are a fascist scumbag. Reading your archives makes that more than abundantly clear.

b2bmike said...

Hitchen got what he deserves, the SSNPers should have defused one of his brain cells. This will teach those thugs not to meddle with our internal affair. I'm looking for the day the 14febs get another blow, hoping it will be the last of those Alqaida/wahabieh zombies.

Thanks for the effort Nour to write this interesting article. I will distribute in my newsletter.

Keep up the good work ;-)

Anonymous said...

"they refer as a "swastika" when in fact it is a Cyclone with no ties or relations to the Nazi swastika."

It's a swastika. A Nazi swastika:

1. Ya’ari, Ehud (June 1987). "Behind the Terror". Atlantic Monthly. "[The SSNP] greet their leaders with a Hitlerian salute; sing their Arabic anthem, "Greetings to You, Syria," to the strains of "Deutschland, Deutschland über alles"; and throng to the symbol of the red hurricane, a swastika in circular motion."

2. Rolland, John C. (2003). Lebanon. Nova Publishers. ISBN 1590338715."[The SSNP's] red hurricane symbol was modeled after the Nazi swastika."

3. Johnson, Michael (2001). All Honourable Men. I.B.Tauris. ISBN 1860647154. "Saadeh, the party's 'leader for life', was an admirer of Adolph Hitler and influenced by Nazi and fascist ideology. This went beyond adopting a reversed swastika as the party's symbol and singing the party's anthem to Deutschland über alles, and included developing the cult of a leader, advocating totalitarian government, and glorifying an ancient pre-Christan past and the organic whole of the Syrian Volk or nation."

4. Becker, Jillian (1984). The PLO: The Rise and Fall of the Palestine Liberation Organization. Weidenfeld and Nicolson. ISBN 0297785478. "[The SSNP] had been founded in 1932 as a youth movement, deliberately modeled on Hitler's Nazi Party. For its symbol it invented a curved swastika, called the Zawbah."

5. Yamak, Labib Zuwiyya (1966). The Syrian Social Nationalist Party: An Ideological Analysis. Harvard University Press.

6. Simon, Reeva S. (1996). Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East. Macmillan Reference USA. ISBN 0028960114. "The Syrian Social Nationalist party (SSNP) was the brainchild of Antun Sa'ada, a Greek Orthodox Lebanese who was inspired by Nazi and fascist ideologies."

7. Nikki R. Keddie (2006). Princeton University Press. ed. Women in the Middle East: Past and Present (illustrated ed.). p. 97. ISBN 0691128634. "The leading Nazi-influenced group was the Syrian National Party"

8. Matthias Küntzel, Colin Meade (2007). Telos Press Publishing. ed. Jihad and Jew-hatred: Islamism, Nazism and the Roots of 9/11. p. 26. ISBN 0914386360. "Back in 1932 Antun Saadeh had founded the Syrian People's Party which asserted the superiority of Syrians over other peoples and followed Nazi models even in its outward expressions, a swastika-like flag, the open-handed salute, etc."

9. Pipes, Daniel (1992). Greater Syria. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195060229. "The SSNP flag, which features a curved swastika called the red hurricane (zawba'a), points to the party's fascistic origins."

Nour said...

So you've quoted an "Israeli" and some zionist westerners to prove your point, while you still have never read any material by the SSNP nor have any clue about its philosophy or history. I could just as easily cliam that the Americans also use a "Hitlerian" salute when they pledge their allegiance to the flag. The cyclone has its roots in Syrian history, whether you like it or not, and its adoption as the party symbol was undertaken in an independent manner having nothing to do with the Nazi party.

Saadeh's philosophy is a unique one and should be judged on its own merits without resort to baseless propaganda written about it by the enemies of the nation.

Anonymous said...

Michael Totten comes across as another neocon scumbag.