It’s small-minded to suggest age is the reason for the political degeneration of so many celebrity journalists like Seymour Hersh, Tariq Ali, Patrick Cockburn, Robert Fisk, John Pilger, Noam Chomsky on the issue of Syria. It isn’t age at all but the shabby investigative & theoretical methods they have always exhibited in their writings. They could get away with it in analyzing less complex issues than the Syrian revolution against Assad & before they bought whole-hog into Islamophobia. But mostly they get away with it because of the unquestioning deference they get. They’re still being asked to write & speak when they have nothing left to say as if they were oracular rather than windbags.
How did it happen that the whole gang of them are now defending Assad’s dictatorship against a popular revolution for democracy in Syria? How did they become flunkeys for Assad? Their mutation into apologists didn’t happen overnight but was inchoate in their writings going back decades, evident to those not dazzled by celebrity. It took the emergence of Islamophobia as a propaganda method & the defeats of the Arab Spring to bring their theoretical decrepitude into full relief.
Their analytical skills are not up to revolution because they cannot get past decaying notions about Arabs, about Islam, & about the transformative potential of Arab working people. So be it. They aren’t the first journalists & intellectuals to degenerate around the question of war. History is filled with political corpses who could not withstand the polarizations caused by war & revolution because they are rooted in nothing but their own overblown egos & view themselves as demigods.
There’s a lesson here which is not to defer to experts & authorities but to scrutinize, investigate, question. No man is a god when it comes to the complexities of war & revolution. There are telltale signs in their writings & chief among them are: “What is their attitude toward working people? How do they see the role of working people in social transformation? Do they express racism in any of its malignant forms? If Islamophobia isn’t fundamentally racism, then what the hell is it?