A society that renews the ‘Patriot Act’ isn’t free


The bizarre Francophobia of columnist Roger Cohen, brought to you by The New York Times:

After Osama bin Laden was killed, a prominent French radio station called me for an interview. It turned into a mildly hallucinogenic experience. Everybody from the president of the United States to Al Qaeda itself was saying Bin Laden was dead, but my interviewer kept pressing me for “the proof.”

…And now we have the Dominique Strauss-Kahn sexual assault case, viewed, it seems, by close to 60 percent of French society as a conspiracy against the putative Socialist presidential candidate…

Cohen writes that “conspiracy theories are the refuge of the disempowered,” as if there are more conspiracy theorists in France than in “freer societies” such as our. He implies that the French are uniquely inclined to believe that Jews secretly funded the terrorists who carried out the 9/11 attacks, as if anti-Semites in others countries haven’t made the same accusations.

It makes me sick that good old boys like Cohen get paid to write “op-ed” drivel as a reward for having worked as real reporters in their younger years, but hey, that’s how the mainstream media works.

Not surprisingly, Cohen writes nothing critical about the high-ranking American officials who worked hard to drum up support for war in Iraq, or about the fact that the Times and other major media outlets played a key role in helping these officials make their case. (Hello Judith Miller and Bill Keller! Why haven’t you guys been drummed out of the journalism business?)

If “freer societies” are those that neglect the poor, ignore the unemployed, exclude millions of people from healthcare and subvert civil liberties with laws like the Patriot Act, then I’ll take France, or almost any other European country.

Memorial Day thought: I don’t know what happened between Strauss-Kahn and that hotel maid, but I’d feel a lot less suspicious about his arrest if George W. Bush and Dick Cheney and their co-conspirators had been hauled off in handcuffs after proof that they had lied about WMD in Iraq became available.

Too bad Cohen would rather dis the French than the monsters responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths and the destruction of the U.S. economy.

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