After a kerfuffle regarding an ill-advised tweet, Octavia Nasr has been dismissed from CNN. The tweet in question read, “Sad to hear of the passing of Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah… One of Hezbollah’s giants I respect a lot.”
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I would be tempted to commend CNN for firing Nasr and move on. But moving on lets CNN off the hook too easily. Nasr was the Senior Editor of Mideast Affairs for the network. She had worked for CNN for twenty years. Her views could not have been a secret to her colleagues, but the network continued to allow her to work at CNN. Giving CNN the benefit of every doubt, Nasr’s colleagues and superiors thought that Nasr’s work was unaffected by her admiration for Hezbollah’s leaders, and by implication, for Hezbollah itself.
More likely, Nasr’s views were considered unremarkable, and perhaps were shared by, her colleagues. It was only when she was so gauche as to tweet her admiration for a terrorist that she got into trouble.
There are certain beliefs that render one a social pariah. In current American society, racist beliefs – at least of the white-supremacy kind – spell social death, as well they should. Yet odious as they are, and as much violence as was perpetrated against African-Americans in the South after Reconstruction and until civil rights legislation became a reality, white supremacists generally did not and do not advocate mass slaughter of African-American people. (Of course, I realize that if laws forbidding murder were not a reality, they might advocate murdering all black people. And I am not an expert on the odious views voiced by members of the Klan and the Aryan nation.) If Nasr had harbored affection for, say, David Duke, her tenure at CNN would’ve lasted about two minutes after her fondness for white racists became known.
Yet Sayyed Fadlallah was, if possible, even more odious than members of the KKK. According to the website islâmi Davet, Sayyed Fadlallah’s last wish was “Israel’s vanishing.” His nephew said, remembering Sayyed Fadlallah’s views:
Politically, his eminence used to have two concerns. Mainly, he had the concern of the Resistance, the Resistance in Lebanon, Iraq, Palestine and everywhere. He was also concerned with safeguarding the Islamic Republic of Iran.
That “resistance,” of course, involves killing American soldiers in Iraq, Israeli soldiers and civilians, and crushing Lebanon’s hopes for democracy. In a paper published by the Hudson Institute, the author notes:
As for the notion that it was “integrating” into Lebanese parliamentary politics, and adopting “democratic principles,” it was exposed for the sham that it always was when the militia attacked Lebanese civilians in their homes (in response to a government decision pertaining to Hezbollah’s illegal parallel fiber optic telecommunication network). For months before that, the Party had paralyzed the political process through mobilized intimidation, making a mockery of the concept of democracy. As for its voluntary disarmament after the Israeli withdrawal, in reality, it was precisely after the Israeli withdrawal in 2000, and within the Syrians’ warm embrace (contra the theory that free-rein for Syria in Lebanon would “check” Hezbollah), that Hezbollah secretly built the massive bunker infrastructure in Lebanon’s border villages and acquired the rocket arsenal that was displayed in the summer of 2006.
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In short, Sayyed Fadlullah was the sort of person who should be abhorrent to all decent people everywhere. The organization which he helped lead stores weapons in heavily populated villages near Israel’s border, guaranteeing high civilian casualties when Israel decides to remove these weapons. Hezbollah is supported by and supports Iran, a regime that brutally kills its own people. Yet CNN gave Octavia Nasr a cozy job from which to admire Sayyed Fadlallah.