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Judging the New Yorker by its cover

There are two qualities about the New Yorker I find irresistible though I'm loath to praise any part of the established press. No matter how suddenly forthright or honorable their editorial might appear, it's only a feint. The Grey Lady NYT for example, has expressed accord with Wall Street's recent invaders, but otherwise will spew at best neoliberal subterfuge. The WSJ will only ever be Murdoch pretending. But I have the suspicion that some artsy pretense prevents the New Yorker from bowing to the corporatist agenda. It's the usual PUP on Israel of course, but too elitist for bourgeois self-deceit. That's my theory. As a result the most disturbing investigative journalism leaks regularly through its pages. It competes with Harper's among very few, but where the New Yorker has no peer is its cover art, which is often surprisingly subversive. The Oval Office Jihadist being a notorious example. Last week's cover illustration was a nod to the Liberty Plaza demonstrators, showing Manhattan tourists being subjected to special use sidewalks akin to the restrictions NYC reserves for protesters. This week's cover depicts Wall Street as sinister metropolis, literally an industrial behemoth, with the inhospitable accouterments of smog, smokestacks, cooling towers, and obelisk(!), looked over by a sphinx-like sacred bull with glowing eyes, nostrils and smoking horns, really if I had to guess, Mammon. Fitting that the bull signified indisputable power in the dawn of agrarian civilization, now its only symbolism is a brutish money-above-all-else juggernaut.

Jesus Killed Mohammed, every last one

With attention now drawn on the evangelical skinheads running amok with the US military's Big Stick, reporter Jeff Sharlet relates a story in this month's Harpers, which showcases the fundamental irreligiosity of the capital "C" Crusaders. The episode Jesus Killed Mohammed takes place in Samarra, Iraq, in 2004, where rascally US Christ fans succeed in goading their crosstown rivals into taking a shot at them, the sooner to be dispatched to the Islamic hereafter by the Christ Gang's overwhelming firepower. The operation involved painting "Jesus Killed Mohammed" across the side of their Bradley Fighting Vehicle, and having their translator poke his megaphone out the top, giving Arabic voice to the insolent taunt, shouting it up and down the neighborhood until no one was left to speak up for Mohammed.             ???? ??? ????? The affair reminded me of the Monty Phython skit about the world's deadliest joke being appropriated for military use across the WWI trenches, which was, if you remember, immediately fatal, combined with the sacrilegious 2005 GWOT strategy which drew so much flak to US special forces in Afghanistan when soldiers burned Taliban corpses to draw enemy ire. The Intelligence Service calls it "tickling:" provoking your opponent into an emotional response to reveal his position. In the Afghan case, the US team violated Geneva Conventions against mutilating the dead. In Sammara the only code protecting the sensitivities of the indignant Muslims was probably the boxing rule forbidding blows below the belt. Perhaps it was the very indecency of the concept which most elicited snickers from the American perps. In operation JESUS KILLED MOHAMMED, the 1/26 Infantry of the 1st Infantry Division led by Lieutenant John D. DeGiulio, under instructions from the 10th Special Forces Group who called themselves "the Faith element," drove their Bradleys along the streets drawing fire, one shot at a time, from virtually every door. After each shot rang out, the Bradley would summarily aerate each residence and its inhabitants until "Jesus Killed Mohammed" did not offend anymore. As Sharlet noted, every Iraqi home is permitted one AK-47 for self defense, so answering the US force's insolence did not reveal you to have been an insurgent. The infidels were biting their thumbs at the Iraqis from behind impregnable armor, to respond with small arms fire was entirely a matter of honor, and suicide.

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