The James Wolcott Treatment

By Michael Fumento

The American Spectator, January 12, 2006
Copyright 2006 The American Spectator

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Every once in awhile, in the spirit of "know thy enemy," you have to brace yourself and take a peek inside the fetid mind of an influential defeat-nik. "Enter, if you will," as Rod Serling might have said, "the head of one James Wolcott." Wolcott is an uber-pompous contributing editor to Vanity Fair, where rumor has it you’re fired on the spot if you’re caught drinking your organic Earl Grey with pinkie not fully extended. He’s the author of a book attacking the right-wing mass media, and was an opponent of the war in Iraq probably before Bush conceived it.

Wolcott also has an uber-pompous blog, to which he recently posted "Headhunters," declaring there’s a veritable Internet epidemic of warmongers literally calling for the heads of those whose only crime is to hold hands in a circle and sing "All we are saying is give peace a chance." He admits he sparked an angry backlash in an earlier blog post by calling Daniel Pipes "a patronizing little s[—]t." (Crude, but at least not pompous.)

Nevertheless, having stirred up the readership at Little Green Footballs, he refers to them not as a hornet’s nest or some such but rather a "disorganized Nuremberg Rally." Apparently nobody informed him that labeling your critics Nazis went out of fashion at about the same time as narrow neck ties.

He then quotes from one of the comments left on the LGF site: "May he [i.e., me] be kidnapped by ’insurgents’ in Iraq then appear on an ugly net broadcast. I wonder, if in the moment before the knife started sawing into his fleshy neck if he might rethink his opinions on the global war on terrorism."

Repeatedly Wolcott invokes what he calls "the Daniel Pearl treatment" and "Daniel Pearl’s martyrdom," as if Pearl – killed in Pakistan – were the only person ever to lose his head to a terrorist. Wolcott would not acknowledge a single decapitation in Iraq. Yet every reference to such beheadings that Wolcott was able to scrape up (Three – the one above, one from a blogger, and one from a baseball player’s wife) clearly referred to Iraq and to death by beheading, whereas Pearl was killed first and decapitated later.

What beheadings? Where? Do they serve cocktails?

In supporting your country’s war efforts, it’s quite logical to invoke dastardly actions of the enemy. Historically those actions have been grossly exaggerated or fabricated. In this case, exaggeration is not only superfluous it’s essentially impossible. While taking their lunch breaks from blowing up civilians they do saw through necks with knives. And yes, there are websites where – if your tastes run that way – you can witness their horrendous handiwork.

Is Wolcott’s real objection that it’s unfair to use the terrorists’ acts against them? Then our fleshy-necked friend who so quickly applies the Nazi label to others puts himself in the same camp as Holocaust deniers.

If his objection is that the decapitation stuff seems a bit crude, perhaps it’s because sawing off a living person’s head is also a bit crude. In addition to showing the monstrousness of the enemy, what Wolcott’s "headhunters" are saying is: "I’ll bet you wouldn’t like it if this were done to you" and chances are Wolcott wouldn’t, insofar as it might interfere with his next wine-and-cheese party at the Ritz.

Towards the end of his blog, perhaps realizing that three beheading mentions do not an epidemic make, Wolcott invokes my blog entry regarding Cindy ("Fame! I want to live forever!") Sheehan’s threat to tie herself to the White House fence to protest the 2,000th death of an American serviceman in Iraq. Whereupon I commented: "Leave her there and maybe the crows will do the world a favor and eat her tongue out."

It was meant as dark humor, written in the knowledge that Sheehan would engage in no such action, thereby providing crows no such opportunity. (She didn’t; they didn’t.) I did realize some people would be foolish enough to think I was serious, but I didn’t think somebody would not only pretend I was serious but compare losing a tongue to losing a head simply because it fit his theme.

I should have. After all, these are the people who compare forcing detainees at Guantanamo Bay to listen to loud rap music to the horrors of the German concentration camps and the Soviets Gulags. (In and of itself a form of Holocaust denial, to equate being gassed or starved to death with having to listen to bad tunes.)

So what are we to make of this Wolcott who makes war on alleged warmongers? He is offended that somebody might suggest he mentally put himself in the place of an Iraqi terrorist victim, yet he refuses to acknowledge there have been such victims. There was Daniel Pearl in Pakistan and that was the end of it.

So there’s your look into the mind of the enemy on the home front. You might find those decapitation videos to be less nauseating.


Read Michael Fumento’s other work on the media.