END-OF-YEAR HOUSECLEANING PART 2: The Islamic Apologist from “Cracked”
I’ll be the first to admit that Cracked.com can be quite addicting. For a movie geek like myself, the essays about movie plot holes, superhero film inconsistencies, and zombie apocalypse speculations have many times saved me from the burden of actually working.
Of course, there’s always a temptation among the people who write for a site like Cracked to try to make themselves more relevant to the world; to write about loftier topics than whether zombies would become immobile during the first winter following the undead epidemic. So every now and again, one of the geeks at Cracked decides to get political. And that is almost always a huge mistake. Because if you’re going to do the edgy, hipper-than-the-room routine, you have to be smarter than your material. And when it comes to deconstructing films like “The Dark Night Rises” and anything by George Lucas, the writers at Cracked are, indeed, smarter than their material. Much smarter (not that that’s any great feat).
That’s what makes the site work. It’s a site by people who are smarter than pop culture, for people who are smarter than pop culture (i.e., a guy like me, a degreed historian and former professor who loves nothing more than riffing on why “The Walking Dead” sucks ass).
But when those Cracked writers try to rise above their station…oh, the humanity. Jacopo della Quercia is a Cracked staff writer. Is that a pseudonym? I don’t know, I don’t care. He’s a funny guy when he’s writing about classic movies that were rip-offs of other films. But damn if he didn’t get it into his head that he was going to use Cracked to do a “socially conscious” piece about how Muslims are totally misunderstood by the Judeo-Christian world. Indeed, he argued, in certain ways they’re more forward thinking than us primitives in the West!
The poor dumb bastard. Look, I get it…not everyone is content with the notion that their greatest accomplishment in life was pointing out continuity errors in Star Trek episodes. But dear God, if you’re going to reach beyond your abilities, at least have a weighty enough pair of stones to defend your claims when some drunk little Jew challenges you.
Here’s Jacopo’s Cracked piece, 5 Ridiculous Things You Probably Believe About Islam. Go ahead and read it first (but don’t get distracted by the juicy sidebar stories…read the one I linked to and GET BACK HERE!).
Now, most of us could pick apart a dozen of this lightweight’s claims, like when he writes that it’s a myth that Muslims force women to wear veils, his proof being that some Muslim nations have attempted to ban the veil. Poor Jacopo, so out of his intellectual element. As any one of us could point out, those unfortunate Muslims who actually do want to drag their civilization out of the dark ages have tried to ban the veil specifically because they know that if the Islamists are not kept down by law, they WILL take over and force the veil (or burqa) on every woman. Perhaps in-between watching “The Avengers” for continuity goofs, Jacopo should be following what’s happening in Egypt, Libya, Turkey, etc.
I’ll try to phrase it in a way that Jacopo might understand. You don’t ban something unless you fear it will happen. No one has ever had to ban skateboarding in a swamp or a marsh. Skateboarding is typically banned in parking lots and outdoor malls…you know, the places where it might occur.
Anyway, I had an interesting back-and-forth with Jacopo that I never got around to publishing. It’s thin, really thin. And not consequential. I mean, the guy just writes for Cracked…which (now that I think about it) means that he probably has more readers than every AP and Reuters guy I’ve humiliated in the past three years combined. So, okay, I probably should have published this. And in the name of my end-of-the-year housecleaning, here ‘tis.
My name is David Stein, and I write for the news website CounterContempt.com. I couldn’t help but notice that your article, “5 Ridiculous Things You Probably Believe About Islam,” seemed to go fairly viral over the holidays, at least among my liberal pals on Facebook.
One sentence in your piece happened to catch my eye. You wrote, “Of the five most populous Muslim-majority nations, four of them have elected female heads of state.” That sentence is followed by a photo of former Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri (who is also featured as one of the four “elected” female heads of state in the Wikipedia article you linked to).
May I ask you for any evidence – any at all – that Sukarnoputri was ever “elected” as “head of state” in Indonesia? As is extremely common knowledge, Sukarnoputri’s party won a plurality of votes (about 33.7%) in the 1999 election. The parliament then elected Abdurrahman Wahid as president (Sukarnoputri was made vice president). When President Wahid was impeached, Sukarnoputri inherited the position of president. She was NOT elected (in fact, in the words of the TIME Magazine article that the aforementioned Wikipedia page uses as its source material, “Megawati’s presidency is a product of that very backroom intrigue she shuns”).
When she ran for the position in 2004 – in Indonesia’s first direct presidential election, she lost.
Given these facts, I would very much like to know your reasons for claiming that Megawati Sukarnoputri was “elected as head of state.”
I’m very much looking forward to your reply,
(Okay – straightforward question. Jacopo claimed that Sukarnoputri was “elected” head of state when, in fact, she inherited the position when the president was impeached. How will Star Trek Boy handle my query?)
The article never stated that the heads of state were all ‘directly’ elected by popular vote, which I gather is the criterion you are holding the statement to. In Sukarnoputri’s case her parliament could have elected her to the position of Vice President–and all the rights and duties it entails–or not. They chose to, and thus it can truly be said that she was elected to her post based on the duties the job entailed.
This meets the standard of having been “elected” to her office because she was non appointed to the Vice Presidency due to a vacancy, as was the case with Gerald Ford in the United States. This is the reason why Gerald Ford is sometimes referred to as the US’s only “unelected” president: he got the job through the non-standard electoral process. Since Sukarnoputri was elected to her position through her nation’s standard electoral process, she is no less deserving her title than Harry Truman or Lyndon Johnson.
Hope that helps,
(Ah, clever boy, very clever. See what he did there? He “never stated” that the Muslim women of whom he wrote were “directly elected by popular vote!” Well done, sir. Except…he ALSO wrote “Of the five most populous Muslim-majority nations, four of them have elected female heads of state. So there’s a fantastic chance that in 2012, Sarah Palin will be campaigning for an achievement that Muslim ladies have already accomplished.” Sarah Palin, had she run, would have been campaigning for the “achievement” of being “directly elected by popular vote.” So by saying that this is the same accomplishment that Sukarnoputri achieved, he made it clear that he was indeed referring to direct elections by popular vote. Hence, his claim about Sukarnoputri, and his defense, are false)
I plan to quote from your reply to my email in an article I’m working on. I’m assuming that Jacopo della Quercia is your pen name, but I want to be certain before I put it in quotes in my article. Is it a pseudonym?
(Okay, another straightforward question. I had emailed him identifying myself as a journalist, and now I was merely inquiring about his name, for accuracy’s sake. What could go wrong now? Well, Star Trek Boy could poop his pants in fear, for one thing…)
This conversation was a personal correspondence that was off the record, and I am not giving you permission to use it any way.
Furthermore, since I did not even write that part of the article I am not at liberty to represent it. If you are interested in speaking with the editor who did add it, you must speak to Cracked.com and not me.
I repeat, I did not right (sic) that part of the article you are talking about.
(I think I scared the poor little nerd worse than a supermodel asking him for a date. All of a sudden, knowing that his weak defense of his piece would be made public, he pussied out like a wimp. “Uh, I didn’t write that…I can’t defend it…talk to my bosses!” So if he’s “not at liberty” to represent the piece, what was he doing in his first reply? Oh Jacopo…see, THIS is why it’s best to write about what you know. I sincerely doubt that any reader could have tripped you up about your knowledge of Battlestar Galactica or the Hobbit books)
Well, can you give me the name of the person who DID write that part of the article? Or the name of the person who edited it? Or at least the name of someone at Cracked who handles this type of request for info from the press?
By the way, I did quite clearly represent myself as a journalist when I contacted you, and you did not ask that your response be off the record. Had that been a condition before the fact (rather than after it), I would most certainly have honored it.
I have forwarded your request to Jack O’Brien, the Editor in Chief of Cracked.com.
I am confident that he will know who added that piece of information.
Best of luck,
(And, of course, I never heard back, even after reaching out to Jack O’Brien myself. I love how Jacopo once again added that it was someone else – more than likely the ghostly apparition “Not Me” from the Family Circus comics – who added “that piece of information,” i.e. the false claim that Sukarnoputri was “elected” head of state. Jacopo, Jacopo, Jacopo…either stick to what you know, or at least grow a pair and own up to your mistakes)
A helpful reader has pointed out that the factually-challenged Jacopo is a Huffington Post contributor. Well, that makes sense, considering his intellectual acuity.