Archive for May, 2012

oleh Saut Situmorang

Relasi intertekstual antara sastra dan media massa cetak koran sebenarnya merupakan sebuah isu kritik sastra yang menarik. Adakah terdapat hubungan dialektis saling pengaruh-mempengaruhi antara dua produk budaya ini yang menghasilkan sebuah sintesa yang menguntungkan keduanya, ataukah relasi intertekstual itu hanya merupakan sebuah hubungan monolateral belaka di mana salah satu produk budaya mendominasi secara hegemonik arah lalulintas pengaruh-mempengaruhi tadi? Kalau memang hal terakhir ini yang terjadi, apa pengaruhnya bagi produk budaya yang didominasi itu?

Isu di atas merupakan sebuah isu yang relevan untuk dibicarakan dalam konteks sastra kontemporer Indonesia yang dipublikasikan di media massa cetak koran. Puisi dan cerpen adalah dua genre sastra yang selalu dikaitkan identitasnya dengan apa yang disebut sebagai “sastra koran”, yaitu produk sastra yang muncul di media massa cetak koran, di Indonesia. Relevansi pembicaraan isu ini terutama disebabkan oleh pendapat populer di kalangan para sastrawan Indonesia sendiri yang menganggap bahwa media massa cetak terutama koran adalah media publikasi paling hot untuk produk sastra mereka sebelum akhirnya dipublikasi ulang dalam bentuk buku. Koran bukan lagi sebuah media publikasi alternatif karya sastra seperti di masa-masa jayanya “majalah kecil” sastra di zaman tempo doeloe tapi merupakan sebuah keharusan kalau tidak mau ketinggalan zaman dan dilupakan. Inilah realitas kontemporer sastra Indonesia.

Kondisi relasi intertekstual antara sastra dan media massa cetak koran di Indonesia bisa dilihat dari produk-produk sastra kontemporer yang muncul di koran-koran di Indonesia. Seperti yang sudah saya katakan di atas, disamping puisi, cerpen merupakan produk sastra yang selalu dikaitkan dengan apa yang disebut sebagai “sastra koran” di Indonesia karena frekuensi pemuatannya yang tinggi setiap hari Minggu di seluruh Indonesia. Bahkan ada sebuah koran terbitan Jakarta yang hanya memuat cerpen di halaman “sastra koran”-nya.

Buku kumpulan Cerpen Pilihan KOMPAS yang diterbitkan oleh koran Kompas setiap tahun mulai dari tahun 1992 sampai dengan tahun 2002 lalu adalah sebuah penerbitan “sastra koran” yang bisa dipakai untuk membahas kondisi relasi intertekstual antara sastra dan media massa cetak koran di Indonesia. Alasan kenapa saya memilih antologi tahunan ini sebagai objek pembicaraan merupakan isi dari esei saya ini.

Dalam Kata Penutup bunga rampai Cerpen Pilihan KOMPAS 1994 Budiarto Danujaya menulis bahwa ada satu hal tentang “sastra koran” yang sulit untuk dipungkiri yaitu “bahwa sejak era R.M. Tirto Adhi Soerjo sampai pada kumpulan (Lampor) ini, sastra koran kalau boleh sedikit membuat generalisasi setidaknya terbukti juga mampu menghasilkan sejumlah karya yang lebih peka menangkap semangat zaman”. Dikatakannya “lebih peka menangkap semangat zaman” kalau dibandingkan, secara “generalisasi” mungkin, dengan karya sastra yang muncul di majalah sastra seperti Horison, seperti yang dicoba dibuktikannya pada tulisannya yang sama:

“Menilik keragaman tema yang tampil, sekurangnya kita mungkin boleh menyimpulkan bahwa sentuhan aktualitas terbukti jauh dari menghambat, setidaknya dalam kumpulan cerpen (Lampor) ini. Tentu saja pernyataan semacam ini selalu tak pernah luput dari bayang-bayang bahaya generalisasi. Akan tetapi, kenyataannya, bahkan dalam pengertian tertentu, sentuhan ini justru merangsang penjelajahan pada wilayah-wilayah tema baru. Bukan saja tema-tema aktual, khususnya semacam Timor Timur itu, tak kunjung nampak dalam majalah berkaliber sastra seperti Horison [sic]; tapi lebih lanjut lagi, sensor yang jauh lebih ketat di lingkungan media umum, terbukti justru berhasil menelurkan penyiasatan dalam pengungkapan yang demikian subtil seperti pada Misteri Kota Ningi (cerpen Seno Gumira Ajidarma).”  (“Tentang Sastra Koran Itu”)

Apa yang dapat saya tangkap dari pernyataan generalisasi Budiarto di atas adalah bahwa terlepas dari “realitas koran” yang memiliki beberapa “pembatasan” teknis, atau “sensor yang jauh lebih ketat” dibanding dengan yang akan dilakukan sebuah majalah sastra – seperti pembatasan jumlah halaman, tidak pentingnya penggalian masalah tema cerita, kecenderungan berselera pop dan bertutur secara cepat dan lugas karena harus meladeni keragaman selera dan tingkat apresiasi pembaca koran, serta pemberian prioritas pada tema-tema cerita yang sedang aktual sebagai bagian dari citarasa pekerja pers – “pembatasan-pembatasan teknis” tersebut ternyata tidak mempengaruhi jenis-jenis cerpen yang diterbitkan koran, “setidaknya Kompas, (yang) bahkan juga terbukti sempat menerbitkan cerpen-cerpen dengan gaya lebih rumit lagi, entah itu bergaya tutur stream of consciousness ataupun bercorak realisme magis seperti milik Danarto [sic]. Belum lagi “kesediaan” Kompas menerbitkan cerpen-cerpen terjemahan “pengarang terkemuka dunia”, mulai dari Petronius dari Abad I sampai Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

Tapi mungkin karena terlalu serius ingin melakukan sebuah pembelaan atas “jasa-jasa” koran (Kompas) dalam perkembangan cerpen kontemporer Indonesia, Budiarto Danujaya telah membuat pernyataan-pernyataan generalisasi yang dangkal tentang “kontribusi” media massa cetak ini walaupun dia juga berulang kali “mengingatkan” kita bahwa dia memang terpaksa mesti melakukan generalisasi dalam pernyataan-pernyataannya di Kata Penutup-nya tersebut.

Bagi saya justru generalisasi dalam pernyataan-pernyataannya itu yang menarik dan mengundang tanda tanya! Kenapa dia mesti sampai tergantung pada generalisasi belaka dalam usahanya untuk mengungkapkan apa “tentang sastra koran itu”? Apa yang terdapat di balik proses pembuatan pernyataan-pernyataan generalisasi tersebut?

Karena merupakan sebuah penerbitan tahunan selama lebih sepuluh tahun lamanya, dengan kemasan yang apik dan market-oriented lagi, bunga rampai Cerpen Pilihan KOMPAS, diakui atau tidak, telah membuat sebuah mitos atas dirinya sendiri. Mitos ini, bagi saya, memang sengaja dibuat dan lalu sengaja dipaksakan resepsinya kepada publik pembaca sastra di Indonesia dan luar Indonesia.

Penciptaan mitos atau mythomania “Cerpen Pilihan KOMPAS” itu dilakukan dengan cara yang cukup piawai: pertama, pemilihan anak-judul “Cerpen Pilihan KOMPAS” itu sendiri; kedua, pemilihan “cerpen terbaik” dari cerpen-cerpen pilihan tiap tahun; ketiga, pemuatan apa yang saya sebut sebagai “Kritik Kata Pengantar/Kata Penutup” oleh nama-nama yang dikenal oleh publik sastra Indonesia sebagai “otoritas” sastra Indonesia, apa dia seorang cerpenis senior terkenal atau seorang “kritikus” sastra Indonesia; dan terakhir adalah kemasan tiap buku yang memang apik dan market-oriented.

Sebagai sebuah koran nasional besar yang berusia lanjut Kompas sudah berhasil membuat sebuah reputasi jurnalistis yang mengagumkan di kalangan pembaca koran di Indonesia dan juga luar Indonesia. Mirip dengan pengaruh majalah mingguan Tempo, “berita” yang dikabarkan oleh Kompas dianggap merupakan news yang dipercayai kualitas profesionalisme jurnalismenya secara nasional. Latar belakang “nama besar” jurnalisme seperti ini tentu saja mempengaruhi bagaimana pembaca meresepsi sebuah buku kumpulan cerpen terbitan Kompas sendiri yang dengan sengaja diberi judul cool: “Cerpen Pilihan KOMPAS”! Walau sebenarnya tidak bisa dikatakan bahwa reputasi Kompas di dunia jurnalisme Indonesia akan otomatis juga mempengaruhi mutu cerpen yang diterbitkannya setiap minggu, tapi ternyata “realitas koran”nya itu malah telah menimbulkan anggapan yang semacam itu! Kesadaran akan mitos demikianlah yang, saya yakin, merupakan alasan utama untuk memanfaatkannya dan sekaligus juga menguatkannya dengan penerbitan “tahunan” buku kumpulan Cerpen Pilihan KOMPAS!

Keyakinan saya ini timbul karena keempat hal tentang buku Cerpen Pilihan KOMPAS yang saya sebutkan di atas tadi.

Apakah “kriteria” pemilihan Cerpen Pilihan KOMPAS? Kita diberitahu secara gamblang bahwa kriterianya adalah “tanpa kriteria”! Terjemahannya: Kompas “memilih/menentukan” sendiri, dari para wartawannya sendiri, siapa yang akan “memilih” sejumlah cerpen dari keseluruhan cerpen yang terbit dalam satu tahun untuk diterbitkan sebagai buku Cerpen Pilihan KOMPAS dan mereka yang terpilih ini akan melakukan pilihan mereka “tergantung pada kata hati” mereka saja! Atau dalam kata-kata Kompas sendiri: “Kami percaya bahwa tiap manusia memiliki sejenis estetika yang entah diperolehnya dari mana [sic], karena itu kami tidak menganut satu jenis estetika tertentu, tapi membenturkan estetika-estetika yang ada pada masing-masing penyeleksi”! Sementara kriteria “tanpa kriteria” dalam pemilihan “cerpen pilihan” dari keseluruhan jumlah cerpen yang muncul tiap minggu selama setahun itu sendiri – untuk memenuhi “jumlah” cerpen pilihan yang akan dibukukan, termasuk penentuan “cerpen terbaik” – dilakukan dengan “demokratis”, yaitu pengambilan suara terbanyak! Cerpen-cerpen yang “paling banyak” memperoleh suara voting para pemilih akan menjadi “Cerpen Pilihan KOMPAS” dan satu cerpen yang menggasak mayoritas suara menjadi “cerpen terbaik” Kompas tahun itu! (lih. Prakata dalam Cerpen Pilihan KOMPAS 1993.)

Saya jadi berpikir, kalau memang begini idiosinkrasi pemilihan Cerpen Pilihan KOMPAS tiap tahun dan Kompas sendiri merasa “oke-oke saja” dengan kriteria “tanpa kriteria” – asal terdapat “aktualitas apa yang menjadi problem masyarakat hari itu atau hari-hari itu” dalam cerpen – dalam prosedur pemilihan Cerpen Pilihan KOMPAS tersebut, kenapa Kompas masih merasa “perlu” untuk juga memuat Kata Pengantar dan Kata Penutup oleh para “otoritas” sastra Indonesia seperti yang saya singgung di atas!

Skizofrenia Kompas ini juga terlihat dalam isi kebanyakan Kata Pengantar dan Kata Penutup yang, bagi saya, kehadirannya jelas memiliki “maksud terselubung” dalam mempengaruhi resepsi publik pembaca sastra Indonesia atas penerbitan tahunan “proyek sastra” bernama Cerpen Pilihan KOMPAS tersebut.

Fenomena penulisan Kata Pengantar atau Kata Penutup untuk buku kumpulan puisi atau cerpen sudah menjamur di dunia sastra kontemporer Indonesia. Bahkan mulai terasa adanya semacam keyakinan atau mitos, diakui atau tidak, bahwa penerbitan sebuah buku kumpulan puisi atau cerpen, baik antologi-bersama maupun antologi-tunggal, akan berkesan kurang gagah kalau tidak dihiasi dengan sebuah Kata Pengantar, atau sebuah Kata Penutup. Jadi, mirip dengan fungsi sebuah sampul cover buku, resepsi pembaca atas buku tersebut diyakini bisa dipengaruhi apalagi kalau Kata Pengantar atau Kata Penutup itu ditulis oleh seseorang yang umum dianggap sebagai seorang “kritikus” atau “otoritas” sastra. Di sisi lain, adanya kebutuhan atas atau pentingnya dirasakan keberadaan sebuah Kata Pengantar atau Kata Penutup dalam sebuah buku kumpulan puisi atau cerpen menunjukkan sebuah kebutuhan akan adanya kritik sastra di sastra kontemporer Indonesia. Sastrawan mengharapkan karya yang diumumkannya ke publik pembaca tidak menghilang begitu saja di lautan obskuritas tanpa ada gaungnya sama sekali dalam bentuk respons kritis, di luar sekedar resensi lepas di media massa. Sastrawan mengharapkan sebuah dialog kritis dalam komunitas sastranya. Tapi absennya sebuah tradisi kritik sastra di sastra modern Indonesia telah menyebabkan sastrawan mencari alternatif dari kritik sastra yang sebenarnya dengan sebuah semi-kritik yang kita kenal sebagai Kata Pengantar ataupun Kata Penutup.

Apa yang sampai hari ini sudah terlanjur dianggap sebagai sebuah peristiwa penerbitan sastra yang “penting” dalam dunia sastra kontemporer Indonesia, yakni penerbitan tahunan buku Cerpen Pilihan KOMPAS itu, bisa dikatakan sebagai sebuah peristiwa penerbitan yang bertanggung jawab dalam memulai kebiasaan penulisan Kata Pengantar/Kata Penutup bagi sebuah buku kumpulan cerpen di Indonesia. Mulai dari penerbitan buku Cerpen Pilihan KOMPAS yang pertama di tahun 1992 sampai dengan yang terakhir tahun 2001, yaitu periode yang dibicarakan dalam esei ini, Kata Pengantar dan Kata Penutup oleh berbagai “kritikus” atau “otoritas” sastra dengan sengaja diikutsertakan seolah jadi sebuah legitimasi atas “mutu” kesastraan cerpen-cerpen “pilihan” koran Kompas tersebut. Bagi saya faktor terakhir inilah yang sebenarnya membuat kesan bahwa penerbitan buku Cerpen Pilihan KOMPAS tiap tahun itu adalah sebuah peristiwa penerbitan sastra yang “penting” hingga menciptakan mitos yang saya maksud.

Kata Pengantar yang paling tidak malu-malu untuk menunjukkan jati dirinya adalah yang ditulis Nirwan Dewanto untuk buku Cerpen Pilihan KOMPAS 1993. Nirwan mengakui bahwa bagi dirinya – walau dia juga dengan seenaknya mengklaim “kita” semua seolah menyetujui pengakuan dirinya itu – media massa adalah tempat ditemukannya karya terbaik cerpen kontemporer Indonesia:

“Harus kita akui, bahwa cerpen-cerpen terbaik di Indonesia selama lima tahun terakhir muncul di Kompas dan di Matra, bukan di (majalah sastra) Horison. Sungguh mengagetkan, begitu kita menyadari tiba-tiba, bahwa ‘kesehatan’ sastra kita amat bergantung kepada para redaktur cerpen itu. Tapi juga menggembirakan, kalau dengan itu para penulis cerpen dibebaskan dari (sebagian) tradisi sastra yang membelenggu”.

Dari pernyataan kategoris semacam ini dari seorang “otoritas” sastra Indonesia seperti Nirwan Dewanto tentu bisa dibayangkan efek kata pengantarnya bagi pembaca! Koran Kompas telah menemukan juru bicaranya yang paling handal dan “sastra koran” Kompas genre cerpen pun dibaptis kelahirannya!

Tapi, apa Nirwan Dewanto benar? Apa benar bahwa selama periode lima tahun yang dimaksudkannya itu “cerpen-cerpen terbaik di Indonesia” hanya muncul di Kompas dan Matra? Apa Nirwan sudah membaca semua cerpen yang muncul di semua koran dan majalah di seluruh Indonesia dalam periode lima tahun yang dimaksudnya itu?! Kalaupun memang sudah, apa “kriteria” yang dipakainya dalam membuat kesimpulannya itu? Kriteria “tanpa kriteria”, alias tergantung pada kata hatinya saja, ala para juri pemilihan Cerpen Pilihan KOMPAS seperti yang saya sebutkan di atas?

Seandainya Nirwan Dewanto benar-benar sudah membaca semua cerpen yang muncul di semua koran dan majalah di Indonesia selama periode lima tahun yang dia maksudkan dan melakukan sebuah studi perbandingan atas semua cerpen itu hingga dia sampai pada sebuah kesimpulan bahwa “cerpen-cerpen terbaik di Indonesia” hanya muncul di Kompas dan Matra, bukankah akan sangat bermanfaat bagi “kritik sastra Indonesia” yang sedang dilanda krisis eksistensial itu kalau dia mau membagi penemuannya tersebut dengan kita semua lewat penerbitan hasil studinya yang, saya yakin, pasti sangat fenomenal itu!

“Kemenangan cerpen koran” Kompas seperti yang diasersikan Nirwan Dewanto itu mendapat parade karnaval perayaannya walau terlambat hampir satu dekade. Dengan keluguan tipikal seorang penulis muda yang sangat emosional hingga tidak kritis, seorang Binhad Nurrohmat, yang mengaku sebagai seorang kritikus sastra yang bermukim di Jakarta, menulis sebuah esei di koran Kompas Minggu 9 Desember 2001 dengan kalimat-kalimat pembuka seperti ini:

Cerpen koran adalah wakil teks terkuat dan terdepan dari genre [sic] sastra terkini dan yang sebagian besar riwayat eksistensi, pertumbuhan dan perkembangannya paling inheren dan identik dengan dinamika realitas penerbitan koran. Genre puisi dan novel, dalam konteks ini, berada di posisi lain dan lebih sering dikalahkan dengan alasan atau pertimbangan tertentu. (“Kemenangan Cerpen Koran”)

Walaupun konteks pernyataan Nirwan Dewanto adalah “lima tahun terakhir” sampai 15 April 1993, seperti kebiasaan umum di Indonesia Binhad Nurrohmat telah begitu saja menelan mentah-mentah komentar Nirwan tersebut dan bahkan merayakannya. Bagi Binhad, hanya faktor bahasa dan ruang yang tersedia saja yang merupakan dua hal menentukan bagi “kemenangan” cerpen dalam meraih kesempatan untuk diterbitkan di koran dibanding puisi atau novel. Bahasa puisi yang “relatif lebih sulit dipahami” dan “secara konvensional tak beranasir dramatik sehingga kurang powerfull [sic] bagi pembaca umum” serta bentuk novel yang besar hingga “memberatkan ruang koran yang sangat terbatas” adalah dua hal yang tidak dimiliki cerpen dan membuatnya, tentu saja, “menang”, demikian menurut “kritikus sastra” Binhad Nurrohmat. Dia “lupa” bahwa puisi pun selalu muncul di koran-koran Indonesia setiap hari Minggu, bahkan cerita-bersambung yang novelistik itu malah tiap hari bisa dibaca di banyak koran di Indonesia!

Tapi “kemenangan cerpen koran” yang diklaim itu, ironisnya, malah menimbulkan aftertaste yang mulai meresahkan. Euforia karnaval kemenangan tersebut ternyata menyebabkan hangover suara-suara sumbang yang menyerukan peringatan tentang munculnya kembali penyakit lama sastra Indonesia, yakni telah terjadinya “krisis” lagi dalam sastra Indonesia, khususnya dalam cerpen kontemporer Indonesia yang “sastra koran” itu!

“Tema” merupakan isu favorit. Dikatakan bahwa sastra koran yang cerpen itu terlalu seragam isinya, mayoritas cuma berputar-putar di persoalan sosiologis sehari-hari masyarakat Indonesia seperti kemiskinan, korupsi atau ketidakadilan sosial. Dan impotensi cerpen koran untuk mampu menyastrakan/menyenikan tema yang seragam itu – dengan teknik penceritaan yang paling tidak mendekati gaya realis Anton Chekov atau realis magis Jorge Luis Borges misalnya – telah menyebabkan terciptanya tuduhan tentang krisis sastra di atas tadi bahwa cerpen koran Indonesia hanya mampu menciptakan “realitas koran” belaka dalam kecenderungan realismenya.

Kalau pada buku Cerpen Pilihan KOMPAS 1994 Budiarto Danujaya begitu antusias menyambut “kemenangan cerpen koran” seperti yang diberitakan Nirwan Dewanto, maka dalam tulisan Kata Penutup berjudul “Realitas ‘Koran’ pada Sastra Koran” untuk buku Cerpen Pilihan KOMPAS 2000, dengan tanpa ironi dan antusiasme yang sama, dia sekarang malah mengungkapkan dengan gamblang soal krisis “realitas koran pada sastra koran” ini dengan merujuk ke istilah sastra koran yang masih problematis maknanya itu. “Tambahan istilah koran pada sastra koran tersebut ternyata tak sekedar atributif belaka,” demikian kesimpulan Budiarto. Justru pemakaian kata “koran” pada istilah “sastra koran” telah membuat beberapa kecenderungan karakteristik koran – sebagai bagian kecenderungan media massa umumnya – masuk mewarnai cerpen-cerpen koran. Budiarto lebih lanjut menyebutkan “beberapa kecenderungan karakteristik koran” yang dia yakini telah menyebabkan terjadinya krisis “realitas koran pada sastra koran”, pada cerpen koran.

Pertama, adanya “kecenderungan mengulang-ulang rekaman peristiwa yang acapkali terlalu tergesa-gesa, sehingga mengakibatkan penghadiran ‘peristiwa’ (dalam bangunan kisah, tentunya) yang sumir, datar dan sloganistis, kalau tak hendak menyebut klise dan dangkal”. Kedua, “kecenderungan gagal membuat distansi terhadap serbuan tematis [sic] yang melanda negeri ini (berarti juga menyerbu pengarangnya), yang tampaknya bahkan justru menjadi semacam raison d’être kebanyakan cerpen-cerpen (koran) ini, sehingga terkesan sangat ‘terlibat’, dan lalu penuh amarah”.

Realitas koran pada sastra koran, demikianlah nasib cerpen yang muncul di koran-koran Indonesia. Begitukah?

Bagi saya generalisasi yang sangat partisan yang dilakukan Budiarto Danujaya melalui asersinya tentang adanya “realitas koran pada sastra koran” kurang meyakinkan karena lagi-lagi sangat stereotip. Sebagai seorang yang lama berprofesi dalam dunia media massa koran, khususnya di Kompas sendiri, latar belakangnya ini mungkin yang membuatnya membuat asersi yang dangkal tersebut. Budiarto telah mereduksi realitas sosial Indonesia – kemiskinan, korupsi dan ketidakadilan sosial – menjadi hanya sebuah “realitas koran” belaka! Karena sudah jadi cuma sebagai “realitas koran”, maka tidak menarik lagi untuk “dibaca ulang” dalam sebuah cerpen! Cerpen koran Indonesia jadinya cuma sekedar simulakrum belaka dari simulakrum realitas sosial Indonesia yang ada di media massa koran! Kesimpulan tipikal orang media massa cetak semacam ini juga dilakukan oleh mereka yang sastrawan-cum-jurnalis seperti Seno Gumira Ajidarma dengan pernyataannya yang terkesan tidak ingin membedakan apa itu “berita” di koran dan “cerita” di dalam sebuah karya sastra seperti yang bisa kita baca pada bukunya Ketika Jurnalisme Dibungkam Sastra Harus Bicara.

Pernyataan Budiarto Danujaya bahwa apa yang ditulis para cerpenis “sastra koran” tak lebih dari sebuah “realitas koran”, “realitas tunggal yang umum”, “realitas teranalisis”, telah juga dengan semena-mena melakukan klaim kepemilikan – atas nama dan bagi koran – atas “realitas sosial” sehari-hari masyarakat Indonesia dan atas “pengetahuan” sastrawan Indonesia tentang masyarakatnya sendiri. Koran, bagi Budiarto, adalah “pemilik satu-satunya” semua “pengetahuan” tentang “realitas sosial” masyarakat Indonesia!

Yang menjadi menarik sekarang adalah tentang siapakah Budiarto Danujaya bicara di sini? Siapakah yang dimaksudkannya sebagai “sastra koran” di atas itu? Karena dia menulis Kata Penutup untuk dua buku Cerpen Pilihan KOMPAS, bukankah tidak salah kalau saya menganggap bahwa dia sebenarnya sedang bicara tentang “sastra koran Kompas” baik yang muncul setiap minggu di koran Kompas sendiri maupun yang ada dalam buku-buku Cerpen Pilihan KOMPAS sampai tahun 2002 ini?

Bagi saya apa yang disebutkan Budiarto Danujaya sebagai “realitas koran” yang “ditemukannya” dalam “sastra koran” itu lebih tepat diartikan sebagai “realitas koran pada sastra koran Kompas”. Terutama “sastra koran” seperti yang direpresentasikan oleh buku-buku Cerpen Pilihan KOMPAS. Alasannya adalah: pertama, Budiarto menulis Kata Penutup-nya itu untuk dua buku Cerpen Pilihan KOMPAS, merupakan “komentar pesanan” atas cerpen-cerpen yang terpilih untuk muncul dalam kedua buku tersebut, dan kedua, generalisasi yang dilakukannya atas apa yang disebutnya sebagai “keunggulan” Kompas dibanding sebuah majalah sastra seperti Horison seperti yang saya kutip di awal esei saya ini di atas.

Pada dasarnya, waktu membicarakan tentang “sastra koran”, Budiarto Danujaya sebenarnya sedang membicarakan tentang “sastra koran Kompas”. Apa yang ditulisnya tentang “keunggulan” sastra koran tak lebih dari sekedar pengungkapan apa yang dianggapnya merupakan “keunggulan Kompas” sebagai salah satu media massa yang mempublikasikan cerpen tiap minggu di Indonesia. Dan kesimpulan terakhir yang dibuatnya setelah penerbitan buku-buku Cerpen Pilihan KOMPAS selama hampir sepuluh tahun, yaitu dominannya “realitas koran” pada “sastra koran” di Indonesia, sebenarnya berbicara tentang cerpen-cerpen yang muncul di koran Kompas, terutama yang dipublikasi-ulang dalam terbitan tahunan Cerpen Pilihan KOMPAS.

Tidak seperti yang “diharapkan” oleh Budiarto sendiri di masa-masa awal penerbitan kumpulan Cerpen Pilihan KOMPAS itu – bahwa Kompas memiliki “keunggulan” dibandingkan majalah sastra seperti Horison walaupun Kompas memiliki 1001 “pembatasan teknis” yang disebabkan oleh realitasnya sebagai sebuah “media umum” – “pembatasan teknis” tersebut ternyata justru akhirnya malah menggoyahkan “keunggulan” dimaksud. Bukankah apa yang disebutnya secara negatif sebagai “realitas koran pada sastra koran” itu merupakan bukti bahwa Kompas telah gagal dalam proyek besarnya untuk membuktikan bahwa “sentuhan (aktualitas koran) justru merangsang penjelajahan pada wilayah-wilayah tema baru” dalam penulisan cerpen kontemporer Indonesia! Makanya terdengarlah lagi suara-suara sumbang tentang terjadinya “krisis” pada sastra kontemporer Indonesia, yang sekaligus juga membuktikan adanya apa yang saya anggap sebagai mitos yang tercipta/diciptakan di sekitar penerbitan tahunan buku Cerpen Pilihan KOMPAS – bahwa “cerpen koran Kompas” dianggap sebagai standar baik-tidaknya cerpen koran Indonesia !

Satu hal yang cukup mengherankan dari Kata Pengantar dan Kata Penutup yang menghiasi buku Cerpen Pilihan KOMPAS setiap tahun adalah fakta bahwa mayoritas para penulisnya tidak pernah benar-benar membahas cerpen-cerpen yang terpilih apalagi “cerpen terbaik” untuk tiap tahun penerbitan antologi. Mereka seperti tidak tertarik atau malu-malu untuk menyatakan apa sebenarnya pendapat mereka atas cerpen-cerpen pilihan terutama “cerpen terbaik” Kompas di masing-masing tahun waktu mereka diundang untuk menuliskan Kata Pengantar atau Kata Penutup mereka itu!

Juga nama-nama cerpenis yang karyanya terpilih jadi Cerpen Pilihan KOMPAS hampir bisa dipastikan tidak akan banyak berbeda tiap tahunnya. Bahkan mayoritas ternyata terus menerus muncul karyanya, dan dalam satu buku malah ada yang bisa dua sampai tiga cerpennya muncul sekaligus, padahal, konon, Kompas menerima begitu banyak cerpen yang dikirimkan dari seluruh Indonesia tiap bulannya! Karena sudah ada mitos bahwa cerpen-cerpen yang muncul di koran Kompas adalah “cerpen-cerpen terbaik di Indonesia”, maka apakah para cerpenis yang cerpennya selalu terpilih ikut Cerpen pilihan KOMPAS tiap tahun, atau hampir tiap tahun, sejak penerbitan pertama buku Cerpen pilihan KOMPAS di tahun 1992 lalu, memang merupakan “cerpenis-cerpenis terbaik di Indonesia”!

Apakah makna dari peristiwa penerbitan tahunan Cerpen Pilihan KOMPAS tersebut? Perlukah penerbitan tahunan yang sudah terkesan monoton dan tidak serius ini (ingat skandal terjemahan Inggris buku Mata Yang Indah tahun 2001!) yang bahkan sudah menimbulkan “krisis kreatif” dalam sastra kontemporer Indonesia (seorang cerpenis yang cukup produktif menyatakan dalam Kongres Cerpen Indonesia Ke-2 tahun 2002 di Bali betapa tiap kali dia menulis cerpen maka yang terbayang di benaknya adalah koran Kompas hingga karena trauma dia akhirnya memutuskan untuk tidak menulis “cerpen koran Kompas”!) diteruskan? Karena “sastra koran” Kompas cuma bisa menghasilkan sastra bermutu “realitas koran” belaka – yang terjemahannya berarti “bermutu jelek” makanya menyebabkan terjadinya “krisis sastra” – bukankah sangat mengherankan bahwa produk-produk sastra ini terus-menerus dikumpulkan dan diterbitkan dalam bentuk buku setiap tahun dan diberi judul keren “Cerpen Pilihan”! Lalu, bukankah penerbitan “Cerpen Pilihan” Kompas tiap tahun itu malah hanya akan memperparah kondisi krisis “sastra koran” saja, dengan konsekuensi lanjutan merusak sastra kontemporer Indonesia, khususnya genre cerpennya, karena mitos cerpen-cerpen “pilihan” yang diterbitkan Kompas itu seolah-olah jadi standar cerpen “terbaik” yang ideal bagi Indonesia!

Kalau Kompas memang benar-benar serius ingin memberikan kontribusi positif bagi perkembangan cerpen kontemporer Indonesia – seperti yang dikesankan oleh pemuatan Kata Pengantar dan Kata Penutup pesanan oleh beberapa “otoritas” sastra Indonesia dalam tiap publikasi buku antologi cerpennya – bukankah hal logis pertama yang mesti dilakukan adalah “merubah” prosedur pemilihan Cerpen Pilihan KOMPAS melalui pemilihan juri dari kalangan para “otoritas” sastra Indonesia sendiri, seperti pada penunjukan siapa yang akan menuliskan Kata Pengantar dan Kata Penutup tadi? “Pengetahuan” tentang sastra yang mereka miliki, paling tidak, tentu akan memberikan kesan yang jauh lebih profesional dan bertanggung jawab dibanding sekedar para wartawan Kompas sendiri, yang nota bene rata-rata tidak dikenal dalam kancah dunia sastra Indonesia.

Kompas tidak bisa lagi memberikan jawaban tidak bertanggung jawab seperti kriteria “tanpa kriteria” dalam penentuan cerpen-cerpen pilihannya, atau faktor realitas Kompas sebagai “sebuah koran umum bukan majalah sastra” untuk pembelaan dirinya, karena adanya Kata Pengantar dan Kata Penutup oleh para “otoritas” sastra Indonesia dalam setiap buku Cerpen Pilihan KOMPAS menunjukkan dengan jelas bahwa Kompas memang ingin antologi cerpen tahunannya diresepsi sebagai antologi “sastra” koran! Bukankah pemakaian istilah “sastra koran” itu sendiri untuk cerpen-cerpen yang muncul baik di koran Kompas tiap hari Minggu maupun dalam semua buku Cerpen Pilihan KOMPAS seperti yang dilakukan Budiarto Danujaya dalam Kata Penutup untuk Cerpen Pilihan KOMPAS 1994 dan Cerpen Pilihan KOMPAS 2000 mendukung pernyataan saya ini!

Sebagai penutup, bagi saya isu klise dan tak terbukti tentang “krisis sastra” dalam pengertian “krisis karya sastra”, “krisis mutu”, dalam wacana sastra kontemporer Indonesia cuma menunjukkan sebuah sikap arogansi dalam membaca produk-produk sastra kontemporer Indonesia. Apa yang menjadi standar ukuran yang diterapkan para pembuat diagnosis tekstual ini dalam menyimpulkan bahwa sastra kontemporer Indonesia mengalami “krisis (mutu) karya”? Apakah cerpen-cerpen yang muncul di koran Kompas tiap minggu, misalnya, bisa dijadikan ukuran atas realitas cerpen dalam sastra kontemporer Indonesia? Apakah cerpen-cerpen yang muncul dalam buku Cerpen Pilihan KOMPAS tiap tahun, misalnya, juga bisa dijadikan standar mutu bagi keseluruhan cerpen yang tiap tahun ditulis di Indonesia? Sudah adakah sebuah studi kritis yang dilakukan yang membuktikan bahwa sastra kontemporer Indonesia memang sedang mengalami “krisis”? Ataukah isu “krisis sastra” tersebut cuma dibuat oleh mereka-mereka yang “membaca” produk sastra kontemporer Indonesia dengan tergantung hanya pada apa kata hati mereka belaka? Sebuah keisengan yang tidak lain merupakan indikasi bahwa krisis kritik(us) sastra yang sebenarnya menggerogoti kehidupan sastra kontemporer Indonesia!

A Multifaceted Fraud

December 05, 2003

By Justin Podur

Justin Podur’s ZSpace Page

Irshad Manji, according to the jacket of her book, is “a broadcaster, author, public speaker, and media enterpreneur, born in East Africa and raised on the west coast of Canada.”  She was the producer and host of QueerTelevision and calls herself “a journalist with a reputation for flinging open doors” (pg. 76).  Her new book, “The Trouble With Islam: A Wake-up Call for Honesty and Change”, is on Canadian bestseller lists and, with a glowing profile in the NewYork Times, will no doubt do well in the United States as well.  Her book is supposed to be an “Open Letter to Muslims and Non-Muslims”, asking “tough questions”:  “Why are we all being held hostage by what’s happening between the Palestinians and the Israelis?  What’s with the stubborn streak of anti-Semitism in Islam?  Who is the real colonizer of Muslims – America or Arabia?  Why are we squandering the talents of women, fully half of God’s creation?”  (pg. 2). 

A critique of Islam, like a critique of any religion or ideology that has doctrines preventing people from exercising their moral sense, solidarity, and reason, is welcome.  Orthodox (or mainstream) Islam, like dominant strains of Christianity, Judaism, or Hinduism, is deeply sexist, homophobic, and authoritarian. 

Addressed as a letter to Muslims by a Muslim who is struggling with hard questions, the book seems to live up to a simple moral rule: that people should focus their attention on problems that they can influence, should ‘look to their own backyards’.  For Manji, this ‘backyard’ would seem to be the Muslim community, making her critique one that, whatever factual errors, biases, manipulations, or distortions it contains (and it contains many), is fundamentally morally responsible.  When she describes “Arab hypocrisy” (pg. 106) without ever using a phrase like “US hypocrisy” or “Western hypocrisy”, or “delusional Muslims” (pg. 109) without ever referring to “delusional Americans” or “delusional Westerners”, this harsh criticism is to be understood as self-criticism.  When she whitewashes crimes by the United States and Israel, citing the reports of mainstream human rights organizations like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International on Muslim countries but not on Israel or the United States, this is to be understood as the focus of a moral agent on her own community. 

Manji’s own words suggest otherwise.  Late in her book, she talks about reasoning being “entirely compatible with the ideals I hold as a Westerner.” (pg. 229)  Describing her visit to Israel, she describes the moment of her visit to the Western Wall in Jerusalem: “As I spend time in search of an unused crack that will clasp my prayer, I realize I’m holding up the Jews behind me.  Still, I don’t feel like an interloper.  I feel at home.  More viscerally than ever, I know who my family is.”  (pg. 93). 

Reading her book, it becomes clear that it is not the work of a self-critical individual trying to hold the Muslim community accountable, but a self-congratulatory Westerner, cheering for powerful states and whitewashing the crimes of her “family”. 

Manji, the disinterested intellectual

To open Irshad Manji’s website or book is to be exposed to quite a bit of posturing.  The site accompanying her book launch is called ‘muslim-refusenik.com’.  She uses the word ‘refusenik’ to invoke the dissidents of the former Soviet Union.  In the contemporary context, the word ‘refusenik’ invokes the Israeli refuseniks(1) , the conscientious objectors who refuse to serve in the West Bank and Gaza.  These courageous youths are serving jail terms because they don’t want to violate the human rights of an occupied people.  They see themselves as the ‘true zionists’, and believe that Israel would be far better defended if it withdrew to its pre-1967 borders.  They say that they are prepared to serve in a military that would defend those borders – but not one that systematically violates the human rights of people in an occupied territory.  Manji, the ‘Muslim Refusenik’ who spent time in Israel, seems never to have heard of them.  Perhaps this is because these refuseniks, like their Soviet predecessors, suffer jail terms and state repression for their views, while Manji is profiting handsomely from hers.    

Opening the website, one is exposed to the picture of a young woman in an elaborate hijab, an outfit that covers all but her face.  This type of picture invokes the women of Afghanistan, who have suffered over 25 years of brutality, rape, and torture at the hands of Soviet invaders, the jehadis trained by the US, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia in order to fight the Soviet invaders, and the factions that those jehadis split into – the ‘Northern Alliance’, the Taliban, and now the Northern Alliance again.  Afghanistan’s women have become the symbol of oppression by Islamic regimes.  But Afghanistan’s women have been resisting this brutality and sexism from the beginning.  One of the most remarkable organizations in the world is the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA).  But there is not a word about RAWA in Manji’s book.  The story of how these women built a covert organization to teach women to read, to document the atrocities that the West suddenly became interested in for the duration of the US bombing of Afghanistan, to strive for a secular democracy under the most repressive conditions imaginable, gets only an oblique mention: “Old Afghan women, some of them refugees, now attend schools that younger women run, and that they ran in secret during the Taliban’s time.” (pg. 180).  Manji might not have had access to Anne Brodsky’s excellent book on RAWA, ‘With All Our Strength’, which was just published(2) , but she certainly had access to their website(3)  and to their words.  There are real women, fighting and dying for secular democracy and against the fundamentalism that Manji decries.  But Manji has no time for them. 

Perhaps this is because RAWA was against the US bombing of their country while Manji wanted to say “America, your thrashing of the Taliban made millions of Afghanis happy.  Since then, though, your failure to post soldiers beyond Kabul has made only tribal warlords and Taliban sympathizers smile.”  (pg. 143).  America’s “thrashing of the Taliban” also left at least several thousand Afghani civilians dead by cluster bombs, ‘daisy cutters’, and other weapons, by conservative estimates.  An inconvenient fact, and one Manji makes no mention of, no doubt because her moral responsibility as a Muslim compels her to ignore it. 

As the photo of the young woman fades, two quotes appear.  One is from the Koran.  The other is from an article by the late Edward Said, from an article he wrote for Le Monde Diplomatique in 1998.  It says: “The intellectual’s role is to speak the truth as plainly, directly, and honestly as possible.  No intellectual is supposed to worry about whether what is said embarrasses, pleases, or displeases people in power.”  Manji presumably presents this quote to claim that she is engaging in an act of moral courage in publishing her book.  But while she has use for Said’s words on her website, she smears and misrepresents him in her book.  Her summary of him?  “He’s the Arab-American intellectual who, in 1979, used the word ‘Orientalism’ to describe the West’s supposed tendency to colonize Muslims by demonizing us as the exotic freaks of the East.” (pg. 22)  In Manji’s world, Said’s “acolytes” were so powerful that they created a “chill” that harmed discussion of “just about anything that affronted mainstream Muslims.”  (pg. 22)

In fact, Said talked about actual colonization, not a “supposed tendency” – he talked about the British colonial conquests.  He talked about the way scholarship was deployed as a weapon of empire and a rationalization of it.  Manji’s summary dismissal suggests, if anything, that she hasn’t read Said’s “Orientalism”.  Indeed, her later use of the same Le Monde Diplomatique article suggests she read only a part of it.  As part of a multi-page long section (pp. 116-123) of rhetorical questions intended to refute the idea that Israel is an apartheid state, Manji quotes Said as evidence: “Even the eminence grise of Palestinian nationalism, Edward Said, states flat out that ‘Israel is not South Africa’  How could it be when an Israeli publisher has translated into Hebrew Said’s seminal work, Orientalism?”(4) .  But the very article Manji cites explicitly says Israeli is an apartheid state.  A fuller version of the quote is as follows:

“Israel is neither South Africa, nor Algeria, nor Vietnam. Whether we like it or not, the Jews are not ordinary colonialists. Yes, they suffered the holocaust, and yes, they are the victims of anti-Semitism. But no, they cannot use those facts to continue, or initiate, the dispossession of another people that bears no responsibility for either of those prior facts. I have been saying for twenty years that we have no military option, and are not likely to have one anytime soon. And neither does Israel have a real military option. Despite their enormous power, Israelis have not succeeded in achieving either the acceptance or the security they crave.”

Just a few paragraphs below this, Said says:

“What Azmi Bishara and several Israeli Jews like Ilan Pappe (4) are now trying to strengthen is a position and a politics by which Jews and Palestinians inside the Jewish state have the same rights; there is no reason why the same principle should not apply in the Occupied Territories where Palestinians and Israeli Jews live side by side, together, with only one people, Israeli Jews now dominating the other. So the choice is either apartheid or it is justice and citizenship.”(5)

Indeed, Manji could have benefited from reading the entire article in more than one way.  Said’s points about the intellectual’s role were to distinguish intellectual from political behaviour. 

“Speaking the truth to power means additionally that the intellectual’s constituency is neither a government nor a corporate or a career interest: only the truth unadorned. Political behaviour principally relies upon considerations of interest – advancing a career, working with governments, maintaining one’s position, etc.”

With features in the New York Times, the New York Post, and Canada’s Globe and Mail, Manji’s book seems to be something that “pleases people in power”, and she is on her way to “advancing a career”, by distorting citations and ignoring facts.

Manji, the journalist of Israel/Palestine

Said’s 1998 article is not the only source Manji distorts, nor the only cited piece one is forced to wonder whether Manji actually read, to which we return.

Manji’s posturing includes a stance that she is “asking questions, not providing answers”.  But her account of her trip to Israel is filled with answers – the standard answers of apologists for Israel’s occupation and ongoing ethnic cleansing in the Palestinian territories.

Manji’s Photos

It turns out that Manji was in Israel at around the same time that I was in the Occupied Territories.  I was there from June 18-July 3, 2002.  Her interviews, conversations, and photo notes indicate she was there in mid-July of 2002.  She took a series of photos, as did I.

I would encourage you to look at her photos, available online (see the table below, with her photos in the left-hand column and mine in the right-hand column), since she took them, as I said, at approximately the same time as I took my own, not very far away.  One of them is of a woman leading a column of Israeli male troops (to show that Israel’s armed forces have women in positions of power).  One is of Manji in front of the Al-Aqsa mosque.  One is of a group of children.  Another set is of Manji, posing with various people at the site of Al-Aqsa.  The last is of an Israeli boy on a scooter in the old city.  Also compare five photos that I took at around the same time.  Please, as you look, note that I did not have to go digging to find these photos.  I was in Jenin, Ramallah, and Gaza, and these scenes were quite typical (6) .

the Israeli army Checkpoint wire
Manji at al-Aqsa Checkpoint lineup
Children Destruction of Trees
Manji al-Aqsa Jenin Destruction
A boy in the old city Blowing up a bank in Jenin

That Manji could travel to the Israel and the Occupied Territories and not notice the ongoing, physical destruction of Palestinian society, instead publishing numerous photos of herself, despite being a “journalist with a reputation for flinging open doors” should not come as too much of a surprise.  That might be a disservice to Israel which, Manji finds (and the photos suggest), “brings more compassion to ‘colonization’ than its adversaries have ever brought to ‘liberation'” (pg. 123). 

The Newspapers

Manji’s thesis is that Israel is an open society that debates issues openly, is self-reflective.  As proof, she provides various citations to newspaper articles in the Israeli press, primarily Ha’aretz and the Jerusalem Post for the period June 24 – July 9, 2002, when she was there, but also a few other periods.  These newspaper articles are supplemented by some interviews she conducted herself.  Manji paints a picture of Israelis debating openly and honestly in their media questions of whether Israel should accept more religious immigrants from North America; whether state lands should be allocated to exclusively Jewish towns; and whether CNN was too biased against Israel to be shown on Israeli airwaves.  (pp. 82-83)  The open debates on these topics impressed Manji, who thinks Arabs and Muslims do not debate issues so openly.  But – and again, to be fair, it’s not clear whether or not she was checking Ha’aretz every day in detail – she didn’t cite a very good article by Gideon Levy that was published in Ha’aretz on July 5 (7) .  That article describes the murder of an 11-year old child in Jenin in some detail:

“The video shows it all: Here are the three kids on their bikes, three black dots on the slope of the road, two on the right, close together, the third on the left, and a white car passes between them. A woman calls out something unclear, maybe a warning to the children about the tank; the car disappears down the hill, and then the tank suddenly appears from the corner on the left. First you see the tank’s turret gun, then the base of the turret and then the tank itself, charging after three little kids on their bicycles a few dozen meters ahead. The picture freezes for a second to show the details better. Then suddenly the screen goes dark. Sound of firing. Boom. Lots of noise, dust and smoke everywhere, and that’s it. The anonymous photographer stopped filming.

“The IDF spokesman, this week: “The incident is still being dealt with.” Defense Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer issued an apology. No one from the IDF came to the family’s home; no one even bothered to watch the video.”

Amira Hass, also in Ha’aretz, on July 9, 2002, described the destruction of the economy in Gaza:

“The Gaza Strip’s welfare is dependent on several border-crossing points where Israel has absolute control. During April and May, for example, there was a serious shortage of flour, one of the main dietary components of a society where two-thirds of the population are living below the poverty line. And construction was almost suspended because of a shortage of building materials.”(8)

If Manji’s point is that Israeli journalists often have more integrity, empathy, and openness than North American ones about what Israel is doing to the Palestinians, it is well taken.  Gideon Levy and Amira Hass are exemplary in this regard.  That Manji, a North American journalist, cites Ha’aretz repeatedly without mentioning these fine writers (just as she mentions the debate within Israeli society without mentioning the refuseniks, or Gush Shalom, or Ta’ayush), reinforces the point with some irony.

Manji the historian

On Israel’s History

Manji claims her book is an “open letter” to Muslims, as opposed, perhaps, to a work of historical scholarship.  Since her sources are, with few exceptions, from 2001-2002, this claim holds up.  But when she discusses Israel/Palestine, Manji suddenly becomes a historian, citing primary sources and documents like the  Palestine Royal Commission Report, Cmd 5479 (London, July 1937)(9) , “Beirut Telegraph, September 6, 1948, no page number assigned to article. Confirmed by the Newspaper Archive Division of the American University of Beirut.”(10) .  She reads 50-year old books like “Maurice Pearlman, Mufti of Jerusalem: The Story of Haj Amin el Husseini (London: V.Gollancz, 1947)”(11) .  She reads an article from the Journal of Palestine Studies, and books on the Palestinian refugee problem (12) .  She also relies heavily on a single article in the Jerusalem Post on the history of the current intifada (13) .

Her history is as dishonest as her journalism.  Discussing Benny Morris, an Israeli historian who shows that Israel did expel Palestinians en masse but claims that it did so because of war and not by design, she says: “Acknowledging war as the root of the refugee problem doesn’t mean you can’t be balanced or even sympathetic to the Palestinian cause. For proof, see Benny Morris, The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, 1947-49 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1989).”(14)

When she talks about being “balanced or even sympathetic to the Palestinian cause”, Manji must be talking about Morris’s book and not Morris himself, since, as Norman Finkelstein reports, quoting Benny Morris:

“Benny Morris explicitly justifies expulsion of the Palestinians not only in the event of a regional war but in the name of Lebensraum: ‘This land is so small that there isn’t room for two peoples.  In fifty or a hundred years, there will only be one state between the sea and Jordan.  That state must be Israel.”

“Morris professes that as a historian his only concern is truth.  Indeed, finding evidence of yet more ‘massacres’ of Arabs in 1948 ‘makes me happy.”

“The Palestinians, according to Morris, are ‘a sick, psychotic people’.  They refuse to acknowledge that ‘Jews have a just claim to Palestine’ and that ‘Zionism was/is a just enterprise.’  Yet, Morris further states that this ‘just claim’ couldn’t be redeemed and this ‘just enterprise’ realized without expelling the Palestinian Arabs: ‘a removing of a population was needed.  Without a population expulsion, a Jewish state would not have been established.'(15)

Finkelstein’s careful assessment of Morris’s work concludes that there was an element of design in the expulsion of the Palestinians in 1948, and not only war as Morris claims.  Indeed, Finkelstein provides evidence cited by Morris himself that supports this conclusion, including a quote from the diary of a prominent Zionist from 1940, 8 years before the war, saying “There is no way but to transfer the Arabs from here to the neighboring countries, and to transfer all of them, save perhaps for [the Arabs of] Bethlehem, Nazareth, and old Jerusalem.  Not one village must be left, not one [bedouin] tribe.”(16)

Another excellent work on the origins of the refugee problem as the first attempt in Israel’s ongoing campaign of “politicide” against the Palestinians is the book of the same name by Israeli sociologist Baruch Kimmerling.  Using an eight-volume Hebrew series on Haganah history never published in English, Kimmerling shows how a military plan developed in advance to expel the Palestinians was implemented on the ground during the 1948 war (17) .

On ‘Muslim complicity in the Holocaust’

Citing Maurice Pearlman’s work on the Mufti of Jerusalem’s relationship with Hitler, Manji concludes there was Muslim ‘complicity in the holocaust’.  This is true, as true as there was Christian, and particularly US complicity in the holocaust (18) .  Inconveniently for Manji, the Zionists’ own record on the holocaust is not spotless either.  Tim Wise, a Jewish anti-racist writer based in the US, along with many others, has used the Zionists’ own words to argue that elements of Zionism embrace anti-semitism:

“Far from resisting Nazi genocide, some Zionists collaborated with it. When the British devised a plan to allow thousands of German Jewish children to enter the U.K. and be saved from the Holocaust, David Ben-Gurion, who would become Israel’s first Prime Minister balked, explaining:

“‘If I knew that it would be possible to save all the children in Germany by bringing them over to England, and only half of them by transporting them to (Israel) then I would opt for the second alternative.’

“Later, Israeli Zionists would again make alliances with anti-Jewish extremists. In the 1970’s, Israel hosted South African Prime Minister John Vorster, and cultivated economic and military ties with the apartheid state, even though Vorster had been locked up as a Nazi collaborator during World War II. And Israel supplied military aid to the Galtieri regime in Argentina, even while the Generals were known to harbor ex-Nazis in the country, and had targeted Argentine Jews for torture and death.”(19)

Complicity in the holocaust against the Jews was not the monopoly of any religion.  And neither was resistance to the Nazis.  In a review of Manji’s book for the Toronto Globe and Mail, Tarek Fatah of the Muslim Canadian Congress addressed this issue:

“Has Ms. Manji ever heard of the Palestine Regiment, a unit in which Jew and Muslim fought side-by-side against Hitler’s Afrika Korps in Libya? In the cemeteries of El-Alamein lie the dead Muslims, the Mohammeds, the Alis and the Ismails who gave their lives so that Nazism could be defeated. The cemeteries of Stalingrad bear the names of the young Central Asian Muslims who lie buried, unable to refute the falsehoods being spread by fast-food historians. And what about the hundreds of thousands of Indian Muslims who fought shoulder-to-shoulder with our own Canadians in Italy and France?” (20)

On the Second Intifada

On the outbreak of the second intifada in September 2000, Manji cites Khaled Abu Toameh’s article of September 19, 2002 in the Jerusalem Post, in order to suggest the intifada was ‘planned in advance’, as opposed to a spontaneous response to Sharon’s visit to the al-Aqsa mosque accompanied by hundreds of armed men who proceeded to fire into the crowds and kill nearly a dozen people (21) .  This article, too, is a distortion of the facts of both the intifada and the breakdown of the Camp David talks, presented for example by Tanya Reinhart, an Israeli intellectual.  An article written several days after the outbreak of the intifada shows that there was, indeed, advance planning of what happened on September 28, 2000:

“His visit was carefully planned, with a thousand soldiers securing it and taking shooting positions on the roofs in advance. It is not Sharon who is responsible for the present massacre, but Barak, Ben Ami, the Israeli government, and Israel’s “peaceniks” who have been supporting them all the way through.”(22)

There are numerous analyses of the failure of Camp David that include what was actually on offer.  Tanya Reinhart’s (23)  relies on the Israeli press, Baruch Kimmerling’s uses books and other accounts (24) .  A readily available account of what was on offer comes from Seth Ackerman of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (25)

“Although some people describe Israel’s Camp David proposal as practically a return to the 1967 borders, it was far from that. Under the plan, Israel would have withdrawn completely from the small Gaza Strip. But it would annex strategically important and highly valuable sections of the West Bank–while retaining “security control” over other parts–that would have made it impossible for the Palestinians to travel or trade freely within their own state without the permission of the Israeli government (Political Science Quarterly, 6/22/01; New York Times, 7/26/01; Report on Israeli Settlement in the Occupied Territories, 9-10/00; Robert Malley, New York Review of Books, 8/9/01).

“The annexations and security arrangements would divide the West Bank into three disconnected cantons. In exchange for taking fertile West Bank lands that happen to contain most of the region’s scarce water aquifers, Israel offered to give up a piece of its own territory in the Negev Desert–about one-tenth the size of the land it would annex–including a former toxic waste dump.

“Because of the geographic placement of Israel’s proposed West Bank annexations, Palestinians living in their new ‘independent state’ would be forced to cross Israeli territory every time they traveled or shipped goods from one section of the West Bank to another, and Israel could close those routes at will. Israel would also retain a network of so-called ‘bypass roads’ that would crisscross the Palestinian state while remaining sovereign Israeli territory, further dividing the West Bank.

“Israel was also to have kept ‘security control’ for an indefinite period of time over the Jordan Valley, the strip of territory that forms the border between the West Bank and neighboring Jordan. Palestine would not have free access to its own international borders with Jordan and Egypt–putting Palestinian trade, and therefore its economy, at the mercy of the Israeli military.”

Manji may think that her distortions and omissions of history make her a better ‘supporter of Israel’.  But, to use Noam Chomsky’s phrase, she is more of a ‘supporter of the moral degradation and ultimate destruction of Israel, and not Israel alone’ (26) .  She is doing Israelis no better service than she does Muslims.

Manji the searching moral critic

Manji says she wants to revive the idea of ‘ijtihad’, of self-criticism and reformation, from the Islamic tradition.  She probably got the idea from Ziauddin Sardar’s May 2002 article in the New Internationalist, which she cites (27) .  Sardar writes:

“For well over a century, Muslim scholars and thinkers have been arguing that Islam is in need of urgent reform. Or to use the technical terms, Muslims need to undertake ijtihad, literally ‘reasoned struggle’, to rethink and reformulate Islam. It was the Iranian reformist Jamaluddin Afghani, who with the then Mufti of Egypt, Muhammad Abduh, first argued for ijtihad at the end of the 19th century.”

Sardar presents various reasons why Muslims need to rediscover ‘reasoned struggle’, and why rigid doctrines prevent people from using their reason and moral sense to act in the world.  Unlike Manji, Sardar also presents a historical context:

“The modernist leaders who took over from the departing colonial powers maintained their hold on Muslim societies with excessive use of force and by ruthlessly persecuting the traditional leadership and abusing and ridiculing traditional thought and everything associated with it. The economic and development policies they pursued often ended in spectacular failure and concentrated national wealth in the hands of the few. Globalization has further marginalized traditional cultures, creating a siege mentality in historic communities. These factors have contributed to the emergence throughout the Muslim world of a new form of militant traditionalism.

“Thus the Muslim world finds itself caught in an intense struggle between the combined forces of an aggressively secular modernity and globalization pitted against an equally aggressive traditionalism. This struggle is quite evident in countries like Indonesia, Algeria and Bangladesh where internal battles between modernists and traditionalists have raged for well over two decades.

“To this complex, we must add another dimension. Both traditionalists and modernists now share the belief that the fate of their societies is actually determined by decisions taken elsewhere. This is why so much energy in the Muslim world is now spent in criticizing the actions and consequences of the centres of power: the nexus of Western government, economy, industry and popular culture where globalization is manufactured and exported to its recipients in the Muslim World. The widespread feeling of dispossession and total powerlessness in Muslim societies is a product of this. Hence the sense of rage that now envelops both modernists and traditionalists alike.”

Indeed, the sense of powerlessness brought by globalization and displacement have helped empower fundamentalists and fundamentalist movements throughout the world.  Muslims have no monopoly on this.  A quick look at the Hindu right movements in India, of the Jewish settler movements in Israel, or of George Bush’s own Christian fundamentalist constituency in the United States show this. 

Arundhati Roy wrote about this after the Gujarat Pogrom of February 2002 in India:

“Over the past fifty years, ordinary citizens’ modest hopes for lives of dignity, security and relief from abject poverty have been systematically snuffed out. Every ‘democratic’ institution in this country has shown itself to be unaccountable, inaccessible to the ordinary citizen, and either unwilling, or incapable of acting, in the interests of genuine social justice. Every strategy for real social change-land reform, education, public health, the equitable distribution of natural resources, the implementation of positive discrimination-has been cleverly, cunningly and consistently scuttled and rendered ineffectual by those castes and that class of people who have a stranglehold on the political process. And now corporate globalisation is being relentlessly and arbitrarily imposed on an essentially feudal society, tearing through its complex, tiered, social fabric, ripping it apart culturally and economically.

“There is very real grievance here. And the fascists didn’t create it. But they have seized upon it, upturned it and forged from it a hideous, bogus sense of pride. They have mobilised human beings using the lowest common denominator-religion. People who have lost control over their lives, people who have been uprooted from their homes and communities who have lost their culture and their language, are being made to feel proud of something. Not something they have striven for and achieved, not something they can count as a personal accomplishment, but something they just happen to be. Or, more accurately, something they happen not to be. And the falseness, the emptiness of that pride, is fuelling a gladiatorial anger that is then directed towards a simulated target that has been wheeled into the amphitheatre.” (28)

All of this is described and analyzed in a book that actually does what Irshad Manji says she is trying to do: Tariq Ali’s ‘Clash of Fundamentalisms’ (29)   Manji cites his book several times, but does not present his argument or analysis in her book (30) .  Ali argues that the Muslim world needs to go through the kind of reformation the Christian world went through, the reformation – influenced, incidentally, by Muslim and Jewish scholarship and learning — that led the Christian world out of medieval theocracy.  He argues that this reformation is all the more urgent because the world is increasingly in the grip of another kind of fundamentalism – that of neoliberal economics and militarism.  Unlike Manji, Ali looks at modern history and finds ways that one fundamentalism helped to create the other.  The Taliban, the Mujahaddin, and indeed Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda grew out of the jehadis funded, trained, and armed by the United States to fight the Soviet Union in Afghanistan.  The Saudi regime and the other repressive monarchies of the Middle East are propped up by the West in exchange for oil and the suppression of their own people’s desires for self-determination.  Independent nationalism, secularism, and leftist movements in that region were savagely and repeatedly attacked by the US, sometimes using the religious groups.  Ali does not bring this history up in order to exonerate Muslims of their responsibilities, but to help understanding of the context.  All Manji would have had to do was read the rest of the book she cites numerous times.  Ali’s book implicitly argues for a world free of any fundamentalisms, in which people use their own reason and their own moral sense and solidarity to guide them.

But Ali’s critique comes from a position of solidarity.  He is aware of the need for a reformation, he is against fundamentalism, but he is also aware of and concerned about the atrocities that are being perpetrated against Muslims.  He has empathy for what is happening to Palestinians in the territories.  He has empathy for the people of Iraq, who have been the victim of wars, sanctions, and now invasion and occupation that have killed hundreds of thousands of their number.  And he has integrity enough to present those (like the women of RAWA) who resist fundamentalisms, to give them a voice in his books and speeches. 

Without that kind of solidarity, Manji’s book is exposed for the posturing that it is.  Claiming to be a letter to Muslims, the book is set to be published in Canada, the US, Australia, the UK, France, the Netherlands, and Germany.  She explicitly tells people in these countries to not fear being racist:  “My question for non-Muslims is equally basic: Will you succumb to the intimidation of being called “racists,” or will you finally challenge us Muslims to take responsibility for our role in what ails Islam?” 

On the reaction in the West to Muslim communities after 9/11, Manji finds nothing but remarkable tolerance, tolerance her whole book suggests is undeserved.  “In North America, decency has erupted in spades.”  (pg. 225)  She cites a private email from a reporter who says “the Homeland Security measures and mass arrests and deportations and so on did have the effect of singling out entire ethnic cultures in the U.S. and criminalizing them en masse. Interestingly, I don’t think this has turned into a popular villainization of Muslim Americans, the way the internment of the Japanese was accompanied by a real racist backlash against Asians in the general population.” (31)

‘The security measures’ made it into her footnotes, but the prison at Guantanamo did not.  The International Herald Tribune recently reported:

“Since January 2002, about 660 prisoners have been transferred at first to Camp X-Ray and then Camp Delta at Guantanamo Bay. The number included children between the ages of 13 and 16 as well as the very elderly. Virtually all the prisoners are foot soldiers of the Taliban. By a blanket presidential decree, all the prisoners have been denied prisoner-of-war status.

“How prisoners at Guantanamo Bay have been treated we do not know. But what we do know is not reassuring. At Camp Delta the minute cells measure 1.8 meters by 2.4 meters (6 feet by 8 feet). Detainees are held in these cells for up to 24 hours a day. Photographs of prisoners being returned to their cells on stretchers after interrogation have been published. The Red Cross described the camp as principally a center of interrogation rather than detention.

“The purpose of holding the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay was and is to put them beyond the rule of law, beyond the protection of any courts, and at the mercy of the victors. The procedural rules do not prohibit the use of force to coerce prisoners to confess. On the contrary, the rules expressly provide that statements made by a prisoner under physical and mental duress are admissible “if the evidence would have value to a reasonable person,” i.e. military officers trying enemy soldiers.” (32)

If Manji wants to “Thank God for the West” (the name of her Chapter 9), it is not necessarily because she supports civil liberties.  Praising Egypt’s policies of ‘pre-emptive’ arrest and detention (33) , while regretting that it has been “exploited for corrupt ends”, Manji cites a terrible crime committed against a brilliant Egyptian novelist, Najib Mahfuz, by “young religious ruffians” who attacked him for his writing. Manji says: “Excuse me, but if that’s a reason to maim (and possibly kill), it’s equally a reason for security forces to crack down on the thugs.  Bring on the Emergency Law.” (pg. 128)  The long struggle for civil liberties in Manji’s beloved West, the argument that ‘thugs’ can be ‘cracked down on’ without establishing a police state, are all erased with Manji’s simple statement: “Bring on the Emergency Law”.  There is no such explicit cheerleading for the Guantanamo prison camp (it is simply left out), but Manji would probably argue to “bring it on”, as well, while simultaneously praising the “decency” and civil liberties of the West.

Perhaps it is because this does not fit the picture of the West (or of Muslims) Manji is trying to paint that she also denies Queer Muslims a voice, even Queer Muslims from her very own Toronto. Salaam describes itself as follows.  “Salaam: Queer Muslim community is a Muslim Identified Organization dedicated to social justice, peace and human dignity through its work to bring all closer to a world that is free from injustice, including prejudice, discrimination, racism, misogyny, sexism and homophobia.” (34)   The activists of Salaam link from their website to Project Threadbare, a coalition of justice groups that tried to fight the detention and deportation of 21 Indian and Pakistani Muslim men based on virtually no credible evidence.  A group of queer activists well aware of discrimination and homophobia in the Muslim community, Salaam recognizes that the struggle for social justice means struggling against all injustice.  It is no wonder that they, like RAWA, or so many courageous Israelis, Palestinians, and Muslims, have no place in Manji’s book.

Manji the humourist

Manji is best when she is flippantly dismissing critics who exhibit homophobia, sexism, or ignorance of one kind or another.  Indeed, she devotes a substantial portion of her site and 10 minutes of her public talk to show herself answering such critics.  Her point, perhaps, is that humour can help even in serious situations. 

She might be right.  In one of her notes (35)  she describes the treatment of an intolerant Muslim cleric by a queer rights group: “In response to Sheikh Omar, two gay-rights groups, the Lesbian Avengers and Outrage, issued a ‘Queer Fatwa’ against him. The fatwa reportedly read: ‘Omar Bakri Mohammad is hereby sentenced to 1000 years of relentless sodomitical torture.’ Pity his torturer.”

Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism (QUIT Palestine) showed that they, too, have a sense of humour, with their recent actions in Berkeley.  QUIT Palestine is fully consistent, recognizing the oppression of gays in Palestinian society (36) .  Their most recent campaign was on ‘Estee Slaughter’:

“The queer group who first settled Starbucks launched a new marketing campaign today, introducing shoppers at Macy’s Union Square in San Francisco to its new line of killer products from Estee Slaughter.

“About 20 activists from Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism descended on the downtown store today with samples of Village Vanishing Cream, Bloody Hand Cream, Atrocity Cover Up, Defoliant, WhiteRight Ethnic Cleanser and Kill Me Pink Lip Bomb. They gave away 500 samples of the new scent Eau de Occupation to appreciative passersby.

“The promotional leaflet explains that Ronald Lauder, chairman of Estee Lauder International, serves as president of the Jewish National Fund, which was formed in 1901 to establish Jewish settlements by purchasing land from absentee landlords. After the state of Israel was formed, the JNF was made responsible for developing lands expropriated by the government, including 531 villages that were destroyed by a campaign of ethnic cleansing by Jewish terrorists working with the newly formed Israeli “Defense” Forces.” (37)

QUIT Palestine is a very inspiring solidarity group.  So is the International Solidarity Movement, the group of Palestinians, Israelis, and internationals with whom I visited Palestine last year.  That group organizes and supports Palestinians in non-violent direct action and resistance to the Israeli occupation, and, like those struggling Israeli groups, hopes to help shift the balance of forces in favour of a just peace.  One of Manji’s tactics, used several times through her book, is that of the ‘unanswered email’.  In her notes, she writes: “In the months following my trip to Israel, I contacted various Arab, Palestinian, and Muslim organizations about sending me on a journalistic mission to the Middle East so that I could appreciate things from a non-Zionist perspective. Not one of them replied to my request.” (38)   Let me say publicly that on Nov. 20, 2003, at her public talk at Ryerson university in Toronto, in front of several hundred people who came to listen to her speech, “Defending Israel is Defending Diversity”, I told Irshad Manji that she has a standing invitation to go to the Occupied Territories with the International Solidarity Movement.  I gave her my email address and the sites for ISM Canada (www.ismcanada.org) and ISM (www.palsolidarity.org).  She has not replied to my invitation.

But for all the humour, the fact is that these are serious issues with very high stakes.  They demand serious treatment.  Manji’s is not a serious book.  Instead, as Tarek Fatah argues in his review:  “[h]er book is not addressed to Muslims; it is aimed at making Muslim-haters feel secure in their thinking.”  It may have another intention as well: critics of Israel are often smeared as ‘anti-semitic’.  Manji’s intention, by presenting Israel as a country that is good on queer rights, is perhaps to present critics of Israel as ‘homophobic’ as well.  It is unlikely to work, however, since there are too many queer rights activists who have the honesty and integrity that Manji lacks. 

Meanwhile, Manji can sell books, give flippant and arrogant answers to queries, and posture as an ‘intellectual’.



Notes

1. Their site is couragetorefuse.org.
2. Anne Brodsky, “With All Our Strength: The Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan”.  Routledge Publishers, New York, 2003.
3.
www.rawa.org, and www.afghanwomensmission.org for their supporters
4. Chapter 5, footnote 26
5. Said, “Israel-Palestine: A Third Way”, Le Monde Diplomatique, Sept 1998.  I would encourage readers to read the entire article.
6. The whole photo essay is at
http://www.zmag.org/meastwatch/podur_palphotos1.htm and should be seen in its entirety.
7. The online site, ZNet (
www.zmag.org), republishes material from Ha’aretz, especially pieces by Gideon Levy and Amira Hass.  Levy’s article is archived here and was published July 5 in Ha’aretz
http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=22&ItemID=2078
8. It is archived here: http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=22&ItemID=2100
9. Footnote 8, chapter 5
10. Footnote 3, chapter 5
11. Footnotes 10, 11, and 14 of chapter 5.  A good book on the Mufti of Jerusalem is Philip Mattar, “The Mufti of Jerusalem”, Columbia University Press, New York, 1992.
12. See footnotes 3, 6, and 15 of chapter 5 and 30 of chapter 4
13. See footnote 31, chapter 3, and footnote 12 of chapter 4, and for a serious account of the outbreak of the second intifada see Tanya Reinhart’s “Israel/Palestine: How to End the War of 1948”, Seven Stories Press, New York, 2002.
14. See footnote 3, chapter 5
15. All quoted from Norman Finkelstein, ‘Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict’, Verso, London, 2003.  Introduction to the 2nd edition, pg. xxix
16. Quoted in Finkelstein, ‘Image and Reality’, pg. 86
17. Baruch Kimmerling, ‘Politicide: Ariel Sharon’s War Against the Palestinians’, Verso, London 2003., pp.23-34
18. See Norman Finkelstein, ‘The Holocaust Industry’, Verso, London, 2000, and Tom Segev, “The Seventh Million: the Israelis and the Holocaust”, Hill and Wang, New York, 1994.
19. Tim Wise, ‘Reflections on Zionism from a Dissident Jew’, ZNet September 9, 2001.  Archived here:
http://www.zmag.org/sustainers/content/2001-09/05wise.htm
20. Tarek Fatah, “Don’t paint Muslim people as Nazis”, Globe and Mail November 27, 2003.  See also Robert Fisk, “How an Arab and a Jew fought Hitler, then each other, and died as friends.”  UK Independent, November 11, 2003.  Archived here: http://zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=22&ItemID=4507
21. Since, the first suicide bombing occurred after dozens of Palestinians had been killed and hundreds injured by Israeli attacks, Palestinian “planning” must have been rather lacklustre.
22. Tanya Reinhart, “Mount Temple”, Oct 2, 2000, ZNet.  Archived here.
http://www.zmag.org/ZSustainers/ZDaily/2000-10/02reinhart.htm
23. Tanya Reinhart, ‘Israel/Palestine: How to End the War of 1948’, Seven Stories Press, NY, 2002.
24. Kimmerling, ‘Politicide’, Verso 2003.
25. Seth Ackerman, ‘The Myth of the Generous Offer: Distorting the Camp David Negotiations’, Extra! July/August 2002.
http://fair.org/extra/0207/generous.html
26. Noam Chomsky, ‘Fateful Triangle: The United States, Israel, and the Palestinians’.  South End Press, Cambridge 1999
27. Footnote 18, chapter 3
28. Arundhati Roy, “Democracy: Who is she when she’s at home?”  Outlook India April 2002.  Archived here. 
http://www.zmag.org/content/SouthAsia/roy-gujarat-democracy.cfm
29. Tariq Ali, ‘Clash of Fundamentalisms: Crusades, Jihads, and Modernity’.  Verso, London, 2002.
30. Instead, she smears him in a roundabout way.  In footnote 8 of chapter 7, she writes: Despite being a Marxist, Tariq Ali acknowledges in The Clash of Fundamentalisms that “from the beginning, [Islam] regarded commerce as the only noble occupation.”  She smears Robert Fisk in a similar way, saying (Chapter 5, footnote 7) “Even the most pro-Muslim reporter I can think of, Robert Fisk, does not try to deny” the Turkish genocide against the Armenians.  The implication is that Fisk (and Ali) are in the business of denying facts, but the implication is made without evidence – a common thread throughout the book.
31. footnote 7, chapter 9
32. Jonathan Steyn, “Guantanamo: A Monstrous Failure of Justice”, International Herald Tribune November 27, 2003.
33. Amnesty International’s Annual Report on Egypt says the following: “Thousands of suspected supporters of banned Islamist groups, including possible prisoners of conscience, remained in detention without charge or trial; some had been held for years. Others were serving sentences imposed after grossly unfair trials before military courts. Torture and ill-treatment of detainees continued to be systematic. At least 48 people were sentenced to death and at least 17 were executed.” 
http://web.amnesty.org/report2003/egy-summary-eng
34. http://www.salaamcanada.com/
35. Footnote 19, chapter 8
36. See, for example, their statement here:
http://www.ektaonline.org/~quitpale/actions/gaymen2.html, and another important case, presented by Israeli activist Neve Gordon, here http://www.counterpunch.org/gordon11272003.html
37. Their site is at http://www.ektaonline.org/~quitpale/index.htm and their Estee Slaughter campaign at: http://www.ektaonline.org/~quitpale/esteeslaughter/estee.html
38. Footnote 34, chapter 3.

Source: http://www.zcommunications.org/a-multifaceted-fraud-by-justin-podur