Matt Taibbi delights journalism

Rolling Stone remains the leading magazine worth quoting. This is one that never ceases to provide food for critical thought. One of finest pieces of journalism that is there today. Or there was ever.
This week, Matt Taibbi writes about Kashmiri earthquake and says:

Even the most godless among us has to tremble before the biblical scale of the past twelve months’ headlines: the tsunami that swallowed south Asia, the deadly lady named Katrina (also known as America Not Immune) and now this. We do not seem to be going forward very much, but every few months we lose, somewhere, a big piece of the world map, a mysterious and enervating process that is becoming like an ominously steady drip that can be heard all over the planet.

And this, the massive earthquake that rocked Kashmir on October 8th, is the worst by far of the troika. It is a calamity the dimensions of which the world so far has completely failed to appreciate or understand. Coupled with the geopolitical nature of the misfortune — testing the nerve of two antsy nuclear antagonists and the political health of a somewhat notorious but also critically important American ally regime — the continuing disaster known as the Kashmiri earthquake threatens to be a world-shaping event as important as the Iraq War itself.”

A very humanist, and a very critical examination of the disaster, not stopping at the 80,000 toll, but actually predicating the aftermath of it as the bigger cataclysm yet to appear. This winter, he knows Pakistan will bleed. And the world, like in the past, may remain largely indifferent. An ally of the United States not since Bin Laden, but since well before the Bangaldesh War, Pakistan stands to count on the world leaders’ contributions to rehabilitate its people. Pakistan government and its people have done all that they could in times of adversity. Now is the time for the world to respond. Albeit lately. Taibbi says:

It just so happens that this process is taking place at a time when, in the wake of the tsunami and Katrina, giving from the West is unusually phlegmatic; to date, only about $131 million of a U.N. target $550 million has been raised, an embarrassment that has prompted U.N. officials to issue statements actually chiding tight-fisted Western donors.

The U.S. Army was active in Muzaffarabad and other places, making nearly thirty helicopters available. But while it gives aid with a grunt at the end of a stick, or out the bay door of a chopper, fundamentalist Muslim organizations and Pakistani political parties are traveling high in the mountains by foot to give it by hand, with a kind word and a few more in the mother tongue.”

Matt Taibbi, often compared with the Gonzo, is a phenomenon all by himself. Hunter S. Thompson indeed had a different style of writing than Matt. But where they intersect well are the level of honesty, the uncanny sense of dark humor and vivid critical imagination. Just as an example of his well meaning cultural locations, Taibbi in an interview said recently why he would not be called a journalist anymore (he said this referring to his editorial position in a paper in Russia). Why the demise had to be there, and why mainstream media is so fucked up:

I really loved Russia and I thought it was a great place. Unspoiled and different from America in such a great way, it’s so different. Everything in America is so uniform. In Russia everywhere you go is completely insane. In Russia, if you wake up in the morning to go do something you’re supposed to do for your job and end up 100 miles away stone drunk with a bunch of strangers it’s totally OK. In America we’re so efficient. When the Americans came into Russia en masse in the mid 90’s they all had this crusading missionary attitude – like we have to change this place and turn it more into America. We have to take all these dingy old buildings and replace them with our gleaming corporate storefronts. We have to replace all these interesting idiosyncratic people and replace them with middle class managers who all want to buy IKEA furniture and go on vacations in Ibiza. They had a real missionary zeal about it.

And the reporters were worse than everybody. A lot of them didn’t speak Russian too, and that infuriated me. They would hang out with each other. They would go only to Western-style bars, live in their compounds and write all these stories. That the plot of the story was always the same: If this politician spoke English and was pro-American than he was the good guy and whoever the Russian guy was the bad guy. And they were really ruthless about it. I got really upset about it.”


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