The Pathology of Robert Fisk. A Retrospective. (Still as disturbing as ever)


Comment at end

Or –

27th August 2011

The eponymous journalist Robert Fisk (pictured in 2005)

The eponymous journalist Robert Fisk (pictured in 2005)

At Twitter we have been having a little retrospective on the meaning of “fisking it”. The expression derives from this man – Robert Fisk.

Alongside tweeps Citizen Sane and Julie’s Think Tank and Rob Marchant I have  been mulling over its meaning and as a result over the condition of the mind of Robert Fisk himself.

It took a little bit of digging but eventually we came across the 2001 article below by Andrew Sullivan.

For those not familiar with the parlance, “fisking it” is a term which is used to describe the forensic line-by-line, sometimes phrase-by-phrase technique used to take apart a given argument.

Since it is widespread on the internet it hardly deserves Fisk’s name attached to it, in my humble opinion.  On the other hand – Blairism.  Now THAT’S an eponymy worthy of both note and respect. As for Mr Fisk – “forensicing it” or “autopsying it”, maybe.  “Dismembering it” even. After all, as you will read in the article below, Mr Fisk would have understood if those who attacked him in Afghanistan had done just that. In any particular order. Whichever rows their good ship “Victimised”.

To read this at source you need to scroll to the last entry here at the archive of Andrew Sullivan

[I will not “fisk” the below forensically, but will embolden elements, phrases and lines I think deserve it. Warning: there may be quite a few bolds!]


Sunday, December 09, 2001

THE PATHOLOGY OF ROBERT FISK: His account of his ordeal at the hands of an Afghan mob – a mob that apparently cried “Infidel!” as they attacked and tried to rob him – is a classic piece of leftist pathology. You have to read it to believe it. Even when people are trying to murder Fisk, he adamantly refuses to see them as morally culpable or even responsible. I’ve heard of self-hatred but this is ridiculous: “They started by shaking hands. We said, ‘Salaam aleikum’ – peace be upon you – then the first pebbles flew past my face.” That sentence alone deserves to go down as one of the defining quotes of the idiotic left. If it weren’t so tragic, it would be downright hilarious. Who needs Evelyn Waugh when you have this?

“I WOULD HAVE DONE THE SAME”: But wait, there’s more. “A small boy tried to grab my bag. Then another. Then someone punched me in the back. Then young men broke my glasses, began smashing stones into my face and head. I couldn’t see for the blood pouring down my forehead and swamping my eyes. And even then, I understood. I couldn’t blame them for what they were doing. In fact, if I were the Afghan refugees of Kila Abdullah, close to the Afghan-Pakistan border, I would have done just the same to Robert Fisk. Or any other Westerner I could find.”

What does this mean, you might well ask? What it means is that someone – anyone – is either innocent or guilty purely by racial or cultural association. An average Westerner is to be taken as an emblem of an entire culture and treated as such. Any random Westerner will do. Individual notions of responsibility or morality are banished, as one group is labeled blameless and another irredeemably malign. There’s a word for this: it’s racism. And like many other members of the far left, Fisk is himself a proud racist, someone who believes that the color of a person’s skin condemns him automatically and justifies violence against him. So the two extremes touch and are, in fact, interchangeable. Rightist racism springs from the premise that some races are somehow morally superior. Leftist racism springs from the premise that some races are also morally superior. The only difference is the color of skin. Alleged “victimization” sanctifies any evil perpetrated by the oppressed race. Just as the Nazis and Communists claimed self-defense for the mass-murder of their “oppressors,” so some modern leftists claim the absolution of self-defense even for a mob attacking a carful of innocent, harmless journalists. Or a sky-scraper for that matter.

THE VICTIM OF THE WORLD: You know the expression: you wouldn’t understand a culture if it actually hit you in the head? Fisk has now officially retired that expression as a metaphor. He goes on: “There were all the Afghan men and boys who had attacked me who should never have done so but whose brutality was entirely the product of others…” Notice that phrase – “whose brutality was entirely the product of others.” What can that possibly mean? We’re not talking about extenuating circumstances – things that might help us understand or contextualize the hatred of one people for another. We’re talking about a priori moral absolution.

Take this passage: “Goddamit, I said and tried to bang my fist on my side until I realised it was bleeding from a big gash on the wrist – the mark of the tooth I had just knocked out of a man’s jaw, a man who was truly innocent of any crime except that of being the victim of the world.”

No, Mr. Fisk, that man who attacked you was not truly innocent of any crime. You were. He was not the victim of the world. You were the victim of a thieving, violent mob.

For those who believe that the left-wing intelligentsia is capable of critical thought or even a modification of their ideology in the face of evidence, this incident is a wonderful example of why it won’t happen. They won’t recognize reality, or abandon their racism, or moderate their spectacular condescension to the inhabitants of the developing world – even when reality, literally, crushingly, punches them in the face.


[here below follows more from Andrew Sullivan’s site – updates & comments]

THANK YOU: I promised a long time ago that I would publish a list of sponsors for the site. As our redesign seems to be taking longer than the war against al Qaeda, it seems ungrateful to wait for its unveiling to thank you all. A list of sponsors is now up in the site, here. In a few cases, we were unsure from the letters whether the donors wanted anonymity. We’ve withheld their names to protect their privacy. If you’re one of them and want your name added, please email Robert Cameron at If you want to become a sponsor, please go to the Tipping Point for instructions.

SONTAG AWARD NOMINEE I: “Those willing to sacrifice for their beliefs deserve respect — even if what they believe in is foolish. As a teenager, American Taliban fighter John Phillip Walker gave up a comfortable life in Marin County and traveled halfway around the world to put his life on the line for his religious convictions. How many of us are that courageous?” – Glenn Sacks, San Francisco Chronicle.

SONTAG AWARD NOMINEE II: “Far from an act of cowardice or retreat, Bin Laden’s canny underground maneuvers replay a religious drama, which enhances both his spiritual power and his political effectiveness with his followers. The images he manipulates not only are those of modern culture but are also religious symbols, which pulse in the psychic underground of our consciousness. Bin Laden’s elusiveness and invisibility are actually sources of his strength. Indeed, his absence has become an overwhelming presence for those who seek him. This is why his death will solve very little. When placed in a ritual context, the sacrificial victim is reborn in the spirit of the community of his followers. Like religious martyrs before him, Bin Laden will become even more powerful in death than in life.” – Mark C. Taylor, Los Angeles Times. He’s a professor, natch.

SADDAM’S GAS CHAMBER: Not sure whether this story is checkable, but opposition groups in Iraq claim that Saddam is now gassing his political prisoners in specially built gas chambers. Any further confirmation of this story is welcome. Here’s the link from the Kuwaiti Times.

LETTERS: Steve Chapman replies; an enlisted servicemember remembers.

MEDIA BIAS WATCH: Check out these two captions from the AP and Reuters for the same photograph. The AP caption: “A group of Hamas suicide bombers, with fake dynamite strapped around their chests, parade at the el-Hilweh refugee camp near the southern Lebanese city of Sidon on Sunday, Dec. 9, 2001, during an anti-Israel demonstration organized by Hamas to mark the 14th anniversary of its founding. The group said they hoped to join their Hamas colleagues in Palestinian areas to carry out suicide attacks against Israel.” The Reuters caption: “Members of Hamas pray during a rally held at Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp near the port-city of Sidon in south Lebanon, December 9, 2001. Palestinians poured into the streets in Lebanon on Sunday to mark the14th anniversary of the founding of the militant Palestinian Islamist group Hamas.” No wonder they can’t bring themselves to use the word “terrorist.”

– 8:46:40 PM

FISK’S FREUDIAN SLIP: What happened to British left-wing journalist, Robert Fisk, was terrible. He was attacked by a crowd of angry Afghans, after his car broke down in a dangerous spot. But what he said about it is so deeply revealing, it’s worth recording. “If I had been them, I would have attacked me,” he said. Think about that for a minute. He doesn’t excuse their violence – “It doesn’t excuse them for beating me up so badly” – yet he feels they were morally justified in what they did. Isn’t that exactly what the far left essentially meant in the wake of September 11: that the massacre was wrong but understandable? And doesn’t it suggest that the only moral difference between these intellectuals seduced by violence and the terrorists themselves is the will and capacity to actually translate beliefs into action?
– 4:37:09 PM


Source of above:



In March 2008 Fisk was still at it, original courtesy via – you’ve guessed it – The Independent

In From ‘War Criminal’ to ‘Statesman’ Fisk says –

“Our own dear Anthony Blair will not be hanged for war crimes, of course.”

Good to see that on occasion Fisk gets something right.

This reminds me of another Gabby wally –

Call by “Libertarian Alliance” for Parliamentary Bill for Execution of Tony Blair!

Your patholgy is contagious, Mr Fisk.


From Wikipedia entry on Robert Fisk

“… the term “fisking” has come to denote the practice of “savaging an argument and scattering the tattered remnants to the four corners of the internet”.[11]

Fisk is one of the few Western journalists to have interviewed Osama bin Laden – three times (all published by The Independent: December 6, 1993, July 10, 1996, and March 22, 1997). During one of Fisk’s interviews with Bin Laden, Fisk noted an attempt by Bin Laden to convert him. Bin Laden said; “Mr Robert, one of our brothers had a dream. He dreamed … that you were a spiritual person … this means you are a true Muslim.” Fisk replied; “Sheikh Osama, I am not a Muslim … I am a journalist … A journalist’s task is to tell the truth.” Bin Laden replied: “If you tell the truth, that means you are a good Muslim.”[16][17]

During the 1996 interview, Bin Laden accused the Saudi royal family of corruption. During the 1997 (and final) interview, Bin Laden said he sought God’s help “to turn America into a shadow of itself”.[18]


Origin of fisking


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Recent comments:

I am staggered by all the hate directed towards our former Prime Minister. I believe that Tony Blair made the Iraq decision in good faith and is most certainly NOT a war criminal. If anyone should be tried at the Hague it should be those in the media for totally misrepresenting the information and facts. The media are to blame for fuelling this hatred as it is purely driven by them. (UK)

The greatest and most successful leader the Labour Party has ever had with the courage to fight the Islamist terrorists who really would like to kill us all, and you never hear a good word about him. The herd of independent minds, commentators, activists etc who have never had to make a difficult decision in their lives drown out all debate with their inane chants of war crimes and blood on his hands. Defend him at every chance. I just wish more people would do it. (Glasgow, UK)
Blair was the greatest Labour Prime Minister. It is a disgrace that the party has turned away from his legacy. Shame on Ed Miliband and his so-called ‘new generation’.


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