We have met the enemy and he is gay

by Henry on November 5, 2004

David Frum “sinks even deeper into the Mariana trench”:http://www.nationalreview.com/frum/diary102904.asp#043872.

bq. Speaking of media bias, here’s a question you won’t hear in our big papers or on network TV: Does Yasser Arafat have AIDS?

bq. We know he has a blood disease that is depressing his immune system. We know that he has suddenly dropped considerable weight – possibly as much as 1/3 of all his body weight. We know that he is suffering intermittent mental dysfunction. What does this sound like?

bq. Former Romanian intelligence chief Ion Pacepa tells in his very interesting memoirs that the Ceaucescu regime taped Arafat’s orgies with his body guards. If true, Arafat would a great deal to conceal from his people and his murderously anti-homosexual supporters in the Islamic world.

via “Bookslut”:http://www.bookslut.com/blog/archives/2004_11.php#003526.

{ 36 comments }

1

Brad DeLong 11.05.04 at 3:34 pm

Arabs… terrorists… Frenchmen… homosexuals… disease… precious bodily fluids!

2

ecpepper 11.05.04 at 3:47 pm

Before we launch into one of our patented anti-homophobic tirades, can someone explain to me what’s wrong with the hypothesis that Arafat has AIDS?

It accounts for the secrecy surrounding Arafat’s condition–all these unlikely claims about baffled doctors.

It is entirely plausible a) that Arafat likes fucking men (lots of men do, and if we’re so supportive of homosexuality, there’s no reason to dismiss that as absurd) and b) that if he does like fucking men, he would most definitely have to conceal that from his supporters (given the progressive sexual values of Arab cultures).

AIDS strikes me as a distinct possibility here, however much you want to impugn Frum’s motives.

3

Pious Apostrophe 11.05.04 at 3:49 pm

When I think of credibility, Ceausecu’s intelligence apparatus comes immediately to mind. And why would memoirs of this type be filled with lurid details when it’s well known that they do little to sell books?

4

Dubious 11.05.04 at 3:58 pm

I place near-zero value on the story.

If such tapes (or other credible testimony) existed, Mossad would have long ago uncovered them and made them public, so as to accelerate the dethronement of Arafat.

I’m not saying this as an anti-Israeli thing, just a reflection of how hardball politics in the region are and how nasty intelligence services in general are.

5

Uncle Kvetch 11.05.04 at 3:59 pm

is entirely plausible a) that Arafat likes fucking men (lots of men do, and if we’re so supportive of homosexuality, there’s no reason to dismiss that as absurd)

Well, David Frum is most emphatically not “so supportive of homosexuality,” so I’m not inclined to take his speculation on Arafat’s sexuality as value-neutral.

6

P O'Neill 11.05.04 at 4:00 pm

Incidentally, James Taranto (the guy who puts the ‘rant’ in taranto) has been doing the same wallowing as Frum with the Arafat-AIDS hypothesis (link below). And what’s wrong with the hypothesis? Intrinsically, nothing. Just the evident pleasure that certain people find in it.

http://www.opinionjournal.com/best/?id=110005839
(scroll down to ‘what ails arafat’)

7

desesperanto 11.05.04 at 4:14 pm

he would most definitely have to conceal that from his supporters (given the progressive sexual values of Arab cultures).

abu nawas’ mother would like a word with you.

8

No Preference 11.05.04 at 4:19 pm

what’s wrong with the hypothesis that Arafat has AIDS?

Search Google News for where these speculations are being published and you’ll see.

9

des von bladet 11.05.04 at 4:30 pm

No Preference: _That_ is ad hominem and I claim Dan Hardie’s £50!

10

bob mcmanus 11.05.04 at 5:04 pm

“AIDS strikes me as a distinct possibility here, however much you want to impugn Frum’s motives.”

I don’t give a damn about Arafat’s sex life. God help us, that I even wrote that sentence. Much more fun and more useful to impugn and think about Frum’s motives. Is Arafat evil because he is gay, or gay because he is evil? These are the critical questions for our times. :)

Is it okay to get nasty yet, Henry?

11

Dan Simon 11.05.04 at 5:10 pm

If Arafat were deathly ill with something that appeared suspiciously like tertiary syphilis, and rumors had swirled for years about his orgies with young female assistants, does anybody doubt that David Frum would enthusiastically weigh in with a speculation to that effect? And if he did, would anybody dream of accusing him of heterophobia?

By the way, the speculation about Arafat and his bodyguards has been around for very a long time–Oriana Fallaci was engaging in it decades ago, back when she was still a pro-Palestinian leftist (who nevertheless found Arafat personally revolting).

12

bob mcmanus 11.05.04 at 5:10 pm

And of course, if there is a direct connection between homosexuality and Islamist terrorism, we need to think about expanding our concepts or extraordinary rendition, add some new provisions to the Patriot Act,
and renew our scrutiny of the insidious media.

I guess Edward at Obsidian Wings has renewed reason to worry for his partner.

13

mona 11.05.04 at 5:16 pm

“When I think of credibility, Ceausecu’s intelligence apparatus comes immediately to mind. ”

Exactly my thoughts!

Makes you wish they were still around and in charge of the whole WMD in Iraq thing.

14

praktike 11.05.04 at 5:19 pm

You know, I’ve seen Romanian intelligence cited as a source of many a crazy rumor of late. What’s going on with those guys?

15

mona 11.05.04 at 5:19 pm

By they way, Saddam also lost a lot of weight. And he has grown a beard. No doubt to hide a less than healthy skin. And his hair is thinning out. What does this sound like?

Former Pinochet senior advisor John Blackbridge tells in his very interesting memoirs that the Chilean regime taped very interesting videos of Saddam eating his own nuclear, biological and chemical arsenal. With a side dish of pork. And washing it all down with Californian wines. _And Osama was there too!_ If true, this would undisputably prove that Bush has more moral coherence.

16

No Preference 11.05.04 at 5:21 pm

I claim Dan Hardie’s £50!

That’s $50, chiseler.

17

rea 11.05.04 at 5:30 pm

“AIDS strikes me as a distinct possibility here, however much you want to impugn Frum’s motives.”

Well, if speculation supported by no evidence whatever qualifies as a “distinct possibility,” then you are right. Personally, I prefer to speculate that Bush caught AIDS from sex with Putin, and passed it on in a sexual encounter with Sharon-I have just as much evidence for that as Frum has for his speculation.

I can’t decde whether Frum is trying to slander Arafat, or gays–maybe both.

18

mona 11.05.04 at 5:35 pm

Arafat, Frum, Ceausescu, Taranto, Fallaci, I think we’ve reached the credibility quota already.

19

PG 11.05.04 at 5:45 pm

I thought the obvious reason for the secrecy surrounding Arafat’s condition is that the Palestinian leadership don’t want us to know that the king is dead until they have someone else about whom to say, Long live the king.

But hey, why use the razor when we can engage in deliciously disgusted fantasies about an enemy’s sexual behavior?

Does this make Frum a runner up to Derbyshire in the NR “Homophobe Who Seems Weirdly Interested in Gay Sex” sweepstakes?

20

Thyro 11.05.04 at 6:48 pm

Arafat’s condition sounds more like the descriptions of arsenic poisoning I’ve been seening on A&E’s true crime shows…

21

vik 11.05.04 at 7:01 pm

AIDS as a disease does not present clinically present like Arafat’s symptoms (at least as described in the media). Thrombocytopenia (deficiency of platelets) is much more likely to indicate a tumor or cancerous process of some kind while it would have been obvious from his lymphocyte count if he had AIDS. If I was his doctor, that would be far down the list of things I would suspect (behind much more probably possibilities like gastric cancer, gastritis, ulcerative hemorrhage, etc.).

22

Richard Bellamy 11.05.04 at 7:37 pm

“what’s wrong with the hypothesis that Arafat has AIDS?

Search Google News for where these speculations are being published and you’ll see.”

I tried. This was my first hit.

http://www.gaywired.com/article.cfm?section=9&id=4583

23

Doug Muir 11.05.04 at 7:42 pm

Ai yi yi.

1) Arafat, homosexual encounters, Romanian intelligence: plausible. There are several independent sources for this.

The most famous one is Ion Pacepa, former chief of Ceaucescu’s DIE — the external intelligence agency, Romania’s equivalent to the CIA or Mossad. Pacepa defected to the US in 1977; he was the highest-ranking spy ever to defect, from either side, during the Cold War.

Pacepa published numerous accounts of his life with the Ceausescus and their friends. The most famous is his book _Red Horizons_, written in 1988 and still in print. _Red Horizons_ is very, very self-serving — Pacepa depicts himself as an honest man disgusted by Ceausescu and his decadent antics — but otherwise, the book has held up remarkably well. Several of the more lurid anecdotes, implausible on first impression, were confirmed when the archives of Ceausescu’s Securitate were (briefly and partially) opened. For instance, in 1988 it was hard to believe that the President of Romania loved grainy, black-and-white amateur porn, the sleazier the better, and watched it almost every day. But by 1990 it was known that this was exactly and precisely the case; the new Romanian government displayed Ceausescu’s tape collection for several weeks after the Revolution.

Perhaps more to the point, nobody has ever convincingly disproved or refuted any of Pacepa’s assertions. His descriptions of Ceausescu’s family and associates are all very accurate, as is his chronology of events.

What do experts think of the book? Well, I can’t speak for the intelligence community generally, but my former Security Policy instructor at Yale — ex-general and former NSA Director Bill Odom — considered it a useful and reliable text. (This is the same Bill Odom who has become quietly famous in the intelligence community for his scathing critiques of the Bush administration.)

Furthermore: here in Romania, Pacepa is widely disliked and despised as a traitor. But the veracity of his descriptions is universally accepted. Even people who loathe him concede that he’s telling the truth.

So, when Pacepa describes listening to tapes of Arafat “making love to his bodyguard, roaring like a tiger” — I’m inclined to believe him. If you read the book, you’ll find that this description comes in the middle of a long and remarkably well-informed analysis of Middle Eastern politics c. 1977, with particular attention to Arafat’s relations with Jordan and Egypt. It’s a sensational detail, but it’s more or less a throwaway line in a general description of Arafat’s character and goals. (Pacepa’s summary is succinct: “I’d never seen so much cleverness, blood and filth all in one man.”) IMO that makes it even more plausible, but if you’re really worried about it pick up the book — it’s widely available — and decide for yourself.

Note: the book is published by Regnery Press. Does the _argumentum ad hominem_ apply to publishers? Regnery is a right-wing house that publishes a great deal of crap. Remarkable, awful, stupid crap. Nevertheless, I say again, the book stands on its own merits.

2) Arafat, AIDS: Oh, for shit’s sake. The encounters described took place in 1977.

Further: even if Arafat had a homosexual hidden life for the next 27 years… well, to die of AIDS in 2004, he would need to have contracted it after about 1993, and more likely after 1997. (The incubation period for HIV varies widely, but very rarely goes over 10 years without treatment.) This was a very public period in Arafat’s life; he was also already well into his 60s. I suppose it’s remotely possible that he was keeping gay lovers on the side while living under intense scrutiny in the West Bank, but it seems a stretch.

Final thought: he was _75 years old_. That’s old anywhere; it’s very old for an Arab man of his generation. (I say “Arab” only because there’s some dispute whether Arafat was fully Palestinian or part Egyptian. Either way, there aren’t too many of the 1929 birth cohort still around.)

75 year old men drop dead all the time. The fact that he was boinking his bodyguard in Ceausescu’s spare bedroom 27 years ago has, very probably, not a damn thing to do with it.

Sheesh.

Doug M.

24

Decnavda 11.05.04 at 8:26 pm

“We know he has a blood disease that is depressing his immune system. We know that he has suddenly dropped considerable weight – possibly as much as 1/3 of all his body weight. We know that he is suffering intermittent mental dysfunction. What does this sound like?”

Um, a really, really old guy?

25

Dan Hardie 11.05.04 at 10:34 pm

Life Outruns Satire: I remember when the US Army in Iraq shot up what appears to have been a wedding party, Steve Bell published a cartoon in the Guardian in which the US spokesman Kimmit posed in front of a video of the guests, intoning ‘this was no normal wedding, this was a Gay Terrorist Wedding’.

Oh, and re this: ‘I claim Dan Hardie’s £50!’

‘That’s $50, chiseler.’
It was £50, me being British an’ all, it was on offer to a halfwit defending another halfwit from the charge of making false statements about Martin Luther King, and, alas, the money is safe.

26

Jon H 11.05.04 at 11:55 pm

The comment about arsenic, above, echoes something I’ve been thinking.

I’m surprised the Islamic ‘street’ isn’t saying that he was poisoned by Mossad.

27

John 11.06.04 at 1:03 am

Arafat = bad man and terrorist
Arafat = homosexual
homosexual = terrorist

That’s why I’m worried about the links being made in the far right wing mind about this. To you and me it doesn’t make any difference whether he is gay or straight, but to a more twisted mind, it’d serve as evidence of Satanic endorsement of Islam and homosexuality, and it’d link the two. That’d be a bad thing.

28

Greg 11.06.04 at 1:26 am

I was astounded by Frum’s line about the odious Richard Littlejohn who he hails as “Probably Britain’s best-read political columnist”.

Um, no, really.

29

s_bethy 11.06.04 at 1:58 am

Roy Cohn died of aids, and concealed the fact.

Roy Cohn was a Bad Man and a Jew.

Roy Cohn worked for Joseph McCarthy, therefore Ann Coulter is an insane bitch.

Am I tracking the logic here correctly?

30

Ethesis 11.06.04 at 4:20 am

No offense to anyone, but the description of his problems sounds a lot like leukemia.

http://www.leukemia.org/hm_lls for more information.

31

enthymeme 11.06.04 at 4:26 am

S_bethy: “Am I tracking the logic here correctly?”

Whose? If your own, then maybe; since Frum said nothing along those lines.

John: “That’s why I’m worried about the links being made in the far right wing mind about this. To you and me it doesn’t make any difference whether he is gay or straight, but to a more twisted mind, it’d serve as evidence of Satanic endorsement of Islam and homosexuality, and it’d link the two. That’d be a bad thing.”

And did Frum make any such connection? Or did he, in fact, assert the contrary in noting that the “Islamic world” is “anti-homosexual”? Indeed, the source breaking the story seems not to be the Great Right Wing Slur Machine but a gay365.com correspondent –

See: http://www.365gay.com/newscon04/11/110104arafat.htm

Poor Gay365 correspondent – blamed for his efforts, possibly responsible for “rightwing” type sentiments and – god forbid – bigotry! Oh, and sinking as we speak into the murky depths of the Mariana Trench.

And of course, to Henry, Instapunditry is “scuzzy innuendo”, while his own exercise in impugning Frum’s motives isn’t.

Methinks CT needs to work the bitterness out of the system, and stop lashing out blindly. Friendly fire, and all that.

32

enthymeme 11.06.04 at 4:37 am

Correction: the gay365 correspondent posted the article on Nov 1st, after Frum. But he ran with it, regardless!

33

john bragg 11.06.04 at 3:29 pm

First of all, thank you to Vik, and Doug Muir, who actually helped answer the question.

SEcond of all, as an atheist rightwing nutjob, I’d say that Frum would happily transmit rumors that Arafat had syphilis, or alcohol poisoning, or trichinosis from eating pork, or anything that would drive a wedge between Arafat and the Islamist members of what we might call the worldwide anti-Zionist terrorist coalition.

BTW, Doug Muir, I’ve been slowly noodling the last few weeks about an alt-history where Gore runs in 2000 as the candidate of Peace, Prosperity and a President With Pants, (instead of as Harold Ickes 2000), winning a Bush-style “landslide” in 2000 and dispelling the Democrats-are-anti-American-wimps trope. Probably a big Nader-McKinney vote in 2004, for one thing.

34

nick 11.06.04 at 11:18 pm

Does David Frum have oral diarrhoea? Yes.

35

John Bragg 11.07.04 at 12:57 pm

Hoo, boy. Can’t put one over on Frum, can ya? He’s realized that someone wants us to think that Arafat has AIDS, some rival in the Palestinian leadership.

http://www.nationalreview.com/frum/frum-diary.asp

36

Martin Wisse 11.07.04 at 9:52 pm

And why, pray tell, does the BBC insists on using this slimy bastard (Frum that is) again and again and again?

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