The Rise of Global Idiocracies

The media we watch informs our opinions, often for the worse. In 2003, a Gallup Poll revealed that solid majorities of Americans supported President George W. Bush’s war in Iraq, which was in stark contrast the opposition to the war held by global polities. The invasion and the disastrous occupation that ensued continue to haunt the United States. It wrecked our economy, trashed our standing as a country that upholds rule of law, generated global suspicions about American intentions towards the Muslim world, undermined our relations with key allies, and created the very conditions that gave rise to ISIS. Despite the fact global publics resoundingly rejected the war, a majority of Americans supported it. Fifteen years later, Americans remain divided on this war despite the volumes of information about it and its motivations. In March 2018, another national poll of American adults found that while 48% believed the use of military force was wrong, 43% supported it use.

Americans Were Asked Three Questions

In 2003, one year after the invasion, several researchers wanted to understand the bizarre beliefs Americans espoused about the war. The researchers asked Americans three basic questions, to which the answers were clearly “no” — Has the United States found clear evidence in Iraq that Saddam Hussein was working closely with the al-Qaeda terrorist organisation? Has the US found Iraqi weapons of mass destruction? And whether or not they agreed that world populations supported the war, opposed it or were evenly balanced. The team found that Americans, on average, were misinformed. A majority of Americans surveyed repeatedly in 2003 believed that Hussain was working with al-Qaeda. In fact, Hussain and al-Qaeda were sworn enemies.

Depending upon the month surveyed, anywhere between one in three and one in five believed that the United States found Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, when, in fact, there were no such weapons to be found. Even though global opinion was decidedly opposed to the war, about one in four thought global publics supported it, while about one in three thought they were “evenly balanced”. Across all American adults surveyed, only one in three had no misperceptions. Unsurprisingly, those who had such misperceptions were more supportive of the war than those without.

The Source of News Matters

How did Americans come to be so ill-informed about a war of such enormous consequence? It’s reasonable to posit some role of the media they consumed. The team also asked respondents where they got most of their news. Of the 3,334 persons asked, 19 per cent primarily obtained their news from print media while 80 per cent cited non-print means. Respondents were then asked about the specific news network they primarily use to obtain “information.” Because consumers of public radio and public television were so few, they were combined into one category.

However, what was surprising is that among CNN viewers, 55 per cent had one or more misperceptions. In comparison, 71 per cent of CBS news consumers, 61 per cent of ABC consumers, 55 per cent of NBC consumers, and 47 per cent of print news consumers had one or more misperceptions. (Note this survey did not include MSNBC, which caters to consumers on the American political left.)

The team also examined the average rate of misperceptions. While Fox came in with the highest rate of misperception (45), the other media outlets had roughly the same rate of execrableness. CBS, CNN, ABC, NBC, and Print Media has misperception rates of 36, 31, 30, 30 and 25 respectively. Consumers of public media (NPR and PBS) were the least likely to be ill-informed on these three issues with an average misperception rate of 11.

Other studies have come to similar conclusions: global media which have a responsibility to inform are failing in their most basic charge.

My Personal Experience

As a scholar, I am curious about the causal pathways that account for the failures of important media houses to inform their publics. Personally, I have had about 20 years of my own experiences that have helped shape my understanding of these failures. Here are a few insights from my own participation in news programs that span North America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

It should be no surprise that Pakistan television shows have been particularly problematic for me: a scholar who had dedicated much of her career to unpacking the strategic culture of a country that is the single-most contributor to instability in South Asia. There was a time when I did do Pakistani television shows because Pakistan’s deep state generally viewed me as someone who is not in anyone’s pocket. I have a reputation as a fierce and blunt critic of any policy or country that I deemed as deserving criticism.

However, one experience in Pakistan was particularly telling. Sometime around 2010, I was doing a one-on-one interview with a female anchor of a popular show on Pakistan’s MSNBC. The anchor asked me “Why can’t the United States be a friend to Pakistan like China?” I answered in my typically blunt way “You mean, fail to bail it out of any war it starts, provide loan aid with heavy interest rates instead of grant aid and enough weapons to encourage to pick a fight with India but not help you when a fight happens?” I had not completed my final sentence when the host immediately and abruptly went to an unplanned commercial break. She told me plainly that I could not speak of China in this way. I told her plainly, “Then don’t ask me questions about China.”

‘Editorial Positions’ Are usually Missionary

For many years, I had experienced the “editorial positions” of television networks — notably of the BBC and Al Jazeera — on drones. Neither channel would indulge any position, however grounded in data, which supported the drone program in Pakistan as I did. At one point, during an Al Jazeera programme, the co-host, Mehdi Hassan, actually said “forget about the data”. For some time, I was persona non grata at the network for repeatedly calling out Al Jazeera’s fictions about the programme.

And as many confrontations I have had with what passes for news among Pakistan’s channels, I had had my own experiences with the circus of buffoonery that so often characterises India’s own migraine-inducing television channels.

However, two recent experiences stand out because of their momentous consequences. On 26 August, 2021, I did an interview with Bloomberg Asia on the developments in Afghanistan. When the panel asked me about the most likely source of income for the Taliban, I began to explain China’s support to the movement that predated 9/11 and which continues to date. One of the hosts, Rishaad Salamat, immediately tried to shout me down and claimed that these assertions were merely speculation. Naturally, I stood my ground and maintained that these assertions are facts for which I have substantiating evidence.

In hindsight, it was clear that the network was worried about irritating China, which has gone to great lengths to silence any uncomfortable truth about its atrocities at home and abroad. In fairness, I don’t have high expectations of journalistic integrity from a network dedicated to the global elite’s wealth accumulation.

The Philippa Thomas Fiasco

Of more concern is my recent interview with Philippa Thomas of the BBC. Ms. Thomas is a popular newsreader on the network and I had been interviewed by her before. She is one of countless many persons who are hired to read the teleprompter with enthusiasm while interviewing guests, while never cultivating any substantive expertise.

Ms. Thomas set the tone by addressing me as “Christine.” Does she usually address her guests with the familiarity of a brunch companion? Throughout the interview she made numerous unprofessional grimaces which one expects from a balatron like Tucker Carlson.

As is apparent in the clip, every question Ms. Thomas posed was pre-loaded and sympathetic to Pakistani official–if farcical–claims. Whether I sought to explain Pakistan’s historical 7-decade-long effort to subjugate Afghanistan, its long-standing reliance upon Islamist terror groups as tools of foreign policy, or even its well-established rent-seeking strategy of claiming to be the fireman instead of the arsonist it is, she interrupted me and repeatedly asserted that Pakistani officials would, of course, disagree with me. Oddly, several Pakistani officials who had previously been on the network had confessed to doing exactly as I charged.

Surely, if there had been a Pakistani official present, they would have offered their preferred storyline of perpetual victimhood. And indeed, such officials are frequent guests of the BBC. No matter what absurd falsehood they assert, they are not interrupted. And certainly, no newsreader would ever say things like “Well, of course, if we had a scholar on Pakistan’s strategic culture, they would reject these claims”. It’s preposterous to even even consider it.

Most shockingly, she abruptly cut off the interview when I reminded her that Pakistan has long-relied upon a menagerie of Islamist terrorists to prosecute its foreign policy goals. As she turned her attention to her viewers, she concluded with another maniacal facial contortion more suitable for a farceur than a BBC newsreader.

Britain’s Domestic Politics Tied With BBC?

I’ve been left pondering that interview and the comportment of Ms. Thomas. Was Ms. Thomas simply a rank simpleton or ignoramus? I must reject that explanation because the premises of her questions reflected a deep familiarity with Rawalpindi’s narrative. Also, she seemed astutely aware of the kinds of things that would irritate Pakistan’s Derp State. I also reject the conspiracy theories popular in India that the BBC is “anti-Hindu”. The BBC does spend a lot of time covering uncomfortable events in India, but too many Indians would rather blame the international coverage of atrocities than the perpetrators of such atrocities.

Instead, I suspect that this shameful episode has more to do with the domestic politics of the news outlet. The BBC is a publicly owned institution and a long-cherished institution at that. But in the context of British electoral politics, this does not ensure fair and accurate programming. In fact, it ensures, specific blind-spots and one of those blind spots is Pakistan. In 2019, fifteen candidates of Pakistani descent were elected to parliament. This reflects the electoral significance of British Pakistanis. And British Pakistanis are important swing voters in key constituencies. Thus this electorate is and will remain important for both the Conservative and Labour parties.

British authorities have long known that segments of the British Pakistani community have deep and significant ties to terrorism. However, they have struggled to not be seen as targeting those communities because of presumed backlash from British Pakistanis specifically or British Muslims more generally.

Britain’s flagship counter-radicalisation project PREVENT goes to great lengths to obfuscate one of its most important target audiences. Britain, like the United States, has long known that Pakistan ultimately is behind the deaths of its soldiers and civilians. And like the United States, it has resisted publicly chastising Pakistan for its support to terrorism generally or the Taliban and Haqqani Network specifically. Why? The United Kingdom has long worked with the ISI to obtain information about the activities of its citizens when they visit Pakistan. In this cold calculus, British soldiers signed up to be blown up. But civilians riding Britain’s metros and buses didn’t.

It is very likely that the BBC wants to avoid any political fallout for programming presumed to offend the sensibilities of this important swing electorate.

The Birth of Idiocracies

While it’s easy to be outraged that the BBC is happily carrying out Pakistan’s information offensive, we need to ask ourselves, is there any network that is any better across the board? As I reflect upon my own experiences as a public intellectual but also my experience as a scholar who has sought to understand how media informs the public, I have come to the conclusion that the greatest threat to democracies everywhere and a secure and peaceful world is, in fact, such media houses.

Motivated by their parochial politics and demands for revenue, they misinform the global polities on issues pertaining to war and peace, climate change, the current pandemic, the salubrious benefits of vaccines or wearing masks, or simply shaping a polity to vote for one candidate over another. In short, the global polities have been reduced to idiocracies and we have only ourselves to blame.

A version of this essay was published in The Quint on 7 September 2021.

Grappling with Pakistan’s ‘influence operations’: When the patriarchy moves in to silence a female critic

For some 10 years, I have relentlessly exposed Pakistan’s influence operations against American scholars, analysts, journalists and the institutions that employ them and rely upon their ability to raise funds to support the organisations’ overhead costs and salaries. Through this basic economic necessity, most of the think-tanks in Washington, DC and the writers who focus on South Asia have been coopted by Pakistan’s influence operations because these individuals have generally positioned themselves as Pakistan-whisperers to private and public funders.

This renders them dependent on Pakistani visas and access to officials in and out of uniform. The result is chilling: Analysts who know better — or ought to know better — self-censor to retain this access. In the process, they have become witting or unwitting assets to Pakistan. In response to my most recent criticism, two white men who are considerably senior to me, have turned to the popular tactic of appealing to my employer in an effort to silence me. Two senior men appealing to my leadership to discipline my voice or silence me altogether is white maleness in action. It is the patriarchy in action. In doing so, these individuals hope that I will temper my tone.

I will not.

On Monday 14 October, Michael Krepon who “co-founded the Stimson Center in 1989 and served as Stimson’s President and CEO until 2000, and who continues to direct Stimson’s programming” joined hands with Andrew Wilder, a “vice-president of Asia programs” at the United States Institute of Peace to draft a letter to the president of the organisation that employs me. They also contacted several other South Asia analysts in hopes that they would sign this letter. (I have reproduced the original letter below. Because some of the persons whom I know were contacted are not on this first email, I can assume that their first effort did not produce the anticipated yield of signatories and they reached into the lower benches of the field.)

The letter claims that my assertions about the ways in which Pakistani influence operations have shaped the policy debate to Pakistan’s benefit have coarsened the political discourse. What they seek to obfuscate is that these men do not contribute meaningfully to an empirically buttressed political discourse; rather, they contribute to an unrelenting parade of apologies for the most outrageous of Pakistani behaviours. It is they — not me — who have coarsened political discourse by introducing into it Pakistani talking points, preferred historical arguments, and representations for purposes of programmatic expedience and convenience as I explain below.

Given their seniority, in writing to the president of my employer, they are engaging in a form of bullying enjoyed by senior white men to silence agentive female critics, particularly those of us who are junior to the men who seek to muzzle us. This is the Old White Boys Club in its basest form appealing to oldest trick in the book of asking a senior man to discipline an uppity woman in his remit.

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Michael Krepon has a history of sending me misogynist and condescending emails. He has accused me of “losing my way” as if I am a lost sheep and he is the masterly shepherd. When I chastised him for refusing to publicly acknowledge that he was a member of a task-force to re-examine US policies towards Pakistan much-less sign onto its recommendations, he rebuked me for daring to question his reservations about a report that recommended considering the possibility of considering sanctions against Pakistan at some indefinite point in a remote future.

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I was not surprised by the language and tone used in this open letter, provided below, in which they reduced my concerns about the necrotic impact of Pakistani influence operations upon the public discourse surrounding that country as “eruptions” and consistently mischaracterised my descriptions of influence operations and their complicity in the same.

What are influence operations? A primer

While it is not uncommon for US officials to be seconded to other friendly nations for temporary duty assignments, Pakistan is not a friendly State. Its crimes include: Murdering thousands of Americans in and out of uniform as well as our NATO and non-NATO allies and tens of thousands of Afghans in addition to many thousands of Indians. Moreover, Pakistan — with lucrative and fungible American economic support–is fastest growing nuclear power inclusive of the development of battle-field nuclear weapons.

Pakistan uses this arsenal along with its petting zoos of terrorists to stoke the fears that “Pakistan is too dangerous to fail” and thus continues to coerce the United States to acquiesce to IMF bailouts and other forms of assistance. It is this verity that allows Pakistan to be near certain that there will be no FATF blacklisting and thus can view remaining on the “grey list” as a political victory. This is nuclear coercion in its crudest and truest form.

Yet it seems that there is literally no Pakistani crime which the witting objects of Pakistani influence operations won’t defend with three consistently and notable exceptions: Jeff Smith at the Heritage Foundation, whose integrity is beyond reproach and who is oddly not included in their missive; Ambassador (retired) Husain Haqqani of Hudson who has repeatedly outed the Derp State for its murderous hijinks; and the doyen of South Asian studies, Ashley Tellis of Carnegie, who never minces his words when it comes to Pakistan. The other gentlemen who opine and repine on South Asian affairs in DC refrain from criticism, engage in relentless “both side-ery” antics and traffic in false equivalence.

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In this letter, both Krepon and Wilder, insinuate that I am suggesting that they are paid agents or have acquiesced to explicit quid pro quos with Pakistan. In fact I doubt that these are arrangements are so explicit as this courts jail time unless one is a legally registered foreign agent under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). Recent examples of persons who have been so convicted include Ghulab Nabi Fai and Nisar Ahmed Chaudhry.  Explicit quid pro quos are not only risky, they are unnecessary.

As I have written previously, Pakistan gets what it wants from its dupes without paying them a dime directly. Although, in many cases, the Pakistan government does subsidize their writings by paying for their airfares to and from Pakistan and/or by facilitating their travel within Pakistan to places like Waziristan where their travel would otherwise be prohibited. For example, in Pakistan: A Hard Country, Anatol Lieven subtly thanks the Pakistan Army for doing so.

For several years, the Pakistan Embassy in Washington, DC hosted academics and journalists on paid tours to Pakistan, which included trips to Waziristan to showcase the ostensibly successful efforts of the Pakistan Army. In exchange for such opportunities, analysts write favourable assessments without any credible baseline. For example, Michael Kugelman wrote enthusiastically about his trip to Waziristan which he concedes was arranged by the Pakistan Army in his piece for War on the Rocks, an influence blog for those engaged in political-military concerns in the United States.

I understand the professional requirement for some of these persons to cultivate visas and meetings with high-level Pakistani officials in and out of uniform because they have assured various funders of their ability to do work in Pakistan. Thus, visas and access allow them to launder grants into their organisations to pay for overhead and salaries. This dependence upon such grants and soft monies is precisely why such influence operations are so successful. Only persons who have no need for such hustles are truly free to speak their minds. Of course, one has choice about the projects they take on: They could always choose projects that do not require them to propitiate Pakistan’s equities. Thus this bureaucratic reality is not exculpatory, rather explanatory.

I know this process of cultivation well, because the Pakistanis long tried to cultivate me but failed although I never let them pay for my international airfare and blogged about the various (often humorous) lies they sought to sell me. And I do remember when I worked for the United States Institute of Peace and at the RAND Corporation, I too was compelled to work in Pakistan. When I said things that pleased them, I was easily accommodated. Early in my career, when I made stupid mistakes about Kashmir, the Army Band actually serenaded me at a banquet. It played my then favourite raunchy song: Bilo da Ghar.

But I grew wiser, began engaging more primary source documents and evolved from a research assistant to a researcher and began using my voice commensurate with my growing stature, I recall very well the dread of submitting my visa after being particularly outspoken. When the Pakistanis first began signaling discontent with my positions, they began delaying the processing of my visa. It went from being processed in the same day to six weeks. Finally, they threatened me with violence and never issued me another visa. But in being rendered persona non grata, I have been rendered free to speak my mind. It’s a freedom I cherish. I no longer need to bite my tongue about Pakistan’s crimes. I no longer expect a red carpet in Rawalpindi stained with the blood of citizens, friends and allies.

Pakistan is not the only country that does this: China has done this for decades. Many scholars who built their careers around their China expertise can no longer return because their writings eventually discomfited the regime. Many scholars, reporters and analysts have been ousted from China for writing what needs to be written and saying what needs to be said. Israel, Russia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Myanmar are just a few of the countries that seek to discipline those who write about the country by calibrating access to officials or even access to visas, needed to visit the country.

I am right to continue to identify the impacts of Pakistani influence operations and this effort of organisational bullying will only prompt me to redouble my trenchant observations of this phenomenon and its outcomes. I will not sacrifice my integrity for a visa or any number of opportunities to be lied to by Pakistani officials. Nor will I let my colleagues off the hook because they do.

This was originally published in First Post on 25 October 2019.


@ThePrintIndia which published the offending pieces wouldn’t print the follow-up, whith First Post ran, ostensibly because the editor is friends with Krepon. This is how MALE PRIVILEGE works, by the way.So, in a convoluted way, Gupta Sahab HIMSELF is working to suppress one of the few voices in DC that call this bullshit out.

Many apologies to @Ullekh for sending him this piece when I didn’t know it had been published, albeit in a more abbreviated version.

So, in a convoluted way, Shekhar Gupta, editor of The Print, HIMSELF is working to suppress one of the few voices in DC that call this bullshit out.

Many apologies to @Ullekh for sending him this piece when I didn’t know it had been published, albeit in a more abbreviated version. I also apologize to his fact checkers who knew about the piece and were confused. (I’ll publish the full piece on my blog later this week.)

CCF email 1
CCF email 2

The writer is author of In Their Own Words: Understanding the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (OUP, 2019) and Fighting to the End: The Pakistan Army’s Way of War (OUP, 2019). The views here are her own and do not reflect those of Firstpost, her employer or other organisations with which she affiliates.

My Letter to Mikey Krepon and Andy Wilder

As I wrote a few weeks ago, Mikey Krepon and Andy Wilder — two wizened white men —felt it appropriate to write to the president of my employer because I said, say, and will continue to say, things they don’t like. They hoped said president would muzzle me.

As I have repeatedly said, I find this culture of appealing to employers to silence speech one doesn’t like to be particularly necrotic for democracy generally and freedom of speech in particular. Taken to its extreme, should such crybaby half-wits have their way following a hissy-fit tantrum, the only people who will enjoy freedom speech are those with trust-funds. Ditto for cancel culture. And I feel this way irrespective of what side of the political divide a crybaby finds himself.

A screen shot of the boys’ missive, along with the obfuscated emails of the most of the recipients, is given below. The text of their playground sobstory follows at the bottom of this post.

Their missive, along with the obfuscated emails of the recipients, is given below.

While these hyjinx went on while I was in Afghanistan, I didn’t feel the need to response to those dingleberries hanging off the matted ass of white male privilege.

Today, I finally got around to it. And it felt good to explain to these these exalted gentlemen where to go. ( I should’ve provided a map about how to get there, since dudes like these don’t ask for directions. My bad.)

So here we go. Better buckle up buttercups!

Dear Mikey and Andy (After all, if you can refer to my observations in infantalizing terms such as “outbursts,” I can refer to you with infantalizing aphorisms.)

I am going to respond to this note in the spirit in which you intended: weapons-grade assholery. And to make a point of you and calling you out, I am including your first audience. (And as always, have posted this this exchange to my blog because I like transparency.)

First, I am correct in pointing out the pervasive and noxious impacts of Pakistani influence operations which have had an extremely warping impact upon “discourse” and policy discussions about Pakistan. To be clear, Pakistan is a state that is more an American foe than a friend.  Pakistan is directly and indirectly responsible for the deaths of several thousand Americans in and out of uniform and our allies in RS and previously ISAF. It is directly responsible for deaths of hundreds of thousands of Afghans. Needless to say, it has also killed tens of thousands of Indians through its use of terrorist proxies. It has used its nuclear weapons to extract many tens of billions of dollars from the US overtly and more covertly.

Now that we are clear on the facts, I will also note with equal clarity that it is is not my “outbursts” or “volleys” (aka “my willingness to call this out”) that is corrosive; rather, it is the pusillanimity of poltroons like both of you and your willingness to acquiesce to Pakistan’s influence operations that is the problem.

Second, in addition to be stunningly puerile, this effort is also stunningly misogynist. Two old white men opining to another white man to muzzle up his yappy bitch is as old as the hills. 

Third, I will continue to identify this Pakistan influence operations and those who willingly succumb for the perquisites that doing so offers. I will continue to criticize your genuflections to a murderous and rogue regime. There is not much you can do about it. If you believe I have slandered you, sue me. I welcome the opportunity to press my case with an even wider audience. I particularly welcome the testimony of US officials who share my view.

Fourth, neither of you titans our our discipline have ever so rallied in defense of other colleagues who have irked the deep state that you both so dearly propitiate.

Let me identify a few notable examples of your failures to mobilize your deep concern for freedom speech, reputational harm or even the ability to do field work at all in Pakistan or even live their in peace and security.

1. Neither of you gentlemen ever howled in protest when the ISI threatened me with gang rape. Some of you asshats even had the feckless temerity to doubt it occurred. However, Husain Haqqani can attest to its reality. He was the ambassador when it happened. And after receiving the threat I was still going to go to Pakistan. He actually called me–against the ISI’s orders–the night before I left. He probably saved my life. And I will be grateful to him for that.

Speaking of Husain and many others whom the Derp State has targeted . When he was detained and his life threatened, did either of you boors mobilize such a letter in defense of him? No. Gentlemen. You rubes did not.

3. Have you ever mobilized in defense of anyone whose life has been threatened by the deep state you defend repeatedly in your various op eds? Ayesha Siddiqua can no longer live in her own country because the fellows you admire so much put a hit out on her life. Did you fine upstanding citizens of the discipline so mobilize to writer letter. How about Taha Siddiqui? How about the bloggers in 2017? I spent WEEKS of my life helping one of those bloggers get to safety. I appealed to you rapscallions and you and you said nothing and did less.

Andy didn’t even lift a finger to help Mubashar Hassan who was captured and tortured by Bangladeshi intelligence even though he was so captured due to his association with USIP and even though USIP had an obligation to provide duty of care under the even the crudest understanding of “duty of care.” It was Ali Riaz and I who did worked tirelessly to get him released.

3. Did either of you so mobilize in defense of the myriad journalists who are currently “disappeared” in Pakistan because they speak the truth about the deep state you pimp in your grant proposals? What about the Baloch who have been disappeared and killed in broad day light?

The short answer is NO. But when it came to defending a very obvious source of influence, you guys were like the Bionic Duo of Duffusry.

(I also noted the people you included. Asra Nomani is NOT a South Asianist. She IS a deeply Islamophobic tool of the right wing who previously tried to get me fired. I also noticed that you included Feroz Khan, who is another Pakistan influence operation.

Both of you–not me–are disgraces to our discipline and your country who has lost many citizens because of this state you so eagerly defend.

Typos and other infidelities reflect my indifference to you both as colleagues and as ostensibly sentient humans.

Y’all have a great day.


PS Andy:  while I expected such shenanigans from Mikey, I didn’t expect them from you. But I should have. You have happily let USIP become Zal’s chop-shop to sell the Afghans to Pakistan.

Below is the text of their letter.

Dear Colleagues,

Andrew Wilder and I have drafted a letter to Georgetown about Chris Fair’s characterizations of some of us as being tools of Pakistan’s military and intelligence services.
Her latest volleys can be found here:

Freedom of speech is precious; using it to spread poisonous and false attacks is an abuse of freedom of speech.
These abuses are all around us. They stain our political discourse. They ruin lives and reputations.
The internet offers no safeguards. Even so, Andrew and I seek to affirm a code of conduct for responsible standards and conduct within our modest community of researchers and analysts. Mutual respect is key. As is calling out unprofessional conduct.

Our proposed letter to the President of Georgetown is attached and can be found below. If you are willing to lend your name to this letter, please let me know by COB Thursday. We would like to list affiliations for purposes of identification only.

If you wish to discuss this with me, please email or call my cell number, below. We suspect this initiative will cause further eruptions. This is even more reason, in our view, for being on record calling for norms of proper professional conduct. Our silence isn’t helping.


Michael Krepon | Co-founder
The Stimson Center |<> | 434.960.1111
1211 Connecticut Avenue NW | 8th Floor
Washington, DC 20036;>
30 Years of Pragmatic Steps toward Creative Solutions
MacArthur Award for Creative & Effective Institutions

John J. DeGioia
President, Georgetown University
37th and O Streets, NW
Washington, D.C.  20057

Dear President DeGioia,

We wish to express our deep concern regarding the unprofessional conduct of Dr. C. Christine Fair, an associate professor at Georgetown University.

For many years Dr. Fair has made baseless ad hominem attacks on experts and scholars working on South Asia. She has frequently and publicly insinuated or explicitly claimed that some who do not agree with her perspective are “proxies” or “agents” of the Pakistani state and its intelligence services. These accusations are unfounded and unsubstantiated. They are not only slanderous, they can endanger individuals engaged in their research and analysis.

The signers of this letter belong to a community of analysts working on South Asia. We may disagree with one another on various issues, but we respect each other’s work. We avoid libel and slander. We do not infer that those who disagree with our views have ulterior motives or are in the employ of foreign intelligence services. We accept professional courtesies, standards and practices not only when writing and speaking as representatives of our institutions, but also when writing and speaking in our personal capacities.

We believe in freedom of expression, and Dr. Fair is certainly entitled to her own views and to disagree with the views and analyses of other experts. But as professionals whose work relies on guarantees of free expression, we also believe strongly that with freedom comes responsibility. Character assassination, ad hominem attacks, slander and innuendo to try to undermine the credibility of scholars and experts with whom Dr. Fair disagrees ought to be out of bounds for the faculty of an esteemed academic institution. Such attacks create risks and reputational harm not only to those being targeted without reason but also to Georgetown.We would request that Georgetown take appropriate actions to ensure that the irresponsible and unprofessional behavior of Dr. Fair not endanger or maliciously undermine the work of others.

Signed (Affiliations for identification purposes only),

Cc:  Robert Groves, Provost, Georgetown University

        Joel Hellman, Dean, Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University
Download all attachments as a zip file

Trump’s War on Real News Is Irrumating our Immiserated Democracy. (And the GOP is complicit.)

Trump has waged a systematic war on America’s press, which is a priceless pillar of our immiserated democracy. He has decried any media outlet other than Fox News and its allies dispensing right-wing cant as “fake news.” He has dubbed the media (with the exception of Fox) the “enemy of the people.” He has applauded murderous dictators for their draconian suppression of their press and, in turn, those dictators have justified their crimes with Trump’s own words and deeds. He has lavishly praised US congressman who, when questioned about health care policy, brutally assaulted a reporter. He has vituperatively refused to answer questions from journalists he dislikes, often verbally abusing. He has publicly insulted dozens of journalists, particularly women and people of color using crude and demeaning language. Footage of Trump grotesquely mocking a disabled reporter went viral.

Source: Laura Collins.

Last week, Trump and his administration sunk to a new low when CNN’s Jim Acosta persisted in answering a question Trump sought to evade, despite the efforts of a White House intern to seize the microphone from Acosta. The administration used manipulated video footage of Acosta’a exchange with the intern to assert that he assaulted her and used this as a pretext to strip him of his White House press credentials. (The manipulated footage omits the audio of Acosta apologizing to the young woman for the inadvertent contact as she sought to wrest the microphone from him.) CNN filed suit. Surprisingly Fox News publicly supported the suit, as did other media outlets. By the end of last week, a judge issued an injunction and ordered his pass to be reinstated while the case is heard. While this is a victory, the war is far from over. America’s enfeebled democracy will be one of its casualties.


Trump’s assailing American media corresponds to dismal public trust in it. In the spring of 2018, Gallup and the Knight Foundation querried 1,440 persons about the US media. While many respondents opined that news sources are biased, Republicans and Democrats rated the accuracy and bias of organizations very differently. disparities were starkest regarding Fox News, Breitbart News, CNN and MSNBC and were greatly shaped by whether or not the person espoused the ideological leaning of the source in question.  


Not all of this can be placed on Trump’s contumely attacks on freedom of the press as Americans’ confidence in their media has steadily retrenched.


However, it is unlikely a coincidence that about half of Republicans (51%) polled in August 2018 said they believed the news media is the “enemy of the people,” in contrast to 24% of independents and a meager 5% of Democrats who answered similarly. Moreover, that same survey found that three-quarters of Republicans trust Trump to tell the truth while about 15% of Republicans trusted the media to be truthful. Unsurprisingly, 86%of Democrats trusted the media compared to only 5% who trusted Trump. Such reliance Trump’s veracity among Republicans is discomfiting given the well-documented evidence that he lies repeatedly on issues big and small: The fact checkers at the Washington Post, as of 2 November 2018, reported that Trump has made 6,420 false or misleading claims over 649 days. However, forRepublicans, this will either not affect their trust in him or they will simply dismiss these claims using the words of their cult leader: “fake news.”


Republican leaders in Congress or elsewhere have generally demurred from criticizing Trump’s antics even after liberal media and opinion leaders were targeted in a failed mass assassination attempt by a rabid Trump supporter. In part, other Republicans avoid criticizing the president because they fear his base who loves him because of his boorish behavior not in spite of it.  

Note: Trump as well as CONservative media had the temerity to call this a “false flag” attempt to the influence the mid-term elections. How shitty is that? that shittiness goes to Eleven. (Apologies to Spinal Tap.)

However, Trump’s outrages are dangerous for democracy and Trump and the Republicans know it. By sewing doubt about all but right-wing media, Trump and the Republicans are confident that Fox and its allies will continue to garner viewership who, in turn, will be exposed to outright lies and pro-Trump propaganda with the net impact of improving Republican electoral outcomes. This price is high: it comes at the expense of producing highly ill-informed voters who are easily swayed by the False Prophets of Fox News.

This Fox News Effect has been well studied by schyolars. In 2007, Stefano Della Vigna and Ethan Kaplan wrote a scholarly studied titled “The Fox News Effect: Media Bias and Voting” in which they leveraged data about Fox News’ entry into the cable market and presidential electoral data for 1996 and 2000. They found that the highly-partisan network increased vote share for Republicans between 0.4 and 0.7 percentage points, which is enough to swing tight races. They also found that Fox News affected Republican voter turnout as well as the Republican vote share in the Senate. The strongest impact upon mobilizing conservative voters was evident in Democratic-leaning districts. More recently, Gregory Martin and Ali Yurukoglu assess that persons who watch Fox News experience a substantial rightward shift in their attitudes and significantly greater willingness to vote for Republican candidates. Provocatively these economists estimate that had Fox News not existed, the Republican presidential candidate’s share of vote would have been 3.6 points lower in 2004 and 6.3 points lower in 2008. These margins again are more than enough to swing an election.

Not only is there evidence that Fox News helps solidify and galvanize the Republican base, studies have shown that persons who use Fox News as their primary source of information are much more likely to be grossly misinformed regarding basic truths about domestic and foreign policy issues. When Steven Kull and his colleagues posed three basic questions about the Iraq war with indisputable correct responses to a representative survey of American respondents, they found that Fox News viewers were overwhelmingly more likely to get all three rudimentary questions wrong. Those who were most likely to answer the questions correctly were those who got their news from print sources or public radio and television. However, respondents who relied upon the other mainstream networks (CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS) were less likely than Fox viewers to be misinformed, but far more likely to be so than those who used print media or public television and radio.

It needs to be stated that while numerous studies have shown that conservative Americans overwhelmingly rely upon Fox News and have greatly influenced by the misperceptions spread by that network, many of these studies predate the emergence of MSNBC, which is an explicitly Democratic-leaning partisan network. Patrick C. Meirick and Elena Bessarabova, in their study of partisan misperceptions, found evidence that Democrats too are more likely to espouse Democratic-serving misperceptions the more they accessed liberal media. However, the market share of such media is minuscule compared to the market dominance of the falsehood fabricating Fox News. In October 2018: Fox News averaged more total viewers than CNN and MSNBC combined.


The enormous market share of Fox News, with its penchant for pro-Trump propaganda, dishonest reportage, race-baiting and fear mongering is worrisome for democracy for at least two reasons. First, it is well-known that partisans of all stripes use biased strategies when looking for information, tend to accept messages with which they agree while rejecting countervailing information.  The result is that partisans build opinions for the purpose of defending his or her existing point of view rather than being objectively correct. With the proliferation of media, it is increasingly easy for consumers of media to self-select into echo chambers with the disturbing reality that two distinct Americas have emerged, each equipped with what they believe to be their own “facts.” However, some of these facts are clearly less factual than the other. Second, studies have shown that is nearly impossible to dislodge a partisan fiction once it has taken hold. In fact, efforts to refute nonsense often have the adverse effect of encouraging the person to hold it more ferociously. Efforts to expose partisans to alternative news sources are virtually inefficacious in dislodging a misperception.

America is divided. One set of Americans, largely ill-informed by Fox News, is fearful of change, rues the diminution of white privilege and wants to “Make America Great Again” by trying to make it white again.  The other America is more cosmopolitan, tends to embrace change and diversity, is less fearful about America’s changing demographics and wants an America in which people are equal before the law irrespective of their creed, gender, race or who they choose to love. Republicans and their newly-denervated white supremacist allies know that demography is not on their side: America is changing and there is little that they can do to stop it.

This is at the heart of Trump’s war on media. It’s not just about vilifying every outlet that seeks to publish the truth about his corruption, incompetence, truculence and white supremacist pandering and therefore suppress.  It’s about ensuring that his cultish followers view him as their most trusted source no matter what facts are revealed on a nearly daily basis that demonstrates his unfitness for anything but impeachments. It’s also about shoring up the bona fides of behemoth Fox News, whose slavish willingness to serve as Trump’s “state television” makes that network his single most important constituency. As Michael M. Grynbaum observed, Fox once gave Trump a perch. Now it’s his bullhorn.

C. Christine Fair is the author of InTheir Own Words: Understanding Lashkar-e-Tayyaba(Hurst/OUP: 2018) and Fighting to the End: The Pakistan Army’s Way of War (OUP, 2014). She is a proud member of The Resistance.

A version of this article appeared in First Post on 20 November 2018.

I’m Not The Cooperative Target You’d Like Me To Be: And I’m Not Apologizing

This week several journalists interviewed me regarding my role in the ouster of Richard Spencerthe Abercrombie and Fitch Nazi who has relocated his hate operations to Alexandria, Virginia—from his local gym. They were shocked that I was returning fire with fire. Even Spencer has conceded that I give as well as I get, which no doubt surprised him and his followers who are used to his opponents succumbing to their well-orchestrated campaigns of intimidation. Many others have weighed in to say that this behavior is not becoming of a professor.


But I’m not apologizing and here’s why.


Mr. Spencer believes that because he didn’t bring his torch to the gym, he was a model gym member who worked out then, upon leaving the weight room, returned to spreading his vile hate which has inspired a legion of amphibianabusing despicables. While it was the gym—not me—that made the ultimate decision to jettison Spencer for reasons known only to it and its legal team, his legions of vile followers have unleashed a torrent of abuses upon me that are anti-Semitic, misogynist, rapist, racist, body-shaming, and frequently violent through virtually every platform possible, including my home phone number. This is not my first rodeo with smug vulgarians with an epic sense of entitlement who have attacked me online and at the work place. In fact, like many women in male-dominated fields with a public persona, I am routinely attacked –mostly by men. While such harassment of women has reached epidemic levels, few policy makers or law enforcement agencies take it seriously or can.


The science of the uncooperative “agentic” woman who refuses to conform to well-honed and recalcitrant gender expectations is empirically wellknown. Given the prevalence of gender stereotypes, research has repeatedly demonstrated that women who violate these norms elicit negative reactions, even if they do so simply out of necessity to succeed in traditionally male-dominated domains. Abundant evidence now attests to the punitive and potentially debilitating social and economic repercussions that female agency elicits while disconfirming gender stereotypes. Put straightforwardly without the scientific jargon, women are punished for succeeding in male-dominated spaces. Studies of “women not behaving” find that such women may be seen as highly competent and even capable, but they are also seen as unlikable by both men and women as well as socially deficient. (Women do not need to be reminded of this. We already know.)


Not only are women punished in the workplace and always vulnerable while on the streets where we are subject to all manner of harassment by strangers and even violence, the rise of the internet has also made us more vulnerable to online menaces many of whom lurk pusillanimously behind anonymous personas. Much of the online harassment mimics the offline harassment. Men make crude, even rapaciously noxious comments about us. However, the anonymity that social media provides emboldens men to behave in ever-more genuinely vile and despicable ways because, unlike harassment off-line, they are generally immune from consequences.


While the science of cyber bullying of children and even college students is expanding, few studies have seriously examined online harassment of adults and its effects. According to a 2014 Pew Research Center Report, while males and females both experience online harassment, the data show that while “men are more likely to experience name-calling and embarrassment….young women are particularly vulnerable to sexual harassment and stalking.” Despite the high costs of being present online, it is simply not an option to disengage without incurring further professional and even economic harm. Moreover, “the fact that that violence has always suppressed women’s free speech is only now becoming too obvious to ignore.” (In fact, misogynists are precisely aiming for this goal: one notorious defender of pederasty and woman-hater has argued in a fanatical purveyor of “fake news” that “the solution to online ‘harassment’ is simple: women should log off.


Given the costs of engaging and not engaging, young women frequently ask me how best to respond to the online harassment that includes Twitter attacks, disgusting commentary on my Youtube videos and editorials. Unfortunately, there is no good answer for every woman. I’ve endured crude, rapacious, misogynist, body-shaming and slut-shaming since joining Twitter in 2010. However, Twitter has been enormously important in disseminating my research and marketing books that I have written. The same goes for my Youtube channel and other social media. I tell women that they have to figure out what works for them and that can only be found by experimentation and recording how each strategy makes them feel. It is a canard to say that if you behave like a good girl, you will be spared the punishing blows of men—and their peculiar coterie of women-hating women—who are discomfited that you exist, have a fact-based opinion and assert your well-earned authority without deferring to the male-dominated starchamber for approbation or permission. I decided early on that I would assert my agency and confront my harassers head on. Why? Because I found that doing so made me feel better than simply absorbing their hate like a lady. I also found that ignoring their filth made me feel worse. It reminded me of how I felt when I was a student in Pakistan travelling to class on a crowded bus when men frequently slipped their fingers under my seat to assault me and I could not identify—much less clobber—the offender who did it.


After November 22, 2016, the kinds of harassment I received began to increase geometrically. On that date, I posted a series of caustically critical tweets to a right-wing shill who wrote a vapid editorial for the Washington Post titled “I’m a Muslim, a woman and an immigrant. I voted for Trump” in which she monetized her demographic niche to illiberal elements who enjoy hearing a Muslim woman validate their anti-Muslim stereotypes. After a series of public exchanges, she privately messaged me a treacly note stating her disingenuous interest in “dialogue.” I told her privately to “go #uck herself.” Later, when she wrote to a scholar misrepresenting herself as a journalist who was harassed for her pro-Trump views, I pointed out to the academic in question that the author of the noxious piece is not a journalist and has not been a journalist since 2004. The former journalist also claimed to be a Georgetown professor when in fact she only taught one course for one year several years ago and led a project espousing conspiracy theories about the death of Daniel Pearl from 2008 to 2011. Upon being exposed, once again, for being disingenuous she launched a harassment campaign against me and my employer for two months beginning on December 5, 2016. I remarked upon this event on a Facebook post that same day when I redoubled my opposition to this person who, in 2010, testified before the U.S. Congress that women who veil are at heightened risk for radicalization (they are not, by the way) and advocated profiling Muslims even though such a suggestion is not constitutional. She also supports Trump’s illegal Muslim ban and proposed registry.

In the wake of that assault, I launched a micro-blog called #ShitMenSay where I routinely post original noxious missives and any other publicly available information about the abuser. I usually include sarcastic criticism about the addlepated misogynist who sent the repulsive note in the first instance. My goal is ensuring that these persons have an internet footprint associated with their bullying of a woman they do not know simply because they disagree with what she says, does, or that she exists at all.

In addition to regularly updating #ShitMenSay with some of the more special messages (as I literally do not have time to post all of the abuse I receive), I regularly fight back on Twitter and other media. Again, I do so selectively because I do have a day job and actual research to conduct. If a troll, for example, tells me “What you need is a big, white d*ck” I am very likely to respond “I may or may not need one. But you don’t have one. So why are you contacting me.” I believe that these men should not be allowed to simply harass women with impunity. And I am taking steps to make sure that this is the case.


Many people have been appalled at the fact that I fight back using their own crude language. (Why would I use any other language if I actually want to communicate with said rube? He is unlikely to use a dictionary should I confuse him with polysyllabic words.) Journalists who have interviewed me recently have asked with some frequency, “don’t you think your response is inappropriate?” I am sure these journalists believe their question is well-intended even though the premise of the question is victim blaming. Would the same journalist ask a woman, who successfully fended off an attacker by crushing his trachea, “Did you really have to hurt that poor man’s trachea?” Most sentient people would immediately recognize the absurdity of the question. Yet the same persons think nothing of criticizing me when I fight back against online—or off line—harassment.


Some have even had the temerity to equate my self-defense with the actual offense in the first place. I do not pro-actively troll people. I do not find persons whose views I object to and harangue them. I do not send them sordid epistles in which I detail how I will violate them or why I disagree with them. I do not search for “normal, white men,” in the words of Richard Spencer, to intimidate and silence. (This assertion belies the white supremacist’s preposterous fears of agentic women by the way.) The only way a man—or woman—ends up in my blog #ShitMenSay is if they initiate harassment. The assertion that these men have a right to harass me without consequences is the most outrageous assertion of male privilege. Indeed, it hearkens back to a day when men believed that they should be able to sexually assault any woman in public because she was clearly asking for it just by virtue of participating in public life. This is, simply put, victim shaming and victim blaming.


It turns out that I have science on my side. The few studies that look at harassment find that the old adage that well-behaved girls should just “lay back and take it” is harmful. In a 2008 study of stranger harassment, the authors find that such harassment is a frequent experience for young women and has negative and significant impacts upon their well-being. However, the ways in which women responded to this harassment produced varying psychological impacts. Women who coped with this harassment using passive strategies tended to exhibit “self-objectification,” by which they regarded themselves as “mere sex objects, to experience body shame, and to chronically monitor their external appearance.” The experience of “self-objectification” also correlated with women’s fear of rape or risk of rape and compelled them to restrict their freedom of movement. In contrast, women who managed stranger harassment actively (e.g. by confronting the harasser) did not. In another study of women’s experience with and responses to street harassment, women who took action (by taking a photo of the harasser or reporting the harassment to an official) “appeared to experience less negative emotional impact than those who did not.” Whereas those who assertively responded tended to “describe emotional responses that were targeted outward (e.g., anger, surprise)” those who responded passively “described emotions that focused inwardly (e.g., embarrassment, helplessness, fear).” Unfortunately, there are no such similar studies of online harassment and the varying impacts of coping strategies, despite the urgent need for such studies.


The next time you are shocked or even appalled that a woman is fighting back on-line, maybe you should ask yourself why you are judging her. Instead of disparaging her for exerting her agency and exposing the revolting behavior of her abuser, you should instead focus your discomfiture and outrage with the harasser whose conduct precipitated the response. Any other response enables the abuser and further blames and shames a woman whose crime is that she refuses to take this abuse “like a lady.” And frankly, it has been my experience that being a lady is over-rated.

This originally ran in the Huffington Post on June 5, 2017.

Pakistan’s War on Scholars

Pakistan’s military and intelligence agencies are waging a nasty war on U.S.-based scholars whose writings and public statements undermine cherished narratives promulgated by the army that has dominated Pakistan’s governance for most of the state’s existence. These agencies aim to intimidate, discredit, and silence us. Their tools are crude and include: outright threats; slanderous articles in Pakistani papers and other on-line forums; an army of trolls on twitter and other social media who hound us; and embassy officials who attend and report on our speaking events on Pakistan. But we are lucky to be in the United States: Pakistan’s khaki louts disappear, kidnap and/or kill their critics within Pakistan

My own experience with Pakistan’s harassment techniques began in May of 2011 when I received an email threatening me with gang-rape by an entire regiment. I had received a grant from the American Institute of Pakistan Studies to complete research for my book “Fighting to the End: The Pakistan Army’s Way of War” and had intended to spend the summer of 2011 in Islamabad and Lahore. As I already had a valid, multiple-entry visa they could not use visa denial as an instrument of coercion to influence my writings before my planned visit. So, they tried to intimidate me with this threat of physical harm.

My own experience with Pakistan’s harassment techniques began in May of 2011 when I received an email threatening me with gang-rape by an entire regiment.

At first, I was incredulous that this email was sent by the “deep state“ and I did not immediately call off my travel. Serendipitously, my flight to Dubai was cancelled. While I rebooked my travel, Pakistan’s then ambassador Husain Haqqani reached out to me to tell me simply “You have to cancel your trip. The crew cuts are after you.” Other embassy officials told me privately that the ISI distributed a circular about me at the Pakistan embassy. One officer asked me “You are in trouble. What did you do?” I was sickened by the situation. Officials from the embassy were, and presumably are, not allowed to meet with me.

When I confronted Brigadier Butt, the then ISI station chief at the Pakistan Embassy and Defense Attaché —it became clear that he was personally angry with me because he had seen or had heard about my book proposal from a small number of persons who had seen it. He said that he felt let down because the army had given me considerable access yet I was writing, what he called, an anti-army book. I explained to him that I was doing my job by being willing to go to Pakistan through various grants—despite the security environment—to hear their side of the story. I also told him that granting interviews to scholars is not tantamount to buying scholars

Since 2011 I have inspired several “planted” stories that have appeared in Pakistani papers and obscure blogs alike. These artless rants would be amusing if they were not dangerous. On one occasion, an article actually gave information about where I was staying in Pakistan which was a clear intent to cause me harm or signal the ability to cause me harm.

On one occasion, an article actually gave information about where I was staying in Pakistan which was a clear intent to cause me harm or signal the ability to cause me harm.

In the fall of 2014, two videos were circulated about me that had the imprimatur of the army’s media-management organization, the ISPR. The videos included (not very danceable) sound tracks which were taken from ISPR-produced entertainment. Since these videos were published on Youtube, which is banned in Pakistan, the obvious audience of these productions was Pakistanis outside the United States. (Both of these videos have since been removed.).

In early February, The Newspublished an article that alleged that I have nefarious links with Baloch insurgents. The Baloch are an ethnic group in Pakistan which resists inclusion into the state and its reliance upon Islam as a tool to blunt Baloch ethnic aspirations. Pakistan’s security forces have waged five waves of brutal military oppression, sometimes with U.S. weapons systems, which has been widely decried by international as well as Pakistani human rights organizations.

Despite these well-documented abuses—which includes disappearances, torture and murder by Pakistan’s security forces—the United States has not levied Leahy Sanctions as required by U.S. law. The ISI has worked tirelessly to keep its actions in Balochistan a dark secret.

If Pakistan’s armed forces and intelligence agencies are afraid of a few scholars, how can they confront Pakistan’s real enemies who are the hordes of terrorists it once nurtured but who have turned their guns and suicide vests against their erstwhile patrons?

So why did Pakistan write such an article about me? I have several suspicions. First, I was included on a successful National Science Foundation grant to study the Baloch conflict. Second, as a part of this study, I have reached out to Baloch dissidents to hear their side of the story. Third, I tweet about the tragedy in the state and encourage my government to apply applicable laws and deny security assistance to those units involved in these abuses. Fourth, there will be a publication emerging from this effort. Since I cannot go to Pakistan, what was the intent of the essay? Ultimately, I believe it was coarse attempt at bullying me by targeting my employer and jeopardizing my job security and trying to cast aspersions upon my credibility within U.S. government agencies. According to the article:

It is not clear if Georgetown University was aware of Ms Fair’s plan to meet the leader of Baloch dissidents. It further remains to be seen if US authorities would take notice of Ms Fair’s contacts with such leaders. Her penchant for aggressive attacks on Pakistan that goes beyond inciting violence is not a secret.

Ultimately, this propaganda failed to produce the institutional outrage that Pakistan’s deep state intended.

Another recent attempt to malign me and several of my colleagues was published in the Pakistan Observer in mid-February. This piece was written by a former Pakistan air force group captain and “TV Talk Show Host” named Sultan M Hali. Hali’s musings are widely available on the internet and they invariably defend the ISI and the army while protesting criticisms about Pakistan’s long-standing policy of using Islamist militancy under its nuclear umbrella as tools of foreign policy. He, like countless retired Pakistan service personnel, populate Pakistan’s print, radio and televised media as a part of the deep state’s discourse construction and message managing efforts. In fact, Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the ISI, has a media management wing dedicated to such efforts.

In this piece, Mr. Hali maligns my fellow colleague, Irfan Nooruddin (whose name he misspells) as a “highly biased scholar of Indian origin.” Professor Nooruddin’s work on electoral politics in India is well-regarded and cannot be characterized as “highly biased.” (It should also be noted that he does not even write on Pakistan.) For Mr. Hali and the Pakistani deep state he defends, Professor Nooruddin’s ethnicity is the basis of this dubious charge: it is rank, racist xenophobia at its worst. What did Professor Nooruddin do to elicit this slander from this amanuensis of the deep state? He had the hubris to host Ambassador Husain Haqqani who discussed his newest project titled “Reimagining Pakistan” at Georgetown under the auspices of the India initiative that Professor Nooruddin heads.

Mr. Hali, who did not attend the event, was riled that the event “featured Pakistan’s most loud critics [sic] n the town including Christine Fair and Hussain Haqqani.” While Mr. Hali did not attend the event, Mr. Bilal Hayee did. In fact, Mr. Hayee is a frequent monitor of such events where he takes note of who attended and what was said by whom. This has a chilling impact upon freedom of speech of students and persons of Pakistani origin and he, and his colleagues at the embassy, know it.

Mr. Hali furthered that Georgetown has established an India initiative with “US $10 million of which large part is known to have come through the Indian Diaspora while part of it has been funded by US administration.” To say that this is a blatant lie is an understatement: the India initiative is extremely modestly funded. Hali opined that “Contrary to the natural objective of fostering closer partnership between US and India, Georgetown,” the event was really an opportunity to malign and defame Pakistan.

Mr. Hali also used this missive as an opportunity to criticize Farahnaz Ispahani who recently wrote a devastating book on the plight of Pakistan’s minorities. Hali, upon trivializing the well-documented abuses that Pakistan’s religious minorities routinely endure, made much of Ms. Ispahani’s book discussion at a well-regarded Indian think-tank called the Observer Research Foundation (ORF). He claimed erroneously that the ORF is funded by Indian intelligence and suggested that Ms. Ispahani, and her husband Ambassador Haqqani, are paid stooges of Indian intelligence. It should be noted that ORF is supported by the Reliance group rather than the Indian government.

Pakistan’s boorish campaign of slander against scholars and journalists whose work discomfits the deep state has even drawn the attention of Pakistani bloggers who have expressed concern about the ham-handed approach adopted by the military and intelligence media handlers. In 2011, even Ejaz Haider, a well-known pro-establishment journalist, questioned this role of the military and intelligence agency after the high profile killing of a journalist named Syed Saleem Shahzad. The chief suspect is Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the ISI. In the wake of that tragedy, Haider wrote of ISA media operations:

What is this Media Management Wing of the ISI? What right does this wing have to invite journalists for ‘tea’ or ask anyone to file a story or file a retraction? The inquiry commission should also look into the mandate of this wing and put it out to pasture.

However, there is little chance of Pakistan doing so.

In addition to poorly-written “filed stories” festooned with calumnious fiction, Pakistan’s military and intelligence agency trains a menagerie of bots and trolls who harass persons like me on Twitter and Facebook and to promote and defend the state, including its terrorist assets.

Whereas the Pakistani government incentivizes scholars to watch what they write and say about Pakistan by holding visas and official meetings hostage, I was declared “Persona Non-Grata” long ago and cannot get a visa. Without such leverage, the Pakistani deep state hopes that all of this harassment and haranguing will coerce me into silence. But the ISI should know this: I will write. I will not be silenced by their brutish antics.

If Pakistan’s armed forces and intelligence agencies are afraid of a few scholars and their facts and key boards, how can they confront Pakistan’s real enemies who are the hordes of terrorists it once nurtured but who have turned their guns and suicide vests against their erstwhile patrons? With apologies to Monty Python, I will continue to write in their specific direction.

C. Christine Fair
 is an associate professor at Georgetown University and is the author of Fighting to End: The Pakistan Army’s War of War (Oxford University Press, 2014).

This post originally appeared in the Huffington Post on February 24, 2017.

A Natural Experiment in Stochastic Terrorism: Compliments of the “College Fix”


Earlier today,  Zachary Petrizzo, a so-called “reporter” for The College Fix sent me this note. I know what Zach is up to: he’s trying to start a new round of stochastic terrorism. Unbeknownst to him, I’ve been waiting for someone like him to take the bait. He is seeking to begin a new cycle of stochastic terrorism, which is the subject of my next big research project.

I can’t wait.

!شکاری شکای بن جاتی ہے!

[Translation: The Hunted becomes the Hunter]

Professor Fair, 

Good afternoon. I hope that this email finds you well. I wanted to reach out and see if I could get a comment for a story I am writing regarding what you meant in this tweet about “Fox News” “being terrorists.” (
I appreciate your time in advance for your comment. 
Zachary Petrizzo 
Reporter, The College Fix 



Dear Zach

Greetings from Kabul.  That was one of the rare occasions on which  I used the expression “Fox News.” Typically, I do not place the word “fox” before “news” unless I literally intend to describe current information on the Vulpes genus of the Canidae family.

Since my hand is broken and is in a cast, it is difficult to write on my small travel keyboard. Apologies for typos etc.

The fascination with me in particular borders on the pathological. I suspect your “editor” has tasked you with “monitoring” me. You know exactly what you are doing as do I. For this reason, I am looping in my Dean  as well as the chief of security such that they too are aware of these brewing shenanigans.  One of the hallmarks of stochastic terrorism is the focus upon a specific person (in this case me) or a group of persons (Jews, people of color, LGBTQI, Muslims, immigrants fleeing the destruction of their countries wrought by decades of necrotic US foreign policy, etc.)

For your edification, “stochastic terrorism” is the use of mass communications to incite random actors to carry out violent or terrorist acts or threaten to do so. These acts of violence or threats of violence  are statistically predictable but individually unpredictable.  One blogger defined this as “remote-control murder by lone wolf.” Examples include the thousands of threats sent to me and my community; the pipe bombs sent to democratic leaders and opinion-leaders, as well as the slaughter of eleven Jews in their synagogue.

As you know, your news outlet is on the lower tiers of the stochastic terrorism pyramid.  Your outlet’s entire Twitter following is a mere 13.2K followers. In contrast, this lowly professor has some 35.5K followers. By writing this article, your aim is not to inform your readership about stochastic terrorism; rather to sow outrage that some “liberal professor [who studies terrorism by the way] has the temerity to call Faux Noise a mobilizer of stochastic terrorism.” Your disinterest in truth was revealed in your last piece when you claimed I called a German police officer a Nazi. For your information, that case went nowhere as I did not do this as this corrupt cop claims. I own my words. Never have I backed down from my own verbiage.

Returning to the stochastic terrorism which you are seeking to galvanize. Your outlet cannot do it on a massive scale because it lacks the dedicated following of fanatical cadre. Your article will precipitate in a mere handful of goons (who already despise me for my egalitarian politics) sending me and my community vile, racist, misogynist, x-phobic bigoted missives. By focusing on a personality such as myself who boldly challenges the contemporary white, Christian, cis-male supremacist agenda, your outlet hopes that a more powerful outlet picks it your “story.” If you’re lucky, it will go to Faux Noise directly. You may have to pimp it out to Daily Failer or the equivalent before it makes its way to Faux News. Once an “outrage entrepreneur” such as Pucker Carlson, Laura Ingrate or Lou Knobs picks this up, the loyal following will do the needful. From here it will travel to more odious outlets and onto the dark web.

Note that the conservative muckrakers are not the only ones who mobilize stochastic terrorists. Glenn Greenwald and Al Jazeera’s Mehdi Hassan dispatched stochastic terrorists my way because of my data-driven support for the US drone program in Pakistan. My view continues to garner support of other scholars, by the way. However, the followers of Messers Greenwald and Hassan literally lack the fire power of those of Fox Noise. While their followers sent deeply gendered missives they rarely rose to the quality of suggested and threatened violence as those of Fox Noise.


My students are amused at the rightwing nut characterization of me as they know my security credentials. One of my former students is a Marine colonel and he gets a kick out of this. He knows better.

By the way, I have exciting news: you and your fellow travelers will be the subject of my next book. I have thousands of such missives that can be chronologically correlated with specific time-points in the stochastic terrorism cycle of which I have endured several. Few scholars are in my position with a data set of this size spanning several cycles. In fact, YOUR article is going to be another natural experiment. I will be monitoring how far up the stochastic terrorism pyramid it moves and with what consequences. So this is exciting, isn’t it? YOU will the beginning point of this cycle.

At some point, I am going to have to interview you (among others) and I hope you will oblige.

It will likely be a trade book and it will sell given the growing interest in stochastic terrorism. So, I thank you and your fellow travelers for this research leave and for the fodder of my next major research effort now that my book on LeT is in production. (Would you like to review it by the way? It’s a page turner, I assure you.)  It is coming out in the United States and elsewhere under Oxford University Press (

In closing, you and your ilk have literal blood on your hands. How you sleep at night baffles me. You’re young. There is no reason to follow this career trajectory. You can still pivot to legitimate journalism, though it is pilloried as “fake news” by the white supremacist running and ruining this country. Consider enrolling in a journalism program which will afford you the opportunity to engage the subject of ethics and will afford you the opportunity to alter the trajectory of your “career.” I say this not out of animus. You are simply doing your job. But is participating in stochastic terrorism the “job” you want?

I believe I have addressed this issue comprehensively.

Back to my research.  If you ever want to do a real interview on actual substance, I’d be happy to share with you my work on Afghanistan or other parts of South Asia.

As usual, this missive will be a blog post by the time you get it.

And now, let the social science begin.







On Informational Terrorism and the War on Women’s Voices

Last week my employer and I were the victims of another Fox News-crowd-sourced mob of informational terrorists who threatened me, my home, my husband, my community, my colleagues and my students. The informational terrorists in question were whipped up into a white male genocidal froth by Pucker Carlson who took exception to one of my rage-filled Tweets about the misogynistic theater of the confirmation of  Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, despite several allegations of sexual assault which the administration chose to not investigate thoroughly.  Pucker, whose own white ethnocratic preferences are well known,  absurdly and slanderously accused me of advocating for white male genocide. My very white male husband, brothers, uncle and nephews were quite surprised to hear this.

The crowd-sourced mobs who are his rank and file cadre did not need to be told what to do: they already knew. The infrastructure that enables such swarms by hordes of rage-filled men, who feel threatened by our very existence and our refusal to be silent about the structural violence perpetrated against women and minorities by white, cis-male supremacy in this country has been in place, as I describe below, since 2014 and the emergence of GamerGate

This latest round of informational terrorism began similarly to the previous. First, a low-level bottom-feeding right-wing media outlet finds something to be outraged over and then assigns a college intern, apparently with no ethical or journalism training, to write a piece that will serve as chum in the bloodied waters for larger right-wing outlets, such as the Daily Failer or Faux News…or worse.  This is how the rightwingnut circuit creates a news cycle that begins with feigned outrage over a liberal exercising her first amendment rights to call out the unending structural and actual violence against women and minorities and ends with a horde of attackers targeting her as well as her her place of employment using email, phone, Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and every other social media platform available to the ratfuckers. (Yes. “Ratfuckers” is a bad word. And I don’t care. I also know they really hate being called ratfuckers, which makes me really pleased to use it. So..I will.)


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However, I am a hardened target. I literally study terrorism for a living. I’ve met terrorists including failed suicide bombers. I literally wrote the book on Taliban suicide attackers.  I do fieldwork in places like Afghanistan and Pakistan without a security detail.  And I’ve been through this jackass rodeo before with trolls from the far-left (such as those commanded by Glenn Greenwald and his anti-American collaborators on al Jazeera) as well as the far-right and its endogamously-conceived sibling, the alt-right. The wingnuts of both spectra have pretty much learned that I am a hard target.  Like the vagina I possess, I can take a pounding.

So, this time, they took a different approach. Instead of focusing the crowd-sourced mobs at me in hopes that I would break down and throw my keyboard into the recycling bin and head off for a spa-bortion brunch (with endless Mimosas) as a good “baby-hating libtard bitch” would do, they did what terrorists all over the world do: they threatened my community with violence to secure their political objectives of removing me from the classroom. And they succeeded. For now.

Bruce Hoffman of Georgetown University defines terrorism as  “violence—or equally important, the threat of violence—used and directed in pursuit of, or in service of, a political aim.” Bruce Hoffman, Inside Terrorism 

By focusing their efforts on my community–including threatening my students by doxxing my syllabus–my employer was faced with a conundrum: call the informational terrorists’ bluffs and wait it out or risk the possibility that one of these demented asshats would actually do something violent. (My employer is committed to free speech–even speech that offends–and staved off the numerous calls for my ousting.)

Nor could I write off such a possibility.

Long before I debuted on Twitter, on Tuesday, November 9, 2010, a man emailed me repeatedly about a typo in a piece I had recently published. After the first polite email explaining that he had to speak to the editor about this, I ignored his subsequent numerous emails.  And then he called my office late that evening, at about 10 pm. I was there because my research methods class ended late. Because many of my students work during the day,  I am willing to meet with them after class as late as they require so that they can avoid missing work or making another to trip to campus to meet during regular office hours. I assumed the caller was a student who could not get into our building and needed to be let in. That semester had many long Tuesdays.

But no. It was the typo sepoy. I politely but firmly explained reality AGAIN to the fellow and hung up. I was concerned when I left my office. Did he know where it was? Did he see the light on my office? I called my husband to let him know what had happened and to let him know I was leaving the office. I told him to call the police if I wasn’t home in 20 minutes.

The next morning I boarded an early train for New York where I was scheduled to discuss Afghanistan and Pakistan at Columbia University. When my panel was over, I noticed numerous phone calls from my employer’s security department. The crazy nutter actually came to my place of employment looking for me. After making an insane danger of himself, security escorted him off the premises. His picture was posted in our building. If he appeared, we were to call security immediately.

This transpired over his vexation with poor, fatherfucking copy editing. Let that marinate.  It is toxic masculine jackassery like this that makes ignoring the hordes of informational terrorist wackadoons perilous. And the wackadoon terrorists know it.

In consultation with my employer’s security professionals, the leadership and I concluded that it was best for my students and colleagues to go on research leave and to publicize this fact to ensure that the violent mobs would mozy onto their next target.

That strategy worked in one sense: they stopped threatening my professional community. But the informational terrorists led by the CON-servative media–most notably the outrage factory at Faux Noise and its allied cesspools of misinformation–learned a valuable lesson: take soft targets like young adults as the hostage rather than the direct object of your ire.

In the wake of the fiasco, there were calls for civility of discourse.  Oddly, these calls for civility come after a decade of efforts to bully, intimidate and silence women through online swarms backed up by the real threats we face in our homes, on the streets, in our offices, gyms, libraries, parking lots and garages and elsewhere. Is it a coincidence that calls for civility seem targeted at silencing women just when we articulate our rage at the fuckery that has engulfed this country?

No. It is not a coincidence. But it is a tired patriarchal command that women discipline our bodies, voice, and even rage to make men feel better. I won’t do that. The stakes are too high. Nothing will change until the rest of America understands our pain and rage and I cannot do this with expected formalities and civilities of language. I cannot do this with the grammar of comfort patriarchy prescribes, by abjuring the tactics it proscribes. I can only do this with the language my rage inscribes upon my tongue. Only then will society even bother hearing the rage much less try to understand it.

Rest assured: no one wants actual civility more than women and minorities in this country.  But when appeals to civility do not include calls to endow us with equality under the law and before the law and to afford us equality in opportunities and outcomes, civility is but an empty promise for us while shielding the standard-bearers of white, cis-male supremacy from the discomfort of hearing about the hazards the rest of us endure.

Civility of discourse is possible only between equals. The CON-servative movement and the angry, white, women-hating men it has empowered (along with their largely white female enablers) denies us this elemental equality.

Without equality, I can only give you servility. That I will not do.

Bitches! Get off the Web

I am too old, too experienced and too cynical to countenance the horseshit anymore.

In the spring of 2004, I had recently arrived in Washington DC after leaving the RAND Corporation in Santa Monica, CA.  I was starting a new job at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP). I had recently defended my doctorate at the University of Chicago while working full-time for reasons not of my choosing and was beginning the next phase in my life.  USIP, like many so-called think tanks in DC, encouraged their associates to engage the media. And so, at a very early hour on Sunday, August 8, 2004,  I made my way to C-SPAN’s studio to discuss America’s relations with its pain-in-the-ass ally: Pakistan. It was my first experience with national television. You can see in the video that I was initially awkward. I was not sure where to look. I blinked uncomfortably and often made goofy faces. (It turns out I still make goofy faces on and off camera.) I chose to dress conservatively: a black pantsuit, with a light green sweater and a fun necklace I recently bought on M Street. Looking at the video after many years, I can see that I am wearing makeup. I don’t recall whether this was done in the green room as I do not and have never worn makeup except when forced to as I am allergic to it and find the expense needless. As the show continued, I got the hang of it and began to feel more comfortable and even had fun.


Source: Source. Also, note how much I have aged. This was only 14 years ago. It feels like 34 years ago.

The elation was short-lived. As soon I left the building and had cell coverage, my mobile phone began to ring.  As I’ve long worked at home, I forwarded my office number to my cellular phone. The caller was a man with a California area code, who must have been watching C-SPAN at 4 am, which is totally not normal for Californians. It was a marriage proposal.

In the car ride home, I called my then-boyfriend (now my husband) about the call. We laughed it off as a freak event. When I returned to the office the next day, I received an email from a viewer who complimented my sense of fashion. He liked the green sweater and the contrast created by the necklace.  The following week, a letter arrived addressed to me in thick crayon in lilting handwriting. The letter itself was also written in crayon over many pages of thick-lined paper that we used in the first grade when learning to write. I don’t remember the content of the letter: only that it existed.

I wondered whether my male colleagues received such phone calls, emails, and letters. I asked. They did not. (By the way, they still do not. This nonsense is reserved for women.) Looking back, I learned my first lesson about being a female in the public space: no matter our credentials or level of demonstrable expertise, we are seen as women first. We are objects of the male gaze. We exist at their leisure and pleasure.

I continued to do national and international television news programs and continued to receive the episodic email from strange men. One fellow from Florida also emailed me to say that he would like to marry me. My husband and I Googled him. He was a soccer player for a local league, likely harmless. But we both puzzled over what kind of a jackass would do track down a woman on her employer’s email and send such a missive?

As my c.v. attests, until about 2009, I did not engage in social media or requests for online products with very few exceptions. I preferred to write traditional editorials in conventional newspapers, peer-reviewed journal articles, monographs, and other peer-reviewed products. This was partly due to the nature of my employment. However, after 2009, I reluctantly entered this space writing mostly for Foreign Policy and the then “Af-Pak Channel.” I later expanded to other blog venues to discuss America’s foreign policy dilemmas in South Asia.

Blogs that permitted commentary were festooned with crude sexist commentary variously asserting that I was “anti-Pakistan” because a Pak Army officer fucked me in various places and then dumped me. I was “pro-India” because I suck Indian cock. (These are their words–not mine. I was a “presstitute,” or a Mossad whore. Comments on my You-tube videos were hewed along similar lines. My analyses were frequently reduced to a proposition about my sexuality, that I was attractive when I was younger or hideous as I’ve aged.  (For the record, I have never had any paramour in any foreign armed forces although I have dated several gentlemen in the US Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines. Sorry, Coast Guard. I missed you. If I thought I could get by on my looks like Melania or Ivanka, I wouldn’t have bothered getting a Ph.D.) I began saving emails received in specially-designated folders.

Then Came The Deluge of “Male Hate”

According to my personal email account, the first actual instance of “hate mail” (or as I prefer to call it “male hate,” arrived on December 27, 2008. (Unfortunately, I did not have a way to save my archives of such missives from past employers’ email accounts. And after my current employer switched providers, I lost many such emails from 2009 to October 2014.) It came from a person referring (likely) to himself as “Defender” with the email address: apparently was angry that my cookbook,  Cuisines of the Axis of the Evil and Other Irritating Statesincluded Israel. (Oddly, the author did not repine that it also included the United States, for which I actually would have expected to be called a “traitor.”) While the poorly drafted email was mostly incoherent, the final line was not despite its lack of craft and attention to detail:

“Hope you choke I [sic] die on some kimchee. traitor”


I saved’s parsimonious epistle because it was so novel then. I still save such missives which now number in the thousands across different accounts and platforms even though they are no longer curiosities; rather, quotidian and expected expressions of entitled male rage that span continents, races, and religion.

Now I save them as evidence in the event that something happens to me.

In 2011, I received the below email from a Pakistani male in which I was threatened with gang rape by an entire regiment. ( The most pressing question for me was: Infantry or cavalry? Pakistan’s cavalry attacks from behind and they tend to get out of shape pretty quickly. Infantrymen tend to be hotter, more fit, but less cerebral. So the answer to that question inveighs urgently upon both my qualitative an quantitative gang rape experience. )


Then who can forget this charming email? On January 5, 2012, at 11:06 PM EST,  I had just published an opinion piece on Pakistan in Foreign Policy, called “Pakistan’s Slow-Motion Coup.” Within minutes I received this email addressed to my work account, with a time stamp of Thu, 5 Jan 2012 18:41:23 -0800 (PST). While the email was empty, it had the header “Your article on Pakistan inspired me to bake these…”

It contained a file named “tiny-cookie-vaginas.”

Needless to say, the title was erroneous: these were cupcakes. Not cookies. (Apparently, this misogynist does not know his baked goods.)



The image depicted a 7×5 array of clitorises in a combination of fondant, frosting, and sprinkles. Each was ethnically distinct. Some had vaginal discharge. (No. He is not a master baker: he found this online. It turns out genitalia-themed baked goods is a niche thing.) I had an awesome response email:

“Dear Sir: I’m going to a bris. Can you do this in foreskins.”

Then there are the understated emails such as this one: it contains a clever  gun image made by arranging characters in a specialized font and the subject line “loving you.”

Loving You


My soul has callouses. You can say what you want to me. I have the skin of a velociraptor and a heart of coprolite towards trolls.

GamerGate and the Rise of Crowd-Sourced Terrorism

As I was learning the cost of being a woman in the public space,  others were learning it too. Amanda Hess wrote a very thought-provoking essay titled “Why Women Aren’t Welcome on the Internet” in January 2014.  She detailed the experiences of numerous other women from a cross-sectional of diverse professional backgrounds and we were all experiencing similar things to varying degrees. (My own online harassment pales to that which she experienced. It was sobering.)

Perhaps the most jarring discussion of what can only be called crowd-sourced informational terrorism manifested in the so-called GamerGate in 2014, which in the words of Molly McKew was an

an internet culture war sparked when a group of women exposed what they saw as inherent misogyny in the production and culture of videogaming and argued for greater inclusivity.

Thus, what began as a legitimate discussion about race and gender soon became overtaken by an organized swarm of male

militant gamers who resented this intrusion into their sandbox and set out to prove they were not misogynistic by relentlessly attacking and harassing the women and anyone who supported them. The women were doxxed and threatened in graphic terms with rape and death, and some fled their homes.

Katherine Cross observers that GamerGate was a “deliberate effort to purge women and people of color from the fledgling world of independent gaming criticism through harassment and accusations of fraudulence.”

While GamerGate and the women and people of color it silenced and drove into submission passed from the public eye, crowd-sourced terrorism perdures because the structures once created stand ready to mobilize such mobs comprised mostly–but not exclusively–of CON-servative males who are outraged that women and people of color want equal rights. These boorish troglodytes harbor the unenlightened view that rights ate like a lousy Papa John’s pizza: more for others means less for them. And they are angry about it.

What is “crowd-sourced terrorism,” you may ask? McKew in her piece identifies many of the nefarious personalities from

the sewers of the modern far-right disinformation metropolis…[who comprise] an operational unit of information terrorists helping to transform the way Americans consume news in the age of Trump—some of the central nodes that give order to the information deluge and around which bot armies and human amplification networks can be organized, wiped out, reconstituted, and armed for attack. Because that is what they do: attack.

As anyone who has experienced this knows, the result of this informational terrorism network is a swift escalation of attacks as swarms of frenzied angry men assail you through every means possible. In my case, the pressgangs of poltroons have lasted anywhere between two weeks and two months. Others experience longer-term harassment as detailed by Cross, Hess, and others.

Following one very serious crowd-sourced mob of crazed racist, Islamophobic misogynists in November 2016, I began microblogging with the aim of providing all details of those persons (mostly men)  who harassed me during and between these campaigns of crowd-sourced informational terrorism.  I do not include those persons those contacted me simply to say that they disagree and are generally reasonable about it.  I also have removed one person (a woman) who expressed contrition and remorse. However, if they are abusive or exude any modicum of creepiness, they end up on #ShitMenSay where I provide all the information I can find about the person. I literally have more hate-filled missives than I have time to post to #ShitMenSay, given my numerous other professional and scholarly commitments. I upload the filth when I have writer’s block or am stranded at the in-laws in a snowstorm. I literally need a minion to upload the bottom-dwellers and their information to this forum.


Absurdly, a right-wing (female) troll-cum-journo-bot sought to cultivate sympathy for what she calls my “victims” of #ShitMenSay.  (I’m not sure if she is best described as an Aunt Lydia or Mrs. Serena Whaterford? It’s a conundrum. I can go either way. In any event, for a mere $100(?)an article, she is willing to hold women down as men assault us online.)  I could only laugh at Mrs. Waterford’s risible column. First, the men she claimed to interview opined that they were harassed and that they were frightened. She provided no evidence for the poor booboos’ trauma, by the way. But if they were harassed (by whom?), perhaps they now understand what it feels like to have random people seek you out and oppugn you using the most heinous language possible. Second, and I shit you not, the men outed on #ShitMenSay lugubriously opined that  #ShitMenSay stifles free speech, which is exactly what these asshats sought to do to my free speech in the first instance. I can only wonder what career trajectory this woman imagines for herself.  No. I actually can’t and I am not going to try.

Patriarchy only succeeds with female enablers like her and there is no short supply of such cheaply-sourced collaborators.

And Back to Civility of Discourse…

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The fact of the matter is: women and people of color have been denied any modicum of civility of discourse or other forms of dignity or equality in this country from our origins. In contemporary American, our online and offline presence is consistently under attack and under threat simply for having the audacity to exist. And now that we are finding our couRAGE and our voice, we are being told to voice our anger in decorous prose for men’s comfort.

No one wants civility of discourse more than women and minorities. We are literally dying for this much-praised civility.  But it is not ours to give. Without granting us equality, it is not civility you request; rather servility which you command.

In the meantime,  to quote Robin Sokoloff:

I don’t want to give you hope. I want you to wake the fuck up…


On the Politics of Language and Women’s Rage and Why My Profanity is Sacred

it’s a war goin on that you thinkin that you safe from
But you like me in the scope of they gun.Mystic

“I can’t fight you with your affectless, sanitized, polished language and codes! Change begins with the choice of words that stir, disturb, destabilise and denaturalise our ways of seeing the world even if it doesn’t end there.” Krishnappa Venkatashamy

The Fuckening

This week, Fox News, in connivance with a conservative tabloid that harasses faculty, whipped up another non-news cycle over my plain-spoken truth-speaking. The ostensible “journalist” from the Fux News Website began his account;

An anti-Trump professor at Georgetown University went on a profanity-laced Twitter rant against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, who has been accused of committing a sexual assault as a teen.

Dr. Carol Christine Fair is an associate professor in the Security Studies Program at Georgetown, according to the school’s website.

Of course, this is not my first rodeo with the way in which the right wingnut circus synthesizes a news cycle. The procedure goes like this: a low-level conservative rag (in this case Campus Reformfiles a story about a liberal professor calling out the fuckery of the contemporary conservative shitshow in America. Fox News, The Daily Failer, The Drudge Report or whatever toxic, mendacious and buffoonish “media outlet” then “picks up” this podunk story from said rinky-dink stinkweed.  I suspect–but cannot prove–that this is done collusively. It hardly matters because it happens as predictably as clockwork. Once the “mainstream” conservative hacks run the sham, it is subsequently carried into the darker, lunatic fringe platforms that deliberately stoke further outrage and encourages violence against the object of this cabal. My address has been published in white supremacist, Neo-Nazi chatrooms and website. Mobs have been specifically directed to threaten and intimidate me.  I’ve had “wanted posters” distributed on cars and tacked to trees and telephone poles in my neighborhood, along with signs attacking racial and religious minorities. But I’m a hard cunt to intimidate.



Fox Noise, and their deformed symbiotic twins such as the Daily Caller, deliberately emplace dog whistles in their screeds–more like “call to the wolves”–to ensure that their vexed “readership” is mobilized into a frenzied mob who then send the target any number of vile and often violent missies through email, social media, and even phone calls.  In picking me: they pick the wrong target. I’ve been threatened with gang rape by Pakistan’s intelligence agencies.  I work in places like Afghanistan and Pakistan. I have skin as thick as a T-Rex and I give NO FUCKS about their feelings. I cannot be intimidated. If I lose my job, I’ll do something else. (Obviously, these cry bully assholes have never studied game theory. Well, guess what snowflake bitches: I have.)

Make no mistake. This is a deliberate attempt by these conservative dishrags to scare, intimidate, and ultimately shut up those of us who see through conservative lies, ruses, and efforts to disenfranchise women, people of color, LGBTQI, non-Christians and anyone else who destabilizes their infantile Leave It To Beaver fantasy. They are deliberately trying to make our homes and workplaces unsafe physically, mentally and economically.

Without fail, after the most recent post, I received about 200 messages through various means, all but a handful from angry men. Remember that my crime is that I dared to accuse the Vichy GOP of being a misogynist, rape-friendly, pederast-acceptant, Nazi-appeasing, White Supremacist, X-phobic bigoted, climate science-denying death cult. So naturally, these missives were…well…clear evidence of the conservative males’ misogyny, rapist-defending, Republican pederasty-justifying, racism, Muslim-hating, fact-resistant villainy. (If you don’t believe me and want to see examples of the noxious communications I received in this recent cycle of conservative mens’ temper tantrums, you can view my micro-blog where I post the vast majority of the harassment sent my way: ShitMenSay.)

I spent much of the day slaying trolls and legally doxing those idiots who called me various spellings of “cum sack” and its ilk or giving me precise instructions in how I might murder myself or how I may be gang-raped in a racist fantasy of attackers who are black or Muslim. (The most likely gang- rapists, by the way, are white males. It’s statistics…also known as hocus pocus to these mouthbreathers.) It amuses me when these clowns and their defenders cry foul when they are legally doxed on ShitMenSay, reflecting the belief that they are entitled to subject a woman to hate speech without consequence.

I felt empowered by turning my keyboard against these shitbirds. (There’s an emerging science that explains why this agentive response to harassers is denervating by the way.)

However, later that evening, a lovely and well-intended colleague asked me to demur from using naughty words in expressing my rage over this administration’s unending assault upon our lives. He implored me as a supportive colleague and friend to “Try replacing the f-bombs with arguments and I bet your effect will change from incitement of emotions to almost infinite potential for change in behavior and policy.” 


I Will Not Discipline My Anger for Your Comfort

I know he meant well. He’s a lovely person. And I mean him no ill-will…but I wanted to tell him that I’m a survivor of sexual assault, that I’ve endured the pangs of not being believed, of seeing my abuser every holiday and having to suck it up. I’ve been where Dr. Ford is today. I have lived her nightmare for years and I know too many other women who have and do as well.

Oddly, I could not bring myself to explain to him that his email was a deep betrayal, partly out of shame but partly out the deeper, darker fear that it would not matter. Even with this knowledge, I feared he would still offer the same pallid advice. After all, he assumes I am like him. But I am not.

He evaluates the efficacy of language by the outcomes it can catalyze. I evaluate the efficacy of my language by a different metric: does it make you feel uncomfortable for that is its intent. I know with absolute certitude that no amount of gussied up prose will make America less acceptant and tolerant of white, male rapists. (It lynches black males even if they are not rapists.) No amount of argumentation informed by my University of Chicago Ph.D. will make the ratfuckers in Congress pass laws that guarantee equal rights, equal pay, equal protection or demure from taking away what unequal rights I do have. 

My cynicism is learned from experience: my quest for justice has gone unrequited for decades.  My abuser, my uncle, ultimately went to jail for murdering my aunt after whom I am named. He assaulted me from the time I was a toddler until I was thirteen. He did not spend a second in prison for breaking me. Nor was he punished for sexually assaulting his own children: one of whom murdered himself while the other is a homeless schizophrenic beyond help whose brain produces fantasies that are only marginally less horrific than her realities.

Childhood trauma was compounded by my experiences at the University of Chicago, where I learned that it is impossible to get accountability for sexual harassment even when the harasser admits he did it. These lessons were again reinforced repeatedly when I entered the workforce. Because words are over-rated in their efficacy,  I gave up on elocuting our way out of this unending gendered apocalypse long ago.

I have spent decades and thousands of dollars trying to fix myself.  I am grateful that I have been able to access health care. But my brain developed under the constant production of stress hormones as a consequence of which my brain will never be clinically normal.  I suffer from PTSD and always will. I will take medications for the rest of my life to manage both my brain chemistry and the gastrointestinal distress that we now understand to be associated with childhood abuse. (So when the Faux Noise mobs send me emails such as “Go back on your meds bitch,” I can assure them that I never go off my meds.)

When women summon the courage to identify our assailants, the Chorus of Men and their female collaborators howl that we asked for it. We deserved it. They ask: What were you wearing? Why were you there at that time of night? Were you drinking?  Why were you drinking? Why didn’t you put up a fight?  Why didn’t you scream? Alternatively,  they query: why did you fight?  You only made it worse. Why didn’t you lay back and enjoy it? What were you doing there if you didn’t want to be raped, grabbed, mauled or have the fingers of strange men pull back your panties and violate you? Boys will be boys. This is horseplay. All boys do this. (If you’re rich and white, these excuses somehow work.)

[As bad as we have it, it’s even harder for men to come out and discuss their abuse.]

How much must we endure?  Rape culture. Pay differentials. We are less likely to be hired, promoted or compensated because of our god-damned tits and snatches. These conservative jackasses want to treat our cunts like a public good, yet we pay tens of thousands of dollars to maintain and sustain our civilization-giving pussies and civilization-nurturing wombs and civilization-feeding breasts.

Yet these motherfuckers have the temerity to deny us health care coverage.  They have the audacity to force us to carry children. They claim they are pro-life yet they don’t care about the children outside of our wombs or the health of the mothers whose bodies nourish those fetuses then care for the children they become. They don’t care about the ceaseless gun-violence that strikes down those children we birth and raise and love. This fetus fetishism is but the rhetorical ruse they use to reduce us to a public womb and strip away our access to reproductive and economic justice. We endure quotidian misogyny big and small.

And you want me to circumlocute my furor in floridity?

Fuck that.

I will not discipline my voice, my words, or my body. I will refuse to conform to your rules which are designed to constrain me like a corset for your convenience and comfort. I will not respond to this war on women decorously. It’s an absurd request and I won’t entertain it. I will fight this war asymmetrically. I will use the vernacular it demands.  Why does your comfort take precedence over my basic rights to live in peace, dignity, agency, and equality?

I will not shrink away into a corner. I will not make myself small. I will not slink along the sidewalk with my head lowered in shame or fear. I will stand straight, look you in the eye and fearlessly tell you to go fuck yourself. I did not start this war. But I am a soldier in it.  I have no choice. I was never given the choice.


I know my senior colleague meant well. But he does not and cannot understand my ferocity and why it is unreasonable to ask me to express it in cultivated vocabulary or the language of philosophers or political science. Artful turns of phrase are a luxury my wrath does not and cannot enjoy, and will not entertain. My power is my voice. My resistance is my refusal to speak as expected. I will use words that make you uncomfortable because you motherfuckers should be uncomfortable. You want a respite from my profane words? I want a respite from the war on women, our lives, our bodies, our rights, our dignity, and agency.

You’ll get your goddamned respite when I get mine and not a femtosecond sooner.