Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Huffington Post vs. The Truth

Do you remember this advertisement, recently going up in the New York City subway system thanks to Pamella Geller and her organization?

And do you remember how the Huffington Post insisted on characterizing it as "anti-Islam," even though it obvious isn't?

This was happening all the way back in July, but now that the advertisements have actually started appearing, the Huffington Post has initiated a full court press to turn their readership against them. Before we get to the examples, however, let me reiterate my thought: There is nothing anti-Islamic about the advertisements even though they use the loaded term jihad. Whether you buy that story about "jihad" only meaning "inner struggle" or not, the point is they did not say "defeat Islam" or "defeat Muslims." Although that may have been their intention, we can only go by what the advertisements actually say.

That is, unless you are the Huffington Post, in which case you can just say whatever the hell you want.

The first example of the Huffington Posts' propaganda campaign is a puff piece about a brief Twitter hashtag involving Muslims condemning the ads. Here's the headline, again claiming that the ads are "anti-Islamic:"

And here's an example of one of the tweets:

By the way, this @KLatif guy had almost nothing to say about the murder of Ambassador Stevens. I guess sometimes you can fight hate with hate.

But the Huffington Post isn't finished yet. It's time to call in the bloggers! First up, none other than Paul Brandeis Raushenbush, the Senior Religion Editor at the Huffington Post! I'm not going to do a whole fisking but let's see what he has to say:
"The New York subway ads pit civilization versus the savages -- civilization being with Israel, and savages being presumably the Palestinians. This is a horrible set-up for aiding the extremists on both sides....Viewing all Palestinians as Muslim savages plays into the worst temptation of settlers to regard a Palestinian life as less valuable than an Israeli. Likewise, instead of providing an antidote to the violent extremism that exists among Israel's enemies, this only gives the terrorists more talking points for recruitment."
Key word there, Mr. Raushenbush, is presumably. Palestinians who want peace are neither savage nor jihadists, and the advertisement wasn't about them. Sure, you can maybe assume that their intention was to make people associate savages = jihadists = Palestinians, but that means reading into the ad what simply isn't contained therein. There is nothing about the Palestinians or even Muslims in the advertisement. They chose their words carefully, possibly knowing that this is exactly the kind of opposition they would face.

You can argue with the advertisement all you want. Personally I think it is blunt, aggressive, and not exactly helpful to those who do support Israel. But it isn't racism, and it certainly isn't anti-Islamic no matter how much the Huffington Post repeats that particular falsehood. By the way at the end of the Raushenbush ad the tweets make a return.

But hang on! We've got one more to go. Joshua Stanton, the associate director of the Center for Global Judaism, is here to say that not only are the ads anti-Islamic, they are also Islamophobic! Which I know means practically the same thing, but whatever.
"From heinous implications and hateful language to insinuations about Islam and a claim that the Middle East conflict can be understood to be about the "civilized" and the "savage" rather than moderate Jews, Muslims, Christians and Druze against extremists of multiple faiths, I see no reason that these advertisements should be seen as pro-Israel."
You don't consider jihadists to be the same thing as extremists, Mr. Stanton? I do. But for the record, I also think the conflicts (there are more than one) in the Middle East are between those who are civilized and those who are not. The distinction is not along national boundaries, there are uncivilized Israelis most certainly, but along ideological ones. There is nothing hateful about saying that jihad must be defeated, especially looking at it from an atheists' perspective.

That being said, I do agree that the advertisements are hardly pro-Israel.

Woh woh woh! Hang on. Did you think we were done? Hell no, there's only been three articles condemning the ads and making things up to do it. Let's go for number four! Where did you think you were, Ha'aretz?

Russell Simmons and Rabbi Marc Schneier have teamed up to bring us the last (for now) attack on the Geller advertisements. Do you think they stuck to the truth, or went the easy route of loaded language and hyperbole?
"Let us be clear that if someone was to put up billboards on the subway referring to Jews or African-Americans or gay people as savages, there would be an enormous uproar. With all the talk about Ms. Geller's right to free expression, it is inconceivable to me that a judge would rule or that the MTA would accede to a ruling that it is OK to put up ads smearing Jews in such a way. Our community would simply not stand for it. Are we going to sit silently while another relatively defenseless community, is smeared in such a vile way?"
What community? The jihadist community? These advertisements are not about Muslims, I don't see how they could be any clearer. Muslims may have been the real target but once again, that involves "reading into" the advertisement. To compare them to an attack on gay people or African Americans is simply dishonest. It's like saying that an anti-KKK advertisement is a smear on all white people.

I'm not saying that you can't condemn the ads. The Huffington Post has got that part more than covered. What I'm saying is that in the process of doing so, stick to the truth. But unfortunately, the Huffington Post has given up on doing that a long time ago.

It is only when we get to the "New York" section that the headline bias stops, though by that point the Huffington Posters are believing what they are told to think. Here is the headline:

But again take a look at the links below it to see the bias. If you want to read how the Huffington Posters saw what they were instructed to see, rather than what was there, here is a link to the comments.

1 comment:

  1. Mona Eltahawy thinks these posters are worse than getting both arms broken by savages in Tahrir square?
    Mona Eltahawy Gets Her Jihad On In the NYC Subway


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