Tag Archives: biased journalism

But What Religion is Loughner, Part 2

The AP had a long piece giving a little bit of background on America’s latest bigtime terrorist, Jared Loughner, who they refuse to label a terrorist although he was proud to declare himself one. All these paragraphs, yet neither the reporter nor the editor nor, apparently, the public thought to give a damn about his religion. This would be completely different if only one factor were different. It could be his name, say if there were a Muhammad or an Ahmad or even a Samir in there. It could be the appearance of being of African descent. A few tones darker, and the Malkins and Gellers would be making assumptions. It could be having taken a class in comparative religions or an attempt at learning a challenging foreign language. Or travel. All of those things would send the media machine shrikeing about “radicalization,” politicians bloviating, and reporters digging up Loughner’s and his family’s religious background like a pack of bloodhounds.

But Jared Loughner is named Jared Loughner and he’s blindingly white and apparently went through his life without being charmed by any other cultures. So although he very cleary carried out a premeditated act of multiple murder in a public place with the intend to change other people’s behavior, our media and politicians will not label him a terrorist.

Peter King, congressman and Irish terrorist sympathizer will continue with his plans to hassle the Muslim community in the US. The Jewish Anti-Defamation league will continue to be silent about anti-Muslim and anti-Arab bigotry. Geller, Malkin, Schlussel, Pipes, Spencer, and the rest of the “I’m a xenophobic ignoramus” choir will sing the same song they’ve been singing. “Muslims bad. Christian good.”

There is actually this one little bit about Christianity in the article. Notice how the reporter downplays it. This is the No True Scotsman fallacy: although Loughner is expressly talking about Christianity, the reporter (the supposedly impartial, unbiased reporter who is just giving us the facts, mind you) interjects his little disclaimer:

Loughner was arrested in October 2008 on a vandalism charge near Tucson after admitting he scrawled the letters “C” and “X” on a road sign in a reference to what he said was Christianity.

See? “In reference to what he said was Christianity.” I imagine the reporter or editor or both were expecting a firestorm of outrage if they left out “he said was.” Because the American public knows that if you leave out the ETA, the IRA, the Lord’s Resistance Army, the KKK, folks who assassinate doctors, and myriad others, Christianity is always peaceful today. Nevermind the Crusades and the Inquisition, which happened back in the mists of time.

Interestingly, to show how Christianity-soaked our country is, the Sheriff’s captain mentioned in the article is named Chris, the 9-year-old that Jared murdered is named Christina, and one of the reporters of this piece is named Christy. (Turns out there were five reporters involved, and although I used the male pronoun, most of them were women–good).

So as a friend of mine pointed out, there is no outcry that Loughner “lawyered up.” He remained silent and sought the legal help of a lawyer, just as we expect white Americans to do when they massacre. There were no calls to throw him into Guantanamo and let him moulder there. He was embraced by the US justice system, and the US public is perfectly happy with that. After all, he had mental problems and just needs help, the poor boy.

US citizens it's okay to shoot on sight

US citizen who just needs some help, poor boy

US citizen killed by Israeli commandos, no protest by US

4 Comments

Filed under arabist, domestic terrorism, names, Our glorious war on terror

Muslims Shield Christians with Their Bodies

The wail of the Islamophobes is, “Why don’t moderate Muslims speak out against terrorism?” Meaning, “Why don’t I bother to search the internet for stories of Muslims speaking out against terrorism, instead of just trusting that if Fox News didn’t show it, it didn’t happen?”

Personally, I would never have found this story if a Facebook friend hadn’t posted it. The newspaper is Ahram Online, an Egyptian paper, and the story is Egypt’s Muslims Attend Coptic Christmas Mass, Serving as “Human Shields.”

Egypt’s majority Muslim population stuck to its word Thursday night. What had been a promise of solidarity to the weary Coptic community, was honoured, when thousands of Muslims showed up at Coptic Christmas eve mass services in churches around the country and at candle light vigils held outside.

From the well-known to the unknown, Muslims had offered their bodies as “human shields” for last night’s mass, making a pledge to collectively fight the threat of Islamic militants and towards an Egypt free from sectarian strife.

Among those shields were movie stars Adel Imam and Yousra, popular preacher Amr Khaled, the two sons of President Hosni Mubarak, and thousands of citizens who have said they consider the attack one on Egypt as a whole.

“This is not about us and them,” said Dalia Mustafa, a student who attended mass at Virgin Mary Church on Maraashly. “We are one. This was an attack on Egypt as a whole, and I am standing with the Copts because the only way things will change in this country is if we come together.”

In the days following the brutal attack on Saints Church in Alexandria, which left 21 dead on New Year’ eve, solidarity between Muslims and Copts has seen an unprecedented peak. Millions of Egyptians changed their Facebook profile pictures to the image of a cross within a crescent – the symbol of an “Egypt for All”. Around the city, banners went up calling for unity, and depicting mosques and churches, crosses and crescents, together as one.

The New York Times did not cover this story. The Associated Press did not report this news. Reuters has nothing about it.

Not too long ago I saw this post on MyRightWingDad.net:

Couldn't find it today at MyRightWingDad.net so this is from another WordPress blog

Of course we won’t hear what the islamophobes have to say about Egyptian Muslims volunteering as human shields to protect their Christian neighbors, because no major news source is reporting it.

Leave a comment

Filed under arabist, bigoted idiots, Islamic relations

All the News That’s Fit to Cherry-Pick

The other day I updated my blogroll and added a link to an article written by Brian Whitaker in The Guardian in 2002, Selective MEMRI. It’s in my blogroll under ‘About MEMRI.’ I thought the article was very informative and would answer the typical questions about MEMRI’s accuracy and agenda.

Yesterday I found another old article, also in The Guardian, that consists of an email debate between the same Brian Whitaker and Yigal Carmon, MEMRI’s president in 2003. It’s pretty interesting.

These are just excerpts.

Yigal:

How does Memri select items for translation? We aim to reflect main trends of thought and when possible general public opinion. We feature the most topical issues on the Middle Eastern or international agenda.

When controversial matters are aired before such a large audience, Memri does not need to fight shy of translating their contents.

Are the examples chosen extreme? While some of the topics covered do seem extreme to the western reader, they are an accurate representation of what appears in the Arab and Farsi media.

Does Memri ignore the Israeli media? Memri was founded in l998 and for the first three years we translated items from the Israel media. However, almost half of Israel’s media is now available in English (the main daily Ha’aretz; Jerusalem Post; Globes; Jerusalem Report; as well as many broadcast and private media outlets), so we have cut down our output.

Brian:

Taking up your point about the Hebrew media, there’s an excellent service in Jerusalem called Israel News Today. It provides summaries of the Hebrew-language newspapers and radio bulletins, and translates articles, too.

If Memri did the same sort of thing in relation to the Arab media, I would have no quarrel. The Guardian and other papers might even pay for the service so that you wouldn’t have to rely on your anonymous benefactors for funding.

My problem with Memri is that it poses as a research institute when it’s basically a propaganda operation. As with all propaganda, that involves a certain amount of dishonesty and deception. The items you translate are chosen largely to suit your political agenda. They are unrepresentative and give an unfair picture of the Arab media as a whole.

This might not be so bad if you told us what your agenda is. But Memri’s website does not mention you or your work for Israeli intelligence. Nor does it mention Memri’s co-founder, Meyrav Wurmser, and her extreme brand of Zionism which maintains that Israeli leftists are a “threat” to their own country. Also, you’re not averse to a bit of cheating to make Arabs look more anti-semitic than they are.

In your Special Dispatch 151, for instance, you translated an interview given by the mufti of Jerusalem to al-Ahram al-Arabi, shortly after the start of the Palestinian uprising.

One question the interviewer asked was: “How do you deal with the Jews who are besieging al-Aqsa and are scattered around it?” Memri translated this as: “How do you feel about the Jews?” – which is a different question. That left you with a reply in Arabic which didn’t fit your newly-concocted question. So you cut out the first part of the mufti’s reply and combined what was left with part of his answer to another question.

Yigal:

I am disappointed to see that your reply continues to question points I have already addressed and that you descend into insulting accusations such as “cheating, deception, dishonest, unfair, concocted”. You offer no justifications for your quite serious attacks.

2) You are right: we do have an agenda. As an institute of research, we want Memri to present translations to people who wish to be informed on the ideas circulating in the Middle East. We aim to reflect reality. If knowledge of this reality should benefit one side or another, then so be it.

3) On checking Special Dispatch 151 (November 2000) we have to admit an error in translation. The question should indeed have read “How do you deal with the Jews?” rather than “How do you feel about the Jews?” As for the claim that we have “cobbled together” one answer from two questions to make “Arabs look more anti-semitic than they are”, the fact is that the following question referred to the same subject. As we have translated several hundred items since then, it is perhaps reassuring that you had to go back so far to find a mistake. I understand that the Guardian is occasionally subject to errors, so perhaps you will be understanding of this one.

Brian:

I have no wish to sound uncivil, but Memri has placed itself in a glasshouse by claiming to represent the views of the Arabic media to the English-speaking world. Given your political background, it’s legitimate to ask whether Memri is a trustworthy vehicle for such an undertaking. The evidence suggests it is not. You now concede an error of translation in the interview with the mufti, but ignore the more serious charge of dishonest editing. Indeed, you persist in misrepresenting the original Arabic question, in which the mufti was asked how he dealt with the Jews besieging the mosque.

Your translator turned this into a question asking how he felt about the Jews (ie in general). Your “corrected” version, once again, fails to recognise that in the Arabic text it was not a general question. It was about a specific group of Jews who were behaving in a hostile manner.

Having misrepresented the original question, you then had to misrepresent the mufti’s answer. There is no excuse for this sort of textual manipulation, and I can only surmise it was done for political reasons – to make his remarks look more anti-semitic than they actually were.

And so on. I recommend it.

2 Comments

Filed under arab, arabic, arabist, language