Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer and Lies of Omission
by Sheila Musaji
We have previously reported on the Islamophobes inability to perform a simple internet search to verify claims, to check their sources or to even have a source other than an anonymous reader comment. These shortcomings may explain why they are so often caught in outright lies, or distortions of facts and forced to attempt to conceal the evidence of those lies by simply “disappearing” articles
They also seem to have a tendency to omit important information from supposed quotes without noting that they have done so. This particular technique to give their readers a false impression about a particular event could be called “lies of omission”. A few weeks ago, we reported on Pamela Geller’s partner Robert Spencer using this technique regarding a story about CIA applicants. Spencer included a supposed quote that left out key words that were in the actual original quote. The omission of this information completely changes the meaning. See Robert Spencer has lost even his tenuous grasp of the concept of truth telling for details on this story, and on how this technique of “lies by omission” is used.
Curiously, Spencer and Geller don’t seem to learn from previous errors, and continue repeating the same debunked stories, and using the same immoral techniques to promote new falsehoods. Pamela Geller has just posted Nun in Syria claims she has evidence proving video footage of chemical attack was fabricated referring to a story that originated on Russia Today. In that article she included an article from The Blaze, but left out key portions, including the first part of the article. She did not use ellipses or in any way let her readers know that this was only an excerpt from the article. Here is the first part of the article that Geller did not include:
A nun in Qara, Syria, claims she has “evidence” proving video footage of the deadly chemical attack in Syria was fabricated. Mother Agnes Mariam el-Salib, mother superior of St. James Monastery, told Russia Today that she plans to submit her findings to the United Nations Human Rights Commission.
Before we go any further, it must be noted that RT is widely considered to be the media mouthpiece of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his regime. Given the political differences in the Syria conflict between the U.S. and Russia, as well as the numerous conspiracy theories surrounding the chemical attack, it’s hard to know what to discount and what to take seriously.
Yet, here we have an unlikely story that may get some attention in the news – but can anyone really trust Russia Today? Assuming the outlet didn’t alter the nun’s quotes in any way, let’s start by examining exactly what she told RT. ...
So, what Geller left out was that the source is questionable, it is an unlikely story, and it is possible that the quote from the nun has been altered. These are important facts to know, and their omission would certainly influence a readers perception of the “facts” in the article. Omitting key words or phrases from a quote without noting that they have been omitted with an ellipse ( ... ) or other commonly accepted method can only be called lying. Such devious techniques are the stock in trade of propagandists, not of serious journalists or scholars, or even decent human beings. It is a reprehensible tactic.
Richard Bartholomew researched this particular story and wrote Russia Today Promotes Nun’s Chemical Attack “Fraud” Claim:
A game-changing headline from Russia Today:
Footage of chemical attack in Syria is fraud
The supposed evidence:
Mother Agnes, a catholic nun, who has been living in Syria for 20 years and has been reporting actively on what has been going on in the war-ravaged country, says she carefully studied the video featuring allegedly victims of the chemical weapons attack in the Syrian village of Guta in August and now questions its authenticity.
In her interview with RT, Mother Agnes doubts so much footage could have been taken in so little time, and asks where parents of the supposedly dead children are. She promises to send her report to the UN.
In normal journalistic practice, the words “is fraud” in the headline would be in quotation marks, to indicate that it refers to a claim being made by someone rather than an established fact – but of course, Russia Today, as mouthpiece for the Putin regime, is hardly a normal news source.
Mother Agnès-Mariam de la-Croix has featured on this blog previously, after she pronounced that rebels had been responsible for the Houla massacre. In a cosy interview with a 9/11 Truther named Thierry Meyssan in 2012, she described Assad as a “reformist”, and she appears to have links to his security services. However, her new claim about the chemical weapons attack on Guta does not rely on any claim to special access or inside information – she has merely watched the same publicly-avilable footage as the rest of us and drawn a conclusion that she finds congenial:
I have carefully studied the footage, and I will present a written analysis on it a bit later…The key evidence is that Reuters made these files public at 6.05 in the morning. The chemical attack is said to have been launched between 3 and 5 o’clock in the morning in Guta. How is it even possible to collect a dozen different pieces of footage, get more than 200 kids and 300 young people together in one place, give them first aid and interview them on camera, and all that in less than three hours?… I am not saying that no chemical agent was used in the area – it certainly was. But I insist that the footage that is now being peddled as evidence had been fabricated in advance. I have studied it meticulously, and I will submit my report to the UN Human Rights Commission based in Geneva.
Of course, while Mother Agnès-Mariam may be a regime stooge, middle-east Christian support for Assad goes far deeper, and is to some extent driven by a reasonable fear of Islamic extremists among the rebels.
At the start of last week, Palestinian Christians held a sit-in at the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, at which supporters chanted “Only God, Syria, and Bashir”; the crowd was addressed by Orthodox Archbishop Atallah Hanna, a Palestinian who is not on good terms with the Greek hierarchy, but who is often quoted in the media as representing the church. Hanna is at times an articulate defender of Palestinian rights, although he also embraces conspiracy-theories; he recently described the Free Syrian Army as (indirect quote) “pawns who serve Israel”. Hanna is also a close associate of Israel Shamir, the Swedish anti-semite best-known as being the link-man between Julian Assange and the Belarussian security services.
In the USA, the plight of Syrian Christians was recently cited by Rand Paul as a reason against US intervention in the conflict, although Julia Ioffe at the New Republic is sceptical that the issue was raised in good faith:
Pointing out that Assad protects Christians even as he gasses Sunni Muslim children may not be what Paul was intending to imply, but it sure looks that way when his most ardent supporters are writing editorials titled “Letting Allah Sort Out Islamic Civil War in Syria,” itself a borrowed line from nuanced foreign policy thinker Sarah Palin. Or “Christians Under the Crescent.”
Ironically, this is similar to the way that Palestinian Christians have sometimes been used by supporters of Israel, with unhappy results.
There are also other conspiracy theories doing the rounds about Ghouta; in particular, Rush Limbaugh has been promoting a claim by Yossef Bodansky that the chemical weapons used in the attack were provided to rebels by US intelligence. According to Bodansky:
On Aug. 13-14, Western-sponsored opposition forces in Turkey started advance preparations for a major and irregular military surge. Initial meetings between senior opposition military commanders and representatives of Qatari, Turkish, and U.S. Intelligence… took place at the converted Turkish military garrison in Antakya, Hatay Province, used as the command center and headquarters of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and their foreign sponsors. Very senior opposition commanders who had arrived from Istanbul briefed the regional commanders of an imminent escalation in the fighting due to “a war-changing development” which would, in turn, lead to a U.S.-led bombing of Syria.
Bodansky cites unnamed “participants”, although he gives no explanation as to how he came by his information. Enthusiasts (such as Glenn Beck’s End-Times prophet Joel Richardson) have instead cited Bodansky’s credentials – he’s a political scientist, and formerly served as Director of the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare of the US House of Representatives (1988 to 2004). Mother Jones, by contrast, describes him as “an Assad sympathizer who has previously suggested that the 1995 Oklahoma bombing was orchestrated by Iran and that Saddam’s WMDs all ended up in Syria”; he also famously suggested that Bosnian Muslims engaged in “self-killing” during the Yugoslavia conflict in order to demonize the Serbs.
The claim that “the US did it” has also been helped by a bogus report carried by the Daily Mail back in January (by Louise Boyle) that led to a six-figure libel payout; the Press Gazette noted the paper’s apology:
An article on 29 January reported allegations on the internet that the US Government had backed a plot to launch a chemicals weapons attack in Syria and blame it on the Assad regime.
The reports made reference to an email said to have been from David Goulding, the Business Development Director of Britam Defence, to company founder, Philip Doughty. The email had been published on the internet after Britam’s computer system was illegally hacked in Singapore. It referred to a proposal that Britam would deliver chemical weapons to Syria for enormous financial reward and suggested that the directors were willing to consider the illegal proposal. We now accept that email was fabricated and acknowledge there is no truth in any suggestion that Britam or its directors were willing to consider taking part in such a plot, which may have led to an atrocity. We apologise to each of them and have agreed to pay substantial damages.
The Mail article’s sources were Alex Jones’s Infowars.com and “Cyber Wars News”, which one would have thought might have set off alarm bells. Alas, the report was then picked up by Asian News International (ANI) and in this form remains available. As with RT, there was a fatal lack of distance between claims being made and facts being reported by the agency itself:
RESOURCES FOR DEALING WITH ISLAMOPHOBIA SUMMARY
The Islamophobia Industry exists and is engaged in an anti-Muslim Crusade. They have a manifesto for spreading their propaganda, and which states their goal of “destroying Islam — as a culture, a political ideology, and a religion.” They produce anti-Muslim films. They are forming new organizations and coalitions of organizations at a dizzying speed, not only nationally, but also internationally. They have formed an International Leadership Team “which will function as a mobile, proactive, reactive on-the-ground team developing and executing confidential action plans that strike at the heart of the global anti-freedom agenda.”
Currently, the Islamophobia Industry is engaged in a full-scale, coordinated, demonization campaign against American Muslims and Arabs. In just the past few months we have seen a series of inflammatory provocations: There was the Innocence of Muslims film Titanic, a German satire magazine plans an “Islam” cover article to be published later this month. Charlie Hebdo, a French satire magazine published an issue with inflammatory cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. Newsweek published their ‘Muslim Rage’ cover. Terry Jones held a “trial of Prophet Muhammad”. SION held a “global” gathering in NYC to plan propaganda strategy. A group in Toronto publicized a “walk your dog at the mosque” day. AFDI/SIOA has run a series of anti-Muslim ads on public transportation across the country. AFDI/SIOA are planning to run 8 more anti-Muslim ads. There are three more films on Prophet Muhammad in the works by Ali Sina, Mosab Hassan Yousef and Imran Farasat. They are even bringing their hate messages into public schools.
Daniel Pipes is encouraging publication of “A Muhammad cartoon a day”, and says “So, this is my plea to all Western editors and producers: Display the Muhammad cartoon daily, until the Islamists become accustomed to the fact that we turn sacred cows into hamburger.”. Pipes joins Daniel Greenfield (aka Sultan Knish) who published an appeal on David Horowitz’ Front Page Magazine Is It Time for ‘Make Your Own Mohammed Movie Month’?. And, both are following in the footsteps of such luminaries as Pamela Geller, who promoted just such a plan back in 2010 with her promotion of Draw Muhammad Day, even after the cartoonist who drew the first cartoon and suggested the idea, Molly Norris apologized to Muslims and asked for the day to be called off, and American Muslims had issued a defense of free speech. None of this is surprising as one of the Islamophobes laid out their strategy as “The Muslims themselves have shown us their most vulnerable spot, which is the questionable (though unquestioned) character of the ‘Prophet’ himself. We need to satirise and ridicule baby-bonking Mo until the Muslims fly into uncontrollable tantrums, then ridicule them even more for their tantrums, and repeat the process until they froth at the mouth and steam comes out of their ears.”
The Islamophobia of these folks is very real, it is also strikingly similar to a previous generations’ anti-Semitism, and it has predictable consequences. The reason that this is so obvious to so many is that rational people can tell the difference between legitimate concerns and bigoted stereotypes.
The claim that the Islamophobes are “truth-tellers” and “defenders of freedom” who actually “love Muslims” and have never engaged in “broadbrush demonization” or “advocated violence”, or that nothing that they say could have had anything to do with any act of violence, are nonsense. The claim that they are falsely being accused of Islamophobia for no reason other than their legitimate concerns about real issues and that in fact there is not even such a thing as Islamophobia, or their claim that the fact that there are fewer hate crimes against Muslims than against Jews or that some Muslims have fabricated such crimes “proves” that Islamophobia doesn’t exist, or that the term Islamophobia was made up by Muslims in order to stifle their freedom of speech, or that anti-Muslim bigotry is “not Islamophobia but Islamorealism” are all nonsense.
These individuals and organizations consistently promote the false what everyone “knows” lies about Islam and Muslims (including distorting the meaning of Qur’anic verses, and distorting the meaning of Islamic terms such as taqiyya, jihad, sharia, etc.). Islamophobes falsely claim to see “JIHAD” PLOTS everywhere, particularly where they don’t exist. They, like Muslim extremists, don’t understand the true meaning of the term jihad. The Islamophobes have uncovered countless examples of “shocking”, non-existent Muslim jihad plots.
Here are just a few ridiculous claims about nonsensical Muslim plots:
An Eid Celebration for Muslim Special Needs Kids was described as a “stealth jihad”. A children’s page in a newspaper focusing on Eid was described as a toxic propaganda plot. Joel Hinrichs (a Christian) had a beard and had walked through the parking lot of a campus mosque thus proving that his crime was an example of sudden jihad syndrome. Leon Alphans Traille, Jr., the Arlington, Virginia Mall Bomber was accused of possible “sudden jihad syndrome” just because he had a beard, obviously, a case of beard jihad.
Tyler Brehm who carried out the Hollywood shooting jihad was accused of “sudden jihad syndrome” because he shouted something that one witness from the Philippines said he might have shouted “Allahu Akbar”. This report was not backed up by any other witnesses. The awful April 2007 shooting at Virginia Tech by a Korean student was also called Islamic jihad because Cho’s father had once worked in Saudi Arabia (before he was married and before Cho was born). A Muslim doctor had a heart attack and died at the wheel of his car which then crashed into a shopping mall and this was described as “vehicular jihad”. A Muslim cab driver objected to what he considered pornographic ads on the roof of his cab, and that became a stealth-jihad plot to impose Sharia on America. Any Muslim who has sued an employer for violation of their rights under the EEOC is engaged in employment jihad, or litigation jihad. Muslim environmentalists are said to be actually engaged in “civilizational jihad”. A cartoon series “The 99” aimed at young Muslims was described as “cultural jihad”. The victims of the terrorist attack of 9/11 included Muslims, they were accused of dying as martyrs in an act of jihad. Muslims hoped to open a Muslim hospital in the U.S. and that was called hospital jihad.
The Islamophobes have uncovered countless examples of “shocking” Muslim jihad plots. They have uncovered:
bumper sticker jihad — Thanksgiving turkey jihad — paisley scarf jihad — marriage to important men jihad — spit jihad — fashion jihad — spelling bee jihad — rape jihad — defacing dollar bills jihad — population jihad — creeping Sharia jihad — mosque building jihad — terror baby jihad — “creeping Sharia” jihad — pedophilia jihad — bus driver prayer jihad — forehead bruise jihad — postage stamp jihad — soup jihad — banning alcohol jihad — fake hate crimes jihad — piggy bank jihad — tv reality series jihad — handshake jihad — prom jihad — interfaith jihad — Arabic language jihad — public school jihad — religious accommodation jihad — Crescent moon jihad — Christmas tree tax jihad — oath of office jihad — immigration jihad — community fundraiser jihad— public school/madrassa jihad — post office jihad — food jihad — pyramid jihad — crucifixion jihad in Egypt — fireworks jihad — computer donation jihad — civic participation jihad — Olympic “judo” jihad— stealth name jihad— pre-violent jihad — Love jihad — fashion jihad 2 — #MyJihad ad jihad — talk show host jihad — art museum jihad — Halloween jihad — DNC Muslim Prayer Jihad — cat crucifixion jihad in Ghana — Scottish Muslim women’s stealth jihad — anti-democracy jihad — un-neighborly Musims in Paris jihad — jihad on Christopher Columbus — Iranian smallpox jihad — Muslim Christmas grinch jihad — #MyJihad twitter jihad — Muslim takeover of National Parks jihad
Nothing is too trivial to escape the eagle eyes of these “defenders of Western civilization” against devious Muslim stealth jihad plots. Christina Abraham (a Muslim) has a name that is not recognizably Muslim enough and so we have stealth name jihad. And, if a Muslim somewhere is not doing anything at all suspicious, then they are engaged in pre-violent jihad.
Islamophobes generalize specific incidents to reflect on all Muslims or all of Islam. Islamophobes consistently push demonstrably false memes such as: - we are in danger from creeping Sharia, - the Muslim population is increasing at an alarming rate, - 80% of American Mosques are radicalized, - There have been 270 million victims of “jihad” - There have been 17,000+ “Islamic terrorist” attacks since 9/11 - Muslims in government are accused of being Muslim Brotherhood plants, stealth jihadists, and creeping Sharia proponents and should be MARGINALIZED or excluded. Muslim and Arab organizations and individuals are connected to the infamous Muslim Brotherhood document or the unindicted co-conspirator label, or accused of not condemning Hamas, telling American Muslims not to talk to the FBI, of being “Jew haters”, etc.
Islamophobes do not understand freedom of speech or that freedom of speech does not include freedom from condemnation of that speech and they are quick to call for censorship and repression of speech they don’t like.
There is a reason that many, even outside of the Muslim community see such demonization of Muslims as Islamophobic. There is a reason that the ADL has stated that Brigitte Gabriel’s Act for America, Pamela Geller & Robert Spencer’s Stop the Islamization of America (SIOA), David Yerushalmi’s Society of Americans for National Existence (SANE) are “groups that promote an extreme anti-Muslim agenda”. There is a reason that The Southern Poverty Law Center has designated SIOA as a hate group, and that these individuals are featured in the SPLC reports Jihad Against Islam and The Anti-Muslim Inner Circle. There is a reason that these individuals and organizations are featured prominently in: — the Center for American Progress reports “Fear Inc.” on the Islamophobia network in America and Understanding Sharia Law: Conservatives skewed interpretation needs debunking. — the People for the American Way Right Wing Playbook on Anti-Muslim Extremism. — the NYCLU report Religious Freedom Under Attack: The Rise of Anti-Mosque Activities in New York State. — the Political Research Associates report Manufacturing the Muslim menace: Private firms, public servants, and the threat to rights and security. — The ACLU report Nothing to Fear: Debunking the Mythical “Sharia Threat” to Our Judicial System — in The American Muslim TAM Who’s Who of the Anti-Muslim/Anti-Arab/Islamophobia Industry. There is a reason that the SIOA’s trademark patent was denied by the U.S. government due to its anti-Muslim nature. There is a reason that these individuals and organizations are featured in just about every legitimate report on Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hatred.
See Resources for dealing with Islamophobes for many more reasons that these people cannot be trusted.
Sheila Musaji is the founding editor of The American Muslim (TAM), published since 1989. Sheila received the Council on American-Islamic Relations 2007 Islamic Community Service Award for Journalism, and the Loonwatch Anti-Loons of 2011: Profiles in Courage Award for her work in fighting Islamophobia. Sheila was selected for inclusion in the 2012 edition of The Muslim 500: The World’s 500 Most Influential Muslims published since 2009 by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre in Amman, Jordan. Biography You can follow her on twitter @sheilamusaji ( https://twitter.com/SheilaMusaji )