Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Beware Hate: From Any Side

There are times when I think that a great many people in this country should be sent to a quiet corner for a time out. Today is one of those times.

Someone named Joe Kaufman, apparently associated with an outfit called "Americans Against Hate / Fighting Hate With Truth," published a press release. The gist of the document was that someone named Affad Shaikh had said bad things about Senator Joe Lieberman, Vice President Dick Cheney, and a number of other people that liberals don't like.

Mr. Kaufman was right, in a way. Affad Shaikh's post, " Let's NUKE Iran!!! / Extremist Right Wing Nut cases over at FOX News" (August 22, 2007) features a wonderful example of propaganda video. Fox News is, of course, no favorite of people who like to be treated with the deference that they've become accustomed to at proper journalistic establishments like the Washington Post.

And, as I said, the video uses a very effective propaganda technique: selective editing. Using a similar process, I should be able to establish, in some minds, at least, that CNN hates Jews, and that Nancy Pelosi is a hard-line extremist anti-feminist. Not that these bizarre claims are true: they're not.

Mr. Kaufman may have a point, but his central statement is dubious, at best: "The atrocious behavior of CAIR’s Affad Shaikh should send a message to the media that CAIR is not a group to be dealt with on a cordial basis. Irregardless of the group’s well-known ties to terrorism, CAIR’s rhetoric should be viewed as unacceptable by any journalistic standards." CAIR is the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Mr. Shaikh's blog is, apparently, run by Mr. Shaikh. He certainly has a very positive relationship with CAIR. He's even written at least one article for CAIR, " CAIR-CA: Muslims Retain Identity, Take a Stand" (September 16, 2005). (UPDATE/CORRECTION, August 29, 2007. The article, on the CAIR website, was written by Sandi Dolbee, of the Union Tribune, 9/15/05. Thanks to Mr. Shaikh, for pointing out this error.)

As far as I can tell, Mr. Shaikh is a a highly-motivated, zealous west coaster. He makes this very clear in his blog post, ANGRY AT LIARS (July 19, 2007), where he writes, "Bush is a liar. Cheney is fat retard of a liar. Gonzales is a liar. Rice is a liar. Karl Rove is a liar. This country is run by liars and crooks and criminals all of them are masquerading as Republicans and WHY ARE THEY NOT IN PRISON? WHY ARE THEY STILL DESTROYING THIS COUNTRY?"

Nothing new here.

What bothers me is the last comment in Mr. Shaikh's blog.

"Anonymous said...

"I am no fan of the Bush clan...but I find the garbage coming out of the mouths of Muslims to be disgusting. I am a liberal Democrat who is HAPPY to see Sami Al-Arian and his ilk rot in prison. Do NOT make the mistake of thinking those who dislike Bush are going to support Muslim causes...too many are supporting the plan to destroy Israel. Take your backward, 7th century culture out of our lives."

My point is this. Mud-slinging, from any position, may feel good. It may score points in your social set. It might even get you elected.

But it doesn't foster good will.

"Anonymous," the "liberal Democrat" wrote, "Take your backward, 7th century culture out of our lives."

I am very much afraid that emotional, straight-from-the-adrenal-gland rants are going to become more common.

I suggest two steps to help calm things down.
  1. Think! This goes for writers and talkers, readers and listeners alike. You can tell what you feel without effort. Think about what's being communicated, too.
  2. Try to understand who the other person is. That's not the same as agreeing with the other person. If you understand the person, the person's statements may become easier to understand. Or, you may realize that they may be ignored.
With elections coming up in a little over a year in America, there's going to be a lot of emotional nonsense spewed. This is a good time to find your cognitive umbrellas.

About that "know about the person" thing: I hadn't heard about Affad Shaikh before today. Before writing this post, I did a little checking.

By a curious coincidence, he's got as many blogs on Blogger as I do: six. I'll let you look through them, and make up your own mind about who he is.Related posts, on tolerance, bigotry, racism, and hatred


zelle’s said...

Dear Another War-on-Terror Blog,

I want to thank you for writing this piece on me or Kaufman, rather just on the idea of mud slinging and also the video.

You make a very valid point in that anyone can take images put them together and create a slant in a way that they want. I agree with you on that. However, do you not think when opinion is constantly put forward in a debate where the option put forward are claimed on the very ground that seems quite shaky one should question the intention and motives of that argument. I guess what I am trying to say is that the video for me set forth the idea that there is more to Fox News then presenting the story- you know this- unfortunately many Americans, even in my community do not know this.

Anyway, this is something we can go back and forth on and I would like that, because I do feel there is an oppurtunity to learn or at least come to respect where you are coming from by dialogging. I do, however, want to point out a factual error.

I have never written an article for CAIR as stated in the piece. The article you are referring to was written by the San Diego Union Tribune Religion writer, who I have come to admire after getting to know her through the series of interviews she did. I happen to be one of the people who she quoted for one part of her two part article. It happens that CAIR has kept that article posted on their site- in fact I think I have it posted on my blog as well.



Brian H. Gill said...

affad shaikh,

First, and most important: Thank you for pointing out a factual error in this blog post. I've marked the error, and placed an update announcement with the correct information immediately after the article's link.

(There isn't an excuse for posting incorrect information, but in this case there is an explanation. In an effort to save time, I had set up a quick-and-dirty manual search process, using Google. As your name appeared in the CAIR article, I quickly skimmed your remarks, copied the article's URL, slapped that paragraph and link in place, and moved on. I don't intend to be that sloppy again!)

Second, I actually had Mr. Kaufman in mind, more than you, when I started this post. He, or whoever did his research, would have been well-advised to do a little checking before putting up that colorful press release.

I decided to feature you as much as I did, because I thought the best way of countering Kaufman's rather wild claims was to discuss some of your blog posts, and provide links to your blogs.

Even more replying:

About Fox News: "the video for me set forth the idea that there is more to Fox News then presenting the story- you know this- unfortunately many Americans, even in my community do not know this."

This central Minnesota town that I live in has a fairly diverse range of opinion. I've heard that Fox News is a
very conservative news channel, and a
very liberal news channel.

The people who told me that were neither stupid nor crazy. They just weren't used to something like Fox News Channel (FNC from here on).

What has struck me about FNC is the range of viewpoints aired. (Bill O'Reilly is, as far as many are concerned, conservative - but he is not the entire network.)

This diversity of opinion can be confusing. I believe I understand how the network seems conservative, since such views are expressed.

But liberal views are also expressed, often vehemently, and that makes the network seem liberal to some conservative people.

I'll be keeping a critical eye on FNC more, now, with your comments in mind.

You're a thorough man, Mr. Shaikh, and I appreciate that.

Thanks for your comments.

Zahra Billoo said...

Thank you.

The research efforts you put into this piece should be a lesson to Kaufman and crew.

Brian H. Gill said...

Zahra Billoo,

You're quite welcome. I just like to get facts straight.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.