Friday, January 09, 2015

Massacre and media (UPDATED)

Jim Treacher, a conservative writer at the Daily Caller, thinks that the New York Times changed a report on the Charlie Hebdo massacre out of political correctness or pro-Muslim sympathy. This is what the NYT originally reported (according to the right-wing blog Ace of Spades):
Sigolène Vinson, a freelancer who had decided to come in that morning to take part in the meeting, thought she would be killed when one of the men approached her.

Instead, she told French news media, the man said, “I’m not going to kill you because you’re a woman, we don’t kill women, but you must convert to Islam, read the Quran and cover yourself,” she recalled.
Treacher says that the NYT changed the story thus:
Sigolène Vinson, a freelance journalist who had come in that morning to take part in the meeting, said that when the shooting started, she thought she would be killed.

Ms. Vinson said in an interview that she dropped to the floor and crawled down the hall to hide behind a partition, but one of the gunmen spotted her and grabbed her by the arm, pointing his gun at her head. Instead of pulling the trigger, though, he told her she would not be killed because she was a woman.

“Don’t be afraid, calm down, I won’t kill you,” the gunman told her in a steady voice, with a calm look in his eyes, she recalled. “You are a woman. But think about what you’re doing. It’s not right.”
The right-wing agit-prop machine is making a huge deal out of this: See here and here and here for examples.

Frankly, this incident is quite odd. The NYT commits many sins, but the paper is usually good about noting changes in their articles. In fact, the newspaper does mention a very small change concerning a misspelled name -- yet the errata notice says nothing about the three paragraphs quoted above.

Did Vinson actually say "You must convert to Islam"? Did the assailant mention the Quran and the need to dress modestly?

A French-language publication is more likely to quote the woman accurately. Here is how RFI puts it (my translation):
A few moments after the tragedy, Sigolène Vinson spoke to RFI: "I am Sigolène. I am alive. But it's horrible, horrible. They're dead." [Crying.] "If Sigolène Vinson is still alive, it's because she's a woman. One of the attackers said: 'We do not kill women, but you have to convert to Islam and cover yourself,' before shouting 'Allah Akbar.'"
Obviously, this is closer to the version given by Ace of Spades, although there is nothing here about the Quran.

Interestingly, the Quran is referenced in a version published the French version of Slate. "We won't kill you because we don't kill women, but you will read the Quran." (See also here.) But now we have no reference to covering up.

This site gives a version which agrees with the Ace of Spades report.

So we have varying reports. What do we make of this?

I think that, in the direct aftermath of the event, Vinson gave slightly differing accounts. One can hardly blame her for being frazzled. She may have given a third variant at a later time, and this third variant may be the one published by the New York Times.

That said: I can find no French-language report which agrees with the later NYT story. Google gives us no trace of a French-language account in which the terrorist tells Vinson to calm down and not to be afraid. Times writer Liz Alderman may have acquired her information from a later radio or television interview of Vinson.

If Alderman did alter her original report in a material way, the NYT should should so stipulate.

(A side note: It's a little surprising to see that the attacker spoke to Vinson using the familiar tu instead of vous. I was taught that one uses tu when addressing a child.)

Nevertheless, it is inane to argue that the NYT is displaying some sort of pro-Islamic bias. After all, this is the same "journal of record" which has always shown such a pronounced bias in favor of Israel, not to mention the very skewed reporting of the Syrian civil war.

The idea that liberals favor Islamic fundamentalism, or any other type of fundamentalism, is one of those surreal fairy tales that right-wingers love to tell themselves, even though this fantasy has no basis in reality. Most liberals feel uncomfortable with any and all forms of "that old time religion." (Liberals do tend to give Wiccans a free pass, probably because so many Wiccans are big on feminist rhetoric. Of course, Wicca only pretends to be old.).

The right wants us to believe that this terror attack proves not only that Islam is inherently violent but that the mainstream American media are enablers of Islamic violence.

Balderdash. The contrary is true.

Mainstream American journalists are enablers of senseless violence against Muslims. To prove the point, one need merely whisper the name Judith Miller -- whose fibs were published by the New York Times.

I might also mention the endlessly respectful treatment given to Colin Powell's UN address. Let's not forget our media's refusal to devote proper attention to the Downing Street Memo.

I admire what Lucy Steigerwald has written, although her wording is a bit too convoluted:
The perpetrators of the Paris attack – now identified, with one in custody – should be found and brought to justice. But oh, If only one could depend on a narrowness of response – that only the terrorists responsible would be punished for every attack, and no freedoms, no domestic privacy or rights would be sacrificed; no innocent Muslims or their houses of worship assaulted or oppressed, and no civilians would be caught in any crossfire of any ensuing international effort.
She notes that one of the suspects was apparently radicalized by his treatment at Abu Ghraib.
What we also know is that most people moved by this crime in Paris will not spend precious time thinking about other bloodbaths caused by other, more legitimized hands. Drones, bombs, or boots on the ground; destabilizing and collapsing nations; causing civil wars. What can’t be excused, that is, as long as western enlightenment ideals were somewhere vaguely near the back of the motivation?
We should stop ranking losses, and we should only say that the Charlie Hebdo staff and the police officers killed matter just as much as every innocent person killed in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, or Pakistan. Tragically – especially in America – that’s a radical statement to make.
Yes, the NYT is guilty of many sins. The magically morphing quotation attributed to Vinson is, at worst, a venial sin. When the Times committed a series of mortal sins during the Bush years, the Republicans did not complain.

Update. A kind reader has informed me that NYT writer Alderman now says that the Vinson quote published in RFI was erroneous. Thus, American right-wing bloggers are incensed that the NYT did not continue to reproduce a false quote -- a false quote which just happened to tie into a right-wing fear-fantasy.

Alderman's new story on the Charlie Hebdo massacre is here.
Sigolène Vinson, a freelance journalist who had come in that morning to take part in the meeting, said that when the shooting started, she thought she would be killed. Ms. Vinson said in an interview that she dropped to the floor and crawled down the hall to hide behind a partition, but one of the gunmen spotted her and grabbed her by the arm, pointing his gun at her head. Instead of pulling the trigger, though, he told her she would not be killed because she was a woman.

She disputed a quotation attributed to her and carried on the website of the French radio service RFI stating that the gunman had told her she should convert to Islam, read the Quran and cover herself. Instead, she told The New York Times in an interview, the gunman told her: “Don’t be afraid, calm down, I won’t kill you.” He spoke in a steady voice, she said, with a calm look in his eyes, saying: “ ‘You are a woman. But think about what you’re doing. It’s not right.’ ” Then she said he turned to his partner, who was still shooting, and shouted: “We don’t shoot women! We don’t shoot women! We don’t shoot women!”
I'm sure that the right-wingers will now claim that Alderman concocted this new story in order to cover her ass. Any such theory is ridiculous. Vinson is herself a widely-published journalist, and in a position to refute a false quote published in America's leading newspaper.

A right-wing reader -- a newcomer to this blog -- has accused me of trying to "spin" the NYT story. Regular readers know full well that I have often criticized the New York Times, often in very harsh terms. In the comments, I offered a response to this right-wing visitor, and I'd like to repeat that sentiment here:
You rightwingers live in an alternative universe, and whenever you encounter people who say anything that stands outside of your delusions, you scry conspiratorial intent.

In this case, your delusions are two-fold. You want to believe: 1. That Muslims want to impose "The Caliphate" on the west and to force your sons and daughters practice Islam; and 2. That the New York Times is, for some reason, down with this program.

On both counts -- but especially the second -- you are simply nuts. Totally fucking insane. My god, the New York Times may be the most pro-Jewish newspaper published outside of Israel. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that the NYT is more pro-Jewish than freakin' Ha'aretz. Look at who OWNS the NYT. Look at who WRITES for the NYT. Look at who buys copies of the NYT in the actual city of New York. You really think that these are people who want to see a Caliphate in the U.S.? Are you freakin' KIDDING?
And that, I hope, is that. Now I can pay attention to the finale of this drama...!
Comments:
I don't know if it matters that much whether the New York Times altered a paragraph, although normally the article would have an "updated" time notation.

I do question the point of having security if they can't do their job. This "attack" was not much different than the drunken man who simply ran towards the white house and actually made it inside, other than the masked men had guns.

If security can't handle people running into buildings, then they are scamming the rest of us by wanting more and more cash for social surveillance while being incapable of detaining people running.
 
I happened upon your blog after seeing the links to this incident on Memeorandum. It's perfectly clear what the NYT did here. You have to be dizzy from the way you are trying to spin it.
 
Joseph, the liberals I know are complete over-weening poseurs when it comes to Islam. They trip over each other trying to profess their lack of prejudice against Islam and puff themselves up with horrific blather about having to "respect" others' religious beliefs. Compare to their nonstop belittling of Catholicism and Southern Baptists.

Right now, they are all one mass of how "racist" the Charlie mag is, and how they are SO not Je Suis Charlie, trying to out chest-pound every other insufferably non-racist religious-tolerant "evolved" human out there in the Facebook Jungle.

Thanks for Lucy's article....I followed some of her interesting links, too.
 
I've caught other msm reports in which a verbatim quote was mysteriously changed. In one case a doctor was quoted directly about millions of people possibly being killed by Ebola. After complaints the quote was sanitized with new words pulled from the ether. I suspect that all words within quotes from msm are suspect, and probably originate more from the journalists' 'interpretation' than a genuine quote. A larger investigation needs to occur. I think the practice is rampant and business as usual.
 
Interesting take. Here's mine. Treacher should have paid more attention when he read the revised NYT article.
 
Maybe the first published version was fake and a computer cock-up at the NYT caused a previously prepared version to come live again.

Have they kept the same URL?

Saw that on 7/7 (report that Netanyahu had prior warning sent down the memory hole) and with a hotel bomb in Amman, Jordan (report that Israeli intelligence officers left the hotel sharpish beforehand...sent down the memory hole).

I mean do trainers tell their operatives: at this point, don't forget to proselytise?

Meanwhile, are we going to see another Entebbe, this time in Paris?

Remember Nairobi. Remember Mumbai. An Entebbe in Europe can't be far away. Remember Budapest (control room up in the sky, shades of '76). (Not to mention Dubai. Guys wearing tennis gear have since become a staple in Israeli comedy.)

(Personally, I've been expecting trouble at a North Sea oil rig. Sea power. Easy to keep unwanted cameras away. Suitable vehicle for pushing the meme of vulnerability, unexpected weak points [the hell!] and possible breakdown.)

An Entebbe in Paris would humiliate France, but...so what?

Look for interesting establishments near the siege locations...

The Zionazi security force in Paris will be having a field day.

So will the Chabadniks.

As for 'salesmen of Dead Sea health treatments' in shopping malls...

I say this to people and it's as if they've forgotten their Ostrovsky...



 
One of the hostages in the Hyper Kacher kosher supermarket is a Chabadnik (or Lubavitcher, as they are also called) (source).

See also this. "Rabbi Chmouel Lubecki reports that he and other Chabad representatives all over Paris have sent SMS messages to thousands of members of the Jewish community encouraging them to light Shabbat candles and give extra charity in merit of the hostages."

Are some cellphones working even near the siege?


 
This comment has been removed by the author.
 
Roark: WHAT spin? What the hell are you talking about?

You rightwingers live in an alternative universe, and whenever you encounter people who say anything that stands outside of your delusions, you scry conspiratorial intent.

In this case, your delusions are two-fold. You want to believe: 1. That Muslims want to impose "The Caliphate" on the west and to force your sons and daughters practice Islam; and 2. That the New York Times is, for some reason, down with this program.

On both counts -- but especially the second -- you are simply nuts. Totally fucking insane. My god, the New York Times may be the most pro-Jewish newspaper published outside of Israel. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that the NYT is more pro-Jewish than freakin' Ha'aretz. Look at who OWNS the NYT. Look at who WRITES for the NYT. Look at who buys copies of the NYT in the actual city of New York. You really think that these are people who want to see a Caliphate in the U.S.? Are you freakin' KIDDING?
 
I have a theory about the Paris attacks that I haven't heard anywhere else. I don't have evidence and I don't *believe* it. But I entertain it. It is this:

The terrorists, who were known to Western intelligence and under surveillance, were goaded by a far-right faction in the French spy services to attack. (French intelligence is, from everything I've gathered over the years, as intrigue- and rogue-operative-filled as the CIA.)

The fact that one of the top Yemeni operatives for al-Qaeda - the guy who activated the Toulouse shooter, for example - was widely believed to be a French agent, according to McClatchy, before supposedly defecting to the terrorists' side gives any far-right faction in the intelligence services the potential means to influence al-Qaeda behind the scenes. And now we're learning that at least one of the Paris attackers trained in Yemen.

(Speaking of the Toulouse shooter, does anyone remember when a former French intelligence head claimed that that shooter had probably been an informant for the French domestic spy service? The claim came from Yves Bonnet - quite a character himself, reputedly as he was a friend of Abu Nidal. Plenty to find Googling him.)

http://www.businessinsider.com.au/former-french-intel-head-says-gunman-mohamed-merah-was-an-informant-for-french-intelligence-agency-2012-3

And there's reason for a guy like that French "defector" in Yemen to be playing for both al-Qaeda and the far-right even to this day. Heightening the contradictions and all that. Also bear in mind that the French far-right generally opposes Middle East interventions, and approves of multiculturalism about as much as Islamists do. I don't see anything impossible about a covert alliance of convenience, or convergence of interests, between black operatives of European neo-fascism and Islamism.

Add to all this the astonishing coincidence that the attack happened the same day as the publication of Submission, a book that imagines the defeat of Marine Le Pen in 2022 by a Muslim presidential candidate who proceeds to turn France and Europe into a caliphate, and I think what we might be dealing with here is the opening shot in a fascist takeover.
 
I have to correct my previous post. The supposed French agent turned al Qaeda terrorist, David Drugeon, was not, as far as I can tell, part of al Qaeda in Yemen and has never been linked to the Toulouse shooter.

Rather, he was or is part of Khorasan, the nebulous group in Syria. CNN reported he was targeted by US airstrikes in Nov. I say "was or is part of" because no one's sure if he was killed. Mysteriously, the French deny most of the reported facts about this man, so it remains unclear if he worked for French intelligence and went over to al Qaeda or what. Nothing is clear.

Sorry for the error. But given what we know about the Paris attackers' possible links to Syria, I think my point stands.
 
http://www.juancole.com/2015/01/terrorist-radicalized-torture.html


Paris Terrorist was Radicalized by Bush’s Iraq War, Abu Ghraib Torture
By Juan Cole | Jan. 8, 2015 |



"Without Bush’s invasion and occupation of Iraq, it is not at all clear that Sharif Kouachi would have gotten involved in fundamentalist vigilanteism. And if he hadn’t, he would not have gone on to be a point man in murdering out the staff of Charlie Hebdo along with two policemen."

" Maybe the staff at Charlie Hebdo would be alive if George W. Bush and Richard Bruce Cheney hadn’t modeled for the Kouashi brothers how you take what you want and rub out people who get in your way."
 
My recollection is tu may also be used by a male to a woman as a verbal display of dominance.

Similarly with du in Deutsch.
 
http://www.globalresearch.ca/paris-shooters-just-returned-from-natos-proxy-war-in-syria/5423517

No comment needed
 
Anon 2.09pm - very interesting info about the publication of the Submission book. Whether male Muslim students in the west contain a large proportion of hypocrites (and I once saw a Muslim guy with wife standing nearby in full veil rent some disgustingly violent US films, and thought How the fuck anti-western are you matey?) is less important than the political reality of which parties, and what kind of parties, are being built up on an anti-Muslim platform in western Europe.

I'll check out that Submission book, anon. Sounds as though it may carry the message 'Vote FN'.

Nice location, that Hyper Cacher, by the way. (Apologies for earlier misspelling). Good outlook over a big transport hub.

Do the owners really think that location is worth what is presumably the extra rent for such a location?

I mean how many customers just notice it and drop in there on impulse?

And if the answer's 'not many', why not save some money and have the store on a back street?
 
2022, Anon? I wouldn't be surprised if Marine Le Pen wins the presidency in 2017.

The French National Front has a longer-standing basis of support than any other anti-Muslim party I'm aware of anywhere in Europe.

For those with short memories: the FN came first in the 2014 EU election in France. Which result means a lot more than UKIP's first place in that election in Britain.)
 
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