The FB exchanges below, originals here, are a little complicated but hardly rocket science. The posters – all of them – appear broadly to share my views on the West’s dirty war on Syria. Yes, all of them. That includes Rob Torito, who, by injecting a note of scepticism on the authenticity of a tweet attributed to Ken Roth, director of Human Rights Watch, draws the scorn of others: folk who, if they weren’t quite so excitable, would see he shares their scepticism (and mine) on the assumed neutrality of agencies like Human Rights Watch.
(While HRW aren’t in the same league of infamy as White Helmets they have form, alongside Amnesty International and Medicin Sans Frontiers, as useful idiots. Like George Monbiot and Owen Jones, their missives, regardless of intent or protestations to the contrary, provide ideological cover for western aggression to further aims – see for instance my last post on the Golan Heights – far removed from humanitarianism.)
Now see what you make of this …
As you can see, Rob Torito is not defending HRW, nor does he subscribe to the mainstream orthodoxy on Syria. He simply voices doubt, which I share, that its executive director would be so stupid as to post a picture of Nagasaki, August 1945, and claim it to be Aleppo 2017. There is a whiff here, in his own words, of “fake news about fake news” – a rising problem in the smoke and mirror worlds of both corporate and social media. The confirmation bias, lack of critical scrutiny and knee-jerk attacks I can overlook. We can all pen without due care and attention, especially when Syria is the subject and Facebook the medium. In the same vein, that egoic intolerance of dissent – and capacity, when writ large, for subordinating truth to conformity – is in us all. For better and for worse it’s part and parcel of the human condition. But on reflection in cool light of day, don’t Torito’s critics owe it to him and themselves either to give reasons for rejecting his findings, else retract and say sorry?
Actually, that’s not an either/or. Even if they take the first route, and show that Roth did indeed act with such stupidity, a retraction is still in order. The conclusion Torito’s detractors draw – on no other basis than that he dares voice doubt on that particularity – as to his views on Syria in general was just plain wrong. I know: I took the trouble to check his post history, where a subtle clue, one of many, can be found in a post to the group, Hands Off Syria.
The extent of the deception on Syria, and the credulity of those who swallow it, is no excuse for mirroring those flaws ourselves. Our standards must be higher than theirs.
Well said Philip. There’s no point in us denouncing the MSM and other propagandists when they use fakery to misdirect if we, the social site users, do exactly that which we condemn. In this kind of scenario of false representation, it makes those who shout so loudly about misrepresentation just as nefarious as the other “bad” guys. We must hold ourselves to a higher standard by necessity if we are to posit a superior stand in fvour of truth and facts.
Thanks for this good and timely reminder of our own failings.
Thanks Susan. Your comment rang a bell, leading me to track down a post I wrote back in February 2016. See what you make of it …
Hi Philip, thanks for you noticing that little fight against stupidity and publishing your views on it! A UK friend just sent me a message about your publication. It’s very pleasant for me to see that at least one person saw what happened, while no one else cared to say “Oops, sorry, won’t judge so quickly next time”. Too often I see followers of a movement against a Big Wrong too easily believing everything that they think supports their cause, while, in the end, the mistakes made by sloppy investigators, will be held against them and discredit them and be very damaging to the cause. ‘Torito’ (Little Bull) is a nick name given to me by a dance teacher, btw. Dancing keeps me sane.
Hi Rob. Good – and quite surprising! – to hear from you. Maybe I’m read more widely than I’d thought (:-)
I agree of course with the views you express here. On the narrowly specific point, my guess – and that’s all it can be – is that Roth didn’t tweet the Gaza image either. For all my doubts as to the role played by HRW, such antics would be unlikely to get you to the top of a large international NGO.