CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 21 April 2018

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From fake news to false truth

WASHINGTON (SE): After being caught out telling a porky to the media on February 2 about a fictitious Bowling Green Massacre in Kentucky in support of Donald Trump’s ban on Muslims entering the United States of America (US), Kellyanne Conway, an aide to Trump, claimed that in a slip of the tongue she used the word massacre instead of terrorists.

Journalists were quick to uncover Conway’s claim that not many people had heard about the massacre because it was not reported. In fact, it received no media coverage because it never happened.

However, it does not appear to have been a slip of a loose tongue either, as eager beaver journalists at The Guardian discovered that she had already told the story to two different media outlets on January 29.

Conway told TMZ, “Two Iraqis who came here, got radicalised, joined (Islamic State) and then were the masterminds behind the Bowling Green Massacre.”

In simple language, she made the story up, as there was never a massacre and the 2011 incident she appears to have been referring to involved two Iraqis attempting to send money to Al Qaeda. But they had never returned to Iraq or left the US.

This is not her only foray into forbidden waters. She also promoted a clothing line owned by the daughter of the president, Ivanka. She told Fox News, “Go buy Ivanka’s stuff,” in what violates a key ethics rule barring federal employees from using their public office to endorse products.

She got a rap over the knuckles and is under counselling over the faux pas, but not the massacre story.

The Washington Post comments, “The incident was the latest illustration of how the Trump White House has struggled to grapple with long-established ethics rules.”

But Conway is the perfect handmaid for Trump. He has issued a list of 78 massacres he says were underreported. But some of them received wide media coverage and the spelling mistakes indicate little care was taken over its preparation.

While the Trump administration is at least implying that most terrorist attacks are carried out by Muslims, a report released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation shows only six per cent of terrorist attacks in the US have involved Islamic extremists, one point less than Jewish extremists.

Global Research notes that in the US you are more likely to die from brain-eating parasites, alcoholism, obesity or medical error than a terrorist attack.

While the Boston Marathon attack was horrific, the crime committed was murder not terrorism, as terrorism is defined as spreading fear in order to achieve a political, religious or ideological goal.

The National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism estimates that of 2,400 terrorist attacks on US soil since 1970, Muslims were involved in 60 of them.

It also found that religion is not a key factor in tracing terrorists.

In refusing the appeal of the government to lift its order of stay on Trump’s immigration ban, the Washington Post reported that the court did something close to what fact-checkers, journalists, scholars and others do every day when extraordinary claims are made.

“It demanded extraordinary evidence—or at least some evidence—for the administration’s arguments. And it got none, the judges said,” the newspaper reported.

“The court asked the government to explain the urgent need for the order to be restored, but Justice Department lawyers offered no evidence,” the judges’ opinion reads.

“It asked for evidence in the form of legal precedents that non-citizens affected by the order have no rights under the constitution. The court found the government’s examples unconvincing.

“It also asked for evidence that immigrants from the countries named in Trump’s order had committed terrorist attacks in the US. Instead, the government merely argued that the court must not review its decision at all,” the judges state in their opinion.But convincing a court is a much more exacting task than convincing the electorate, so the likes of Conway can have a field day breaking even the boundaries of fake news and entering the rarified stratosphere of post-truth.

 

It is spreading fear for a political end. Just another form of terrorism.

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