Post Reports ‘Hate Muslims’ Prank – But Won’t Name the Vindicated Conservative Group?
Tuesday’s Metro section of The Washington Post covered a controversy at D.C.’s George Washington University, where fliers appeared on campus blaring "HATE MUSLIMS? SO DO WE!!" Post reporter Susan Kinzie mentioned that the GWU chapter of the conservative Young America’s Foundation denied the posters were theirs, and Kinzie noted that it was probably a prank, since the fine print at the bottom had the words "'Brought to you by Students for Conservativo-Fascism Awareness' -- and a postscript recommending a BBC video on the politics of fear." But while Wednesday’s article in Metro confirmed that it was a prank "produced by students who were attempting to mock those they thought were trying to stir fear of Muslims," YAF wasn’t named anywhere in the article as the vindicated victim.
Jason Mattera of YAF is rightfully upset: "The Post mentions Young America’s Foundation three times, even though the fliers were obvious hoaxes. Yet the paper’s article today explaining that the fliers were fabricated doesn’t mention Young America’s Foundation even once! The Post will report possible incidents of hate speech, but when those incidents turn out to be contrived, the paper doesn’t vindicate those who were targeted!!!"
The Wednesday article does quote Sergio Gor, the head of the local YAF chapter, but mysteriously only described him as "president of a group hosting the awareness week." (He was quoted and identified with YAF in the Tuesday article, which ended with several programs explaining what YAF was actually planning.)
Kinzie’s Tuesday article began:
Posters appeared all over the George Washington University campus yesterday morning blaring the message: "HATE MUSLIMS? SO DO WE!!!"
Campus police moved quickly to remove the fliers, university leaders began investigating how they got there and student groups met last night to deplore the posters, which had a photo of an Arab and description of "typical Muslim" features such as "suicide vest," "hidden AK-47" and "peg-leg for smuggling children and heroin."
Strangely, Wednesday’s article by Martin Weil and Elissa Silverman forwards the claim that the student pranksters said the flier was not an attack on Islam but an effort "at exposing Islamophobic racism." The headline on the Post story was "Poster Was Aimed At Racism, Authors Say." Racism? Don’t Muslims come in all colors? They couldn’t have put "racism" in quotes in the headline? This was the article’s lede:
Fliers that appeared on the George Washington University campus carrying an apparently anti-Islamic message were produced by students who were attempting to mock those they thought were trying to stir fear of Muslims, a campus newspaper was told.
The GW Hatchet, an independent campus paper, posted a story on its Web site late last night saying it had heard from those behind the fliers, who said they had been misunderstood. According to the Hatchet, an e-mail that it received from the students said the flier was not an attack on Islam but an effort "at exposing Islamophobic racism."
Words like "fake," "fabricated," or "phony" were not in the story, nor were words like "prank." Ideological labels were also missing for the pranksters, although the word "conservative" was employed by Post reporters three times on Tuesday and once on Wednesday.
The Post did not name the seven prankster students in their piece, either, even though one has been quoted in newspapers a few times: Adam Kokesh, a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War, recently active in International ANSWER’s latest protest. He’s conducted other guerilla-theater operations covered by the Post – and is not described as a leftist, despite his affiliations and his blog.
The letter sent to the Hatchet (and published there in PDF) completely pounds on the conservatives-are-racists angle. They described their prank this way: "This creative political action was part of a rich American tradition of raising awareness, in this case about Islamophobia. We exposed the upcoming Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week for the celebration of racism that it is."
The letter ends: "it is imperative that as a community that we unequivocally condemn racism (especially in its most egregious organized forms) on our campus. We hope that as a community we can come together to expose the true racist propaganda that we initially set out to expose: Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week."
The letter was also signed by Yong Kwon, Brian Tierney, Ned Goodwin, Maxine Nwigwe, Lara Masri, and Amal Rammah.