Submitted by Ali Abunimah
The Guardian is offering a bizarre new defense for its decision to hire Joshua Treviño, an extremist Islamophobic ideologue who openly, repeatedly and gleefully incited murder and celebrated the deaths of unarmed civilian Palestine solidarity activists.
Because Treviño’s brand of extremism, hatred and incitement is “ascendant,” an editor claimed, the Guardian is somehow obligated to give it a platform.
At the same time, The Guardian continues to refuse to correct Treviño’s blatant lie that he never made such statements, despite a growing mountain of uncontradicted evidence to the contrary.
The Guardian: a platform for extremism?
On 20 August, the Guardian published Treviño’s first branded column about the debate over Medicare in the United States. However, almost two hundred reader comments to date focused almost entirely on Treviño’s history of racist and violent statements.
I completely understand the strong reaction against Josh [Treviño]. Much of what he has said in the past on Twitter and elsewhere is tasteless, to say the very least. But we have taken Josh on to write about the Republican side of the US presidential campaign because he represents a strand of thinking in the GOP that is in the ascendancy. Whatever we think about it, the Republican party has taken a significant lurch to the right in recent years and we should try and understand why that is, and what’s going on there. Josh is well placed to articulate that.
Who else deserves a column?
This is utterly bizarre reasoning. It is also true that extreme Islamophobia of the kind that inspired mass killer Anders Breivik “is in the ascendancy” in many parts of Europe. Indeed, many of Treviño’s columns have appeared the virulently Islamophobic Brussels Journal.
Does this require the Guardian to provide Pamela Geller or Geert Wilders with columns and to arrange media bookings for them in the name of helping us to “understand” their views? What about David Duke? If his brand of racism and anti-Semitism finds itself “in the ascendancy” can we expect to find Mr. Duke joining the team too?
For many years it was thought Osama Bin Laden style jihadism was “in the ascendancy” in many countries. I don’t recall the Guardian offering a branded column and a media-booking service to any members of Al-Qaida.
Surely when extremism of any kind is “in the ascendancy” you report about it using people who are genuinely knowledgeable, rather than providing its proponents a privileged platform and a media booking service.
Has The Guardian noticed that Islamophobia and anti-Palestinian extremism are central to US electoral debates and campaigns? Thus writing about “the Republican side of the US presidential campaign” is not separate from these issues and Treviño’s hateful and violent views are not irrelevant to them.
Notwithstanding his violent hate speech, the claim that Treviño has something valuable to offer is not particularly convincing. He is a marginal figure with little influence or following. He has never been part on any significant conservative or right-wing platform – except for the website he co-founded – in the United States.
His known experience as a political consultant was primarily to work for the campaign of Chuck DeVore, a right-wing California state assemblyman who came third in his 2010 bid for the Republican nomination for a US Senate seat from California.
Treviño has not disclosed all his consulting clients – a major problem for someone who is supposed to be helping readers understand as Wells claims, and a possible violation of the Guardian’s editorial code related to conflicts of interest.
And while he’s sometimes described as a “Bush speechwriter,” according to his ownLinkedin profile, Treviño was a speechwriter for the US Secretary of Health and Human Services, not for the president. He was hardly at the center of anything.
There are many more informed and influential conservative commentators in the United States who at least come without Treviño’s history of violent hate speech.
Refusing to correct a lie
As I detailed in a post yesterday, The Guardian has ignored requests to issue a correction to a blatantly false statement Treviño made in a “clarification” the Guardian published on 16 August after the initial outcry over a June 2011 tweet in which he wrote:
Dear IDF: If you end up shooting any Americans on the new Gaza flotilla – well, most Americans are cool with that. Including me.
In his “clarification,” Treviño claimed:
any reading of my tweet of 25 June 2011 that holds that I applauded, encouraged, or welcomed the death of fellow human beings, is wrong, and out of step with my life and record.
However, this is simply a lie. There are numerous examples of tweets by Treviño in which “applauded, encouraged, or welcomed the death of fellow human beings.” Here are a few:
- On 3 June 2010 in reference to 19-year-old American Furkan Doğan, killed execution-style aboard the Mavi Marmara, Treviño wrote, “Make no mistake: in choosing to aid Hamas on the #flotilla, Furkan Dogan raised his hand against his country. His fate was deserved.”
- Make no mistake: in choosing to aid Hamas on the #flotilla, Furkan Dogan raised his hand against his country. His fate was deserved.
- On 3 June 2010, Treviño tweeted, “There are some Americans we’re better off without. Furkan Dogan is one of them: http://bit.ly/abfbLl #flotilla.”
- On 1 June 2010, the day after Israeli forces murdered 9 unarmed civilians aboard the Mavi Marmara in international waters, Treviño tweeted, “Only way the #flotilla story gets better is if it’s revealed the IDF drew Muhammed on a bulkhead.”
- On 2 June 2010, Treviño tweeted, “After examining the facts on #flotilla, I condemn Israel: for being too nice, too soft, too accommodating to the scum of the earth.”