Ethnic Profiling in Journalism

on 24 Comments

Wednesday’s Times had an article on an arrest in a terror case that took pains to identify the suspect’s ethnicity:

Federal authorities in New York announced that a Swede of Lebanese
descent
[my emphasis], wanted in connection with establishing a terrorist training
camp in Bly, Ore. in 1999, was extradited to the United States on
Tuesday.

Officials said the defendant, Oussama Abdullah Kassir, was taken into custody in the Czech Republic by FBI agents…

Myself, I am very curious about the ethnic/religious background of people in the news. God knows I bring up the Jewishness of public figures all the time. At a news conference today, Nancy Pelosi was asked her opinion of some purportedly-offensive cultural event in California in light of her being a Catholic. I thought it was a good question. I’m just surprised by the fact that ethnic background is the very first thing the article says about the guy. Presumably because that explains his role in a terror connection. My friend Dan Swanson, who pointed it out to me, says there’s a double standard at work; do newspapers label Scooter Libby’s Jewishness? Would they ever do so in the first paragraph?

Speaking of which, I always wondered about Libby’s poetic email to Judy Miller that became evidence against him:

Out West, where you vacation, the aspens will already be turning. They
turn in clusters, because their roots connect them. Come back to
work—and life.

Which roots were those?

 

      

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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24 Responses

  1. Alain Saffel
    September 28, 2007, 2:52 pm

    Perhaps the author was an Ikea shopper who wanted to make sure everyone knew that regular Swedes weren't the ones exporting terrorism? Just have to make sure to keep open the pipeline of fashionable home furniture.

    But seriously… I do understand the concerns about racial profiling. On the other hand, racial profiling gives us an idea who we're looking for.

    I would fully expect a news story about a white supremacist terrorist to have his race identified, like we'd have to guess.

    If police are looking for a black man as a suspect in a crime, you want them to be specific. No sense looking for an asian or white man. Let's not let political correctness get in the way of common sense here.

    Anyone with half a brain knows not all black men are criminals, and that's not what you're saying by identifying the suspect as black. The same goes for crime suspects of any race.

    The same goes for terrorists. We know not all Swedes or Lebanese people are terrorists, but some are. It gives people an idea where the problems are coming from.

  2. daveg
    September 28, 2007, 4:02 pm

    "The same goes for terrorists. We know not all Swedes or Lebanese people are terrorists, but some are. It gives people an idea where the problems are coming from."

    I agree.

    The same goes for pundits. We know not all Jewish pundits are disloyal Israel firsters, but some are. Identifying Jewish pundits gives people an idea where the problems are coming from.

  3. Kevin
    September 28, 2007, 4:11 pm

    I learned of Libby's religious background right here, only a few weeks back. Nothing I read ever noted it. And now, along with Phil, I do feel I have to rethink that enigmatic message to Judy… what roots, indeed?

  4. trouvere
    September 28, 2007, 4:19 pm

    Even FoxNews mentions the lobby–
    "The swift rebuke was a rare display of bipartisan cooperation in a Congress bitterly divided on the Iraq war. It reflected lawmakers' long-standing nervousness about Tehran's intentions in the region, particularly toward Israel — a sentiment fueled by the pro-Israeli lobby whose influence reaches across party lines in Congress."
    link to foxnews.com

  5. Robert Hume
    September 28, 2007, 6:24 pm

    Almost impossible for me to imagine that someone who reads Phil's blog didn't know that Libby was Jewish until recently. But I read Steve Sailer, he was all over it. I suppose that's a recommendation to read Steve. But wasn't Phil also writing that long ago?

  6. David
    September 28, 2007, 8:37 pm

    ——————————————————————————
    Even today, most Americans haven't the slightest idea of the ethnic identities of neocons like Libby, Feith, Luti, Perle, Ledeen, Hannah, Rhode, Miller, Brooks, Boot, Bolten, et al. We were never told of any emotional connection to Israel. But I bet if they were Arab-American, we would have been told about their pasts pretty quickly.

    Does anyone remember the article in the March/April 2004 issue of the Canadian magazine Adbusters, "Why Won't Anyone Say They Are Jewish?" The Internet was of course discussing it back then, but the MSM was still using the claim of "antisemitism" to suppress the topic. I think that article (hardly MSM, but available in most Borders) was the first real crack in the wall. "Here at Adbusters, we decided to tackle the issue head on and came up with a carefully researched list of who appear to be the 50 most influential neocons in the US (see above)." I remember how shocking it was to see this topic actually discussed in print, with asterisks and all.

  7. Arie Brand
    September 28, 2007, 10:30 pm

    Why did it take them so long to get Oussama Kassir extradited ?

    One of the other suspects in the case, James Ujaama, was already indicted in 2002 (this must have caused some slight embarrassment to the Washington State Legislature that had declared June 10 1994 James Ujaama day because of U.'s work to get children of ethnic minorities off drugs). Ujaama was offered a deal and informed on his mates.

    Kassir was in Sweden then but why had his stopover at Prague International Airport, when he was en route to Beirut, have to be used for an arrest three years later (on Dec.11 2005).

    It took the Czechs almost two years to extradite him. Was a request for extradition ever made to Sweden? I suspect not.

    Perhaps they required over there some more weighty accusations than a few e-mails and a half-assed attempt to set up a 'trainingscamp' that apparently never amounted to more than a few delapidated trailers that were quickly abandoned.

  8. Daveg
    September 29, 2007, 2:47 am

    Also, is it just coincidence that McClatchy had the most accurate reporting in the pre-Iraq war build-up, and they have few Jews in upper management?

    Just asking.

  9. Alan
    September 29, 2007, 5:56 am

    Must-read article:

    link to nybooks.com

  10. Steve
    September 29, 2007, 8:06 am

    Yellow journalism – foxnews style to analyze the ethnicity of the people.

    I attended the 2005 conference on Enlightenment in Amherst, it was refreshing to hear the lecturers.

    800 people were sitting 4 days through the lectures.

    Iran's conservative policy came under dissection.

    n Iran, there is a permanent campaign against secular and liberal professors.

    In the fundamentalist Gaza and West Bank the same is happening,
    purging all secular and liberal professors and journalists.

    So it would be approriate to heal these sick societies instead of criticizing Zionism wich is mostly a liberal and secular movement.

    It was only the Begin influence to hijack Zionism by the chauvinistic Gush Emmunim and Yesha councils.

    Avraham Burg was the chairmain of the Jewish Agency, and he is very critical of the Likud/Kadima style Zionism.

    He would certainly nurture the Arab communities in Israel.

    This is all missing from the WM studies.

  11. Richard Witty
    September 29, 2007, 8:30 am

    Steve,
    Your points are critical to a rational thought process on this.

    At the same time, I'm more than aware that those of us that regard a healthy neighbor as a better one than a desparate one, have failed in large part to convince Israel to actually renounce the Likud settlement strategy in favor of a more substantive good neighbor approach.

  12. Alan
    September 29, 2007, 3:09 pm

    The US effectively decided Iraq will be broken. The plan was approved by the US Senate Wednesday in a 75-23 vote. This resolution, binding or non-binding, is a historical event. How many people have heard about this? Where is this news on TV? What the hell is going on?

    **********

    - Baghdad fumes over 'federalism' plan passed by US Senate

    "The Iraqi government on Friday firmly rejected a Bosnia-style plan approved by the US Senate to divide Iraq on ethnic and religious lines, saying Iraqis will themselves decide their future.

    "The government and its Premier [Nuri al-Maliki] reject this vote," said government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh.

    "It is the Iraqis who decide these sorts of issues, no one else," Dabbagh said on state-run Al-Iraqiyya television. "The Iraqi Parliament too should express its total rejection of this plan."

    The plan, touted by backers as the sole hope of forging a federal state out of sectarian strife, was approved by the US Senate Wednesday in a 75-23 vote.

    The nonbinding resolution would provide for decentralizing Iraq in a federal system to stop the country from falling deeper into civil ear.

    It proposes to separate Iraq into Kurdish, Shiite and Sunni entities, with a federal government in Baghdad in charge of border security and oil revenues.

    The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) on Friday condemned the resolution, saying it would complicate matters further in the war-torn country.

    The Bosnia-style plan "would add new complications to the already difficult Iraqi situation," GCC chief Abdel-Rahman al-Attiyah said in a statement. "Instead of calling for division, the causes that led to the current situation should be addressed. These include the [US-led] occupation, the sectarian and ethnic quota system, absence of law and security and the paralysed administration."

    The GCC groups Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

    The chief of the oil-rich bloc warned that any plan to divide Iraq would also have a "detrimental impact" on regional and international stability.

    Yemen also decried the US Senate plan, labeling it an "unprecedented flagrant interference" in Iraq's internal affairs, according to a Foreign Ministry statement carried by the state-run Saba news agency."

    link to dailystar.com.lb

    **********

  13. Alan
    September 29, 2007, 4:12 pm

    Correction: "This is a historic event."

  14. Arie Brand
    September 30, 2007, 12:09 am

    In this open letter to the British Minister of Foreign Affairs that appeared as an advertisement in the London Times of yesterday the 'ethnic' background of the signatories was turned to good account:

    An Open Letter to David Miliband…

    Organised by Jews for Justice for Palestinians
    Signed by well over three hundred Jews in Britain
    Published as a full-page advertisement in the Times on 28th September 2007

    Dear David

    In your address to the UN today, we urge you to oppose Israel’s sanctions against the people of Gaza. Amnesty International, Israeli organisations and distinguished Israeli writers have all condemned this move, announced on September 19th, to extend sanctions.

    As British Jews and voters, we call on the UK government to stand against this collective punishment, a direct violation of international law.

    The Israeli Deputy Prime Minister described the proposal as cutting off ‘infrastructural oxygen’. In fact, the threat is to the real water and real electricity supplies to the entrapped population of Gaza. Euphemisms cannot disguise the genuine danger to health and lives.

    Indiscriminate punishment of Palestinian civilians does not protect the people of Sderot but rather, as the Israeli Peace Bloc Gush Shalom says, it unites all Palestinians ‘in bitterness and hatred’ against Israelis ‘who will bear the price eventually’. As you said in your speech to the Labour Party Conference, there may be military victories, but there is no military solution.

    The UK Foreign Affairs Select Committee (August 2007) has called the decision not to speak to Hamas ‘counterproductive’. This week a petition from Israeli writers including David Grossman, Amos Oz and A.B. Yehoshua says: ‘In the past Israel has negotiated with its worst enemies, and now the correct course of action is to negotiate with Hamas… to prevent further suffering on both sides.’ (Jerusalem Post 23.9.2007)

    We urge you to heed these words.

  15. Christopher Brown
    September 30, 2007, 8:42 am

    link to theregister.com

    Pro-Israel lobby targets BBC online poll
    'Megaphone' lobbyware mobilisation
    By Chris Williams → More by this author
    Published Wednesday 6th September 2006 11:18 GMT

    BBC History Magazine was forced to remove an online poll after it was targeted by a project aimed at influencing internet opinion in Israel's favour.

    The Give Israel Your United Support (GIYUS) website hosts a downloadable desktop tool called Megaphone. The program alerts users to opinion polls and "talkback" features on news sites so they can respond with pro-Israel views. In turn, users can alert GIYUS operators to any opinion polls they think should be targeted.

    The Jerusalem-based World Union of Jewish Students launched GIYUS and Megaphone on 19 July, a week after Israel launched air attacks in Lebanon.

    The long-running BBC History Magazine poll posed the question: "Do you think holocaust denial should be made illegal in Britain?" Soon after it was targeted by Megaphone, the poll was pulled. The magazine declined to speak to The Register about the episode.

    Prior to contacting The Register, our source corresponded with the magazine. Staff writer Robert Attar wrote at the end of August: "I am aware about this situation. I had a look at their site and all they have done is encouraged their members to vote on the polls which seems legitimate to me. It would also be extremely difficult to prevent groups of people voting in this way. As our polls are not used for any scientific or academic purpose I don't see the problem."

    Three days after the launch of Megaphone, Amir Gissin, public affairs director of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs wrote to pro-Israel or "Hasbara" organisations to urge them to back the new tactic.

    Dear friends,

    Many of us recognize the importance of the Internet as the new battleground for Israel's image. It's time to do it better, and coordinate our on-line efforts on behalf of Israel. An Israeli software company have developed a free, safe and useful tool for us – the Internet Megaphone.

    Please go to http://www.giyus.org, download the Megaphone, and you will receive daily updates with instant links to important internet polls, problematic articles that require a talkback, etc.

    We need 100,000 Megaphone users to make a difference. So, please distribute this mail to all Israel's supporters.

    Do it now. For Israel.

    Amir Gissin
    Director Public Affairs (Hasbara) Department

    GIYUS currently claims 24,000 Megaphone users.

    Comparing Megaphone to pro-Palestinian blogs designed to rally support, in comments to the Jerusalem Post on 31 August, Gissin said: "Why can they do it, but we need to sit quietly? The Internet is the communications medium of the future. The government is not behind this initiative, but I can only be happy it exists."

    One Megaphone alert dispatched in August said: "Ask the UN to re-examine its position on the Qana incident. Remind the UN that Reuters admitted some of the Qana photos are faked, and that Hezbollah manipulates and uses innocent Lebanese civilians as human shields."

    Qana was the scene of a devastating airstrike which killed dozens of civilians, including many children. Israel was widely condemned and the UN security council expressed "shock and distress" at the action.

    Other interested parties have called for the initiative to try and stay under the radar. Former Israeli consul-general in New York Alon Pinkas told the Jerusalem Post: "Once it is out there that these are organized talkbacks, then anytime anything positive appears on the web, people will say it is manufactured in Israel."

    While the loss of the BBC History poll is relatively inconsequential in the grand scheme, it points to a new highly organised mass manipulation of technologies which are supposed to be democratising and encouraging free expression by individuals.

    Megaphone has no registration or identity check, so nothing would stop those opposed to Israel downloading Megaphone and using its alerts to voice opinions against its activities, however. Inevitably, a hacked version already exists which replaces Israeli flags with Palestinian ones and alters some of the text.

    However it is used, Megaphone is effectively a high-tech exercise in ballot-stuffing. We're calling it lobbyware.

  16. Arie Brand
    September 30, 2007, 9:37 am

    "Once it is out there that these are organized talkbacks, then anytime anything positive appears on the web, people will say it is manufactured in Israel."

    Quite. Soon this kind of thing will be counterproductive. Equally so, the organised mailing of members of parliament.

    "Megaphone has no registration or identity check, so nothing would stop those opposed to Israel downloading Megaphone and using its alerts to voice opinions against its activities, however."

    How? I understand that, as far as a poll is concerned, your only choice is not to vote or to vote in the prescribed fashion.

    This is all pretty laughable – nevertheless the pro-Zionist domination of the internet remains a nuisance. Happily, though, the dialectic capacity of many of those 'cyber warriors' seems as defective as the case they have to sell.

  17. Glenn Condell
    September 30, 2007, 8:14 pm

    'the aspens will already be turning. They turn in clusters, because their roots connect them'

    I wonder if, in the final analysis, these words, rather than any of his deeds, will keep Libby's name from disappearing down the memory hole. God knows his dealings, even those we are aware of, ought to be good for a century or two, but that poetic phrase captures the context of and reason for those dealings, and those of the other aspens in the cluster – the secret but over-riding concern, the shared goal and the ruthless, us-v-them camaraderie it breeds.

    Consciousness of that network grows apace, which is healthy while the lid stays on America's boiling pot, but if the Iran adventure backfires and the economy heads south, scapegoats will be required.

    And Lebanese Swedes won't cut it then.

  18. Heinz
    September 30, 2007, 8:44 pm

    Yes Glenn Condell – We will have some Jew blood dripping down our chins in no time. I can taste it now. How do you like your jewish babies, well done or medium rare?

    Scapegoats indeed.

  19. Moshe
    September 30, 2007, 9:02 pm

    Heinz,

    Mr. Condell isn't necessarily advocating the scapegoating of Jews. He is pointing out that this is a distinct possibility.

    It will be interesting to see if those inclined to scapegoat the Jews give equal time to the Christian Zionists that support Likud policies and who are seen as a more important constituency than American Jewry by Netanyahu and his gang. Part of the appeal of the Jews as a scapegoat is that while they have a disproportionate amount of power they are a relatively tiny group.

  20. jukella
    September 30, 2007, 9:43 pm

    I just found solid proof that the Zionists are the force behind the Iraq invasion and are actively killing innocent Muslims. Not only that, but they are inducing other American soliders to do the same. Whoever was saying that they send others to do their dirty work is dead wrong. They do it themselves, and they seem to do it quite well. This is from a blog by some guy named Michael Totten. He is in Iraq and here is what he reports.

    RAMADI, IRAQ – I met and interviewed dozens of Army officers in Baghdad and Ramadi, but none who were as admired and respected by the men who serve under them as much as 3rd Infantry Division Lieutenant Colonel Mike Silverman from Midway, Georgia. Junior officers and enlisted men nicknamed him “the forty pound brainer,” and admire him for his guts as well as his head. “He went out and spent 12 hours a day in his hot tank,” during the battle of Ramadi one soldier said. “He risked getting blown up just like everyone else.” “I had served with him before,” said another. “When he told me he needed me in Ramadi, that was all I needed to hear. I mean, I didn’t have any choice because the Army gave me my orders, but that didn’t matter once I knew Colonel Silverman was out here.” “I’d do anything for that man,” said a third, “and I don’t like officers.”

  21. Mark
    September 30, 2007, 10:38 pm

    Christopher – How is this Megaphone program any different than Kossacks sending out emails asking people to participate in online surveys? I get these all the time from friends. I don't put any stock in those polls so I never bother to participate in them.

    Your selective outrage towards those with pro-Israel positions speaks volumes regarding your objectivity.

  22. Arie Brand
    September 30, 2007, 11:29 pm

    "How is this Megaphone program any different than Kossacks sending out emails asking people to participate in online surveys?"

    The difference is that these are surveys with pre-cooked outcomes. If you do answer you can only do so in the prescribed fashion.

    But the predictable outcome is that ultimately nobody will pay any attention to surveys that have anything at all to do with Israel – except those who have already arrived at the same answer and want to see it 'confirmed'.

  23. Frank
    October 1, 2007, 1:59 am

    Silverman huh? I guess that blows Gene and Lester's argument that Jews don't fight in wars.

  24. liberal white boy
    October 1, 2007, 8:08 am

    Heinz

    I've heard that Jewish baby blood is no where near as tasty as the Palestinian baby sausage that the IDF enjoy on their pizza. And I can see Christian Zionist Rev. John "pork chop" Hagee turning on a spit with an apple in his mouth now. Got to go now I'm getting hungry.

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