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Our response to Monbiot's June 13, 2011 article

 
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David C
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Joined: 12 Jan 2004
Posts: 234
Location: Southampton

Post Post subject: Our response to Monbiot's June 13, 2011 article Reply with quote

Hi George,

Hope you’re well. In your June 13 Guardian article, ‘Left and libertarian right cohabit in the weird world of the genocide belittlers,’ you chose to associate our name, among others, with a ‘malign intellectual subculture that seeks to excuse savagery by denying the facts’. This is a wonderfully Orwellian inversion of what we have been doing for the last ten years in challenging liberal journalism, including your own employer. You commented:

‘The leftwing website Media Lens maintained that Herman and Peterson were "perfectly entitled" to talk down the numbers killed at Srebrenica.’ ( http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/jun/13/left-and-libertarian-right )

This is what we actually wrote:

‘Herman and Peterson, then, are not denying that mass killings took place at Srebrenica. They also do not accept the figure cited by Kamm and others, but that they are perfectly entitled to do.’ ( http://www.medialens.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=585:dancing-on-a-mass-grave-oliver-kamm-of-the-times-smears-media-lens&catid=23:alerts-2009&Itemid=9 )

Arguing that someone was entitled to debate the facts is not the same as arguing that they were entitled to falsify, mislead, dishonestly belittle, or whatever ‘talk down’ was intended to suggest. You could have written: ‘Media Lens maintained that Herman and Peterson were "perfectly entitled" to debate the facts.’

As you know, we have not written about the Srebrenica massacre – which took place six years before we set up Media Lens - other than to affirm that it was a massacre. The whole emphasis of our November 4, 2005 alert, for example, was to show that Noam Chomsky had affirmed, and not denied, as the Guardian claimed, that there had been a massacre at Srebrenica. (http://www.medialens.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=419:smearing-chomsky-the-guardian-in-the-gutter&catid=19:alerts-2005&Itemid=9)

On Herman and Peterson, we checked our archives - after ten years of work on Media Lens, we found a grand total of two articles by them discussing Srebrenica posted on our website (a third mentions it in passing. See: http://www.medialens.org/forum/search.php?mode=results )

Were we wrong to post these two articles? Should we delete them? If so, what threat do you feel Herman and Peterson’s work poses, as compared to the threat posed to political freedom of suppressing it? After all, if taken seriously, could not accusations of ‘genocide denial’ be extended in order to suppress other unpopular views? ZNet, to which you contribute, has dozens of articles by Herman and Peterson mentioning Srebrenica ( http://www.zcommunications.org/zsearch/keyword?key_word=srebrenica ). Should ZNet remove these articles or burn their back copies of Z Magazine?

On Twitter last week, you accused us of ‘genocide denial’ ( http://twitter.com/#!/GeorgeMonbiot/status/78066032748670976 ) Thanks to you, we now have people like BosnianGenocide and Srebrenicahaven writing to us, and you, declaring: ‘George Monbiot People behind medialens are Srebrenica genocide deniers and distortionists - a group of online “crack pots.”’ ( http://twitter.com/#!/srebrenicahaven/status/81263466769416192 ) and ‘George Monbiot Why are you wasting time arguing with Bosnian genocide deniers who run medialens website? They are irrelevant Islamophobes.’ ( http://twitter.com/#!/JewsandBosniaks/status/81264811786252288 )

We are not ‘genocide deniers’, but we do reject the right of any court, any government, indeed anyone, to apply labels like ‘genocide’ to historical events and then, not merely argue but demand that they be accepted. The assumption that human institutions are in possession of Absolute Truth belongs to the era of The Inquisition, not to serious debate.

There are rare cases when hate speech motivated by racism and likely to lead to violence can be condemned. Presumably you are not suggesting that Edward Herman, David Peterson, Noam Chomsky, John Pilger or we at Media Lens are promoting hatred and violence?

Finally, you wrote:

'What makes this all the more remarkable is that Media Lens has waged a long and fierce campaign against Iraq Body Count for underestimating the number killed in that country.'

Why remarkable? The ‘fierce campaign’ has in fact involved our marshalling serious evidence exposing how the same political and media forces that hyped Iraq’s WMD ‘threat’, inevitably, have suppressed the catastrophic consequences of the invasion for the civilian population.

What would be remarkable is if, with virtually zero resources, we were able to challenge the mainstream media goliath on US-UK crimes of this kind while in-depth researching every subject covered in every article we post or link to by some of the world’s most highly-regarded political analysts.

Best wishes

David Edwards and David Cromwell
Thu Jun 16, 2011 5:48 pm
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