The Sydney Morning Herald’s absurd puff piece on the catmeat Sheik (subject of this post on Tuesday) was also noticed by Brendan Shanahan at the Daily Telegraph:
Fools give racism a real Sheik
I AM not keen on inter-newspaper slanging matches. One group of journalists claiming to be morally superior to another is like two hookers arguing over who has the cleaner house.
On Wednesday, however, a profile of Sheik Taj el-Dene Elhilaly in The Sydney Morning Herald’s Insight section typified a particular kind of weak journalism masquerading as balanced and fair while doing little more than appeasing extremism.
Describing Sheik Hilaly as, among other things, “otherworldly” and “a symbol of resistance to the more materialistic elements of Australian culture”, this effort to soften the mufti’s image was bolstered by a photograph of him in a stripey apron cooking a pot of stew. The bakin’ sheik looked like a Margaret Fulton of the madrassas.
All very friendly and cosy. Then the subject of the Holocaust came up and the Hilaly of old came shining through.
“I, like many researchers in the world,” he was quoted as saying, “shy off the number of innocent victims that had been estimated at six million.”
Researchers? Oh, right: he’s talking about neo-Nazis.
It is staggering that The Sydney Morning Herald would allow nonsense like this to be printed, qualified only with the observation that Hilaly
“still treads a fine line that many may continue to see as racist”.
“Racist” is saying that Jews are cheap and have big noses. Hilaly isn’t walking a fine line; he’s goose-stepping down the pavement.
Like most Holocaust deniers, Hilaly doesn’t reject the existence of death camps. His preferred tactic, like that of other “researchers”, is to play games with the numbers: one million dead as opposed to six being more of a minor skirmish than a holocaust.
This, of course, is the basis of the standard Islamic fundamentalist conspiracy theory: that Jews exaggerate the number killed during the Holocaust in order to guilt Western powers into supporting the expansion of Israel.
This long-term goal has been further aided by their staging of the September 11 attacks which gave Zionism a blank cheque to crush the Muslim world using George W. Bush as their puppet.
These demented conspiracies are, from personal experience, mainstream in many countries and lent tacit endorsement by public figures in the West so keen to prove their credentials on issues like Palestine that they will nod and smile in the face of the most blatant madness.
When Hilaly’s views are presented, unchallenged, as simply a matter of opinion it paves a dangerous road in which historical fact counts for nothing and the little old ladies in the Eastern suburbs who woke up under a pile of corpses are just another voice in a “debate”.
In their desperate efforts to play devil’s advocate, the Herald is being intellectually dishonest. Journalists would do well to remember that they are nowhere near as clever as they like to think and not half as clever as a snake like Hilaly.
* Well, at least the Telegraph takes a position. Could it mean that we will see more decency an honest reporting in the future? Not much hope there…