Tuesday, March 5, 2013

How to cover Syria from Stanislaus County, California

[Originally posted at NOW]

[A humble contribution to the recent offerings of helpful tips for fellow journalists covering Syria]

1. Maintain a diverse list of credible sources. Publish the testimonies of a couple of strangers who email you from time to time, saying they live in Syria. An obscure blogger here and there can also prove handy, regardless of where they live. Remember that the more your sources’ accounts differ from those of the hundreds of professional journalists inside Syria, the more accurate they’re likely to be.

2. See through the propaganda. Understand that every Sunni Muslim is a member of al-Qaeda, bent on slaughtering infidels and reinstating the Caliphate. There was a time when this kind of presumption was called Islamophobia, but nowadays it’s common sense. Difficult as it may seem to believe that over 70% of Syrians have actually been zealous Bin Ladenists all these years, that’s the only explanation for the situation in Syria today. Ignorant Western journalists in Beirut will argue that the bulk of the Syrian opposition is nationalist, fed up with their unelected and unwanted dictator. But you know that these “journalists” are in turn mere agents of al-Qaeda’s notorious proxy, the Hariri press office.

3. (NB: Palestinian Sunni Muslims are the exception to the above rule. Sure, some Palestinian groups might go on about “jihad” from time to time. Some might even be armed and funded by Islamist regimes. But in no way can they be compared to the Syrian opposition. Palestinians fighting Israel and Syrians fighting Assad quite simply have nothing in common.)

4. Take a courageous stand. Hezbollah is getting a lot of heat these days for its staunch support of Assad. Counter this by posting glamorous old photos of Hassan Nasrallah aiming rifles toward Israel.

5. Be objective. Though the Syrian opposition is certainly among the most infamous terrorist groups of all time, the regime is not entirely without fault. When Assad air-strikes a Palestinian refugee camp, for example, condemn him with forceful words like “lousy”.

6. Finally, when in doubt, fall back on the Golden Rule of Independent Thinking: Always disagree with US foreign policy. Now, sometimes, US foreign policy might start to look dangerously similar to your own position – e.g., when it classifies a powerful opposition brigade as al-Qaeda, or when it repeatedly rejects even indirect military intervention in Syria. In this case, change the subject to al-Qaeda’s alarming and growing infiltration of Human Rights Watch.

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