The Guardian, White Helmets, and Silenced Comment
Publisher: Tim Hayward
Date Written: 12/01/2018
Year Published: 2018
Resource Type: Article
The Guardian recently published an article claiming that critical discussion of the White Helmets in Syria has been 'propagated online by a network of anti-imperialist activists, conspiracy theorists and trolls with the support of the Russian government'. Many readers were dismayed at this crude defence of a presumably pro-imperialist perspective, and at the unwarranted smearing of reasoned questioning based on evidence from independent journalists.
Conduct hardly more becoming was that of The Guardian's George Monbiot who joined in, tweeting smears against critics and suggesting they read up about 'the Russian-backed disinformation campaign against Syria's heroic rescue workers'. Judging by the tenor of responses to this, the journalist misjudged his surprising intervention. It seems that people who follow these matters are able to decide for themselves who and what they find credible.
As for allowing a fair hearing to independent researchers like Vanessa Beeley, it is poignant to observe that while The Guardians journalists were tweeting away, she was actually on the ground in Syria, again putting herself at personal risk of bombs and mortars despatched by the fighters that the White Helmets provide support to; she was there meeting and filming Syrian people who provide grave witness statements concerning those that The Guardian uncritically commends as 'heroic rescue workers'.
A growing number of us believe that it is high time the critical questions raised by independent investigators be treated with the seriousness and scrupulousness they warrant. That is why the academic Working Group on Syria, Propaganda, and the Media offered the following response to The Guardian under its 'Comment is Free' rubric. Since it was not published there, I post it on behalf of the group here.
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