The Boston terror attack, and the selective empathy of Glenn Greenwald

This is a cross post by Marcus Brutus at Harry’s Place

ggReactions to massacres reveal almost as much as much about the human dark side as mass slaughter itself.

The days of a media filled with respectful mourning died with the birth of the internet which gave a voice to anyone with an opinion. Now an atrocity sparks cretin cavalcades and concocted conspiracy theories before the bodies are even in the morgue.

Glenn Greenwald depicts himself as being so emphatic that he would qualify for the x-men if they were real instead of fictional, like his work. He invents himself as a humanitarian who values all life equally.

John-Paul Pagano documented how Greenwald insulted the Boston bombing victims: “8 year-old Martin Richard was blown to bits today. Glenn Greenwald sneers from Brazil: ‘I don’t wet my pants & beg to give up my rights…’”

Three people dead, others maimed and Greenwald makes it out to be all about him and how he is tougher than a dead child. The part about “giving up rights” is central in the narratives of Boston bomber troofers.

Pagano rightfully describes the article vivisected below as: “Glenn Greenwald shows up at every atrocity against the US and demands that we detour our sympathy. In this he is like the Westboro fanatics.”

He is obviously exploiting murdered fellow citizens for political gain because he does not hold all life as equally sacred. On twitter he refused to condemn the Assad dictatorship, then lashed out with ad hominem attacks (“morally worthless”, “moral cretin”) and hid behind a Chomsky quote which says Americans should only criticize their own country since they only have voting rights there. It would have been more convincing if the exchange hadn’t taken place after he wrote anti-Israel screeds; according to one Lebanon Now writer, Greenwald “failed the Orwell test.”

Greenwald has attacked Canada as a land of “creeping tyranny” and libeled Sweden as an oppressive state when he was hard at work deifying Assange. He doesn’t have voting rights in either of those great countries.

Greenwald’s article on the Boston bombings opens with accusations of “selective empathy.” If you listen carefully you can hear Syrians laughing. Greenwald agreed with a libel that the president could “rape a nun” and get away with it, which shows a lack of empathy for rape victims whose pain the smear trivializes. 

He describes the bombings as “exactly the kinds of horrific, civilian-slaughtering attacks that the US has been bringing to countries in the Muslim world over and over and over again for the last decade.” This is inaccurate since the US takes unprecedented efforts to minimize civilian casualties [while] the [Boston] attack was designed to maximize civilian deaths.

He cites a Gary Younge tweet asking us to declare ourselves “all Pakistanis.” Pakistan shares responsible in part for Taliban atrocities since 1994, gives tacit approval to anti-Shia terrorism and has a population that rallies in support of the death of Asia Bibi (that’s Pakistani empathy for you). Kamila Shamsie described in Greenwald’s own paper how there is “no solidarity” or empathy for Hazaras in Pakistan. Anti-drone activists ignore that the PAF is the chief cause of civilian death in the tribal region. Then along comes Gary Young to shame us for failing to follow Pakistan’s noble record.

Younge and Greenwald are using the same stratagem of trying to dispel American deaths by pointing to irrelevant violence. There’s no reason to do something that illogical unless you’re biased and seek to dismiss civilian death in a state you loathe. Greenwald did not apply similar arguments to his favored causes when Israel launched operation Pillar of Defense; his condemnation bordered on hysteria. He didn’t try to divert attention away from Israeli actions to atrocities committed by the Palestinians and their allies.

As a friend of mine wrote:

“online commenters who respond to the Boston attacks with ‘What about the dead in Iraq/Syria…?’ etc betray their own belief that innocent American lives are not worth even a few moments’ grief and outrage.”

Greenwald mentions Juan Cole’s “similar point about violence elsewhere. Indeed, just yesterday in Iraq, at least 42 people were killed and more than 250 injured by a series of car bombs, the enduring result of the US invasion and destruction of that country.” He doesn’t provide any evidence for the idea that Iraqi sectarianism that long predated 2003 was caused by the US. The dishonesty is unsurprising since car bombings claiming massive deaths that aren’t aimed at Western targets disproves narratives about terrorism as “blowback” or some response to “imperialism.”

In one of his articles Greenwald cited a David Frum post, which stated that the majority of civilian deaths were caused by insurgents. Ranj Alaadin explains that people should “blame Iraq, not America, for sectarian civil war. Iraqi society is as polarised as ever. The ongoing battles over its future shape show that the country’s divisions long pre-dated the Western invasion of a decade ago.”

He bemoans “the deep compassion and anger felt in the US when it is attacked never translates to understanding the effects of our own aggression against others.” However, Greenwald’s record on “compassion” is nonexistent; he displayed cold-blooded callousness to Malian suffering under jihadis. In his article he defended jihadi atrocities by arguing that rebel “”amputations, flogging, and stonings” were canceled out by the actions of “Malian government forces.” In a twitter argument he dismissed the fact that nearly all Malians support the intervention as irrelevant “local concerns” and stated he would still oppose the intervention no matter what Malians want. He presented the intervention as a “war against Islam.”

He claims that [US] drones are “targeting” rescuers. However, CIF Watch disproved that charge. If the US was morally equivalent or worse than the Boston bomber he wouldn’t have a need for that. Greenwald’s source is “discredited” and provides “no evidence” for the charge of attacking mourners. The source can actually be used against Glenn since it states that the Taliban sections off sites where drone strikes took place and do not allow civilians to enter.

Greenwood continues:

“There’s nothing wrong per se with paying more attention to tragedy and violence that happens relatively nearby and in familiar places. Whether wrong or not, it’s probably human nature, or at least human instinct, to do that, and that happens all over the world.”

So by his own admission the strawman he’s railing against isn’t wrong if it was true. Then the guy who displayed less empathy than Hezbollah over the Burgas massacre lectures people on empathy for over a paragraph. Do Guardian readers have any self-respect?

He displays a poor memory by asking readers to recall “that on the day of the 2011 Oslo massacre by a right-wing, Muslim-hating extremist, The New York Times spent virtually the entire day strongly suggesting in its headlines that an Islamic extremist group was responsible, a claim other major news outlets (including the BBC and Washington Post) then repeated as fact.”

However, people repeated it as fact because a jihadi group took responsibility for it; apparently reporting that now proves bigotry. Greenwald reported the exact same thing and took longer to correct himself than the outlets he attacks for doing the same as he did. Greenwald [actually] justified the Oslo attacks when he thought Islamists were responsible. He argued that Norway prompt[ed]” (defined as to “cause or bring about”) the attack. The fact that he [rationalized] the slaughter of children when he thought jihadis were to blame and then condemned it as a horrible tragedy when it became clear it was something he could use shows that he is devoid of empathy.

He complains that “when the perpetrators of notorious crimes turned out to be African-American, the entire community usually paid a collective price.” So says the man who libeled neo-nazi’s victims (which included a black pastor) out of court as “odious and repugnant” and explained that his contempt for them motivated him to defend his client. Who wouldn’t want to be lectured on empathy by him?

Greenwald has even defended former Congressman Ron Paul, who [opposes the 1964] civil rights act, by characterizing Paul’s critics as Stalinists!

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