I'm James Maxey, the author of numerous novels of fantasy and science fiction. I use this site to discuss a wide range of topics, with a heavy emphasis on cranky, uninformed rants about politics and religion and other topics that polite people attempt to avoid. For anyone just wanting to read about my books, I maintain a second blog, The Prophet and the Dragon, where I keep the focus solely on my fiction. I also have a webpage where both blogs stream, with more information about all my books, at jamesmaxey.net.


Friday, March 04, 2011

Really? I skipped a whole month? Also, Sharia4America

So, somehow I skipped a whole month without finding anything in politics to rant about. Primarily, this was due to my being distracted by writing. I'll be announcing news soon about a new multi-book deal, the second of which I'm now writing, and it's been difficult to focus on the "real" world when the world of fiction is proving so satisfying.

Then, there was also something tiresome about the news lately that made it difficult to care much. The major news stories seem to me to break down to: 1. The middle east is unstable. 2. Neither democrats or republicans have any serious proposals to deal with our budget crisis. 3. A lot of speculation about who is an is not running for president. 4. Hourly updates on a famous actor behaving very badly.

Are any of these items news any more? The headlines may as well read "Status Quo Maintained."

Then, yesterday, I found an interesting headline. I cruise both far right and far left news sites, and can usually count on World Net Daily to produce a news story or two about the atheist conspiracy to destroy America. Since, as an atheist, I feel I should keep informed of this conspiracy, this is news I can use. I'd much rather be getting the master plot updates directly from the Grand Poobah at Atheists Against America, but I guess he's lost my email address. Oh well.

Anyway, the headline yesterday, in a World Net Daily Exclusive, was, "Will Statue of Liberty be fitted with Muslim burkha?" I figured this might be a fairly short article--"No."--but read on anyway. It seems an outfit called Sharia4America has announced plans to place a veil over the Statue of Liberty to hide this shameful false goddess until such time as it can be torn down and replaced with a mineret. I read the article certain that it was parody, but WND was reporting on the story as if it was real, interviewing a variety of "experts" on the threat that sharia law poses to America's freedoms. And, the story had, you know, a photograph showing the statue of liberty with a burqa. What more evidence do you need?

If you're World Net Daily, I suppose you take a site called Sharia4America at face value, since it fits into your master narrative: America is under assault, here's the evidence, the Muslim's aren't even trying to hide it any more. But, it took me precisely two minutes worth of googling to discover that the image of the Statue of Liberty in a burqa dates back to at least 2003 and was created by something called "AES Art Group," as part of a larger project called Witnesses of the Future, the Islamic Project. The art was full of images meant to comment on the conflict between Islam and Western values, and was characterized by some critics as being anti-Islamic.

I suppose that it's possible that Sharia4America is a genuine organization, but the fact that their primary image can be traced to artists who had the intent of criticizing Islam leads me to suspect that it's a hoax or a parody. But, at this point, it looks like a thousand bloggers have picked up on the story as a real event, and I see even the AP is now carrying the story. Maybe I'll be proven wrong. But, right now, my gut tells me that this is a case of people not being able to recognize satire and "reporters" not bothering to check their facts. Which, come to think of it, isn't news either.


heresolong said...

Imagine. Reporters not researching. Earlier this week the big news in our teacher staffroom was the Republican Mayor of Providence, RI who had fired all the teachers in Providence so that he could hire back all the junior ones who made less money. Ten minutes of reading the Providence paper (online) and the school board website (also online) turned up these interesting tidbits (in order of reporting).

1) The mayor is a Democrat (not really relevant to the story but R fits the meme of the major news bureaus better)

2) The school board, not the mayor, issued notices of dismissal to all the teachers (not fired, as reported). See 3) for the distinction if you are not a teacher.

3) RI law requires that any teacher who is going to be let go be notified by March 1st. Since the legislature in RI hasn't finished their budget yet the school districts don't know how much money they will have. If they don't issue a notice of dismissal they can't let anyone go. So they let everyone know that all teachers would get a notice, and that teachers who would be staying would be notified as soon as the budget was settled. Nothing to do with firing senior teachers.

As I said earlier, took me ten minutes (without a high paid staff or any media contacts) to figure this out on the interweb. CNN and AP apparently don't have the resources I have.

James Maxey said...

I've done a bit more research on this story and the main evidence that it's real is that the imam shown on the website has been a guest on Fox news numerous times where he's spouted similar stuff. But, digging deeper, there are some reporters in the UK who have looked into this guy and can't find any evidence he has any actual followers.

Three possibilities:

1 My hunch is completely wrong. This guy is for real, and is taken seriously by some Muslims.

2. He's real, but the equivilent of Terry Jones, wannabe Koran burner. Just an isolated boob that reporters turn into a celebrity on a slow news day.

3. He's a complete plant, a performance artist playing a character to make a statement, and no one who interviews him has yet figured this out.

Without flying to the UK to interview him personally, I guess I'll never know. But the reuse of the parody images still makes me think this is all a hoax.

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