Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard
“It is always the truth that becomes the first victim of war” – this truth was acquired long ago by western journalists, who during the period of preparing and carrying out any military operations by their governments instantly forget about the need to observe at least an illusion of freedom of speech.
It is remembered that in 2003 at the congress of the World newspaper association in Dublin I witnessed the speech of the known Canadian-British media magnate Conrad Black, who at that time controlled the third largest English-speaking media empire, which issued newspapers in the US, Britain, Canada, and Israel. From the tribune of the forum that brought together the leading world publishers and editors, Black started lecturing them, stating about the need to support any military operation of the US in any “hot spot”, because supposedly America “guards democracy around the world”. And proudly stated that any newspaper of his media holding won’t allow itself to criticise the American army. Here you have the vaunted freedom of speech, here you have an editorial policy that is independent from publishers.
After these words some editors (mainly Middle Eastern) defiantly left the hall in protest at such lectures. It is indicative that soon Conrad Black was accused of large fraud, and the Chicago court sentenced him to 6.5 years of imprisonment. As you can see, the ostentatious pro-American patriotism of the publisher didn’t prevent him from appropriating the money of investors.
The current information policy of the western media concerning the missile attacks on sovereign Syria vividly remind me of all this: the full rejection of the facts and theories that don’t fit in the “only correct” official narrative about Damascus poisoning its own citizens in Douma, hanging labels on those who try not to call it into question, but asks the inconvenient question “Why would Assad do it?”, throwing dissidents off the air.
At the end of last week the host of the Sky News channel abruptly interrupted the General Johnathan Shaw, the former commander of British troops in Iraq, when he started explaining on the air that Damascus had no grounds to stage a chemical attack in Douma. Having heard that “Assad already won this war”, the TV host with scared eyes suddenly sharply cut off the interlocutor and stopped the interview. The General didn’t fit into the format of the air, he didn’t ask the needed questions. Especially considering the fact that it happened a few hours prior to the missile attacks on Syria.
It is “The Times” newspaper that went further than others in this witch hunt. On Saturday (i.e., actually, on the day of the night attack against Syria) it presented main news on the front page that is rather a public denunciation: “Apologists for Assad working at universities”. The newspaper swooped down on several British professors and lecturers of the universities who quite recently united into a small “Working group on Syria, Propaganda, and Media”. Teachers explained that their aim is studying the influence of propaganda vis-a-vis the development of the war in Syria, and they managed, by and large, to publish only one article on “Skripal’s affair“.
But this didn’t prevent “The Time”: to swoop down on the “useful idiots of Assad”, as the newspaper expressed it. Based on several of their tweets and blogs in which teachers dared to call into question the official narrative, “The Times” stated that they “spread pro-Assad disinformation” and “conspiracy theories”. “In fact, the group is scrupulous in its analysis and presentation of information…” said the professor of University of Edinburgh Tim Hayward, who the newspaper named. “The group is not ‘pro-Assad’. Speaking about myself, I am simply ‘pro’ getting at the truth“.
Some of the teachers mentioned in the article of “The Times” in general reported that the newspaper attributed words to them that they never said.
In its print edition today @thetimes has fabricated or misattributed the following tweet to me, I categorically did not write these words & have never even read them before. I demand a retraction and apology in the print edition FAO: @KrystinaShveda @haynesdeborah @TimesKennedy pic.twitter.com/lXJxnf3uWG
— Louis Allday (@Louis_Allday) April 14, 2018
And the sociology lecturer Sami Ramadani wrote:
Unbelievable! @TheTimes UK’s most authentic voice of the establishment devoted front page, 2-page splash & an editorial to distort the politics & aims of small group of academics, including myself, who want to do independent research into coverage of #Syria. Must be truly scared pic.twitter.com/FuyDiN6asd
— Sami Ramadani سامي (@SamiRamadani1) April 14, 2018
The newspaper, by the way, wasn’t limited to citing tweets and even the retweets of the teachers asking inconvenient questions. The authors of the article also contacted and management of universities where its persons who are involved work, having demanded an explanation concerning the admissibility of such “unseemly” behavior of scientists — otherwise the denunciation would be incomplete. It’s not surprising that one of the lecturers mentioned in article called all of this a “McCarthyite witch hunt”.
A small number of people working in UK academia have been willing to question & critically examine the prevailing narrative on Syria. This is how the disgusting rag The Times has reported it, a full on McCarthyite witch hunt at the exact moment that the UK is illegally bombing. pic.twitter.com/iHyq6XE5JH
— Louis Allday (@Louis_Allday) April 14, 2018
It is hard to say how this hunting for several British teachers will end. Judging by the fact that “The Times” continued its campaign of persecuting in its subsequent issues, the universities where these professors work will be put under strong pressure. But it is necessary to understand that the ultimate goal of such a large-scale campaign against dissidents is not a specific politician or small group of lecturers who don’t have leading roles.
The purpose of the new witch-hunt in the West is to intimidate the entire community of independent experts and “talking heads”. It’s as if they are shown: if you dare to ask an inconvenient question about Syria or Russia — you will be cut off the air for years, you will receive the label “useful idiot”, and you will have problems at your workplace. That’s why it’s better if you don’t risk it: either repeat the official narrative about the “proved” guilt of Assad, justifying the illegal missile attacks on a sovereign State, or don’t comment on this topic at all. And don’t dare to search for the truth — it already became a victim of the new war of the West.
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