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Bigots swarm an American Muslim writer after Daily Caller attacks her for innocuous tweet

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How it works

A swarm of internet nasties descended on Laila Alawa, an American Muslim writer, publisher and activist, after she was targeted last week as public enemy #1 by an assortment of right-wing sites — starting with The Daily Caller then spreading to assorted even more fringey sites from JihadWatch to PamelaGeller.com.

Alawa’s most horrendous crime, in the minds of her attackers? She once tweeted that the 9/11 attacks permanently changed the world.

No, really. Here’s the tweet that triggered the onslaught of Internet harassment that’s made Alawa’s life a living hell:

LailaAlawa911Good-620x118

You may notice that she did not say that 9/11 changed the world “for the better.” She said “for good,” a phrase that everyone with even a rudimentary grasp of English should know means “permanently.”

But somehow every right-wing Muslim-hater who saw the Daily Caller post that launched this wave of hate decided that she was praising the terrorist attacks on 9/11/2001 in that tweet. Adding to their indignation: the fact that Alawa had participated in the making of a recently issued Department of Homeland Security report on violent extremism.

Professional Islamaphobe Pamela Geller gave her post on the subject this absurd headline:

Obama’s Homeland Security Advisor is Syrian MIGRANT who CHEERS 9/11, it ‘CHANGED THE WORLD FOR THE GOOD’ - See more at: http://pamelageller.com/2016/06/obamas-homeland-security-advisor-is-syrian-immigrant-who-cheers-911-it-changed-the-world-for-the-good.html/#sthash.PIVcxLRh.dpuf

Freedom Daily meanwhile, declared:

Obama Hires Muslim Who praised 9/11 Attacks – Puts Her On Homeland Security Committee!

A site called The Political Insider offered a similarly twisted misreading of Alawa’s tweet; the site also managed to transform her work last year with the Department of Homeland Security into a direct appointment by Obama after the Orlando massacre.

Just After Orlando, Obama Hires Muslim Who Praised 9/11 FOR THIS JOB!

Within a few days, there was so much nonsense about Alawa floating around the internet that the urban legend-busting site Snopes.com felt obliged to weigh in with a lengthy rebuttal of the most outrageous false claims, leading the author of the Daily Caller piece to attack the author of the Snopes.com piece as a “failed liberal blogger.”

As assorted right-wing websites and blogs fanned the flames, a virtual army of the internet’s worst people descended on Alawa, flooding her Twitter and Facebook mentions with an assortment of angry and threatening messages.

“On Tuesday, June 14, 2016, I woke up to a hell that even I could not have predicted,” Alawa wrote yesterday in a post on The Tempest, an online publication she founded and runs. “Hundreds of people were tweeting at me, the vitriol, hatred and fury in their messages each worse than the last one.”

Here are some of the messages she collected, one of which I’ve lightly censored:

al1 al4 al6

This fellow gave Alawa a promotion to the top job at Homeland Security:

al5

This fellow showed that he actually does know the difference between “for good” and “for the better” — unless the person using the phrase “for good” is Muslim.

al2

And this lovely lady tossed in a plug for Donald Trump after wishing Alawa a gruesome death:

al3

Meanwhile, this familiar face did his part to spread the Daily Caller’s blatant misinformation:

almilo

And all of this because a “reporter” at The Daily Caller searched through at least two years of her tweets in order to find a “smoking gun” tweet that turned out to be neither smoking nor a gun.

In her post on The Tempest, Alawa put the tweet that offended the world in context:

“Just like every American, 9/11 was a tragedy that hit close to home,” she wrote.

I was 10 when it happened, living in upstate New York, and the event and ensuing aftermath left me – and the nation – reeling. So much so that it changed my career path for good – I now fight to ensure that every woman, no matter who or where or how she is, has a media outlet to find a space in. So in 2014, upon the anniversary of the attacks, I sent out a tweet, like I do every year, about the events that had transpired.

She explained the difference between “for good” and “for the better,” knowing full well that it wouldn’t make any difference to

the thousands and thousands of people taking it upon themselves to comb through my private history, any public articles I had written, any photos I had online.

She recounted the abuse she’d gotten over the past week:

I received rape threats, death threats, and images that made me almost throw up. People, furious and filled with a hatred against someone they didn’t even know, had decided I was the perfect target for the entire week.

I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t eat. Each morning, I’d wake up, and suddenly remember what was happening online, and want to go back to sleep. All I could do was numbly block and report, block and report. … I kept laughing when I told the story in public, because if I stopped, I knew I’d start crying. I’d step away from my phone for 5 minutes, and come back to a hundred notifications.

People told her it would get better.

It didn’t get better. It still hasn’t gotten better. I’m now enemy #1 of racist, conservative, Trump-loving America, the favorite obsession of white supremacists and “patriots,” clickbait for every possible conservative platform and bigots like Pamela Geller, Allen West, and Milo Yannoupolis.

The bitter irony at the heart of all this hate? These abusive, vicious, barbaric right-wing bigots have somehow managed to convince themselves and their followers that they’re the ones defending Western civilization from barbarism.

H/T to Orion Anderson for sending me Alawa’s post.

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Imaginary Petal
Imaginary Petal
5 years ago

@Verily Baroque

I do have the time for an occasional pen pal! 🙂

I’d be happy to look at your writing and give you notes, or supply you with grammar exercises if you want. My email is my username (without the space), at gmail.

@Dalillama

Thanks! One problem for me has been that bars and restaurants constantly disappear, change owners/profiles, etc. I’ve often found good reviews of a restaurant or bar written just a year earlier, but then it turns out the place doesn’t exist anymore. Even the QX “gaymap” is often out of date and inaccurate. I guess I just need to know more gay people.

Alan Robertshaw
Alan Robertshaw
5 years ago

We have a thing called the Royal United Services Institute. It’s a think tank that deals in security matters. Probably fair to say they’re pretty neutral. They’ve just published their report into lone wolf terrorism. They have right wing extremism identified as the biggest threat.

https://rusi.org/sites/default/files/201604_clat_final_report.pdf

mrex
mrex
5 years ago

@Lars

“She should have stated “permanently” instead of “for good”. One must always be careful with her choice of words!”

Gee, I can’t wait until Trump gets voted in and we no longer have to worry about the PC police combing over our words to look for something to manufacture outrage over… oh wait. Quick, freeze peach freeze peach freeze peach!

@Buttercup

“Even if a woman carefully follows all those rules to the letter, they’ll just find a weaker gazelle to attack.”

Ok, a few things;

A. I agree with everything you say.
B. With that being said, with human nature being as shitty as it is, whats wrong with a discussion on how to be the strong gazelle and not the weak one? Obviously the gazelle is never at fault for being eaten, but there are always some behaviors that increase risk. Isn’t information and calculated risk management empowering? Why has feminism let the asshole victim blamers own this discussion as of late?

Imaginary Petal
Imaginary Petal
5 years ago

@mrex

In this case, the Muslim woman in question is being targeted because she’s a Muslim woman. This has nothing to do with behavior that can be modified.

mrex
mrex
5 years ago

@IP

In this case yes. The only behavior that could be changed is avoiding sharing opinions. But this is it, this is the risk of being a Muslim woman with an opinion on Twitter. Outlining and discussing the risk shines light on the absurdity of it all.

Imaginary Petal
Imaginary Petal
5 years ago

I’m pretty sure we’ve already noted, many times, that it’s dangerous for women and minorities to share opinions on the internet.

mrex
mrex
5 years ago

Since I’m not going to make the edit; I’m not suggesting that we make hard and fast rules. There could never be reasonable rules; hell getting out of bed in the morning increases the risk of rape. (Well, at least stranger rape). Risk is an unavoidable and necessary part of life. Risk is the heart of progress, and growth. I’m just wondering why nunced discussions about risks and choices seem to be rare in feminism.

kupo
kupo
5 years ago

I’m just wondering why nunced discussions about risks and choices seem to be rare in feminism.

Oh, fuck off with this. Every. Single. Time. a woman is harassed, abused, raped, murdered, or has anything else happen to her, we’re reminded of how her behavior wasn’t perfect and it’s held up as an example for the rest of us. We already know the risks. We already know the advice on how to avoid it. None of this addresses the actual problem–the harassers, abusers, rapists, and murderers and the society we live in that makes them feel entitled act this way and finds every way possible to excuse their behavior.

mrex
mrex
5 years ago

@IP probably. But I’m also speaking generally here. The post I quoted from buttercup was also starting to speak about things other than just this specific case, which yes, there was nothing to change other than the unchangeable.

But speaking generally, no this place never discusses how to be the stronger gazelle. Probably partly because the purpose of this place is to mock the manosphere, and partly because the ideal is the safety of everyone, not just the strong ones. But also because it seems like a discussion on how to be stronger would be interperted as victim blaming, here, and in the larger community as well.

weirwoodtreehugger: communist bonobo
weirwoodtreehugger: communist bonobo
5 years ago

We don’t discuss basic risk avoidance because we aren’t stupid and naive. We already know basic risk avoidance. And it’s not just feminists. Most women have already heard all the rape avoidance advice our whole lives. Black parents already teach their kids about how to avoid being subjected to police brutality. Etc. This stuff only tends to be brought up to derail conversations and shift blame onto the victim.

mrex
mrex
5 years ago

@kupo

“We already know the advice on how to avoid it. None of this addresses the actual problem–the harassers, abusers, rapists, and murderers and the society we live in that makes them feel entitled act this way and finds every way possible to excuse their behavior.”

Really? How much of that advice is realistic? How much of that advice is just victim blaming pretending to be advice? Shit like clothing, or “being nice, but not too nice.” Smile, but wait, don’t smile. Shit that really doesn’t matter.

Look, I get your points, and I agree with them. But I’m also a practical person. Until we live in a society with no rape, murder, harassment, or any of that shit, I like discussions on being the strongest, fasest, gazelle, on the block.

kupo
kupo
5 years ago

Look, I get your points, and I agree with them. But I’m also a practical person. Until we live in a society with no rape, murder, harassment, or any of that shit, I like discussions on being the strongest, fasest, gazelle, on the block.

Then go find somewhere that it’s being discussed instead of derailing discussions about victims.

mrex
mrex
5 years ago

@WWTH

“We don’t discuss basic risk avoidance because we aren’t stupid and naive.”

A. Literally everyone was once stupid and naive. If you’re no longer stupid and naive its because you either learned through bitter experience or you had a discussion that enlightened you. Of the two, I take discussions over “bitter experience”. I’ve been sexually assaulted before. No, it wasn’t my fault, and yes, I am now less naive. However, it would have been nicer to skip the whole thing.

B. Fair point about it being a derailing tactic. However, I’m not saying that the discussion is always appropiate, as it *usually* is not. I’m asking why the discussion is generally treated as toxic waste no matter where it occurs. To the point of someone opining that getting drunk around strangers is dangerous in their own space will attract accusations of “victim blaming”.

Much of the “advice” given to young women is wrong. Want an example? All date rape drugs are tastless right? Wrong. Street GHB is salty, something I learned the hard way when I continued drinking the bottle. Too bad the so-called “experts” can be niave as well. The best source of information is always a forum of people with differing experiences.

[Edit]

@kupo “Then go find somewhere that it’s being discussed instead of derailing discussions about victims.”

Well, fair enough. Seemed like the discussion was progressing from a discussion on just victims. But I guess not.

Fiona
Fiona
5 years ago

If I’m honest – with zero context that sentence reads like she’s saying ‘it’s good’. Maybe that’s a problem with punctuation?

But then again I’m not the type of person who is incapable of looking at literally any other tweet and realising she’s not a terrorist so, you know…

mrex
mrex
5 years ago

@Fiona

“If I’m honest – with zero context that sentence reads like she’s saying ‘it’s good’. Maybe that’s a problem with punctuation”

No punctiation problem. If anything, maybe it’s a problem with the internet being international and English phrases meaning different things in different places?

Around here (NorthEast US) “for good” is a super common phrase that only means “forever” and I literally cannot concieve of how someone could read that tweet any differently. But, language varies and all. 🙂

Imaginary Petal
Imaginary Petal
5 years ago

@Fiona

Is English your first language? If so, where are you from? I’d be interested to know.

http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/for+good

Fiona
Fiona
5 years ago

So I slept on it to try and figure out how to explain our ‘local dialect’. I live in Tower Hamlets so we all speak different first languages. We are essentially ‘the hell’ these people are so determined to avoid.

So daily conversations are a mix of ‘dying generation cockneys’ ‘second generation west Africans’ (mostly Nigerian) and ‘second generation Indians/Pakistanis’

So if it isn’t a punctuation thing then it’s because I live in a neighbourhood so thoroughly divorced from wherever these people live that my daily grammar is different to most people’s.

(I wish we could invite people here to see what we’re like 🙁 )

mrex
mrex
5 years ago

@ Fiona

“So if it isn’t a punctuation thing then it’s because I live in a neighbourhood so thoroughly divorced from wherever these people live that my daily grammar is different to most people’s.

Well, looking at IP’s link, it does say that “for good” is an American idiom, so it doesn’t seem too out there that it would be confusing for someone from the UK. Of course, this doesn’t explain all the Americans that played the “deliberately obtuse” game.

(If you’re not familiar with this game, it’s when you can’t win an debate because your arguments suck, so you deliberately play stupid. This is done in hopes that your oppenent will, at best, provide you with a strawman to relentlessly attack, or at worst, manage to muddy the waters enough that literally any argument will be difficult to understand.)

Alan Robertshaw
Alan Robertshaw
5 years ago

@ mrex

I can’t speak for everyone in the UK obviously. However I can say that “for good” meaning “forever” is the standard definition here; and readily understood. It’s in common usage as a phrase.

If you’ll forgive a trivial example…

http://mvdb2b.com/i/300dpi/ABSB022.jpg

Fiona Apps
Fiona Apps
5 years ago

That’s why I had to sleep on it to try and describe it. Tower Hamlets =/= rest of London let alone UK. I’d say we were all just chilling here as immigrants but after last week we’re all huddling here waiting for the hate crimes.

Imaginary Petal
Imaginary Petal
5 years ago

@mrex & Alan

The link also says “British, American & Australian”, and references the Cambridge Idioms Dictionary.

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