Greenwald smear campaign ridiculed

I wrote about the attempt to smear Glenn Greenwald by digging into his personal life. Justin Raimondo looks into the people behind the campaign.

But the ‘dirt’ these people have dug up is so pathetic that a whole host of people have taken to Twitter to mock the campaign and come up with Greenwald ‘scandals’ using the hashtag #ggscandals, such as actor John Cusack with “its true even had a bad hair day…RT ‪@impossibletoday: It’s true, but ‪#ggscandals will continue to reveal his deplorable recycling skills” and kade with ” Once I saw Greenwald at an event and I can say with near certainty that he had his wine glass on the wrong side of his plate.”

James Trimarcgo has made a list of what he thinks are the ten funniest tweets.

Sometimes the best way to counter smear merchants is to laugh at them. But I think what is more interesting is how this issue is clarifying who is a supporter of the secretive national security state and who is isn’t.


  1. says

    (I know you don’t follow FTB-related events, but this is very much in the tradition of the campaigns mocking ridiculous accusations against Rebecca Watson and then “FTBullies.” I don’t know when or where this sort of campaign started, but it’s fun to read the tweets.)

    And the reporter from the Daily News sent another email asking about a student loan judgment which was in default over a decade ago and is now covered by a payment plan agreement.”

    Right, because nothing will destroy sympathy from Americans, especially young people, like the knowledge that someone is burdened with student loan debt.

  2. Jeffrey Johnson says

    The ad hominem assault on Greenwald is petty and uncalled for. I think he is right to get this discussion going, even though I disagree with some of Greenwald’s views on the matter.

    But here is some more reasonable and on target criticism from Jon Chait. The basic summary: Greenwald is too idealistic and somewhat obsessive:

    I think Greenwald came out on the wrong side of this debate with Sam Harris as well, though I concede Greenwald has some good points. As usual, he seems too absolutist and unwilling to concede that the world is more complex than he allows for:

    It’s awful for people to go after Greenwald’s reputation, rather than debating the merits of surveillance and what measures might restore the balance between protecting people’s rights and protecting their security. But Greenwald is no saint or hero. He’s a smart guy with good skills and ideas, and also with many human flaws, as are any of us.

  3. atheist says

    I don’t get it. Why was Greenwald wrong to point out that Harris is a raving Islamophobe? Would you prefer that we pretend his anti-Muslim animus, and pro-fascist tendencies, aren’t there? In what way would this exercise in self-delusion benefit us?

  4. Chiroptera says

    It’s awful for people to go after Greenwald’s reputation, rather than debating the merits of surveillance and what measures might restore the balance between protecting people’s rights and protecting their security.

    Isn’t that what you just did there?

  5. Jeffrey Johnson says

    I wish you were joking, but evidently you are not. First one must define what is meant by Islamophobia, because there seem to be different concepts people call to mind when using the term.

    I think of Islamophobia in the same way I think of any phobia, as an irrational fear based on no objective evidence. So acrophobia for example, the fear of heights, is a phobia when somebody feels fearful from merely standing atop a tall building or a mountain top, presuming they are safely away from the edge and there is no real danger of falling. If someone on top of a building is pushed, and they fall over the edge but manage to gain a precarious purchase on a ledge, there is a real reason to be fearful of harm. This is not acrophobia, it is a natural fear of falling and dying that has a real empirical basis to it.

    The kinds of people I would call Islamophobes include but are not limited to: Pamela Gellar, Robert Spencer, David Horowitz, and Michelle Bachman. If you familiarize yourself with this kind of idiocy, I hope you would be sensible enough to not include Sam Harris in that category. To think that America is in danger of being overwhelmed by a wave of Muslim immigration, and that these migrants will succeed in changing the American way of life by imposing Sharia law and preventing bacon and alcohol from being sold in supermarkets is an irrational fear. To think that the wife of former Congressman Anthony Weiner, Hillary Clinton’s aid Huma Abedin is a spy for the Muslim Brotherhood is Islamophobia. The wild accusations about the Muslim Victory Mosque at ground zero were Islamophobic. Pushing a Hindu from a subway platform because he looks vaguely Middle Eastern, or murdering a turban wearing Sikh cab driver because you believe they are Muslim is Islamophobic. In fact, committing any act of violence or vandalism against actual Muslims simply because they are Muslim is clearly Islamophobic. There is plenty of real Islamophobia to go around.

    Also to generalize the bad behavior of a few Muslims to all Muslims qualifies as Islamophobia. To think that because of 9/11, all Muslims are terrorists, or that because of the existence of Hamas, all Muslims want to destroy Israel and kill all Jews, are also examples of Islamophobia. One might try to claim that Ayaan Hirsi Ali is Islamophobic, in fact many people have, and if anyone has a right to be Islamophobic because of unpleasant past experiences, she does. But to make such a claim for Ali or for Sam Harris, you would need to also say that any atheist is Christophobic, or Religophobic. This kind of thoughtless excessive use of a term totally dilutes it so that it no longer has any identifiable meaning. It merely becomes an ephthet to express emotion, anger, and hatred.

    Certainly criticism of Islam can be irrational and Islamophobic, but this does not mean that all criticism of Islam is Islamophobic. Harris and Ali base their criticisms on objective evidence based arguments about real dangers posed by certain Muslims and groups within Islam, groups that represent many millions of people, who combine the worst of misogyny, tribalism, and other primitive cultural traditions with a sense of anger and historical grievance that their way of life is not ascendant in the world, and they use Islam to legitimize these very illiberal and dangerous points of view and to justify the application of violence to people who are not directly responsible for the acts or circumstances that fuel their feelings of dishonored entitlement. I understand the point of many moderate or liberal Muslims who say these people aren’t truly Muslims, that they violate the principles of Islam as they are understood by most Muslims. But ask the fundamentalists if they are real Muslims, and if they are doing the will of Allah. These are people who feel that severe jail sentences or even death sentences are justified merely for publicly acknowledging the blasphemy of atheism.

    To become an apologist for such horrible acts as the stabbing death of Drummer Rigby in Woolwich is not the only alternative to EDL style proto-fascist racism and ravings, which truly are Islamophobic. What Harris has tried to point out, and been unfairly smeared for, is that there is an extreme of liberal multi-culturalism, which in its zeal to be all inclusive and just and fair to all people, ends up devolving into the mirror image of weak-minded thoughtless Islamophobia. This reflexive apologist mindset is one in which all Muslims are victims, and terrorism is excusable because of the coup against Mossadegh and the US support of Mubarak and Israel. Greenwald makes many good points about legitimate grievance that Muslims have over being on the receiving end of US imperialism and violence, especially during the Cold War, but also post 9/11. This US aggression and bullying is immorally excused by many American apologists because of Islamophobia and racist dehumanization. I’ve no argument with that as a real phenomenon. But it doesn’t excuse terrorism against all members of the cultural West who have no direct involvement in hurting Muslims, and it doesn’t excuse turning a blind eye to any and all inexcusable acts of violence or primitive theocratic and patriarchal acts of tribal vengeance, such as stoning adulterers, honor killings, and extremely severe punishment of apostates, blasphemers, and atheists.

    To answer your last question, self-delusion doesn’t benefit anyone, which is why you would probably do well to carefully read what Sam Harris has written in its entirety rather than allowing yourself to be swayed to prejudice by dishonest outtakes and quote mining. While you are at it, here is an article I was just reading that identifies a common form of delusional thinking that people are often drawn into when partaking in debates on such volatile and emotionally painful issues. I think your reflexive charge of Islamophobia against Sam Harris suggests you could benefit from reading it carefully:

  6. Jeffrey Johnson says

    No, because I wasn’t trying to discredit Greenwald as a person by attacking his personal flaws or human foibles in order to distract from the important revelations he has made as a journalist. I’ve read Greenwald for more than a decade, and I’ve noticed a progression to more and more angry and emotional argumentation. I don’t know why that is. I don’t hesitate to say I agree with many of Greenwald’s causes and his points, but I have reasons for feeling at times he goes to far.

    I acknowledged that it is more important that we address the issues that Greenwald’s work and Snowdens leaks have raised. And I have spent time in other threads discussing exactly those important issues.

    Since the topic of this thread was about smears against Greenwald’s reputation, and the reaction to those, and since such ad hominem smears often lead to people rounding up the wagons and getting into tribalist hero worship, I felt it was important to add some perspective based on well reasoned arguments and objective observations about Greenwald’s actual work, not Greenwald the private person or Greenwald’s personal character.

    If I were smearing the person Greenwald, as opposed to discussing aspects of his work, then you would have a point.

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