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Friday, May 9, 2008
Depiction-Equals-Approval Fallacy Watch
Topic: NewsBusters

The headline on Warner Todd Huston's May 9 NewsBusters post howls: 'Outrageous: McClatchy Praises Terrorist's 'Charity Work'." Huston writes:

McClatchy had their hearts go aflutter over Sadr's "humanitarian aid" imagining it to be the "other" softer side of the terror chieftain giving Sadr a nice little bit of free positive publicity quite despite the truth of his murderous actions.


Don't you love how they give legitimacy to "Sadr City's main humanitarian organization"? This is Muqtada al Sadr we are talking about here. He is 100% backed by one of our biggest enemies in the world, Iran. Yet, here is McClatchy acting as if the Sadrists are a legitimate "humanitarian aid" group.


This is shameless pandering to a murderer and terrorist.


Sadr is no humanitarian. He couldn't care less about people other than how he can use them to continue his terrorist activities. Let's put it this way: if a child predator gives a child some candy, should we praise the molester for selflessly feeding the children? Obviously, the molester's motives are to rape the child, so the food is a lure not an altruistic gift! This is the same with Sadr and his henchmen. They are holding a bit of candy out so that they may further rape the people of Iraq.

But, to McClatchy, Sadr is a really good guy because of this supposed "charity work."

Ah, the Depiction-Equals-Approval Fallacy at work.

Of course, the McClatchy article in question doesn't "praise" al-Sadr or call him "a really good guy"; rather, it points out that he is what passes for a functioning government in that area and that public support for his charity work is undermining the U.S. military in Iraq. Huston included excerpts from the article in his post -- all taken out of context. Here's what Huston didn't excerpt:

Sadr, the fiery anti-American Shiite cleric, has again emerged as the U.S. military's No. 1 problem in Iraq, as his followers wage an increasingly bloody struggle with American soldiers for control of impoverished, militia-infested Sadr City.


Analysts point out that Hezbollah's military wing is much more disciplined than Sadr's younger and more fractured movement. But Sadr's charity work helps to maintain popular support for his movement even as its confrontations with U.S. and Iraqi forces plunge places such as Sadr City deeper into chaos.

"It's a reflection of the existing vacuum and the extremely poor capacity of the state to step in and provide these services," said Peter Harling, an Iraq expert with the International Crisis Group, a conflict-resolution think tank.

International aid workers and ordinary Iraqis say that the U.S.-backed Iraqi government is sitting on billions of dollars meant for humanitarian projects. Shiite and Sunni militias have stepped in to fill the gap, assuming control of basic services in neighborhoods they control.

"We would be glad if the government could really provide services," said Ibrahim al Jabri, who oversees the Sadr organization's humanitarian projects in eastern Baghdad, including Sadr City.

"But until now there is nothing provided by the government. It's not possible just to leave people waiting."

Iraqi government efforts to help war victims, by contrast, are a bureaucratic morass. The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs has established a committee to help Iraq's war widows, who are eligible to receive monthly assistance payments of $40 to $80. But advocates say that cases take months or years to wind through the system, and very few applicants end up receiving help.


Lt. Col. Frank Curtis of the 432 Civil Affairs Battalion in Sadr City is trying to jumpstart reconstruction efforts and help Iraqi officials spend the allocated money for the area. Now they get about 70 people a day at the center.

He acknowledged that the Mahdi Army may pay money to families but said that people are tired of its intimidation campaigns.

"Maybe they pay that money, but what the populace tells us and the sheiks tell us is that basically what they do is they steal their money and restrict where they're allowed to go," he said. "Everybody out there has to pay for the right to live in their home."

Warner, honey: Reporting something does not equal approval of what is being reported. But falsely conflating the two is something MRC writers seem to enjoy doing.

Posted by Terry K. at 4:41 PM EDT

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