Saturday, April 27, 2013

Correction in the New York Times: about Bashshar Al-Asad and whether he ever labeled his enemies as "Sunni extremists" as Anne Barnard and other correspondents keep claiming

I notice that the New York Times can't simply admits that it is wrong, when it is wrong. The corrections are acts of defensiveness and attempts are bending the truth to basically deny that they were wrong.  Look at this one:  "An article on April 6 about Unicef’s warning that the United Nations will soon have to start cutting off lifesaving aid to people fleeing the civil war in Syria because the exodus has far outstripped support from international donors referred imprecisely to groups that the government of President Bashar al-Assad says it is fighting. A prominent adviser to Mr. Assad accused a well-known Sunni Muslim cleric in Qatar of inciting Sunnis in Latakia, Syria, to revolt in March 2011. In addition to foreigners and Al Qaeda,  Mr. Assad and other government officials say Syria is battling members of extremist sectarian ideologies including Wahabism and takfirism. They have not publicly cited Sunni extremists as the enemy."  So the Times could not find evidence of its constant refrain (which it receives from Syrian exile groups) that Bashshar labels his enemies as "Sunni extremists" which exacerbates sectarian tensions.  Of course, Bashshar never labels his enemies as such (this is without denying the obvious, that his regime is sectarianly based, although less than the times of his father but that is a whole different matter).  So here in the correction they strive to prove that they were actually not really wrong so they maintain that the criticism of one cleric and criticisms of Al-Qa`idah are evidence of sectarian anti-Sunnism.  Even critiques of Wahhabiyyah and takfirism (not by Bashshar, mind you, but by an adviser because they found one statement by Buthayna Sha`ban in which she was critical of Wahhabi groups) are seen in this act of defensiveness as evidence of Bashshar's anti-Sunni sectarianism.  So you read the correction and then wonder: what is the correction for when the New York Times is never really wrong, and not even in this case?