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

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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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dlouwe
dlouwe
4 years ago

I too misread the tweet at first, and know what my first thought was? “I wonder what she means by that?” Like, if I heard someone literally say “I think that 9/11 was good for the world” I would be instantly curious about why they thought that. I would be dubious, but who knows? Maybe there’s some utilitarian perspective that could show 9/11 as being a “good” event for the world?

Basically, the large number of ways to react to this tweet that don’t involve immediately jumping to a vitriolic smear campaign highlights the agendas at work. They have no interest in engaging the topic, they are just looking to drive traffic at the expense of an innocent person.

I love how Lars feels free to chastise Alawa for not using precisely the wording he himself would have meticulously chosen in that situation, being the finicky connoisseur of English that he is. Then he flies off the handle when someone calls him out for using a genuinely sloppy turn of phrase.

Not to mention how the fuck hard is “one’s choice of words?” Or even “their” for that matter? His correction was still ungainly and poor usage.

Buttercup Q. Skullpants
Buttercup Q. Skullpants
4 years ago

@IP – “A Trump supporter blocked my cat on Twitter, and all I got was this poorly spelled death threat.”

(A bit wordy for a T-shirt, but still a few whoms short of a MGTOW slogan.)

Imaginary Petal
Imaginary Petal
4 years ago

@Buttercup

Pretty sure I can fix that, if you don’t mind!

“A Trump supporter whom blocked my cat on Twitter has sent me a poorly spelled death threat, whom was all I got actually.”

Verily Baroque
Verily Baroque
4 years ago

@IP

A Trump supporter blocked my cat on Twitter

If I ever need to summarize the nature of social media and online discourse to one sentence, it shall be that sentence.

Redsilkphoenix
Redsilkphoenix
4 years ago

All of this “if only women did [this] they would avoid being assaulted” reminds me of a Twitter/Tumbler blog (forgot which platform this was on) I came across a few years ago that was dedicated to making fun of that kind of ‘advice’. Like, one bit of ‘advice’ was “Throw batteries at the feet of a would-be rapist, and run away while he’s busy draining the batteries of their energy. Because all a rapist wants is power, right?”

Unfortunately, I found that site while on my old phone, and haven’t found it again to bookmark on my newer phone. 🙁 Yet. (I don’t have a personal computer to sync my phone to, so that solution’s out of the question here. 🙁 )

Imaginary Petal
Imaginary Petal
4 years ago

@Verily Baroque

Is this a future classic? :p

Hey, let me know if you want any more help with your Swedish!

Imaginary Petal
Imaginary Petal
4 years ago

I’ve suggested for Citizen Radio to cover Laila Alawa’s story.

Paradoxical Intention - Resident Cheeseburger Slut

Redsilkphoenix | June 20, 2016 at 2:42 pm
All of this “if only women did [this] they would avoid being assaulted” reminds me of a Twitter/Tumbler blog (forgot which platform this was on) I came across a few years ago that was dedicated to making fun of that kind of ‘advice’. Like, one bit of ‘advice’ was “Throw batteries at the feet of a would-be rapist, and run away while he’s busy draining the batteries of their energy. Because all a rapist wants is power, right?”

I remember seeing tweets like that!

Stuff like “Become ethereal” and “Be a unicorn”.

@IP: I suppose if you had a good, sad shot of your kitty, I could ‘shop it into a shirt design. :U

Imaginary Petal
Imaginary Petal
4 years ago

@PI

I’ll take a look! :p

Also, I made a 2nd donation to your GoFundMe, but I accidentally used my meatspace email address. :/

I don’t think it makes any difference though.

Paradoxical Intention - Resident Cheeseburger Slut

IP: Aw, thank you very much!

If you do find a good picture, you can either email it to me or tweet it at me, and I’ll see what I can do. Hope Fingie’s looking forward to being famous! 😀

Imaginary Petal
Imaginary Petal
4 years ago

@PI

I’ll look tomorrow. Fingie is a very attention seeking cat, so I’m sure I’ll find someting suitable. :p

No pressure to answer, but are things moving along for you?

Imaginary Petal
Imaginary Petal
4 years ago

Okay, I’m really drunk so I’m just gonna recommend an artist who’s only 23 but has already been around for a long time. Lately he’s come out with a series of major hits, all positive and conscious roots reggae/dancehall tunes. His name is Jahmiel. Here’s three of his recent hit tracks:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DlJ24ikrJEA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0qpagRO0q9o

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GbheXex2L_M

If you appreciate any of this at all, make sure to check out Chronixx, Deep Jahi, and Dexta Daps.

Paradoxical Intention - Resident Cheeseburger Slut

@IP: Things are starting to move quicker, which is scary, but I’m trying to get used to it.

I’m currently working on sorting through my stuff and figuring out what can stay and what can go, and planning for travel and shipping and stuff.

Imaginary Petal
Imaginary Petal
4 years ago

@PI

My Significant Otter had a LOT of stuff shipped from the US when she moved here. I had to carry it all up to the third floor. :/ It was quite expensive too. I really hope it all works out for you!

Imaginary Petal
Imaginary Petal
4 years ago

Probably a very random question for this blog, but I’ll just throw it out there.

As a newly-embraced non-binary, would I be welcome at a random gay club? What if I and be my bi woman Significant Otter went there together? Would I even be welcome?

Dalillama
4 years ago

@IP
Depends heavily on your local gay clubs. A lot of such places are really, particularly, places for cis gay (esp white) men, rather than for all of us, unfortunately.

Handsome "These Pretzels Suck" Jack (formerly Pandapool)

As a newly-embraced non-binary, would I be welcome at a random gay club? What if I and be my bi woman Significant Otter went there together? Would I even be welcome?

I don’t really go out to bars but it would hurt to look around and make sure the club is trans and bi friendly. While many places are accepting of trans people, there’s still a lot of transphobia in the cis gay community. There also happens to be a lot of biphobia. If it’s a bar that caters to either lesbians or just gay men, I’d be careful, but if it’s a general gay club for everyone, it should be okay. You can probably google the name of the club to make sure. Hopefully there’s reviews.

weirwoodtreehugger: communist bonobo

Some gay clubs are more gay than others. Do you have a club in your area that has a reputation for having many straight patrons? Clubs that feature drag shows in particular will have a lot of straight people in attendance. Assuming you’re still presenting as male, you wouldn’t stick out in the least at some clubs with a female date.

You also might want to try going to a gay club in a friend group that includes some gay people if that’s at all possible.

It’s probably different in different cities, but in my city at least, people of all orientations and gender identities go to gay clubs without it being an issue.

Paradoxical Intention - Resident Cheeseburger Slut

Imaginary Petal | June 20, 2016 at 4:25 pm
@PI

My Significant Otter had a LOT of stuff shipped from the US when she moved here. I had to carry it all up to the third floor. :/ It was quite expensive too. I really hope it all works out for you!

I found a pretty inexpensive way to ship my stuff cross-country: Amtrak.

They’ll ship up to 500 lbs of stuff, only charging about fifty bucks for the first hundred pounds, and .46 cents USD for every pound after that.

However, there are restrictions: Each box can only be three feet by three feet by three feet, each box can’t weigh more than 50 lbs by itself, and you can’t ship electronics, furniture, or fragile items because Amtrak doesn’t want to be responsible for broken stuff or sensitive electronic equipment.

I’ve estimated that I’ll be shipping roughly 200 lbs worth of stuff, so it should cost about a hundred dollars USD and two weeks to move all of my stuff, since I don’t own any furniture and most of the weight of my stuff will be books.

I’m still trying to figure out what I should do with my computer and game consoles though. I’m not sure I want to test it, and I’m trying to avoid mailing them via the US Postal service if I can.

I’m thinking I might just pack them in a second suitcase very carefully and check them on the plane with me when I fly over there.

Dove
4 years ago

What the heck? Even if she DID say it changed the world for ‘better,’ then that STILL wouldn’t mean she’d deserved this amount of abuse!

Imaginary Petal
Imaginary Petal
4 years ago

Whoa. Remind me not to post on WHTM again when I’m ridiculously drunk.

Thanks everyone for your advice though. 🙂 I have a feeling most gay bars here have plenty of straight people, since homophobia is almost as taboo as being a Nazi for most people in this city. (Remember I posted a picture from the tram a while back, of a sign for seating reserved for lesbians?)

I’ll keep putting this off for a while, I think.

Sheila Crosby
4 years ago

@Buttercup Q. Skullpants

A Trump supporter blocked my cat on Twitter

May I use this as the title for a short story? To be clear, I haven’t the faintest idea what the story is about and I’m mid-novel, but if I can think of the story, may I use it?

Poor Laila. I can sort of see the “for the better” meaning if I squint, but it’s definitely not the usual meaning, and even if it were, no way would the abuse could ever be justified. -definitely a case of looking for an excuse to bully. I sent her Twitter hugs FWIW.

Imaginary Petal
Imaginary Petal
4 years ago

@Sheila

As the originator of the quote “A Trump supporter blocked my cat on Twitter”, I hereby give you permission to use it. :p

Verily Baroque
Verily Baroque
4 years ago

@IP

Hey, let me know if you want any more help with your Swedish!

You may come to regret the above sentence… 😉 I’m in a situation where I should be fluent in Swedish (keyword: should), but due to lack of use… well, I can still read it mostly fluently but my writing is, let’s say, occasionally grammatically unorthodox.

Basically my best bet to get my Swedish back to an acceptable level is to either read more in it, write more in it or some combination of both. I could get back to you later to ask about recommendations for blogs or forums on specific topics, but I’ll keep trying google first to save you as much trouble as possible.

TL;DR: Thank you for the offer (I really appreciate it) – I’ll keep it in mind (unless you have time for an occasional pen pal? 🙂 ).

Dalillama
4 years ago

@IP
The language barrier is impeding me somewhat (I’m relying on Google translate mostly) , but from what I can tell, it looks like you’re in luck for places to go in your town (assuming I’ve correctly recalled what town you said you live in). (Take it with a grain of salt, machine translation is still pretty crap_.

Imaginary Petal
Imaginary Petal
4 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
4 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
4 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
4 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
4 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
4 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
4 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
4 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
4 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

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
4 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
4 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
4 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
4 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
4 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
4 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
4 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
4 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
4 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
4 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
4 years ago

@mrex & Alan

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