The Gravedigger and the President
“No investigation, no right to speak” was an aphorism asserted by Mao Zedong.
When ignorant people act on unfounded assumptions, innocent people can be badly hurt.
Let’s start with an Adelaide gravedigger. Brett McKay, 47, was unjustly accused of photographing corpses and sharing the images “in social situations”.
Mass Murdoch made it front page news in the city’s only daily newspaper. The slumbering City of Churches awoke to find it had an inhuman monster, a ghoulish predator in its midst.
Talk back radio thundered its disgust; it featured in TV reports; social media spawned a virus of hateful denunciations.
Before police had investigated the matter, the harm to McKay was done. He had resigned from his job out of concern for the reputation of his employer, had been taken on as a casual with a council but then sacked from that job when he was identified in a March 27 TV story.
McKay had become suicidal under the pressure; his wife and children suffered, particularly the latter who had been devastated when schoolmates repeated the stories they had heard in the media.
The police investigation found that his phone contained none of the images his accuser alleged had been taken; none had been deleted; none of his friends or associates had ever been shown such images by him. Furthermore, the accuser refused to repeat the allegations to detectives.
A whole town had pointed its accusing fingers at a simple gravedigger, a worker performing a necessary social function, albeit one that few would do in his place.
Syria is far from Australian suburbia, but an allegation that the Syrian President had wilfully gassed his own people spread like wildfire in both mass and social media. Without any pretence at investigating the matter, Emperor of the World Donald Trump interrupted a meal with the Chinese President Xi Jinping to order a retaliatory missile attack.
This was an illegal and arbitrary act of aggression against a sovereign nation during which lives were lost, infrastructure was damaged and threats of further punishment levelled at the Syrians.
On the basis of reports taken to be factual because of photos of victims of gassing, statements by doctors and others on the scene, six years and more of demonising the Syrian President as an evil dictator, as a monster who systematically attacked and killed his own people, Trump reversed his previous declarations that “Syria was none of our business” and made it business - especially good business for Raytheon Corporation, manufacturer of the Cruise missile. Raytheon’s Australian website boasts of its use in Syria and in the overthrow of Libya’s legitimate government.
Even before the missile attack, doubts had emerged about the veracity of reports from the terrorists. A doctor who provided photos of victims and tweeted alleged details of the attack was revealed to have been one of two terrorists arrested and charged in England over the kidnapping and hostage-holding of two journalists. The case collapsed when the journalists withdrew from the case.
Memories were evoked of the 2013 gas attack, also sheeted home initially to Assad, but then found by UN investigator Carla del Ponte to have been carried out by “rebels” and not by government forces. These and other references to terrorists having possessed and used sarin gas were circulating, largely outside of mass media, before Trump ordered his attack.
Since the illegal US aggression against Syria, other credible sources have cast doubt on the accepted version of events. Scott Ritter, the UN weapons inspector in Iraq from 1991 to 1998, was attacked at the time for claiming that there was no evidence that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction. His investigative integrity was confirmed after the illegal US invasion and occupation. Describing Trump as “Al Qaeda’s useful idiot”, Ritter writes:
Mainstream American media outlets have willingly and openly embraced a narrative provided by Al Qaeda affiliates whose record of using chemical weapons in Syria and distorting and manufacturing “evidence” to promote anti-Assad policies in the west, including regime change, is well documented. These outlets have made a deliberate decision to endorse the view of Al Qaeda over a narrative provided by Russian and Syrian government authorities without any effort to fact check either position. These actions, however, do not seem to shock the conscience of the American public; when it comes to Syria, the mainstream American media and its audience has long ago ceded the narrative to Al Qaeda and other Islamist anti-regime elements.
The real culprits here are the Trump administration, and President Trump himself. The president’s record of placing more weight on what he sees on television than the intelligence briefings he may or may not be getting, and his lack of intellectual curiosity and unfamiliarity with the nuances and complexities of both foreign and national security policy, created the conditions where the imagery of the Khan Sheikhoun victims that had been disseminated by pro-Al Nusra (i.e., Al Qaeda) outlets could influence critical life-or-death decisions.
Andrew Wilkie, a former Australian military intelligence analyst who disputed the government’s claims about Saddam Hussein and who is now an Independent Member of Parliament, said he was sceptical about claims that Assad had been behind the gas attack.
'We need to be careful who we back too. About half of the anti-Assad groups are either jihadist or clearly Islamic State or associated with Islamic State.
'It's an absolute quagmire, we shouldn't have gone in the first place and we shouldn't be there now.'
Professor Theodore Postol of MIT, who was instrumental in exposing the falsehood of 2013 White House claims that the Syrian government used nerve gas against civilians, has reviewed the White House intelligence report on the April 4 Khan Shaykun attack. His arguments are very powerful and point compellingly toward a terrorist provocation. (A full version, including graphics, is here .)
Not content with meddling in Syria’s internal affairs, the rogue nation headed by the ignorant egotist Trump has moved to threaten war against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. North Korea has an inalienable right to the social system of its choice, and to the military capacity to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Brett McKay dug other people’s graves.
In unleashing acts of aggression around the globe, Trump is digging his own and that of the system he leads.