A teachable moment: Muslims burn German church. Or did they?
A Breitbart report that a Muslim mob attacked a German church has been taken up by many other publications and seems to be widely believed. German police, by contrast say that the night concerned was "quiet". So whom do you believe? I would normally believe the police but the German police are well-known to either ignore or play dow any disorders associated with Muslims.
Other German sources support the police account. But Germany is very politically correct and you can in fact be prosecuted for hate speech if you say anything negative about Muslims. So, again, whom do you believe?
On balance, I suspect that the Breitbart account was exaggerated. But how exaggerated I have no means of knowing.
Medical journals regularly feature what they call a "teachable moment": A story about some adverse event in treating a patient which they believe everyone should learn from. I think this Breitbart story is a teachable moment for the press coverage of Islam and for political censorship generally. Leftists are behind both those problems. Their constant attempts to suppress news and views that they do not like has had a lot of success. They have largely destroyed impartial journalism.
And Leftist causes are suffering from it. Because we no longer have any reliable news sources, people will readily believe what could be false accounts about Muslims. There is no effective kick-back against the Breitbart story, for instance. The Left-leaning media are in the position of the boy who cried wolf. Even when they are speaking truth, what they say will now be widely discounted and dismissed as propaganda. So in their efforts to protect Muslims, they have in fact exposed Muslims to unfair abuse and the possibility of attack.
As is so often the case with Leftist policies, their censorship attempts may have achieved the opposite of what was intended. They have endangered Muslims not protected them. Their trust in deception has backfired. And their lack of moral principles is behind their trust in deception. It is the Left who have created the environment in which fake news thrives. They are now bemoaning it as it hits them but it is they who have enabled it -- by their own deceptive practices.
That can hardly be good for mutual understanding. And without mutual understanding you tend to get hate. And hate begets hate crimes. Which is where we are now. Leftist attack Trump supporters and to a limited extent Trump supporters hit back. If that continues to develop America could become like an ungovernable Latin-American hellhole where nobody is ever safe.
Leftist lack of moral anchors has led us all into a dangerous situation.
Below is an account from Germany disputing the Breitbart story:
Journalists have condemned a report by Breitbart news that claimed a mob of 1,000 men had attacked police and set fire to a church, calling the article a distortion of facts.
Breitbart wrote an article about New Year's Eve in Dortmund on Tuesday with the headline “Revealed: 1,000-man mob attack police, set Germany’s oldest church alight on New Year’s Eve”.
"At New Year’s Eve celebrations in Dortmund a mob of more than 1,000 men chanted ‘Allahu Akhbar’, launched fireworks at police, and set fire to a historic church," the alt-right website reported.
The report was attributed to local news site Ruhr Nachrichten, which fired back on Wednesday, accusing Breitbart of “using our online reports for fake news, hate and propaganda.”
Ruhr Nachrichten pointed out how Breitbart attributed separate unconnected incidents to a larger, collective "mob".
There was in fact a total of around 1,000 people gathered to celebrate New Year’s Eve in Leeds Square, including “large and small groups” of young, foreign men as well as families with children, according to Ruhr Nachrichten.
The original report by the local news site from that night describes how some individuals did start launching fireworks from within the crowd towards police, who told them to stop but were ignored. Broadcaster WDR reported that officers then issued orders for some people to leave and took some into custody.
While Breitbart wrote that the "mob" set the roof of Germany's oldest church on fire, Ruhr Nachrichten pointed out that this was also not accurate.
St. Reinold is not Germany's oldest church - that would be the Cathedral of Trier - and a small fire had started on some netting on scaffolding around the church, not the roof, due to one firework.
And while Breitbart states that the "fireworks were launched at" the church, there was no indication from local news outlets or from the fire services that the fire had been started intentionally.
The fire was small and lasted 12 minutes before firefighters put it out, Ruhr Nachrichten reports.
Police told local media that overall it was a quiet night.
In a report released on Thursday, Dortmund police stated that the number of times they were called out during New Year’s celebrations this year was down from 421 in 2015-16 to 185 in 2016-17.
Breitbart also wrote that a group of Syrians gathered at the square to celebrate the ceasefire in their home country, but claimed that a video posted by a Ruhr Nachrichten journalist showed them holding up a flag of al-Qaeda and Isis collaborators.
In fact, the video shows a man holding a flag widely flown by those opposing the current government.
Ruhr Nachrichten also accuses Breitbart of overemphasizing the fact that the celebrating Syrians chanted “allahu akbar” - which means God is great.
“This statement is a Muslim prayer as normal as ‘Amen’ in the church,” Ruhr Nachrichten's editor wrote. “Fake news producers are connecting the groups of people in Leeds Square to [terrorist] attacks… The fact is: there was no sign that terrorism was being celebrated in Dortmund.”
As Benjamin Konietzny from broadcaster N-tv wrote, the Breitbart report was problematic for how it presented the events. “There are differences in the critical details,” Konietzny stated.
“The report is a lesson on the deliberate over-twisting of facts,” wrote another journalist from the German Meedia industry publication.