Social Media – When Good People Do Bad Things

Joyce Carol Oates is an important contemporary American author and Princeton professor.  I am calling her out today with no ill intent. The purpose is not to embarrass a great writer, but rather demonstrate how easily social media can become a source of horrific propaganda, especially when placed in the hands of an honorable person.

Ms. Oates’ twitter account shows a compassionate soul who is concerned about suffering throughout the world. From my reading of her tweets, Oates is not a partisan in the Israel/Hamas war. Like many, Ms. Oates abhors war and willful injury throughout the world.

The problem is that when you are an important intellectual, it’s essential to check your facts. Too much is at stake. Unfortunately, Ms. Oates retweeted a blatant piece of Hamas propaganda on July 27th, 2014. Please take a look at the screen shot below. It’s an horrific picture of murdered innocents.

Oates posts this as the children of Gaza.

She is wrong. syrian_massacre This is a well circulated picture of Syrian children murdered in another conflict altogether. Take a look at these posts from May, 2013, a year before the war in Gaza!

This photo appears on several other websites. It relates to the massacre in Banias and Bayda by the Syrian regime which took place on May 2 and 3, 2013. This is blatant disinformation, and Ms. Oates got caught up in it. We contacted her twice in the past week asking for a correction, but received no response.

It would have taken Ms. Oates less than a minute to authenticate the photo. But she didn’t bother. If someone of her stature so thoughtlessly participates in distributing lies, what can we expect of ordinary folks?

Posting this picture not only smears the IDF, but does a grave disservice to the children of Syria.  Any perceptive person looking at this picture would have seen that these children did not die as a result of bombing but were executed, something that clearly was not done by the IDF.

A picture speaks a thousand words.  This retweet is a victory for antisemitism.

One last note: it would be interesting to follow how this picture became a source of deceitful propaganda. How many more lies are out there?