To no one's surprise, Robert Fisk has joined the ranks of those casting doubt on the Douma chemical attack. It was, he informs us, merely a dust storm.
Terry Glavin, on why some people choose to believe this kind of pseudo-journalism:
Like so many times before, the absolution we seek for our abdication from the duties of human solidarity in the teeth of Arab tyranny comes from that most notorious purveyor of reliably unreliable pseudo-journalism, Robert Fisk, whose most recent version gets you off the hook by means of what purports to be evidence that there was no mass murder by poison gas in Douma on April 7 after all. It was just dust. People were choking on dust. There had been a “dust storm.”
The people of Douma were happy to see him, Fisk reports, and they are happy now that the Islamist rebels have finally surrendered and left. People are “mostly smiling.” The bit about the dust storm comes from a doctor by the name of Assim Rahaibani. Never mind that Dr. Rahaibani admitted that on the night of April 7, he was nowhere near the hospital where scores of people were rushed, foaming at the mouth, with pinpoint pupils, exhibiting what the World Health Organization says were classic symptoms of asphyxia by poison gas....
If you opposed the strikes, you would be happy to believe Fisk, because you’ve already taken the side of the Kremlin, Khomeinist Iran, the Chinese Communist Party, Hamas, Hezbollah, Venezuelan strongman Nicolas Maduro, and of course the Syrian mass murderer Bashar Assad. On your side: American extreme-right crackpot Alex Jones, British Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn, uber-conservative Breitbart news, the venerable and ostensibly left-wing magazine The Nation, Canada’s stylish NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh and British celebrity fascist Nick Griffin.
You will take your cues from Robert Fisk, not in spite of, but precisely because to do so allows you an alibi for your indifference to Arab suffering, a habit of mind you will predictably conceal behind a pretended allegiance to the cause of Palestinian freedom. Because that is how it’s done. Always. Because the “head of the snake” in the Middle East, as Fisk puts it, is Israel. Believe Robert Fisk and your conscience will not trouble you, and you won’t have to believe the World Health Organization, the Syria Violations Documentation Centre or the Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations. This is what they say: Bombs were dropped at two locations in Douma. Within hours, more than 500 people were exhibiting symptoms consistent with suffocation by poison gas. At least 42 people died....
And it isn’t just about Robert Fisk, either. There is a ravenous appetite for his kind of journalism in the “West” these days. It offers absolution for the crime of indifference to the Syrian catastrophe. It offers a “narrative” that justifies a kind of righteous uselessness in the face of unfathomable human suffering, and a respite from the certainty that crimes of indifference do not long remain unpunished.
And punishment will come from it, one way or another, one day.
Fisk, of course, has form:
In 1999 he reported finding fragments of an American missile among blood and guts of a refugee convoy in the Kosovo war zone. Nato denied bombing a refugee column, and no other journalist found any missile fragment.
In 2006 in a front-page story, Fisk reported that Israel used depleted uranium shells in Lebanon. UN and Lebanese scientists found that there was no evidence to support the claim.
Five years later, in 2011, The Independent issued a correction to a Fisk story that referenced an order allegedly issued by Prince Nayef bin Abdul-Aziz al-Saud, the Saudi minister of the interior, instructing security forces to show no mercy and to use live rounds on unarmed demonstrators. The Independent admitted the “order” was a forgery.