Thursday, December 29, 2011

An Open Letter to RJ Rushmore


Based on: http://blog.vandalog.com/2011/12/artists-4-israel-part-one/


It can be said that a man’s failings can be measured by the fault he finds in others. RJ, in his petty and baseless accusations against Artists 4 Israel, is proof. While RJ screams “manipulation” over and over again as if his vocabulary was limited to sound bites, it becomes clear that he is practicing the very manipulation he claims to be decrying. In fact, his verbal sleight of hand is far more nefarious as his is a subtle brainwashing. Worse yet, his attempts to deceive are hidden behind a veil of truth seeking, a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Like screaming “fire” in a crowded movie theater, he is attempting to create panic and unease – once again, a manipulative writing trick. Either RJ is a faulty narrator misinterpreting the deeds of others or he is a crafted wordsmith, using his own lies as to create the very sentiment he claims to be describing. It is my desire to figure out which is true. Is RJ an impotent puppet of false truths and misinformation or is he a skilled manipulator, throwing salt on others to hide his own negative intentions? Lets figure it out.
In the first paragraph alone, RJ uses some variant of the word “manipulate” twice. Of course, this word also appears in his preface. In writing, there is nothing more manipulative than the continued repetition of a theme or idea. This is the reason that lawyers and politicians repeat themselves so frequently. Like the terrible pop song on the radio that you begin to love because you’ve heard it so often, familiarity breeds acceptance. If only RJ could say “manipulate” more often, he would no longer need to worry about the burden of proof regarding what was actual manipulative .It is easy to throw words, harder to defend them. The proof RJ is searching for does not exist so, he must invent some.
RJ makes a valiant effort to try and hide his own bias and attempts at manipulation by trying to create an aura of mystery around Artists 4 Israel’s ownership over the Defend the Future tour. In a fit of self-aggrandizement almost as embarrassing as his own inability to hide his biases, RJ discovers, like a modern-day Woodward and Bernstein, that…gasp…Artists 4 Israel were the creators of this event. Who was RJ’s Deep Throat? Who was his hidden, dark informant? What feat of brilliant investigative journalism led him to this awesome discovery? It was…wait for it…the webpage for the event! And, well, also…um…Facebook. Yes, folks, RJ figured it out by looking at our public information and social media. What a super sleuth. RJ is a regular Hardy Boy. Or, maybe he is right. Maybe, Artists 4 Israel are some nefarious scheming bastards – hiding their information in plain sight like that – even going so far as to hand out information pointing out their part in this event. In a world of pseudo-journalism and conspiracy theorists such as RJ, truth might just be the best place to hide.
Unfortunately, truth and facts don’t seem to concern RJ much. Maybe his idea of journalism is a little watered down. This is a blog, after all, that posts pretty pictures of criminal activities. Its very name has the word “vandal” within it. Not that there is anything wrong with writing such a blog. Heck, I did it for many years. But, like Jon Stewart always points out in regards to his show – I knew mine to be one big joke. RJ takes his desire to be a reporter far too seriously yet hides behind his disclaimer that the opinions expressed therein are his and his only. Unfortunately, so are his “facts.” Of the only two actual pieces of verifiable information he did put in the story, only one was right. He spelled Seth Wolfson’s name correctly. Way to go, guy. But, alas, he got his title wrong. Now, I do understand this is a blog post and not subject to the rules of journalism that require an unbiased opinion or, even, you know, truth but I do believe that RJ’s readers deserve a modicum of respect that their writer would at least attempt to pretend to maybe know about what he was talking. Maybe. Perhaps in his zeal to continue to uncover the mystery that was written on his Facebook wall, RJ did not have time for fact checking.
You see, RJ admits to ignoring or denying facts. He has great antipathy for the researched, vetted and correct information presented on our flyers but outright dismisses them, saying that “even if the flyer is 100% accurate” which it is “it is not working towards diversity and a peaceful coexistence.” Using RJ’s own logic, there is no room for truth in dialogue or in peace. If not, then what does RJ suggest we do instead? Does he want everyone to be uninformed?
To his use own admitted tactics and behaviors, we understand that RJ’s method of creating peace and dialogue is to attempt to stifle debate, manipulate others and censor. First, he attempts to hold a counter event next to Artists 4 Israel’s event. Then, he and his crony attempt to tell the Artists 4 Israel volunteers what to write on their mural. Finally, he bullies a fellow student to stop handing out information that RJ himself considers to be “100% accurate.” Without getting too specific, it seems that, once again, RJ, the great writer, just as he did by being “manipulative” while talking about the “manipulation” of others, is mimicking his subjects in his own writing. There is, indeed, a group of people who, in the name of “peace,” lie, threaten, deceive and destroy. I will let the reader determine who those people are. RJ already knows and has, apparently, learned their lessons well.
His intimidation and manipulation continue. While claiming to be unbiased and assuming the role of a reporter, he admits that he was “surprised” and “blown away” by the inclusiveness of our mural. He then says, both in the same sentence, that he was “misled” but also that our work was “in line with” what had been described to him. Now, he is just contradicting himself. He claims to want peace yet the only real argument he seems to be able to lodge against Artists 4 Israel is that we are pro-Israel. It is not anti-peace to support a nation and its citizens as Artists 4 Israel does. It is anti-peace to seek to destroy a mural depicting that support like RJ does. It is not anti-peace to use the arts to express viewpoints or to use culture and creation as a source of dialogue and conversation, as Artists 4 Israel does. It is anti-peace to attempt to stifle that dialogue and conversation as RJ does. It is not anti-dialogue to put out factual information encouraging students to learn more as Artists 4 Israel does. It is anti-dialogue to demand those facts be hidden and then demonized, as RJ does.
If we are to ever reach a point of agreement and advancement, it is up to the youth – the Future – to know all the facts and to see all the sides of the conflict. Until the facts are learned and understood there will only be bias like RJ promotes or fake, bullshit lies that lead us nowhere. Artists 4 Israel recognizes the need for an honest review of the issues, even if it offends RJ’s admitted bias for a people who are not all innocents except, seemingly, in RJ’s screamingly problematic mind. RJ – on behalf of the Future – I demand that you allow us free from your manipulation and to deal with this important topic with honesty and open eyes!
You say that your mural would not have been “divisive” yet claim it would have only represented one side. You ignore that Artists 4 Israel had twice as much wall space set up for students, like you, to express any information they wanted. You take the space of your blog post to promote at least one other organization with an anti-Israel agenda although they have no relevance to this story at all. You claim to support an agenda that is anti-war, anti-racism, anti-poverty and anti-partisan politics yet openly support a dictatorial regime (partisan) that murders non-believers (racism), has the destruction of a country and its people written into its founding documents (war) and is either so corrupt with the despotic rulers stealing from the people or keeping from them to manipulate sentiment on their behalf that it leaves more than half of its population destitute (poverty). I beg you, RJ, to speak plainly for once in the entire article and admit that your issue is not with Artists 4 Israel but with the fact that your own politics violently rub and tear against your mindless, fact-less support for a cause that is so powerful to you that it blinds you to any rational, accurate, correct, creative, artistic dialogue.
Apparently, today, RJ will print a story where he speaks to Artists 4 Israel and gets some real answers to his questions. This is called “burying the lead,” another well-known manipulation by writers. By the time RJ gets to discussing a possible counterpoint to his lies, they have already had a day to set in unchallenged. As such, he is debating a group that doesn’t yet exist in his story and for whom he speaks. This is another standard manipulation practiced by writers. It is called a “straw man,” a term with many meanings none of which are positive and is antithesis to fair analysis.
Yet, even amongst all his rhetoric and political posturing, RJ still admits, in summation, that Artists 4 Israel has done what world leaders, activists and even RJ himself, the great Anderson Cooper of his own mind, could not do. We began dialogue. RJ and I are dialoguing right now. If not for his own partisan politics and attempts to manipulate, we could be discussing the Middle East and ways to achieve peace. But, even though I am locked in war of words with his myopic and fatalistic worldview, others are making headway. As RJ says, our event spawned so many discussions that “worked wonderfully as an opportunity to exchange ideas in a respectful manner.” Well, thank you, RJ and, you are welcome.

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