The headline read:
Egypt’s Christians in Grave Danger as Muslim Brotherhood Crucifies Opponents.
It appeared on the Website of the American Center for Law and Justice, a watchdog organization “committed to ensuring the ongoing viability of freedom and liberty in the United States and around the world.” They describe themselves as “a non-profit organization … dependent upon God and the resources He provides through the time, talent, and gifts of people who share our concerns and desire to protect our religious and constitutional freedoms.”
As high-minded as that sounds, their article was a textbook example of the cynical manipulation of a donor base. Whatever your political persuasion, see if you recognize their tactics in the organizations that solicit your money.
It begins sensationally:
Numerous reports have emerged this week that the radical Islamic Muslim Brotherhood, that now controls the government of Egypt, has begun crucifying Christians in that country.
Middle East news media have reported that the Muslim Brotherhood has “crucified those opposing Egyptian President Muhammad Morsi naked on trees in front of the presidential palace while abusing others.” Those opposing the new radical Islamic regime include Christians, and experts have suggested that “extra brutality is reserved for Christians.”
Now that you are all spun up, they say what they have done on your behalf.
The ACLJ just sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urging her to take action to stop this atrocity.
A copy of their letter is here, signed by two of the ACLJ’s top lawyers.
Crucifixions??? I decided to fact-check. Within 2 minutes, I had located an excellent article that not only debunked the whole crucifixion rumor, but chronicled how it got started.
The remarkable thing is how obvious the debunking was. It makes you say, “Of course!” For example:
…the story doesn’t just allege that a crucifixion has taken place somewhere in Egypt: It alleges that multiple crucifixions have taken place in front of the presidential palace. That would be the equivalent of, say, mass lynchings taking place in front of the White House, or a giant gang rape taking place in front of Ottawa’s Centennial Flame fountain.
“If that happened, wouldn’t someone, you know, take a picture?” I asked one of the friends who emailed me the WorldNetDaily link [a source of the rumor]. Maybe just a few shots with a cell phone camera from one of the tens of thousands of people who no doubt would have witnessed this Biblical horror in one of the most densely trafficked patches of real estate in the entire Arab world?
And yet, not one of the stories I saw had a photo — or even names or descriptions of any of the supposed crucifixion victims.
If that’s not convincing enough, we have this:
Here’s how one [Coptic Christian] put it in an email to WorldNetDaily: “I am an Egyptian Coptic Orthodox, i.e. Egyptian Christian, my mother and members of my family live within a stone throw from the presidential palace. I talk to my mother every other day. If something like what you mentioned in your article took place, she [would] be the first one to know.”
An ordinary reporter was able to uncover those obvious reasons to doubt the crucifixion rumors. The first reason required no research whatsoever, just common sense. The second only required talking to someone near the scene.
So how come the high-powered lawyers for the ACLJ didn’t exercise that minimal due diligence before wasting the time of our Secretary of State? Are they that gullible and/or stupid?
I don’t think so. They knew no crucifixions were taking place, but saw the rumor as an opportunity to get their donors all fired up. It was all a cynical ploy.
Look at their article and their letter closely. They never actually state that crucifixions have happened, only that “numerous reports have emerged” to that effect. (The one exception is the headline to draw you in. And as many of the contracts I’ve signed have stated, headings don’t count in court.)
Yet a reader — especially one whose mind is already biased toward the ACLJ — will come away with the impression that the crucifixions are a fact so well-established that they merit a letter to the United States Secretary of State.
The American Center for Law and Justice is certainly aware of the American judicial concept of due process. So why didn’t they follow due process in checking out this rumor? It can only be because their real purpose was not to spread truth, but to motivate donors.
Sometimes I wonder if organizations like the ACLJ even believe in their own cause. If they’re for “justice” why don’t they follow basic judicial principles like due process in all they do? Maybe they’re only in it for the money.
On the other hand, maybe they do believe in their cause, and believe so passionately that the ends come to justify the means.
I don’t know what to think. What do you think?
And do you see the ACLJ’s brand of cynical manipulation in the fund-raising appeals from left-leaning organizations as well? From organizations that you support? How does it make you feel? It sure discourages me. I hate supporting the least-evil rather than the good. *Sigh*