A Prayer That Reveals Truth & Falsehood (Review of Hoaxed by Mike Cervnovich)

On 10th October 1990, a 15-year old girl, who introduced herself only as “Nayirah” testified before the Congressional Human Rights Caucus. She told the committee she saw Iraqi soldiers take babies out of incubators in a Kuwaiti hospital, take the incubators, and leave the babies to die. George H.W. Bush mentioned this story at least 10 times to gin up support for putting American troops on the ground in the first Gulf War. CNN took the story and ran with it, Wolf Blitzer becoming the face of Gulf War journalism.

It was all a lie.

“Nayirah” was Nayirah Al-Sabah, daughter of Saud Al-Sabah, the Kuwaiti ambassador to the U.S.A. at the time. She lived and went to high school in Washington, D.C. Her testimony was part of a campaign orchestrated by Hill & Knowlton, an American public relations firm. Hill Knowlton received $10.5 million from an organization called “Citizens for a Free Kuwait.” Citizens for a Free Kuwait received close to $12 million from the state of Kuwait, according to official documents.

On 7th September 2002, Judith Miller and Michael R. Gordon wrote the “metal tubes” story, claiming they would be used by Saddam Hussein to manufacture WMDs. Soon after this piece was published, Vice President Dick Cheney went on “Meet the Press” and quoted the Miller story. His argument was, “It’s not just conservatives who support regime change in Iraq, even the New York Times is saying it!” Cheney was the one who leaked the “metal tubes” intel to Miller. And of course, no WMDs were found. Miller’s excuse was, and continues to be, “how was I supposed to know!”

On 19th November 2015, Yahoo’s Whitehouse Correspondent Hunter Walker reported on an interview with then-presidential candidate Donald Trump. In it, he writes: Yahoo News asked Trump whether this level of tracking might require registering Muslims in a database or giving them a form of special identification that noted their religion. He wouldn’t rule it out. “…Wouldn’t rule it out” got reported by other news outlets as, “Trump calls for a Muslim database.” But if you listen to the audio recording of the interview, this is what you’ll find:

WALKER: And in terms of doing this, to pull off the kind of tracking we need, do you think we might need to register Muslims in some type of database or note their religion on their ID?

TRUMP: Well, we’re going to have to look at a lot of things very closely. We’re going to have to look at the mosques. We’re going to have to look very, very carefully. We have a president that refuses to say radical Islamic terrorism. He refuses to say it, which is the biggest shock in the world, because how can you not say it, if you don’t say it, you’re not going to get to the problem.

Trump doesn’t answer the question. He does an artful dodge and sticks to his talking points.

What is Truth?

The Islamic tradition transmits a supplication I think is quite appropriate:

Al-Buhuti reported: Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, said:

اللهم ارنا الحق حقاً وارزقنا اتباعه وارنا الباطل باطلا وارزقنا اجتنابه

O Allah! reveal to us the Truth as true, and inspire us to follow it. And reveal to us Falsehood as false, and inspire us to reject it.

Source: Sharḥ al-Muntahá al-Irādāt 3/497

(via Abu Amina Elias)

It is the admission that our capacity to know Truth and distinguish it from Falsehood is limited. And the admission that God alone is the source of all truth and knowledge.

How do we know what’s real and what’s fake? “Reality” is what our senses experience, interpreted by mental models like religion, culture, politics, and so on. But our senses are limited and easy to manipulate. For example, watch this video on the McGurk effect:

Notice how even after the McGurk effect is explained to you, you can’t stop it from happening. And if it’s that easy to override your senses, how easy is it for someone to get you to believe what they want you to believe by making you see and hear what they want you to see and hear? This is the fundamental question tackled in…

Hoaxed: Everything They Told You is a Lie

All media is narrative. And we are in a war of narratives. – Mike Cernovich

Produced by Mike Cernovich and directed by Scooter Downey and Jon Du Toit, the film takes a hard look at “Fake News,” a term popularized by corporate media after Donald Trump won the U.S. presidential election in November 2016. Originally used by the media as a pejorative meant to discredit alternative media sources, the attempt backfired as soon as people realized, “Hey! This is exactly what the MSM has been doing to us for decades!”

Muslims been told you.

The term “Fake News” was introduced into our parlance by a non-profit organization called First Draft in September 2016. First Draft is funded by Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Alphabet Inc., the parent company of Google. Schmidt was heavily devoted to Hilary Clinton’s presidential campaign, donating several million dollars and offering himself up as a campaign advisor. Yeah, that doesn’t seem fishy AT ALL. Watch this TEDx talk by Sharyl Attkinson.

Hoaxed has an All-Star Lineup

Cernovich had some really “good gets” for this film. Academics, philosophers, journalists and activists.

  • Cassie Jaye
  • Alex Jones
  • Gavin McInnes
  • Jordan Peterson
  • Lauren Southern
  • Stefan Molyneux
  • Michael Cernovich
  • Anthony Scaramucci
  • Scott Adams
  • Tim Pool
  • James O’Keefe
  • Ryan Holiday
  • Hawk Newsome
  • Luke Rudowski

Of these, I was surprised to see Ryan Holiday and Jordan Peterson (this was long before he became a household name.) Peterson’s interview was mediocre. My favorite interview was Ryan Holiday’s because he’s a marketer like me and understands how easy it is to manipulate people.

Why Hoaxed is a Must-Watch for Muslim Men

A while ago I interviewed Muslim journalist Hussein Kesvani, on the subject of Muslim Men in Journalism. Kesvani advocated in favour of corporate media, arguing only they have the training and experience to determine what’s newsworthy and touting their extensive study of journalistic ethics. And while there may still be ethical journalists, the reality is bias (and BS) are rampant. You have wives, children, parents, siblings. It’s your job as a Muslim man to protect those under your care from media manipulation.

My own experience has been that Muslims in the West are pliant and docile when it comes to accepting corporate media narratives. (Remember COVID and how your imam told you it’s wajib to get the jab? How’s that working out?) That is, until the corporate media reports on one of our pet causes in a way we disagree with. This is the Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect in action (more info in the video below.)

But I have a more personal example I’d like to share with you. Mike Cernovich. A lot of Muslims think he’s a racist an an Islamophobe.

is mike cernovich an islamophobe?

This akh badly needs to read my book →

If I ask 100 Muslims hating on Cernovich why they hate him, less than 5 could give me a legitimate reason with proof. All they have are assumptions (conservative therefore right wing therefore islamophobe.) And then they assume the worst of me (suu adh-dhann) via guilt by association. These people are smooth-brained nincompoops. Alhamdulillah, some Muslims have an open mind.

mike cernovich praises shariah law mike cernovich praises muslim culture and values

We can do a lot better as a community to listen to a wide range of voices, not just the ones that tell us what we like to hear.

Hoaxed: The Deadly Consequences of Fake News

As a supplement to the movie, Mike Cernovich published transcripts of several of the interviews from the movie along with several essays on Fake News. Here are a few excerpts from the interviews.

The media’s persuasion comes in a lot of different forms. One of them is visual. The most persuasive thing is visual. Our visual sense overpowers everything else. So what they choose to show as an image is the message, no matter what the “yak-yak-yak” is that comes over it…no matter what the other words on the screen say. What you remember is what you saw.
Scott Adams

You’re not good at peering into souls. You just think you are. Everybody thinks they’re good at it.  Everybody’s wrong. We’re all terrible at it. So, until you’ve seen, like, a body of evidence that somebody has changed their view in some way, or it is revealing a new view, you need to wait for a few data points. You know, the first data point that looks like it’s out-of-bounds is almost certainly nothing. You know, you need a few.
Scott Adams

I think one of the reasons that someone like Mike aggravates journalists so much is that he’s sort of like a carnival mirror. Like he’s projecting back at them what they do. And almost all their-, but to an absurd and almost offensive level. You know he calls himself a “journalist.” He breaks scoops. He’s partisan on Twitter. You know, he is sort of doing-, it’s the exact same playbook that these other journalists are doing. And so, I think that sort of mimicry is-, is very upsetting. I don’t know. I mean, I think what we’re seeing is this sort of a devaluing of a lot of these terms. So when Mike calls himself a “journalist,” is he? Who determines what a “journalist” is? Who determines what a “scoop” is? Who determines what a “source” is? Who determines what all these things mean? And, then, what that’s extended to is like: “Who knows what’s true or not?” We can’t even agree on reality anymore.
Ryan Holiday

Part of the reason [that] we’ve seen the rise of a lot of these figures is because the media has not done their job. The media has not held themselves to a high enough standard. They sort of violated a lot of their own norms…Meanwhile, the media is violating all its sort of stated and unstated norms: about bias…and about partisanship…and about calm sobriety…about unpleasant truths. All of these things. So I think the system is definitely broken.
Ryan Holiday

Where can you watch Hoaxed?

Watch the trailer here:

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