Editorial: Islamophobe defenders twisting in the wind

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What’s most remarkable about Jordan Green’s story about local citizens casually discussing the murder of Muslims and sacking of mosques in Forsyth County (“Local conservative activists prepare for violent confrontation with Muslims” on page 6) is not the appalling nature of the symposium: a low-information, fear-laced fantasy besmirching all 3.3 million US citizens who practice Islam. And it’s not in the lack of reaction among those gathered in the party room at Captain Tom’s Seafood Restaurant in Kernersville. Short version: When Frank Del Valle said: “[M]y only recommendation is to start killing the hell out them,” nobody flinched.

No, what’s most remarkable are the contortions that people — mostly from the right side of the political aisle — have been going through to either discredit or downplay this story, which has rippled across all 50 states since it broke over the weekend and out into the world. To put it into perspective, 205 people in Malaysia read Green’s story.

In this age of fake news, our editorial team anticipated strong pushback from those who would not or could not believe the report. So Green made it clear to the people at Captain Tom’s that he was a reporter before he began taking notes. Twice, actually. And he recorded the entire meeting so that when people either denied what they said or claimed their quotes were taken out of context, we would have an unimpeachable record. For transparency’s sake, we posted the complete audio with the article at triad-city-beat.com.

And the writing approach was completely agnostic, relying only on the words of the people at the event, with some fact-checking to give the meeting an underpinning in reality.

Still, on our website and social-media comment threads the initial tactic against this piece was the familiar cry of, “Fake news!” Pointing out the audio recording and transcript of the event did not dissuade everyone.

Personal attacks against Green’s professionalism and character came next; anyone who knows Green or his work can vouch for the lack of merit in these charges.

Eventually, most of our critics landed, ironically, on the First Amendment, which does indeed protect the speech of every American citizen, including those who sit in seafood restaurants talking about killing Muslims.

But these people — who, by the way, chose to learn about the Islamic faith not by visiting a mosque and asking questions, not by finding out more about the Koran and its message, not even by checking Wikipedia, but by going to this ridiculous class in a Calabash joint — will not be protected from the consequences of this speech.

In this case, that looks like a federal investigation.