“Radical Muslims have conjured up one more reason to rage against America — the Fifth Avenue Apple Store,” the New York Post declared over the weekend. “A message posted Tuesday on the extremist Al-Hesbah Web site ripped Apple for erecting a glass cube — ‘clearly meant to provoke Muslims’ — outside its new outlet on the corner of West 58th Street.”
The message “called the cube ‘a blatant insult to Muslims’ for its supposed likeness to the Kaaba, a cubic masonry structure situated in the center of the world’s most sacred mosque in Mecca,” the Post reported, adding that the anonymous Web scribe in question called on Muslims to halt the project.
“But the Islamist loonies must have relied on old intel,” noted the Post. “Apple opened its underground retail store a full five months ago.”
For the next several paragraphs, the Post then fact-checked said “Islamist loonies,” whom it also managed to refer to as “crazies” and, in its subhed, “clueless crazies.”
In a shocker of shockers, the Post also noted that “The MEMRI translation elicited instant outrage in the blogosphere,” as it maturely chose to cite one blogger’s reference to “You Muslim a———s …” (The full, horrific screed can be found here, in the comments section of a SFGate.com blog.)
But should the Post have given such credence to MEMRI — whose head told the paper that Al-Hesbah is among the “five major Islamist Web sites in the world” — or to Al-Hesbah? As blogger J. Angelo Racoma pointed out, “The MEMRI article did not even link to, nor identify, the Arabic news source it was supposed to be citing or translating!” Indeed, the thinly sourced MEMRI dispatch vaguely said this: “On October 10, 2006, an Islamist Web site posted a message alerting Muslims to what it claims is a new insult to Islam.”
The Post’s big break, then, was that MEMRI told it that the “Islamist Web site” in question was Al-Hesbah. But editors at the Post did not explain MEMRI’s credentials, nor did they give Al-Hesbah’s address, nor did they provide any explanation about the reach, readership, or origin of the Islamist site — other than that it “often carries videos of al Qaeda heavies” and “is not a marginal site.”
What they did do was hype up an empty controversy, giving attention to a message that deserved none.