Did Glenn Greenwald And The Guardian Just Get Spectacularly Trolled?
Back in pre-Twitter 1996, a Physics professor from New York named Alan Sokal engaged in a legendary act of trolling. Sokal submitted a hoax article to a postmodern academic journal which was, in Sokal’s own words, ‘salted with nonsense’.
The idea was that the journal’s grip on reality had become so loose that they would publish any old rubbish just so long as it played to their biases. And so it proved. Sokal’s article “Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity” made the summer issue.
Fast-forward to November 2016 and we find the article ‘Alt-right’ online poison nearly turned me into a racist ‘ in The Guardian written by an ‘anonymous’ contributor. The standfirst reads ‘It started with Sam Harris, moved on to Milo Yiannopoulos and almost led to full-scale Islamophobia. If it can happen to a lifelong liberal, it could happen to anyone’ which really should have had alarm bells ringing at Guardian HQ.
The article also contains hilarious little flourishes such as ‘On one occasion I even, I am ashamed to admit, very diplomatically expressed negative sentiments on Islam to my wife’. Blimey.
Although the article is so laughable as to appear blatantly fabricated, given what has become standard-fare for The Guardian, all bets were off. Some had no doubts as to its authenticity however.
This article was shared far and wide by the usual cronies who have it in for Sam Harris:
The Rogues’ gallery goes on and on. Were someone to write an article claiming that Sam Harris was a puppy-crushing android sent from the future, these people would retweet it.
Of course, Glenn Greenwald’s deeply unethical and dishonest treatment of Sam Harris can be traced back to this ‘telling’ collision between the two men from 2013. Greenwald’s unpleasant behaviour was noticed by many – leading to the popularisation of the term ‘Greenwalding’ to describe the act of smearing and misrepresenting people who disagree with you.
Now, it is possible that I may be falling into the trap of a double troll here, but it seems online satirist Godfrey Elfwick has now claimed responsibility for The Guardian Article.
The Elfwick account claims they were inspired by these type of articles from The Guardian’s Abi Wilkinson:
Although we are yet to receive concrete evidence to confirm the truth of ‘Elfwick’s’ confession, I find this explanation far more convincing than the claims contained within the original Guardian article. And, of course, if it does turn out that we too are victims of some sort of Elfwick Trollception, I think Maajid Nawaz’s ‘win/win’ perspective rings true:
So, here we have it. A mainstream ‘liberal’ newspaper will print any old nonsense just so long as it ticks their prejudices check list. Followed by a gaggle of ‘Journalists’ and glorified trolls who will also amplify any old nonsense just so long as it’s unfavourable towards Sam Harris.
Will Glenn Greenwald retract and apologise if it indeed turns out to be fake?
I wouldn’t hold your breath. To assume this latest exposure of dishonesty will be the one that somehow produces some ethics and integrity from Glenn Greenwald is to have not paid attention to him these last few years.
Hoax or not, it should be especially concerning to those who shared this Guardian piece that it’s currently impossible to verify whether it is in fact satire or not.
I’ve reached out to the individual running the ‘Godfrey Elfwick’ account for comment, but no comment was received at the time of publishing this blog.
UPDATE 4 December 2016:
Chairperson of Atheist Ireland, Michael Nugent has published some typically excellent analysis on the Guardian article in question, which you can read below.