Hours after The Guardian announced it had dumped Joshua Treviño, a Senior Advisor at the US State Department publicly defended the disgraced columnist, despite the fact that Treviño had openly called for, and gloated over, the murder of US civilians and called for acts of desecration offensive to Muslims in a series of controversial tweets.
Shahed Amanullah, Senior Advisor for Technology at the US Department of State, tweeted, “The writings of my friend @jstrevino deserve to be engaged, not suppressed.”
Amanullah “works on digital diplomacy projects for the Special Representative to Muslim Communities, who reports directly to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton” according to his Linkedin profile, a fact confirmed on at least one US government website.
Amanullah, who was elected in 2008 as a Democratic Party precinct chair in Austin, Texas, also spoke to VOA about his government outreach work to “Muslim communities” on 6 April 2012 in a video interview conducted at the State Department.
Backtracks but still urges engagement
When challenged on his support for Treviño, Amanullah backtracked, tweeting, “i absolutely do not defend those tweets in question, I find them abhorrent” and “I absolutely condemn them.”
Despite these qualifications, Amanullah still insisted Treviño should be engaged:
Amanullah’s Twitter bio carries the disclaimer that, “Tweets do not represent US gov’t.”
A right to free speech, not a right to our attention
Let’s be clear: Treviño has a right to free speech, but that does not translate into a right to be paid for his bigoted views and incitement to violence, nor does it impose an obligation on the rest of us to “engage” with such bigotry.
What Treviño has ever done or written to “deserve” to be engaged is a complete mystery.
On top of his violent fantasies about Palestinian solidarity activists, Treviño has a long history of extreme Islamophobic writings, and founded a website which identified its contributors with “Christian Knights” engaged in a holy war against their “enemy,” Islam.
While Amanullah and Treviño were friends in Austin, Treviño was busy stalking an interfaith peace rally and posting images of participants on his Flickr account with denigrating and religiously bigoted captions. Treviño for example referred to Rev. Ed Hartwell, founder of the Interfaith Community for Palestinian Rights, seen in this image, as a “quisling” and a “Christian cleric on the other side.”
By advocating “engagement,” Amanullah legitimizes Treviño’s views in a manner he would likely be immediately fired for if he advocated US “engagement” with any number of groups or individuals described as “Islamist” or simply deemed politically inconvenient.
How long would Amanullah last at the State Department if he urged “engagement,” with Reverend Jeremiah Wright or Minister Louis Farrakhan, Americans whom President Obama has publicly rejected and denounced?
Indeed, Obama even had an American, Anwar al-Awlaki, and his 16-year old son, extrajudicially executed, for the elder al-Awlaki’s views.
It is impossible to imagine, all things being equal, that if Treviño’s incitement and hate were directed at Israeli civilians, or Jews, or virtually any other group, that Amanullah would call Treviño “my friend” or do anything other than condemn him in the strongest possible terms.
Tolerance for racism
Treviño it should be emphasized has done more than just tweet and blog his extremist views. He used his position as communications director for California Republican Chuck DeVore in 2010 to write a speech reflecting his hateful views and delivered by DeVore at an Israeli consulate rally.
Ironically, Amanullah works as part of a government program intended to improve the image of the United States among Muslims around the world. The poisonous views and activities of those like his “friend” Treviño ensure such efforts will be futile.
The Obama administration has, unfortunately, rarely stood up to anti-Muslim hate and other forms of racism. To know that extremists such as Treviño are considered “friends” in the halls of the State Department is disturbing indeed.
Incitement to murder and hate speech
As a reminder, Treviño’s odious “ideas” amount to incitement to murder and celebration of the killings of US citizens. For example:
On 3 June 2010 in reference to 19-year-old American Furkan Doğan, killed execution-style aboard the Mavi Marmara, Treviño wrote, “Make no mistake: in choosing to aid Hamas on the #flotilla, Furkan Dogan raised his hand against his country. His fate was deserved.”
On 1 June 2010, the day after Israeli forces murdered 9 unarmed civilians aboard the Mavi Marmara in international waters, Treviño tweeted, “Only way the #flotilla story gets better is if it’s revealed the IDF drew Muhammed on a bulkhead.”
On 2 June 2010, Treviño tweeted, “After examining the facts on #flotilla, I condemn Israel: for being too nice, too soft, too accommodating to the scum of the earth.”
On 31 May 2011, exactly a year to the day after the killings aboard the Mavi Marmara, Treviño tweeted, “Today is the one-year anniversary of the Gaza flotilla, on which I salute the IDF for doing the right thing, the right way.”