How The Guardian’s Joshua Treviño injected anti-Muslim hate into 2010 California senate race

The growing outrage over The Guardian’s hiring of Joshua Treviño as a columnist has focused on his tweets inciting Israel to murder American citizens aboard a flotilla to Gaza in June 2011 and his celebration of the killing of passengers aboard the flotilla a year earlier.

What has escaped scrutiny — until today — is Treviño’s record as a political consultant. This is important because The Guardian has justified its hiring of Treviño on the basis of his experience.

Treviño evidently used his position as communications director for California Senate candidate Chuck DeVore to disseminate his personal message of hate, vilification of Muslims, and support for the Israeli killings of civilians on the flotilla.

DeVore, then a California State Assemblyman, ran unsuccessfully for the Republican party nomination for the United States Senate in 2010.

This role, once again, flatly contradicts Treviño’s claim published in the Guardian that any reading of one of his controversial tweets “that I applauded, encouraged, or welcomed the death of fellow human beings, is wrong, and out of step with my life and record.”

Israeli-government sponsored rally

On 6 June 2010 — a week after the attack on the flotilla — DeVore spoke at an Israeli-government sponsored rally outside the Israeli consulate in Los Angeles. Treviño posted a video of his candidate’s speech on his Vimeo account.

Even by the standards of an American politician, DeVore’s speech was vitriolic. It never mentioned the word “Palestinians” but focused exclusively on “Israel’s enemies” who were always described in vague terms as “Islamists” and directly compared to Nazis.

Although the words came out of DeVore’s mouth and he is politically and morally responsible for them, they were undoubtedly written by Treviño himself.

For DeVore, the only people in Gaza are “terrorists” and any support or solidarity with 1.6 million people there — half of them children — was support for a “terrorist” enemy.

“Israel’s enemies are America’s enemies,” DeVore declared to loud cheers, “They hate Israel for the same reason they hate America…. They hate the free society, they hate the religious liberty and they hate people who will not bow down to their oppression.”

DeVore claimed that the battle between Israel and America and their common “enemies” is the battle between “civilization” and “barbarism,” the same message that has recently emerged in the form of Islamophobic hate-ads on public transport in San Francisco placed by notorious anti-Muslim inciters Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer.

DeVore “unequivocally” endorsed Israel’s attack on the flotilla. “There is only one thing about the Gaza flotilla that contributed to peace,” DeVore said, “and that is when the IDF stopped it dead in the water.”

DeVore’s hate-speech and Treviño’s tweets

The following excerpts are transcribed from the video of DeVore’s speech, and although offensive it is important that they be quoted at length. The blockquoted text are DeVore’s words at the 6 June 2010 rally. The tweets in between are Treviño’s from the days preceding the rally.

They are juxtaposed this way to show that the tweets make many of the same points and sometimes even use the same words or phrases that DeVore used days later:

Make no mistake, defending Israel is defending America. If Israel disappeared tomorrow, who believes that the terrorists would disband? Who believes that the target would not simply shift from Tel Aviv to Los Angeles?

Let us say this unequivocally and unashamedly and emphatically, what Israel did to the Gaza flotilla was right, it was legal and it was moral. It is never wrong to blockade a terror state. It is never wrong to defend your existence. It is never wrong to starve a movement that thinks the Holocaust was simply a good start.

The fight between Israel and Hamas is the fight between civilization and barbarism. It’s as simple as that. Our grandfathers left their homes and families to travel half-way around the world to defend freedom and it was on this day 66 years ago that they landed at Normandy beach in their righteous quest to destroy the Third Reich. If this generation of Americans does not fight Islamists who seek to complete the Third Reich’s work we dishonor the memory and sacrifice of our grandfathers.

Our very identity as Americans compels us to stand with Israel and against Israel’s enemies. America stands against Israel’s enemies for the same reason it stood against Nazism, Fascism and Communism.

I say clearly that the enemies of Israel are just as genocidal, just as tyrannical and just as savage as those defeated movements. The defenders of the Gaza flotilla say it was a humanitarian mission. They say they were peace activists. They lie!

What humanitarian mission opens sea lanes to terrorists, to Hamas? What peace activists lynch Israeli soldiers? What humanitarian mission refuses to cooperate with lawful authorities? What peace activists chant about Muhammad’s massacre of a Jewish tribe?

The Gaza flotilla was not about peace. It was about war! It was about establishing a supply route to Hamas. It was about supporting the eradication of the Jewish state. It was about seeking and getting combat with young Israeli men who earnestly desire peace.

The Gaza flotilla is in short the greatest international fraud since the plight of the Sudeten Germans. There is only one thing about the Gaza flotilla that contributed to peace, and that is when the IDF stopped it dead in the water.

And indicating that Treviño had electoral politics, rather than merely a selfless concern for the well-being of Israel at heart, he tweeted:

These are Treviño’s words

There can be little doubt that the words DeVore uttered at the Israeli consulate rally were penned by Treviño.

According to Treviño’s Linkedin profile, Treviño worked as Communications Director for the DeVore for California campaign from March 2009 to June 2010.

Treviño was “Responsible for all media” and messaging for the campaign. Among his self-proclaimed achievements was that he:

Created and conveyed public narratives that highlighted the candidate’s manifest strengths — in particular his qualities of leadership, integrity, intellectual power and civic-mindedness — in media and journalism.

From 2001-2005, Treviño worked as a speechwriter, and then communications director for the US Secretary of State for Health and Human Services.

Tweets as tests of political message

Treviño also boasts about how he “leveraged new media” for the DeVore campaign. This casts his tweets in a new light. Perhaps he was simply testing a political message.

The Guardian claims that Treviño’s political work qualifies him to be an informed commentator on its pages.

In a 15 August press release (note The Guardian was caught doctoring parts of the release after it was published), Janine Gibson, Editor in Chief of Guardian US, said that Treviño “brings an important perspective our readers look for on issues concerning US politics.”

The release quoted Treviño himself claiming, “My background in communications and activism has given me insight into what works and what doesn’t in the digital age.”

Contrary to any claim that Treviño’s tweets are in the past and no longer relevant, they are actually central to the political experience that is to inform his column.

Why won’t the Guardian correct this lie?

Meanwhile, The Guardian continues to ignore requests to issue a correction to a blatantly false statement Treviño made in his “clarification” the Guardian published on 16 August after the initial outcry over a June 2011 tweet in which he wrote:

Dear IDF: If you end up shooting any Americans on the new Gaza flotilla – well, most Americans are cool with that. Including me.

In his “clarification,” Treviño claimed:

any reading of my tweet of 25 June 2011 that holds that I applauded, encouraged, or welcomed the death of fellow human beings, is wrong, and out of step with my life and record.

It is now amply clear this is a lie. In recent days, even more vile tweets from Treviño have come to light in which Treviño gloated about and celebrated Israel’s violent attack on the Mavi Marmara on 31 May 2010 and his mockery of the 9 unarmed civilians who were shot dead.

He tweeted, for example that Furkan Dogan, an American teenager “deserved” to die. Yasir Tineh has compiled even more examples.

After viewing this video of DeVore’s speech, can there be any doubt that Treviño not only “applauded, encouraged, or welcomed the death of fellow human beings,” but used his role with the candidate to push his extremist views to an even wider audience?

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Here is what I wrote to the Guardian:
<<The level of discourse has descended into the unacceptable at the Guardian. It is for this reason that I must no longer buy the Guardian as I so often do at coffee shops as it was my favorite read.
Treating Josh Trevino's comments about killing civilians who are exercising their free speech rights and who are in fact, speaking out about heinous injustices in Gaza and the West Bank is close to tolerating the Norwegian mass murderer as if it is just another legitimate opinion. It is not.
The normalizing of killing and the casual speaking of it in respected newspapers is wrong and must stop.
It breaks my heart to see it in the Guardian.>>

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truth is always the first casualty.. if that racist get power by using lies and violence they will be lying and killing instead of be honest.. TOTAL MADNESS, THEY CALL FOOD AND MEDICINES WEAPONS, THEY CALL HELP FOR WOMAN AND CHILDREN TERRORISM, TOTAL MADNESS, TOTAL HATRED, TOTAL DISCONNECTION TO REAL WORLD...

We feel so sad in here, we are not palestinians, but we are just like you, we respect and see the great dignity on palestinian people..

Ali Abunimah

Ali Abunimah's picture

Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and author of The Battle for Justice in Palestine, now out from Haymarket Books.

Also wrote One Country: A Bold-Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse. Opinions are mine alone.