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Syrian Activists Caught Fudging Video of Violence

Britain’s Channel 4 News aired a segment earlier this week that shows Syrian activists faking some parts of videos they broadcast on YouTube. In one instance, activists record themselves asking the international community for help, with black smoke swirling in the background; the activists had set the fire themselves before turning on the video camera.

We can’t rely on regime-controlled media outlets or television stations for anything but reports about “terrorists” murdering “honorable policemen” in Syria, so it’s all the more important for activists, and the foreign journalists who successfully smuggle themselves into the country, to be scrupulously honest in reporting what they see. Assad’s crackdown on civilians and rebels doesn’t need to be spun to show how despicable it is, and lying only serves to erode the anti-regime cause.

Butcher Assad’s capacity for terror and violence speaks volumes on its own; there’s no need to “sex up” the evidence. But the reality in Syria as elsewhere is that a poisoned tree does not automatically produce good fruit. Growing up under a dictatorship and in a society where law is weak, power is king, and torture is a normal piece of police procedure, many courageous Syrians fighting a ghastly regime have been shaped by a history they hope to change. Doctoring films to make propaganda is a venial sin by today’s standards in Syria, but it remains to be seen whether the opposition can or even wants to introduce a culture of liberty, the inviolability of rights, and a strong rule-based legal system.

Assad must go, but his departure will not be a magic cure for Syria’s ills.

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