“A single lie destroys a whole reputation of integrity.” Baltasar Gracián
Article originally published by American Herald Tribune on August 31st, 2018
After more than seven years of war, which have brought death and destruction, pain and suffering, and every form of terrorism imaginable to the Syrian people, the war is finally entering its final stage. The much-anticipated battle of Idlib will commence soon. The plan to liberate every inch of Syria, which has been stated numerous times by President Bashar Al Assad, is underway.
RT states, “Syrian forces are gearing up to take the last terrorist stronghold. The US is boosting its military presence, and Russia is warning of a false-flag chemical attack. RT looks at the alignment of forces ahead of the battle for Idlib. American warships, cruise missile delivery systems, strategic bombers and other hardware have arrived in the Mediterranean and in the Persian Gulf earlier this week. Washington is denying that any buildup is taking place, but Moscow says the assets are being gathered for a massive strike against the Syrian government.”
The Syrian people have been through unimaginable circumstances, brought on by a western manufactured insurrection, both on the ground and in the media. One would think, that bringing this war to an end, and allowing Syrians to rebuild their lives, would be an objective shared by all humanitarians and activists, but unfortunately, that is far from the case.
Propagandists who pose as humanitarians and activists, while ironically supporting terrorist aligned militant groups, have once again amplified their coordinated media efforts to spread misinformation ahead of the final big battle in Syria.
Timing is crucial
Journalist and book author Brandon Turbeville writes, “As mainstream media doubles down in its coordinated propaganda against the Syrian government and in support of direct Western military intervention, the alternative media has been going up against unprecedented censorship on the part of the social media and Internet corporate giants at the same time. For that reason, it is becoming harder and harder to find accurate sources of information regarding Syria as well as all other topics in a general Internet search. While readers of the alt media before Google’s purge and censorfest took place have largely remained, the amount of people being exposed to new information and an alternative to government and corporate propaganda has been drastically reduced.”
“Late last week, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said that the White Helmets group plans to film videos for Middle Eastern and English-language media outlets after staging a false-flag chemical weapons attack in Syria in order to further destabilize the war-torn country.” Sputnik News
In order to stay one step ahead of the game, Sputnik goes on to say, “Damascus has handed documents to the UN, to prove that al-Nusra Front* terrorists plan to conduct a chemical weapons attack in the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib and point the finger at the country’s government, according to Syria’s UN envoy Bashar Jaafari.”
International Assadist Directory
Kester Ratcliff a “Former Project Researcher at University of Bristol” who studies “Top Programme Evolutionary Biology MSc at RUG Groningen” and has previously studied “Animal Behaviour and Welfare Science at University of Bristol”, according to his Facebook page, has created what he calls a “references directory on 151 public figures who have expressed support and/or whitewashed the Assad regime, with examples and references.” He stated, “The purpose of this list is to facilitate finding the references to see and to show people who genuinely don’t know what is true and who to trust about Syria why the people on this list should not be trusted as sources.” Let’s take a moment to digest that last quite bold sentence. The people he cherry picked for his directory should not be trusted according to Ratcliff.
Who is Kester Ratcliff?
Ratcliff dedicated a substantial amount of time and effort to smearing Vanessa Beeley who has extensive experience working on-the-ground in Syria. In his directory he states “It is my honest opinion that she is manifestly an agent of the Assad regime, that she should be added to the lists of sanctioned persons under the UK and the EU sanctions on Syria, and that she should be arrested if she enters the UK or any EU Member State’s territorial jurisdiction and charged with direct and publicly broadcast incitement of the crime against humanity of widespread and systematic attacks on humanitarian workers in an armed conflict zone, under Article 7(1)(k) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. She responded to Ratcliff’s tweet, with the question on everyone’s mind “Who are you?”
In 1978, a popular English rock band by the name of “The Who” released a song titled Who Are You? One of the lines is, “I remember throwing punches around and preaching from my chair”. What oddly perfect description of Ratcliff, who makes accusations against people he has never met, talked to, or even interacted with, all from the comfort of his chair.
Others on social media asked questions such as what expertise does Ratcliff bring to the table? How qualified is he to tell a broad audience who is trustworthy and who is not when it comes to the Syrian conflict? I am paraphrasing but the point is the same.
One might imagine, that this self-proclaimed “political thinker” (per his Medium bio) must have a background that qualifies him to give an opinion on journalists, political commentators, and other public figures who have contributed written or oral material during the course of over seven years of a western manufactured insurrection in Syria.
However, the questions certainly outnumber the answers in this case. What we can gather is that Ratcliff has never stepped foot in Syria, and relies on second-hand information, such as that from refugees whom he met and coached during his time in Greece.
The ever-evolving man of many interests
Ratcliff gives us more insight into who he is in the few articles he has written and published on various sites. In an essay published by Medium titled “Suffering and the Construction of Authority” Ratcliff wrote about his mother “I had a mentally ill and abusive mother, grew up as effectively her sole carer. During my teenage years, the most fundamental issue we fought about and the most frequently was that she demanded I should ‘respect her authority’ merely because of her conventional position as my parent, which I could not do because she was actually completely untrustworthy, unreliable and, literally, insane, and in fact I had to practically care for her like a parent would, when I was a child. Practically our roles were reversed, but she insisted on the ‘authority’ conventionally attached to her position. Needless to say, I absolutely refused.”
Ratcliff goes on to say, “That developmental experience made me extra sensitive, vigilant and radically opposed to all forms of authoritarianism in every area of human life. ‘Authoritarianism’ is the idea of ‘authority’ existing for its own sake, inherently possessing its authority, in an alienated way, rather than it being a characteristic of a relationship, in which authority is given and received (inter-subjectively) for certain mutually beneficial purposes.”
Ratcliff shares with us the next chapter of his life in the same essay,
“At 18, I ‘ran away’ to a Buddhist monastery, in North East Thailand, spent three and half years in Thailand, in monasteries of the Ajahn Chah lineage, and three years in branch monasteries in Australia. Thai Theravada Forest Tradition has its own problems with traditionalist authoritarianism and inter-cultural clashes. There are deep internal conflicts in the international monastic ‘community’ about Thai traditionalism, individualist autocratic authority of abbots, Thai collectivist authoritarianism, the forest tradition’s claims to radical scriptural orthopraxy, then exposed to European traditions of textual and historical criticism, and the trigger issue for an almost-schism in the midst of these underlying issues was the revival of full ordination for nuns. I very much sided with the radically scripturally orthopraxic side of that conflict, essentially because I could not trust a person then, so the scriptural advice “we take refuge in the Dhamma (the Buddha’s teaching), not in a person” (MN108/ MA 145) was important to me. I studied intensely too: communal monastic legal history (I also taught monastic law for a while), sociology of early Buddhism, and observed and introspected on authority.”
He wrote about his Buddhist monk experience for Buddha Channel in an article titled Kester Ratcliff —” Monastic lineages and the Vinaya: Which is Buddhist?” ”I used to be a monk for six and half years in the Thai Forest Tradition, my name then was Bhikkhu Santi. As well as a lot of meditation, in those six years I also did a lot of study and particularly Vinaya, and especially the two main neglected areas -the Bhikkhuni Vinaya and the communal legal procedures (adhikarana-samatha-dhammas).
Ratcliff shares an interestingly similar perspective about the abbots, as that of his mother in the same article.
*(Kester Ratcliff’s Monastic passport Source: Facebook page)
“However, I found the abbots I was expected to trust untrustable -firstly, because they demanded it too much -if somebody is truly trustworthy, they don’t need to say “you should respect me” or anything of that sort, they would be confident that they are trustworthy enough to just be themselves quietly; like getting a toddler to come in for a hug, you have kneel down, open your arms, and wait for the kid to run into your arms; grabbing or shouting don’t work.”
Ratcliff writes about his experience as a monk and how his journey led him to join the Quakers in an article on his website titled “Mulesika -Seeking the Roots”.
“Personally my journey has led me to join the Quakers, last year, now that I’m a layman in a family-oriented life. I no longer call myself a Buddhist, and I can use conventional regional religious terminology like ‘God’ quite comfortably (with a massive footnote explaining that I don’t mean anything supernatural or having sabhava). I find I fit much better in the Quaker community, and one of the most obvious differences for me from my experience of the TFT is that the Quaker ‘institution’ treats people as full adults (maybe even a bit too much, because we mostly seem to attract people in their 40s onwards!), but I needed a change and it’s the furthest opposite extreme if you have religious allergy to hierarchicalism and enforced prolongation of adolescent-type dependence.”
Working with Refugees
-Ratcliff wrote an article titled Systemic legal issues for refugees in Europe and affected by Europe globally in which he states this is “A list of in-depth sources with connecting notes about the major systemic legal problems confronting refugees as they try to reach a place of safety. The major issues are in order of encounter from a refugee’s point of view.”
-On Ratcliff’s Facebook profile it states that he manages a group called Visas for Asylum or Safe Passage to EU.
“HIAS is a refugee legal aid NGO from America, with operations in 14 countries and an implementing partner for the USA resettlement programme through UNHCR. It’s a Jewish organisation, founded in 1881 in the USA, originally was for Jews escaping persecution in Europe, but now serves any human person in the same sort of situation – http://www.hias.org/
Specifically what I plan to do in Chios next week and the week after:
Help physically set up the information tent – I’m not sure whether to take my power tools as well as my legal textbooks, but I have both here;
Try to set up a psychosocially safe, private and dignified environment in which to ask people to recall what happened to make them flee their homes and countries;
Discuss with them through the Guide I’ve prepared on how to prepare for asylum interviews, clarify their answers with them, and write down their statements ready for them to take in with them to their interviews (this should assist both the refugees and EASO/ the Greek Asylum Service, making the process both fairer and more efficient for everyone).
If there’s enough time, practice mock interviews with people.
Connect people whose cases I can’t deal with as a non-lawyer to the network of pro bono refugee legal aid lawyers I’m in contact with now, across NGOs.
Get a more detailed realistic sense of what’s needed and what works, to feed into the design of the HIAS Greece legal aid programme.”
-Ratcliff wrote a comment in response to an article written by the Sun titled “SYRIA CRIME WAVE: Hundreds of Syrians in UK arrested over string of offences including rape and child abuse, in which he stated
“…I have reported it to IPSO as unfactual and discriminatory and to my local police force as a crime under S.23 of the Public Order Act 1986 for publication and distribution of material with intent or likely to stir up racial hatred, and written to my MP to ask her to write to the CPS asking them to seriously consider prosecuting you this time. I believe the journalists and their editors responsible for this publication, as well as the directors ultimately responsible for everything that happens in the whole company, should be convicted for incitement to racial or religious hatred, sentenced to the maximum term of 7 years imprisonment, and all of them should be banned from ever holding the directorship of any company ever again.”
The sole purpose of sharing this article and Ratcliff’s comment is to show that his calls for people to be convicted and imprisoned are nothing new.
In response to an article titled “Spiritual influence” and electionsRatcliff wrote “…the duty to vote and participate in social democracy is a serious public duty which also ought to be considered a religious obligation.”
Ratcliff is in his final-year as an undergrad student of Animal Behaviour & Welfare Science at Bristol University in the Veterinary Sciences School. His current dissertation project revolves around modelling how parasites influence the collective movement patterns that emerge in sheep flocks, using comparative evidence from research in fish.
This brief history based on public information that Ratcliff has generously offered via multiple media platforms might give us some insight about him, but leaves us with more questions than answers. Why has a relatively unknown individual in the Syrian conflict, taken on this task of quietly collecting information on 151 people, and placing a target on each and every one of their backs?
Ratcliff’s “contribution” to the Syrian war effort
Ratcliff states on a Facebook post that this is his “contribution to the war”. That’s an important point to take note of. Ratcliff is feeling the euphoric effects of overnight fame, but has also made it clear that he does not want people to focus on him as a person or his typos or his lack of credentials. No, it would be best to just blindly accept everything he has stated, without giving it much thought.
Ratcliff knew that this directory would cause a storm of backlash based on some of his facebook posts.
Ratcliff had the help of a retired lawyer friend, and two journalists that helped check his “monster article”, in addition he checked it himself a “bazillion” times and remarkably still managed to misspell a number of names and get many facts wrong.
Ratcliff doesn’t want this to be about him, he says “It’s not really about me”.
Filled to the Brim with Errors, Misspellings, and Inaccuracies
Ratcliff takes a lot of pride in his directory. On Facebook, he stated, “I have checked it very carefully, and endeavored to be fair. Despite hating them, I will not remove anyone or change what I have said about them, in spite of any amount of harassment, so don’t even bother trying, but if there is any real factual inaccuracy I will of course immediately correct it.”
Notice how much emotion he expresses towards those he has chosen to blacklist. He doesn’t merely disapprove of their viewpoints, but he hates them as individuals. Emotions can certainly cloud a person’s judgment, and by the looks of it, Ratcliff has no reservations sharing his feelings publicly about individuals whom he has never met or interacted with for the most part. The hate he mentions must have developed during the time that he was lurking in the background, watching and taking notes of who should make his list of untrustworthy sources, as he refers to them.
Ratcliff wrote in a public Facebook post on his page about the typos.
For someone who claims to have checked his directory “very carefully,” it sure was filled to the brim with inaccuracies, and even people’s names were misspelled. Their very identity was wrong. If Ratcliff doesn’t care much for spelling people’s names correctly what else has he not given much thought to in his directory?
Medium email and article suspension
Medium has served as a platform for a number of Ratcliff’s essays and incoherent drivel.
Here are just two examples of Ratcliff’s literary balderdash:
–Example of OSINT on 21stcenturywire Vanessa Beeley’s latest Assadist propaganda against the White Helmets– which Ratcliff states is “an incomplete draft from 22 June 2017. I’m publishing it now just in order to send it to another researcher.” He also states “One of Vanessa Beeley’s useful idiots challenged me to “prove it” — obviously they won’t read this or think about it or stop repeating lies, because they don’t believe in objective factual truth, but for the record, here is some proof”.
–Definition and discussion of the meaning and importance of ‘Bullshit’. He states “I wrote this long definition and discussion of ‘bullshit’ to enable me to write a much shorter and simpler paragraph defining it in a major article later.”
His latest contribution has since been suspended by Medium. Their reasons for suspension can be seen in the following tweet.
The Assadist slur vs. Pro-Assad
According to Merriam Webster the definition of a sadist is one characterized by sadism : a person who takes pleasure in inflicting pain, punishment, or humiliation on others. Sadism is defined as the derivation of sexual gratification from the infliction of physical pain or humiliation on another person.
This clarifies why some choose to use the slur Assadist rather than simply saying Pro-Assad when insulting those who have committed one or more of the following “crimes”:
1. questioning the official narrative
2. doubting the truthfulness of mainstream media
3. speaking up against foreign intervention, imperialism, and terrorism
4. and lastly the most contentious of all according to characters such as Ratcliff…wait for it…actually supporting the elected president of Syria! President Bashar Al Assad ::horrifying gasp::
If these reasons truly qualify one to be called an Assadist then Ratcliff should have included the millions of people around the world who support the legitimate president of Syria Dr. Bashar Al Assad.
Of course using the term Assadist is not original or creative on Ratcliff’s part, nor is he the first to create such a ridiculous list, which could also have dangerous ramifications for those on it. Others have tread these murky waters before Ratcliff, just google Assadist and you’ll see a selection of unimpressive ramblings.
– Louis Proyect wrote about Assadists on his blog The Unrepentant Marxist. In one of his entries titled Young Assadist Academics Nursing their Wounds he stated the following “One of the most depressing things about the six years of war in Syria, besides the obvious destruction of life and property, is the trail of intellectual damage left behind by investigative journalists, leftist leaders, and academics who bend the truth or outright lie in order to defend the mafia state. History will certainly remember people such as Seymour Hersh, Theodore Postol, and Tariq Ali as being ethically and intellectually challenged no matter how virtuous they were in the past.”
One can’t help but wonder if Ratcliff could be Proyect’s protégé? Either way, whether he is or not, doesn’t matter much, but it is interesting to see the similarities between the two, especially their love of using the same slurs and list-making passion.
What a useful tool their contributions must be to terrorist aligned opposition groups who are seeking to shut down dissenters especially during this last phase of a war…which they have clearly lost.
Media Responses to Ratcliff’s Directory
Ratcliff has been sharing articles written in response to his directory on his social media accounts with uber-enthusiasm. Overnight fame can be exhilarating and Ratcliff is enjoying every millisecond of his five minutes of fame.
Ratcliff’s greatest accomplishment thus far, could very well be getting the attention of RT which resulted in not one, but three articles being published in a span of two days, in response to his Assadist directory.
– August 27th: Chomsky, Hersh and… Boris Johnson? Twitter pundits ponder odd ‘Assadist’ blacklist “An obscure blog post, that accuses journalists and intellectuals of inciting “crimes against humanity” for their views on Syria, has received glowing reviews from verified Twitter pundits, despite its factually dubious claims. Featured on an unfrequented Medium blog, the “International Assadists References Directory” lists 151 people and organizations who have allegedly “expressed support and/or whitewashed the Assad regime.” The eclectic compilation of “Assadists” features individuals and groups of all political stripes and backgrounds, from the Greek nationalist political party Golden Dawn to Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters. Notable journalists such as Seymour Hersh, John Pilger, Peter Hitchens, Glenn Greenwald and Patrick Cockburn are also listed as reckless Assad apologists.”
– August 28th: Don’t tell him, Pike! The laughable (yet sinister) list of ‘International Assadists’ Neil Clark wrote “A newly-compiled directory of 151 ‘International Assadists’ is both hilarious – for all the mistakes in it, but disturbing too, as it represents a McCarthyite attempt to police the debate on Syria.”
He goes on to say “By Ratcliff’s own admission you don’t even have to be ‘pro-Assad’ to be included in his ‘International Assadists Reference Directory’. His definition of ‘Assadist’ is incredibly wide – so wide in fact that it even includes those who have supported air strikes on Syrian government targets. Here he quotes Ratcliff as having written “All pro-Assad people are Assadists (they repeat Assadist propaganda claims), but not all Assadists are in their own view pro-Assad,” he explains in the introduction. In other words, if you repeat anything on Syria that he regards as an “Assadist propaganda claim”, you’re an Assadist. Even if you make it clear you strongly oppose the Syrian president – and support bombing Syrian airfields, like former UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who is listed.”
– August 28th ‘Assadist list’ nothing more than McCarthyism paired with ‘hoodwink’ science George Galloway wrote “Yet I have made the Assadist List, compiled by a student scribbler, a Kester Ratcliff, whose name needn’t detain us for long. He is his masters’ voice and his masters are whom we should focus on.”
Responses from some of the “Assadists” in Ratcliff’s directory
Alt Media List of Sources
If poppycock isn’t your literary preference, and you have an appetite for truthful, honest reporting and journalism, might I suggest you read the following refreshing list of sources that have covered the war in Syria in many different capacities.
Brandon Turbeville is an exceptional journalist and accomplished author of seven books. Turbeville has first-hand experience from visiting Syria which only adds to the verity of his articles. Turbeville has published 1000’s of articles on a wide variety of subjects including health, economics, government corruption, and civil liberties. He has created an incredibly useful directory that should be read and shared by those who value the truth: You Want A Real List? Directory Of Accurate Alt Media Sources On Syria. Turbeville wrote “…with disturbed “researchers” and various shadowy organizations creating silly lists of “Assadists” “Fake News,” and “Russian propaganda,” I thought it might be useful to create a list of my own, containing a number of the same names, in order to provide a list of researchers, journalists, and activists who have been working to expose the true agenda behind what is happening in Syria today in hopes that my readers will also find their work and find access to additional sources of information which certainly will not be available in the mainstream press. This, of course, is in addition to my own work.”
To conclude on a positive note, the reality on the ground shows that the foreign-backed militants have failed miserably in their pursuit of unseating President Assad and completely leveling the jasmine-scented country.
The will of the Syrian people has proven to be stronger than bombs and propaganda. In a last-ditch effort to shift the outcome of this war, misguided mouthpieces and paid propagandists alike will make a lot of noise, but that’s really all it is.
Their futile attempts at prolonging the war by demonizing people they disagree with is nothing more than a distraction. Ultimately their actions cannot and will not disturb the unrivaled unity of the majority of the Syrian people.