Some of 2011’s top faux-pas, bad social media

Ismail Haniyeh had an easy time eulogizing bin Laden, declaring his assassination at the hands of American forces to be "oppression" and the killing of "an Arab holy warrior."

Rick Perry 311 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Rick Perry 311
(photo credit: REUTERS)
2011 was the news equivalent of a 12-month bender.
Just when people thought they’d sobered up from one earth-shattering event, they were hit with another game-changer.
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Here we have listed just 10 events from the past year that, while they may not have been as cataclysmic as the Japanese tsunami or the overthrow of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, nonetheless represent some of the most memorable hiccups and cases of shooting oneself in the foot.
Cain’s women, Perry’s confusion
The NATO-led intervention in Libya spelled the end for not only Muammar Gaddafi and his platoons of female bodyguards (who in the end offered scant resistance to the rebels). The six-month intervention also helped end the short-lived presidential campaign of Georgia businessman Herman Cain, who was stumped in a video interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorial board on November 14. The one-time pizza baron’s campaign never recovered from the moment, which came a week after a fourth woman came forward to make allegations of sexual assault against Cain.
Like a fence-post digger, Texas Gov. Rick Perry started his presidential campaign at the top and quickly began his plunge to the bottom. Widely seen as George W. Bush with better hair but less brains, Perry stumbled at a debate in November when he could not remember the third government agency that he would abolish if elected. Like Cain, he appeared to be searching for the fire exit, before finally shrugging and saying “oops.”
That debate moment came shortly after Perry gave what appeared to be a drunken speech in New Hampshire, and also after he was met with criticism for an rock located at the entrance to a piece of family property rented out for hunters and only recently painted over. Like Cain, Perry was a pleasure to watch campaign in 2011, and assuming he will not win the Republican nomination, he will be missed.
In praise of bin Laden
Eulogies are hard. Very few people enjoy public speaking and it’s often difficult to find the words to truly express the devastating loss of a loved one.
But for Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip Ismail Haniyeh, the words appear to have come easy after the killing of Osama bin Laden in a US raid in Pakistan in May, with little forethought for how they would be interpreted later on.
“We condemn the assassination and the killing of an Arab holy warrior,” Haniyeh said.
“We regard this as a continuation of the American policy based on oppression and the shedding of Muslim and Arab blood.”
The Palestinian Authority said the killing was “good for the cause of peace worldwide.”
Neither Fatah or Hamas issued a statement upon the death of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il in December.
All the fuhrer’s men
Speaking at the Cannes Film Festival on May 19, Danish filmmaker Lars von Trier said of Hitler, “He’s not what you’d call a good guy, but I understand much about him and I sympathize with him a little bit.”
During the same uncomfortable, bizarre press conference, after which he was declared persona non grata by the festival, the half-Jewish von Trier called Israel “a pain in the ass” and said, “OK, I’m a Nazi,” as actress Kirsten Durst appeared to be praying for the rapture to occur.
On February 25, a video was released of Dior head designer John Galliano drunkenly telling a group of Italian women, “I love Hitler... People like you would be dead. Your mothers, your forefathers would all be f***ing gassed.”
Galliano was later dismissed by Dior and found guilty of giving public insults on account of race by a Paris court in September.
Not to be outdone, rapper Kanye West told a crowd at a concert in England, “I walk through the hotel and I walk down the street and people look at me like I’m fucking insane, like I’m Hitler. One day the light will shine through and one day people will understand everything I ever did.”
It's unclear where West’s Hitler comparison ended, but it is clear that 2011 was a good year for half-Jewish, homosexual, African-Americans who like or feel like Hitler.
What we talk about, when we talk about Bibi
On November 8, an open microphone caught a discussion French President Nicolas Sarkozy and US President Barack Obama probably wish had been kept secret.
“I cannot bear Netanyahu.He’s a liar,” Sarkozy said, to which Obama replied, “you’re fed up with him but I have to deal with him more often than you.”
Obama’s words were met with righteous outrage by Netanyahu’s base, the Republican Party, as well as in Israel, but came as no surprise to those who had been watching the cool relationship between the two leaders since Obama took office.
Closer to home, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman had his own open microphone incident, while giving a phone interview to Army Radio from his home in April.
The sound of a toilet flushing can clearly be heard in the background during the interview, and there is little reason to believe Israel’s top diplomat did not know his “movements” would be heard.
How to lose Jews and alienate the Diaspora
An NIS 3 million ad campaign released by the Immigrant Absorption Ministry this year was driven by a noble cause: encouraging Israeli expats to return home, an issue of no small importance in a country with a serious brain drain.
Still, the campaign was run with typical Israeli heavyhandiness.
Video spots showed Israeli grandparents speaking to their grandchildren who are excited about the Christmas season, an Israeli father whose son horrifyingly calls him “daddy" and not “abba,” and a young Israeli woman whose non- Israeli boyfriend thinks the Remembrance Day candles she lit are meant to set a romantic mood.
The campaign wasn’t the first time that Israeli efforts to bring back ex-pats or stave off assimilation have sounded an offensive note with Diaspora Jews who take the message to simply mean: You can only be a real Jew in Israel.
The ads ignited a firestorm of controversy, most notably from The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, who called it the greatest show of Israeli contempt for American Jews he'd ever seen. Five days later, the ads were pulled, but by that time the inevitable online spoofs of the campaign had already begun.
As Lars von Trier could tell you, there are much cheaper ways to offend Jews.
Anthony’s Weiner: The tweet heard around the world
New York congressman Anthony Weiner was a rising star in the Democratic Party, before he messaged a picture of his “congressional aide” (junior congressman) to a female follower on Twitter in late May, thus beginning “Weinergate.”
After a picture of the message was posted online by conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart, Weiner issued a series of statements saying that he did not send the message but that he could not say “with certitude” that the picture was not of him, adding that perhaps his Twitter account had been hacked.
Further pictures of Weiner emerged, which he had reportedly sent to other female Twitter followers. By June 16, Weiner admitted that he had sent the pictures, and that he would resign from office. Perhaps most upsetting for Weiner was that he was also the rare US politician brought down by a sex scandal, without actually having any sex.
Dominique Strauss-Kahn takes Manhattan
The year’s top sex scandal (with all due respect to Anthony Weiner) took place in a Manhattan hotel room, where the head of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn (DSK) had a sexual encounter of some sort with Guinean maid Nafissato Diallou, who accused him of sexual assault.
“It’s like he’s posing for his own editorial cartoon,” Jon Stewart said on The Daily Show, describing the image of the head of the IMF chasing around an African with the intent to sexually assault her.
It was a situation in which there were no winners whatsoever, not the African immigrant who alleged sexual assault and became tabloid fodder, not the former head of the International Monetary Fund and would-be French presidential candidate who saw his career and marriage brought to the brink by a sex crimes charge, and not the New York Police Department, which went from showing incredible efficiency and zeal in arresting Strauss-Kahn, to seeing their case dissolve before their eyes.
The Lieberman seal of approval
In early December, just as Russia was seeing the largest anti-government protests since the end of the Cold War, Avigdor Lieberman paid a visit to Moscow to meet with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
Speaking in Russian, the Moldova-born Lieberman endorsed the contested Russian legislative election as “democratic and fair,” shortly after Washington called them neither free nor fair. Lieberman stood by his comments, which were not made from a bathroom.
Not gay, not a girl, not from Damascus
Tom MacMaster meant well.
The American blogger said he began writing the “Gay Girl in Damascus” blog to put a human face on the issues facing Middle East dissidents, especially ones from the LGBT community.
Posing as a young Syrian- American Lesbian named “Amina Arraf,” MacMaster wrote about the turmoil of revolutionary Syria, and his/her life as a young gay woman in Damascus. The blog became an Internet sensation, and in June, when an entry purportedly written by Arraf’s cousin claimed that she had been kidnapped by state security services was posted on the blog, a viral sensation was born, and an all-out campaign was launched to win Arraf’s release and find out more about the courageous young woman.
With the greater scrutiny, the fictional character and events MacMaster weaved together began to unravel, and the author owned up to the ruse.
While many supporters breathed a sigh of relief that Arraf was not in harm’s way, their relief was mixed with anger towards a young, white, heterosexual, American male who had become, for a very short time, the voice behind an unlikely and fictional hero of the Arab Spring.
‘Vogue’ profiles Syria’s fabulous Assad family
As in the real world, timing is important in fashion too.
Unfortunately for Vogue, Arab dictators were very much out of fashion in February 2011, when the magazine published a fawning interview of Syrian first lady Asma Assad, complete with pictures of President Basher Assad in jeans playing with his children, a dashing image of the blood-soaked tyrant turned family man.
The interview had a number of gold medal quotes, including Asma’s astonishment at her husband winning a “startling 97 percent of the vote” in presidential elections, and the dictator/family man’s statement that optometry was his preferred medical field, “because there is not much blood.”
Following public outcry and an avalanche of ridicule, Vogue “disappeared” the article from its website. Luckily for Vogue, the NATO-led war in Libya turned the world’s eyes towards Gaddafi, a man who brought together the worlds of lunatic dictators and runway fashion long before the editors of Vogue turned their eyes towards Asma.