September 29, 2003


This truly horrible piece from Isabel Vincent, once considered one of the most promising Canadian reporters, now clearly nowhere close:" Fake, and dangerous: women who buy knock-offs and counterfeits of designer handbags don't realize these harmless luxury goods may be funding terrorism."

For those of you who really can't be bothered to read (or visit this site after the link to the horrible site has gone dead), the causal connection is, boiled down:

1. Terrorists are criminals
2. Producers and sellers of counterfeit merchandise are criminals
Therefore 3. Counterfeit merchandise is being used to fund Al-Qaeda.

No actual facts anywhere, mind you. This is probably the closest thing to one: "The FBI has also recovered al-Qaeda training manuals urging members to sell fake goods to raise funds for terrorist operations."

So, then, isn't the story factually correct? Yes, but in the way most horrible news stories are... technically correct but deeply misleading. Yes, it's certainly true that some illegal immigrants sell counterfeit goods to live while in the U.S. And it's also probable that international terrorists working in the West would see doing the same thing as a fairly safe way to meet their living expenses while in location abroad, too. But Vincent's thesis, based on this, only makes sense if you assume international terrorists and terrorist sympathizers make up a significant fraction of all those illegal immigrants in our cities. There's no evidence of that at all.

We all laugh when people like Ted Rall accuse Israeli illegals, because they're Israeli and selling phony art on the street, of being Mossad agents. But this is the exact same thing with a different target group. The whole piece, for that matter, is a press release clip job by merchandisers to associate paying higher prices for handbags with fighting terrorism. It's the very definition of "cynical marketing ploy."

Posted by BruceR at 08:26 AM