Conservative provocateur James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas has released its third video in as many weeks seeking to push the notion that faculty and staff at American universities are willing to endorse financial aid for the Islamic State and other Islamic radicals.
Critics, however, will find plenty of reasons to doubt the video’s legitimacy.
For Thursday’s video, Veritas went to California, where members of O’Keefe’s team canvassed campuses such as California State University, Northridge and University of California, Irvine. They asked people if they would be willing to sign a petition pledging to send financial support to Hamas, Hezbollah and the Islamic State. According to O’Keefe, many were willing to do so.
“There were far too many people who were far too willing to support these recognized terrorist organizations. It is truly frightening just how many supporters these organizations have on our college campuses and the affect it is having on our nation’s youth,” O’Keefe said in a statement.
The new video comes two weeks after O’Keefe released a video showing a staff member at Cornell offering advice on how to start a student group that would send economic aid to the Islamic State, and one week after a similar video at Barry University showed one staffer suggest changing the name of a pro-Islamic State group because “technically, we’re at war with ISIS.”
While O’Keefe says his video shows a disturbing amount of pro-terrorism sentiment on campuses, critics will have several grounds for critiquing his methodology, as they have with earlier videos in the series.
First, when approaching prospective signatories, petition gatherers opened by asking “Will you sign our petition to help stop war through economic opportunity?”
Unsurprisingly, this innocuous opening causes many people to become interested in signing, without hearing the rest of the pitch. Even though the petition-gatherers are shown later on mentioning explicitly the transfer of monetary aid to terror groups, the overall pitch is couched in the language of economic support and aid rather than, for instance, helping the groups buy weapons.
It’s not difficult to imagine that some signatories were simply bamboozled by paying insufficient attention or by giving a by-all-appearances earnest petition-gatherer the benefit of the doubt.
Thus far, Project Veritas has not released the text of the petition passerby were asked to sign, raising the possibility the petition itself may also have used misleading or indirect language, at least at the start.
The reaction to O’Keefe’s videos has been furious at the universities he has targeted. At Barry University in Florida, a student was immediately suspended and booted off campus for helping to create the video, an action only supposed to be taken with a student who poses an immediate danger to others. That student has subsequently been hit with a criminal complaint for allegedly engaging in illegal recording. (RELATED: Student Suspeneded For Helping With James O’Keefe Video)
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