"History is philosophy teaching by example." (Lord Bolingbroke)

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Friday, September 17, 2004

FIFTH COLUMN ALERT: Journalists, Islamists, and More Liberal Cognition

If you do not subscribe to the sundry emailings from Daniel Pipes (they're free), you really ought to. This man always writes something worth reading, and this article, to follow, is a good example.

This article exposes by examples one of the serious thinking flaws in liberal-socialist-communist thinking. The flaw is their putting their wishes ahead of the facts, and giving supremacy to their wishes.

Philosophically, this type of thinking fallacy is very, very old, even predating Plato. You would think it would have gone away by now, but the attraction to it for some people is irresistable. An excellent name for this flaw is "primacy of consciousness" metaphysics and epistemology. In plain language, this means putting conscious contents and actions ahead of reality. Normal people realize that the facts of reality always supercede what we think and feel about them. Normal people do not think that if we want it bad enough, then it will be true. Immature children and psychotics do think this, however.

Liberals use this thinking flaw daily and in every way they can. A good example is their regard for the United Nations. To them, the UN is THE supreme consciousness. What the UN wants or believes is TRUE. What it opposes is FALSE. Note how "groupie" liberals are. To them the group is all, and the individual is nothing (I cite the many statements of Ted Kennedy as prime examples). The bigger the group, the greater the truth to these people. Years ago, there was a popular statement which sums up this flaw quite well: "Twenty million Frenchmen can't be wrong." Oh, yes, they can. Reality always wins.

In this article by Daniel Pipes, he cites examples of this thinking flaw which permeates journalistic media these days (as well as academia and most of government). Journalists of the fifth column type go to extraordinary lengths not to name or identify something they do not want. Note the supremacy of emotions here, again. If you do not identify Muslim jihadists, Islamists, as the international criminals that they are, then they won't be baddies. Why, they can be what we want them to be: just "freedom fighters."

This is perversion of the most dispicable type. The more we can expose these fifth columnists for what they are, we can wither them away.

They're Terrorists - Not Activists, by Daniel Pipes, New York Sun, September 7, 2004;

"I know it when I see it" was the famous response by a U.S. Supreme Court justice to the vexed problem of defining pornography. Terrorism may be no less difficult to define, but the wanton killing of schoolchildren, of mourners at a funeral, or workers at their desks in skyscrapers surely fits the know-it-when-I-see-it definition.

The press, however, generally shies away from the word terrorist, preferring euphemisms. Take the assault that led to the deaths of some 400 people, many of them children, in Beslan, Russia, on September 3. Journalists have delved deep into their thesauruses, finding at least twenty euphemisms for terrorists:

Assailants -
National Public Radio.
Attackers – the
Bombers – the
Captors – the
Associated Press.
Commandos –
Agence France-Presse refers to the terrorists both as "membres du commando" and "commando."
Criminals - the
Times (London).
Extremists –
United Press International.
Fighters – the
Washington Post.
Group – the
Guerrillas: in a
New York Post editorial.
Gunmen –
Hostage-takers - the
Los Angeles Times.
Insurgents – in a
New York Times headline.
Kidnappers – the
Observer (London).
Militants – the
Chicago Tribune.
Perpetrators – the
New York Times.
Radicals – the
Rebels – in a
Sydney Morning Herald headline.
Separatists – the
Christian Science Monitor.
And my favorite:
Activists – the
Pakistan Times.

The origins of this unwillingness to name terrorists seems to lie in the Arab-Israeli conflict, prompted by an odd combination of sympathy in the press for the Palestinian Arabs and intimidation by them. The sympathy is well known; the intimidation less so. Reuters' Nidal al-Mughrabi made the latter explicit in advice for fellow reporters in Gaza to avoid trouble on the Web site, where one tip reads: "Never use the word terrorist or terrorism in describing Palestinian gunmen and militants; people consider them heroes of the conflict."
The reluctance to call terrorists by their rightful name can reach absurd lengths of inaccuracy and apologetics. For example, National Public Radio's Morning Edition announced on April 1, 2004, that "Israeli troops have arrested 12 men they say were wanted militants." But CAMERA, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America,
pointed out the inaccuracy here and NPR issued an on-air correction on April 26: "Israeli military officials were quoted as saying they had arrested 12 men who were ‘wanted militants.' But the actual phrase used by the Israeli military was ‘wanted terrorists.'"

(At least NPR corrected itself. When
the Los Angeles Times made the same error, writing that "Israel staged a series of raids in the West Bank that the army described as hunts for wanted Palestinian militants," its editors refused CAMERA's request for a correction on the grounds that its change in terminology did not occur in a direct quotation.)

Metro, a Dutch paper, ran a picture on May 3, 2004, of two gloved hands belonging to a person taking fingerprints off a dead terrorist. The caption read: "An Israeli police officer takes fingerprints of a dead Palestinian. He is one of the victims (slachtoffers) who fell in the Gaza strip yesterday." One of the victims!

Euphemistic usage then spread from the Arab-Israeli conflict to other theaters. As terrorism picked up in Saudi Arabia such press outlets as
The Times (London) and the Associated Press began routinely using militants in reference to Saudi terrorists. Reuters uses it with reference to Kashmir and Algeria.

Thus has militants become the press's default term for terrorists.

These self-imposed language limitations sometimes cause journalists to tie themselves into knots. In
reporting the murder of one of its own cameraman, the BBC, which normally avoids the word terrorist, found itself using that term. In another instance, the search engine on the BBC website includes the word terrorist but the page linked to has had that word expurgated.
Politically-correct news organizations undermine their credibility with such subterfuges. How can one trust what one reads, hears, or sees when the self-evident fact of terrorism is being semi-denied?

Worse, the multiple euphemisms for terrorist obstruct a clear understanding of the violent threats confronting the civilized world. It is bad enough that only one of five articles discussing the Beslan atrocity mentions its Islamist origins; worse is the miasma of words that insulates the public from the evil of terrorism.

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