SIXTH COLUMN

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

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Saturday, November 06, 2004

The Media Has Much for Which to Answer for 'Giving Terror a Boost'

We all crave attention and often go through elaborate rituals to get it. We all know how, even tiny babies are successful. It is often said that the terror industry has learned how to make media attention the best way to get their gruesome activities out to masses audiences. In doing so, does the media give "aid and comfort to the enemy?"

Is it a coincidence that "certain reporters with their camera men" just happen to be on site to capture the unfolding of events?

How should we categorize reports of bombings and other "terror tactics" that are purposely directed at civilians? Journalists are caught in a trap for characterizing the perpetrators as "terrorists" or "freedom fighters" both show bias. Calling them "insurgents" doesn't truly identify, but merely sanitizes the truly horrible, and so does using the word "militants."

Militants are "agressive, usually members of the military." An insurgent is "a person who rises in revolt." Those that come in from outside are , thus, not insurgents, and "militants" should properly be used to describe the military. "Freedom fighters" are "people who takes part in an armed rebellion against the constituted authority (especially in the hope of improving conditions). "Terrorists" are "those that use the tactics of terror against civilians."

Is it wrong to use the correct name of the perpetrator and how they characterize themselves? Very often the group's name includes a reference to Islam, Muslims, or something else Islamic. For accuracy shouldn't journalists give and explain the group's name. When covering terror groups from other world areas or ideologies, past journalists would explain the group's background and even name names. This doesn't seem to be happening much anymore.

Placing the blame for terror onto the victims is another disturbing trend. Tuesday's murder and attempted beheading of Theo Van Gogh is an example. The Dutch press is now turning the blame for his murder back on him because the video he made was considered "blasphemous" in the eyes of Dutch Muslims. They are implying that he deserved to die, employing the same circular reasoning that infuses Muslim thought.

Certainly many find films made that speak on Jewish or Christian films to also be "blasphemous," but these groups don't murder the filmmaker, they just don't see or buy the film! Journalists have panned many and have been highly critical of their makers, but none has ever called for their deaths nor would they turn the blame back upon the filmmaker if a zealot were to use this as a reason to murder.

Counter-terrorism is also being given a bad rap. Those that say what it is and what to do about it are labeled "bigots" and racists" and worse. They are compared to Hitler and Stalin and measures to ferret out the terrorists, the enablers, financiers, safe-houses, and so on are labeled 'Nazi tactics.' It's amazing. Do they think the tooth fairy will put the information under their pillows while they sleep?

When, then, is happening here? Giving violence "maximum exposure," misnaming or sanitizing terror groups, condemning counter-terrorism, and using circular logic to turn the blame for the violence against the victims is, in my opinion, indeed giving aid and comfort to the enemy, and the media has allowed itself to become terror's "obliging accomplices."

Terrorists will continue doing what they do, but they will do more and more spectacular acts of terror BECAUSE THEY KNOW that the media will be there…TO HELP!

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