Journalism’s role in distorting reality
Sometimes it’s hard to avoid wondering if the politically tainted mainstream media in North America has finally abandoned the meanings of words as long defined by respected dictionaries.
Case in point: “militant.”
The Online Etymology Dictionary says the roots of the word trace back to the 15th Century when it meant “fighting, engaged in warfare,” from the “Old French militant ‘fighting’ and directly from Latin militantem (nominative militans), present participle of military, serve as a soldier.”
But now the Associated Press (AP), among other news organizations, uses the word to describe Hamas murders in Israel. This is the headline the AP put above a Monday story that accurately described a mass shooting intended to spread terror:
“Israeli survivors recount terror at music festival, where Hamas militants killed at least 260”
The story below described a bloody and deadly attack on hundreds of unarmed, young men and women from Israel, the U.S., Canada and elsewhere who’d gathered for the festival.
“Saturday’s attack on the open-air Tribe of Nova music festival is believed to be the worst civilian massacre in Israeli history, with at least 260 dead and a still undetermined number taken hostage,” wrote reporters Isabel Debre and Michael Biesecker. “Dozens of Hamas militants who had blown through Israel’s heavily fortified separation fence and crossed into the country from Gaza opened fire….
“Videos compiled by Israeli first responders and posted to the social media site Telegram show armed men plunging into the panicked crowd, mowing down fleeing revelers with bursts of automatic fire. Many victims were shot in the back as they ran.”
Militants engage in “warfare.” This attack was not “warfare.” Dictionary meaning “1. the process of military struggle between two nations or groups of nations; 2. armed conflict between two massed enemies, armies, or the like.”
Neither was it “combat.” Dictionary meaning “a fight or contest between individuals or groups.”
There was no “fight.” There were Hamas gunmen shooting down young people fleeing for their lives. This defines murder, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find the Hamas murders described as such or as terrorists in the mainstream news.
The Canadian Broadcasting Corp. (CBC) got called out for this whitewashing of reality after someone leaked to Fox News an email written by CBC “director of journalist standards” George Achi telling CBC reporters to “not refer to militants, soldiers or anyone else as ‘terrorists.’ The notion of terrorism remains heavily politicized and is part of the story.”
Granted, the term is politicized—no doubt about that. So if you’re uncomfortable with using a politicized term, just call the Hamas gunmen what they were: murderers.
Just be honest about the news.
(Achi’s reference to “anyone else” is particularly strange. This would seem to indicate that CBC reporters shouldn’t even be calling the 9/11 terrorists terrorists.)
The journalistic behavior here amounts to nothing less than a denial of what just happened in Israel. The dead there weren’t the so-called “collateral damage” from U.S. drone attacks on “terrorists” (or were they “militants”?) around the world or innocents killed as a result of U.S. bombings in Afghanistan or allied bombings in the Kuwait and Iraq wars or Israeli bombings in Gaza for that matter.
The dead in Israel were unarmed civilians executed in massacres little different from those conducted by the Nazis in Poland in 1939 as the first step in Adolph Hitler’s plan to eliminate the Jewish population in Europe.
Hamas has a similar goal in the Middle East. As the “Covenant of the Islamic Resistance Movement” plainly states,” Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.”
Hamas’ Covenant declares that it “aspires to the realisation of Allah’s promise, no matter how long that should take. The Prophet, Allah bless him and grant him salvation, has said: ‘The Day of Judgement will not come about until all Moslems fight the Jews, when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Only the Gharkad tree would not do that because it is one of the trees of the Jews.”
The organization is explicitly opposed to any sort of peaceful settlement between Jews and Arabs in the Middle East.
“Initiatives, and so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences, are in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement,” its Covenant says. “There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad.”
Jihad, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, has two meanings – one of them the peaceful striving to do good and avoid evil, and the other basically holy war although the SPLC adds that this meaning “is not ‘holy war’ in the way a crusade would be considered a holy war…. In Islamic tradition, the form of jihad that involves fighting requires specific ethical conditions under which it is permissible to fight, as well as clear rules of engagement such as the requirement to protect non-combatants. Scholars have compared Jihad that involves fighting to the Christian concept of ‘just war.'”
With its wholesale murder of noncombatants, Hamas has clearly demonstrated that its interpretation of Jihad differs from that of the SPLC. Honest Moslems should themselves be forced to admit that what Hamas just engaged in was terrorism.
And yet much of the media refuses to do so. The British Broadcasting Corp. (BBC), the CBC’s media equivalent on the eastern side of the Atlantic Ocean and another of those news organizations talking about militants, has publicly defended its mislabeling.
“Terrorism is a loaded word, which people use about an outfit they disapprove of morally. It’s simply not the BBC’s job to tell people who to support and who to condemn, who are the good guys and who are the bad guys,” according to John Simpson, the organization’s World Affairs editor.
This is nothing but obfuscation and an admission of moral bankruptcy from a news organization, which, like most mainstream news organizations these days, pretty much presents all news in terms of the black-and-white of good guys versus bad guys when both sides on most issues are more often than not shaded in gray.
In this case, unfortunately, real bad guys are involved, although that is a gross understatement in that the Hamas terrorists have not only unleashed horrors on Israeli innocents, they have delivered horrors to their own people.
Anyone with any intelligence knew Israel would strike back with a vengeance after this attack because it really has no choice. Hamas, which has made it clear it does not want peace, demonstrated the murderous lengths to which it will go to pursue its vision of a region ruled by Islam in a style similar to the nation of Iran.
No nation can live with a Hamas-style threat lurking on its border. When a similar threat visited the United States on 9/11, the country went halfway around the world to penetrate a foreign state in a clear violation of international law; locate Osama bin Laden, the organizer of the 9/11 attacks; and execute him.
“We were…united in our resolve to protect our nation and to bring those who committed this vicious attack to justice,” then-President Barack Obama told the nation afterward. “. We quickly learned that the 9/11 attacks were carried out by al Qaeda – an organization headed by Osama bin Laden, which had openly declared war on the United States and was committed to killing innocents in our country and around the globe. And so we went to war against al Qaeda to protect our citizens, our friends, and our allies.”
Many died in those wars. Others were seized and imprisoned. Twenty-two years since 9/11, 30 of them are still held in a U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, because no one is sure what to do with them.
Obama found all of this acceptable because, as he said in his address to Americans, the U.S. “as a country, we will never tolerate our security being threatened, nor stand idly by when our people have been killed. We will be relentless in defense of our citizens and our friends and allies. We will be true to the values that make us who we are. And on nights like this one, we can say to those families who have lost loved ones to al Qaeda’s terror: Justice has been done.”
Israel is now in the position of being “relentless in the defense” of its citizens, and Hamas knew this when it engaged in its atrocities. But to Hamas, a counter-attack by Israel is a good thing because such an attack will aid in its recruitment of new disciples willing to murder Jews.
This is how the sick minds of religious fanatics work, but somehow there are those in the Western mainstream media who want to overlook these facts and create some sense of false equivalency between Hamas and Israel.
Simpson makes an almost decent defense of the BBC’s alleged position of neutrality, for lack of a better word, into the use of the word “terrorist” until he steps into it with this:
“During the 50 years I’ve been reporting on events in the Middle East, I’ve seen for myself the aftermath of attacks like this one in Israel, and I’ve also seen the aftermath of Israeli bomb and artillery attacks on civilian targets in Lebanon and Gaza. The horror of things like that stay in your mind forever.
“But this doesn’t mean that we should start saying that the organisation whose supporters have carried them out is a terrorist organisation, because that would mean we were abandoning our duty to stay objective.”
There it is: Israel bombing raids targeting military isolations have killed some civilians so Israel is no different than Hamas. And loathe be the BBC to admit this isn’t so or that it should treat Hamas terrorism as the terrorism it is.
Simpson goes on to piously claim that the BBC never even called the Nazis, “wicked or evil,” a claim which is a little hard to believe, but he argues this can be accepted as true because the BBC doesn’t “use loaded words like ‘evil’ or ‘cowardly’. We don’t talk about ‘terrorists’.”
Oh, if only he were telling the truth.
In fact, the BBC repeatedly described Usman Khan, who killed two people at Fishmongers’ Hall near London Bridge, as a “terrorist” both in stories and in headlines.
The CBC is similarly hypocritical.
The lone shooter – Alexandre Bissonnette – was never charged with terrorist acts, however. He turned out to be a mentally unstable 28-year-old man who was taking antidepressant drugs and drinking heavily, according to the Montreal Gazette, which reported that Bissonnette told police that he feared his family would be attacked by Islamic terrorists.
According to the Gazette, “police said they found no (internet) content created by the killer that ‘could link him to the white supremacist or the neo-Nazi ideology.’ However, his consumption of right-wing and far-right material influenced his ‘opinion on immigration and the presence of Muslims in Quebec.'”
Bissonnette, of course, staged his acts of terror in Canada just as Khan staged his in the United Kingdom, and there seem to be different, mainstream journalistic rules for coverage of attacks in the nation of Israel by reporters in Canada, UK and the U.S.
“Israel’s death toll rose to 1,200 with over 2,700 wounded, its military said, in a weekend rampage by militants who breached the border fence enclosing Gaza in a shock infiltration of nearby Israeli towns and villages,” Reuters reported in this country Thursday.
A “weekend rampage” seems a pretty damn sorry description of the execution of hundreds of innocent people – a good number of them children and old people, according to many reports – and the kidnapping of an estimated 150 who were hauled back to Gaza for their lives to be used as a bargaining chits.
Broadcasting executions of innocents is what terrorists do. This could be considered a definition of terrorism.
Only in the whitewashed world of the mainstream media would these terrorists be mislabeled as militants because it would seem many mainstream reporters cannot accept that Israel, which has made peace with one Arab nation and tried to make peace with others, is different than Hamas, which has vowed to solve the “Jewish problem” of the Mideast in the same way the Nazis tried to solve the “Jewish problem” of Europe.
How the mainstream news got to this point is hard to say, but one can fairly consider it a propaganda coup for those “bad guys” that the BBC’s Simpson confesses exist while arguing it would somehow be wrong to honestly label them as such.
This journalistic charade has now gone on so long in this country as well as in England and Canada that we now have ignorant college students and equally ignorant supporters of Black Lives Matter claiming the mass murders in Israel were the fault of Israel for “provoking” Hamas.
Sort of like Kristallnacht was the fault of German Jews for provoking the Nazis.
American mainstream journalists should be embarrassed by the reporting that has helped fuel the nonsense now happening on U.S. college campuses, but such a response appears unlikely given that introspection in the mainstream is as uncommon as it is among the religious zealots of Hamas.