Ilana Mercer, February 27, 2002

In the wake of poor Daniel Pearl’s horrible murder, CNN news anchors took a break from celebrating the Islamic Hajj and turned their short attention spans to celebrating themselves. The better part of the somber day was given over to praising the journalistic endeavor of truth seeking.

Granted, reporters usually manage to convey the minutiae of a story accurately. But on the meta-level, they are up to their clavicles in myth making and “bias.”

For instance, since 9/11, the media have militantly outshone Muslim leaders in distancing the faith of Islam from the acts of violence perpetrated by Muslims in the name of Islam. This is a new consensus-shaping mantra. Any acts of brutality by Muslims are, as the CNN imams are quick to point out, gross perversions of Islam. And every Muslim who kills is in revolt against the genuine Islamic faith.

Such reflexive proselytizing has prompted Bernard Lewis, leading scholar of Islam, to ponder the presumptuousness of “those who are not Muslims,” yet are making pronouncements about “what is orthodox and what is heretical in Islam.” With so many respected Muslim clerics blessing suicide bombings as a “supreme form of jihad,” Islam’s peacefulness is far from clear cut, although evidence is not likely to dampen the typical TV male and female bimbos’ crusade.

Why confine the scope of discussion to Islam’s true hue? Our media dunderheads consider almost any person who does bad things to be in revolt against his essential nature. The journalist’s Rousseauist worldview rejects the reality of evil in human nature. When people do ghastly things it is because environmental and institutional contingencies stymie them. The narrative in the media invariably adheres to the following lines: People kill, lie and cheat because they are poor, unemployed, black, female, depressed, uneducated, don’t live in a democracy, or need to have what others have acquired.

The media’s depiction of the route to a better world is consistent with their view that the locus of control over good or bad is not in the human being’s heart and mind but in the external forces that act on him. Else why would the network folks almost always insist that mishaps so typical of the human condition be “remedied” with elaborate social engineering?

Particularly chilling and revealing were the words of Danny Pearl’s widow, herself a journalist. “Revenge,” wrote Mariane Pearl, “would be easy, but it is far more valuable…to address this problem of terrorism with enough honesty to question our own responsibility as nations and as individuals for the rise of terrorism.”

Note how Mrs. Pearl nihilistically frames punishment as vengeance. Note how she then proceeds to shift responsibility away from the subhumans that slit her husband’s throat, hinting at larger, emblematic processes. This truth-deflecting nonsense is insidious among members of the media.

Mrs. Pearl sums up her sorrow-filled address by calling on “our governments to work hand in hand,” and for “love, compassion, friendship and citizenship” to transcend the so-called “clash of civilizations.” In journalese, this is generally a clarion call for the staple, governmental, therapeutic overtures. To wit, central planners must remain nationally and internationally vigilant about rewarding bummery and thuggery with the property of the prosperous.

There must be a great deal riding on a recently seeded lie that poverty causes terrorism. Irrespective of thorough refutation from scholars like Daniel Pipes, the media ignoramuses and their political co-religionists are at pains to flog this hobbyhorse.

“Militant Islam (or Islamism),” concludes Pipes, “is not a response to poverty or impoverishment; not only are Bangladesh and Iraq not hotbeds of militant Islam, but militant Islam has often surged in countries experiencing rapid economic growth.” Suicide bombers and backers of extremism tend to be well educated and well off. Research so far offers overwhelming support for the fact that “the elite flocks to Islamist ideology, and that militant Islam results more from success than from failure.”

Moreover, why cast aspersions on the poorest of the poor? I don’t see sub-Saharan Africans mounting a global, anti-Western, terrorist offensive.

Mr. Libertarian himself, Murray Rothbard, was careful to steer clear of such cardinal errors:

“In dealing with crime,” writes Rothbard in Hutus vs. Tutsis, “…liberals are concentrating on the wrong root causes. That is, on “poverty” or “child abuse” instead of a rotten immoral character and the factors that may give rise to such a character, e.g., lack of respect for private property, unwillingness to work,” and an emphasis on immediate gratification.

Then again, inversion of the proper moral order to the satisfaction of the liberal media is achieved when victim compensates victimizer, and when the prudent and risk averse prop up the reckless.


February 27, 2002

CATEGORIES: Individualism Vs. Collectivism, Islam, Media, Terrorism