Rebels or terrorists? A press quandry.

There’s an interesting exchange over at The Watercooler about how the media is defining the people behind the horror of Russia’s 9/11. CNN was calling them “rebels,” while others called them “terrorists.” ABC referred to them as “militants.” One person gives the lame argument that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. Another asked if the Boston Tea Party was carried out by terrorists.

I’m sure many Brits and colonists considered Jefferson, Franklin, Payne et al nothing more than terrorists and troublemakers.
Sloppy thinking aside, this issue poses a difficult matter for the press. Clearly, people who take over a school and set off bombs are terrorists, but here’s the problem. Journalism’s artificial hegemony, objectivity, demands that the other side be considered, which is why we end up with words like rebels and militants and freedom fighters.

But if the world is to overcome this blight, we’re going to have to stop thinking that we need to give credence to the cause of people who do these kinds of things. Why do they do it? So that the press can validate their extortion through pictures like this one from the Associated Press. This kind of pain — and the horrible images we saw on 9/11 — is intended to make us (and by “us,” I mean you and me and all people of “the west”) frightened. Like the thugs who collect “protection money” from shop owners, they use force to get what they want — attention to their political point-of-view. The middle east has produced this madness, but that battle has been raging since Jacob and Esau. Does anybody really believe that talking about it is going to resolve it? Nothing, absolutely nothing, justifies terrorizing 1,000 adults and children in a school for 48 hours and then setting off bombs. Nearly 400 are dead so far, about half of them children. When the terrorists walked in the door with guns, they gave up their seat at the bargaining table.

And the press has another problem here in choosing to call a spade a spade. Continued terrorism in the world is John Kerry’s worst nightmare, and the press doesn’t want to be seen as partisan by taking a hawkish stance against the threat. These are interesting and dangerous times in which we live.

Comments

  1. Great post, Terry. The media hesitate to use the word “terrorist” because it has a moral quality to it — a quality of moral repugnance. They are the only people in America (excepting possibly some far, far, far, fringe left lunatics) who don’t see that terrorism has a quality of immorality at all. That’s sad, but also enlightening — they are this far out of touch with the mainstream of America, and they still wonder why nobody’s watching. LOL.

  2. The Islamists are NOT fighting for freedom, they do not claim to want freedom, they want to oppress and impose their philosophy and they say so.

    Unlike Marxist terrorists they openly state their desire to oppress. Freedom is a threat to them, especially Western style freedom.

    It may take a generation for the press to turn around on this.

  3. Hey Terry…

    I also saw these people referred to as “insurgents.” I think many 24-hour cable news talking heads grab on to words they become comfortable with and run with them. It doesn’t help the reputation of everyone else in the business.

    By the way, I’m the ND with a blog in Louisiana you chatted with last week. I’m going to add you to my blogroll, feel free to stop by mine.

  4. Another asked if the Boston Tea Party was carried out by terrorists.

    How many people were killed at the Boston Tea Party by Franklin, Jefferson, et al? IIRC, only the tea leaves died.

    Historically, the Tea Party is treated as an “act of resistance”.

  5. your giving these people too much credit,whatever handle you give them,they’re just in it for the lucre whatever that may be, there is alot at sake financialy in the middle east everyone thinks they can get a piece of the pie,being a representitive of one of these marginalized groups gives you an in when the whole thing shakes out

  6. Uh, you’re a real deep thinker. no wonder jarvis links to you.

  7. Freedom Fighters target Soldiers, Gov’t buildings, infrastrusture, and do not seek to destroy a population they want to rule.

    Terrorists target civilians.

  8. Why not simply call them “Killers”?

    That is their chosen trade and profession. That is how they make their living.

  9. Rick, I’m not sure how you arrived at your conclusion about my conclusion, but it’s incorrect. If the shoe were on the other foot, the press would have the same problem. You won’t find any liberal conspiracy theories here.

  10. “And the press has another problem here in choosing to call a spade a spade. Continued terrorism in the world is John Kerry’s worst nightmare, and the press doesn’t want to be seen as partisan by taking a hawkish stance against the threat. These are interesting and dangerous times in which we live.”

    Rick’s inference is reasonable, and your conclusion is a non sequitur at best. If you meant something different than the usual SCLM rag than your writing is sloppy. Perhaps as sloppy as you claim journos that don’t use your preferred word is.

    Personally, I await the day that all writing uses only the words from My First Dictionary as vetted by you.

  11. P.S. Your website seems to be publishing incorrect caching information.

  12. Well, this is one of those posts where somehow two and two are added up to make five.

    You have a valid point about some of the media who hesitate to call these people “terrorists.” Frankly, it’s hard to see how they qualify for anything less.

    But then you somehow come to the conclusion that part of the problem is due to the fact that the media doesn’t want to say anything that might hurt John Kerry’s campaign.

    Here’s a thought. Not everything in the media is part of some vast conspiracy of liberal weenies.

    Sometimes, the media can just be wrong.

  13. Jerry, thanks for the heads-up on the caching problem. I’ve taken care of that.

  14. Terrorism should be defined as a tactic, a technique, a political weapon to attack asymmetrical targets.

    The groups that use terrorism tactics should be more precisely identified as “Islamo-fascists.”

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