Sunday 25 September 2016

Blaming media for glorifying Isil is nonsense - but it's easier than facing real reason for jihadist threat

Published 02/08/2016 | 02:30

A woman lights a candle as a Tricolour hangs at a memorial outside the Bataclan in Paris. Photo: Mark Condren
A woman lights a candle as a Tricolour hangs at a memorial outside the Bataclan in Paris. Photo: Mark Condren

The year 2016 has already been a bad one for terrorism on Western soil, and in the last 18 months, America and Europe have suffered attacks on a magazine office, a venue hosting a cartoon competition, an international football match, a gay club, a gig in the Bataclan theatre, a family-friendly Bastille Day celebration and then, of course, the recorded slaughter of an elderly priest in front of his own aged flock.

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With each successive attack - all of which were specifically designed to strike at the heart of our infidel decadence and freedom - the idea that this is purely a response to Western imperialism becomes increasingly nonsensical.

We have spent the last few years under a delusion which pretends that the current wave of terrorism has nothing to do with a clash of cultures or religions. In fact, those who would seek to justify such atrocities on the basis of regional resentments or post-colonial payback have been so quick to look for any acceptable solution that they have ignored the obvious one - religious jihad and an apocalyptic vision which explicitly boasts that these attacks are the start of a Muslim conquest of Europe. After all, when Isil members are so explicit about their goals, why do we insist on pretending they don't really mean what they say?

In an increasingly feeble and desperate quest to find anything, absolutely anything, which will take the blame away from the perpetrators and place it somewhere more acceptable, the latest trend is to point an accusing finger at the media.

This is because, apparently, covering terrorist atrocities is "glorifying" the murderers - because they're only doing it for the publicity, like some desperate social media wannabe trying to provoke people into a response.

That's why the last few days have been busy with think pieces saying that, actually, everything is fine - Isil isn't an existential threat, the media are only doing what Isil wants by covering the attacks.

For starters, the idea that these attackers are just seeking attention and only doing it for the clicks shows a complete and profound ignorance of both the media strategy employed by Isil, and the more diffuse nature of social networks.

These savages are doing this primarily for their 'home' audience. A quick perusal of beheading videos (not something which is recommended, by the way) will see that most of them appear on, and are most enthusiastically received, by Arabic sites.

Spreading fear and confusion in the West is obviously a huge bonus.

But the argument that extensive coverage of terror attacks 'is what Isil wants' seems to have paralysed an already arthritic Europe.

It's part of the same mindset which argues against military intervention on the ground because, again, 'this is what Isil wants.'

Who cares what they want? If they want to become martyrs, then they should be aided in their quest.

It's true that Isil is not an existential threat. But only because they don't have the means to pose one. The scale of their murderous intent is limited only by the weapons they have available to them.

So why do people choose to focus their ire on the media, rather than the terrorists?

The answer to that is simple - nobody ever lost friends in liberal circles for having a pop at the media.

It's an easier, more acceptable, option than pointing out that the ideology behind Muslim extremism is sick and deranged and utterly incompatible with a Western way of life.

It's also a great way of smug signalling. Rather like the recently popular pronouncement that the world has always been like this and we're only becoming more concerned now because we're all on Twitter, it's an argument designed to elevate those who hold it above the common rabble, who are just vulgar and racist.

But there is a change in the air.

In a classic example of the law of diminishing returns, the general public is increasingly sick of being told after every attack that everything they see is wrong.

They're sick of being told that religion has no part to play when every second day we see some nutter screaming "Allahu Akbar" as they slaughter innocents. But most of all, they're sick of people who should know better spouting nonsense which is evidently, demonstrably false.

There are two types of people - those who see the world for what it is, and those who see it as the way they would like it to be. But facts don't care about your feelings or your stubbornly Utopian world view. The reality is that they have the Koran. We have emojis and hashtags.

The media didn't cut Fr Jacques Hamel throat.

The Americans didn't slaughter gig-goers in the Bataclan. The French military didn't drive a truck through families on the promenade in Nice.

An internet video wasn't responsible for the attack on the US embassy in Benghazi. Colonial payback wasn't the reason for the murder of 'Charlie Hebdo' staff - who, lest we forget, were killed precisely because they were members of the media.

No, those atrocities all had a unifying theme and it wasn't the media. It was fundamentalist Islam.

Still, it's always safer to blame a target that won't kill you.

Irish Independent

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