Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Why Whitewash Terrorists? Because They Do Nice Things!

Big Al: He also did nice stuff!

In various items, including one earlier today, I've pointed out that the New York Times goes out of its way to be nice to terrorists. Why is that? Well, I have the reason, passed on to me by a very kind reader.

The reason is that they do "other things." Really. I'm serious.

Seems this reader asked the Times foreign desk about a story by Steve Erlanger that referred to Hamas as a "miltary" organization. There were a couple of responses, both making basically the same point. Here's one:

Military doesn't just refer to armed services, according to my dictionary, but also "armed or fit for war." We refer to Hamas as "considered a terrorist group by Israel, the United States and the European Union" since they also have many other roles among the Palestinians. The careful language is a signal of just how complicated the situation is, and just how carefully readers of all opinions read our coverage.

I'm saving the worst for last -- this reply from deputy foreign editor Ethan Bronner:

we don't generally designate groups as terrorist. we use the word sparingly because it is loaded and because hamas, like hezbollah, does many things, including run clinics and schools (and now towns like qalqilya) as well as carry out terrorist attacks. if hamas were devoted to nothing other than terror, that might be a different thing.

So instead of calling Hamas and Hezbollah what they plainly are -- terrorists -- the Times waters that down by making that oft-proven fact an "opinion" of third parties. Note also this bogus claim of "complexity" being used as a fig leaf to whitewash Hamas' true nature. What's so "complicated" about groups that murder civilians?

Oh, and I might add that Bronner specifically released the above for public consumption. A day or so after receiving this note from Bronner, my reader -- a conscientious chap -- specifically asked if he could disseminate it. Bronner's response: Yes.

Now, think about all this for just a moment. By that same "logic," Al Capone would not be a racketeer and murderer in Times articles but simply "considered a racketeer and murderer by the U.S. Justice Department" because he ran soup kitchens for the poor during the Depression.

By the same token, Al Qaeda would fall out of the Times terrorist rankings if it set up a nice hot-lunch program for the kids in Baluchistan.

Some people might call the Times's thinking on this point "morally equivocal." I prefer the term "stupid." I actually have another description in mind as well, but this is a family blog.