Friday, January 20, 2006

Elegy for a Suicide Bomber

Get out your barf bag, folks.

Suicide bombing in Tel Aviv. Twenty wounded. So how does the New York Times cover this latest Palestinian war crime: From the perspective of the criminal, of course!

The Times today actually devoted more space to toasting the memory of the lowlife who carried out the attack than to the attack itself. And, of course, not one single, solidarity word was said about the maimed and traumatized victims. Jerusalem Bureau Chief Steve Erlanger's revolting, offensive elegy is promoted on the front page with this headline: "A Bombing in Tel Aviv Stuns a Distant Arab Family." Those poor dears. Yes they are shocked, shocked!

"He was known as a simple person, with a good sense of humor," [a pal of the terrorist] added, wiping tears into his gelled hair. "We didn't know of any ties to a political movement."

Reading swill like this, I sometimes wonder whether Erlanger isn't one of those "fake news" reporters you see on Comedy Central. He is so bad it is almost funny.

What's stunning, and not funny, is how the Times seems to outdo itself, with each succeeding issue, to be more offensive to the sensibilities of its reader.

What's also stunningly predictable is the story itself. Time and time again, whenever a deluded young fanatic blows himself up in the service of an execrable cause, naive hacks show up at the door of the family and the family obliges -- describing how "shocked" they are, yet still proud of poor little Abdul's martyrdom."'We grew up together here, we studied together at the same university, that's why I'm so shocked,'" said "Muhammad," quoted by Erlanger.

Perhaps someday the Times will react to a Palestinian atrocity by paying tribute to the innocent people maimed and murdered instead of serving up terrorist spin such as this. Doing so, however, would require a fundamental change in policy.

I'm sending a copy of this item to the Empty Suit, Times "public relations editor" Barney Calame. Get off your divan, Barney, put on your Empty Suit -- and be sure to ignore this one!

UPDATE: David Gerstman of Soccer Dads reminds me that yesterday's "martyr" attended Al Najah University, which had a lovely display of the Sbarro's bombing, as noted here and here.

Says David: "I suppose it would be indelicate of Mr. Erlanger to ask the 'martyr's' family and pals isn't the university he attended a hotbed of indoctrination?"

Sorry, David. Far too indelicate.

UPDATE: TimesWatch, observing "Erlanger's entry for bad metaphor of the year" -- "Sami Antar also blew a large hole in his circle of family and friends, who did not see this coming" -- comments, "Yes, they are kind of the same thing, aren't they?"


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