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Thursday, March 09, 2006

Glenn Reynolds Takes One for the NY Times

IN WHICH I DEFEND THE NEW YORK TIMES AND OTHER MEDIA: Quite a few commentators (e.g., Michelle Malkin and Mark Steyn) are criticizing the New York Times and other media outlets for playing down the Islamic angle to the U.N.C. terrorist attack of Mohammed Taheri-azar.
There's no question that this angle is being downplayed. But it's arguable that the papers are doing this to reduce the likelihood of copycats. This doesn't appear to have been any sort of organized attack, just a lone-wolf effort by a guy who's not too sharp. It's still terrorism, of course, of a sort -- after all, Eric Rudolph was a lone-wolf guy who wasn't too sharp, though he seems to have been considerably sharper than Taheri-azar -- but in some ways it's more like the school shootings of the 1990s than real Al Qaeda type terrorism. Hyping those shootings led to copycats, and made the killers look like martyrs to disturbed potential imitators. There's a pretty good argument that the same applies here, and that it's more responsible to address this in fairly muted tones.

Before I begin my criticism, let me assure the good professor that I agree with him in most cases. In those areas where we disagree, it’s because he is of an agnostic-Libertarian bent and I am more of a Christian-Conservative.


The argument that the papers are downplaying the Islamic angle to reduce the likelihood of copycats is laughable. It is indisputable that the NY Times and its old media acolytes view the world and national events virtually completely through a political prism. In those rare cases where they appear to acknowledge the Islamic problem –as in the ports controversy – it is simply as a way of wielding a handy political cudgel with which to beat Bush and split Conservative ranks.

Otherwise, for the legacy media there is no Islamic problem. “Bush lied, people died” remains the meme around which all events are interpreted. To have actual Islamic terrorists show up with the desire to kill us undercuts this message and simply will not be allowed to appear in print.

Witness their reaction to the now infamous 12 cartoons. Their newly minted “sensitivity” toward one particular religion – Islam – not only led them to abandon their much ballyhooed determination to defend free speech and a free press, they even managed to take the part of the Islamofacists against the editors of the paper that originally printed the innocuous cartoons.

The point Glenn makes about this being a lone-wolf attack is also irrelevant. How many times must it be pointed out that this war is not a war of nations and uniformed armies? It is a war of ideology in which individuals can be motivated to kill the enemy: us. It may be helpful, but it does not require a troop, a base and an organized group. One Imam preaching to one acolyte can create one jihadi. The suicide bomber operates alone. The actual organized terrorists operate in groups of a few dozens or hundreds, rarely thousands and certainly not in massive 20th century regiments, divisions and armies. For the author of “An Army of Davids” to have such dreary conventional ideas of how this was is being waged is disturbing.

And finally Glenn describes Taheri-azar as “not too sharp.” While I agree that standards at UNC are probably abysmal and even the most prestigious colleges are largely diploma mills, our friend did graduate from UNC Chapel Hill after studying psychology and philosophy. Our would-be assassin may have a bizarre mental outlook and may be a failure as a mass murderer, but there is no evidence that he is dumb.

Regarding the issue of copy-cat killers, I am afraid to say that examples of Islamic killers number in the thousands, using weapons ranging from beheading knives to fully loaded passenger aircraft. I’m afraid that that horse is well out of the barn. Our problem is not copy cat killers; it is a failure to identify the enemy. That can get a whole lot more of us killed.

I like you Glenn, but this excuse for the legacy media is too lame to pass the laugh test.

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