A bomb went off in a shopping mall in Munich. A gunman shot dead 49 people in a nightclub in Orlando. A school bus in Israel was reduced to a smoldering frame of twisted steel. And most recently, an Ohio State University student slammed his vehicle into a group of people; he then leap from it wielding a butcher knife and proceeded to stab nine innocent bystanders.

A crawler stealthily glides across the bottom of the TV screen informing us that the perpetrator of the OSU atrocity was an immigrant from Somalia whose motive has yet to be determined.

Then the inevitable BREAKING NEWS headline on a cable news source introduces a well-coiffed talking head who informs the viewer that the motive of the knife wielding terrorist is still under investigation. Never mentioned is the fact that the culprit’s mode of attack followed precisely the methods ISIS described that should be used against the infidel.

After the execution of such an atrocity, it has been the practice of the American media to begin feeding its viewers tidbits of information well past their expiration date. The usual intoned mantra explains that those acts of terror were most likely committed by a lone wolf extremist who has been ‘radicalized’.

I must admit that I have a real problem with the term radicalized. Using it is deceptive because it portrays the perpetrator as the victim. I also find it dishonest to refer to the murderer as a radical extremist because use of that term conceals the motivation of those who are determined to terrorize us.

So why does the media in America do it; why do they portray terrorists as innocent dupes, manipulated by nondescript handlers? The reason may be of noble intentions but of disastrous consequences.

Defending the indefensible, no matter how well-meaning the purpose, is wrong. We are rightly cautioned not to rush to judgement and not to associate the perpetrator with a particular ethnic or religious group. Therefore the meaningless label of radical extremist is retrieved from a bag of euphemisms and ascribed to the terrorist in an effort to shield the identity of the group with which he or she identifies.

Some allege that naming the problem does not make it go away. True, but the same folks have no problem condemning by name other groups and their religious affiliation. They are quick to remind us that the Crusaders were Christians as were the Inquisitors of Spain.

To bolster their point they dredge up examples of genocidal dictators of more recent vintage such as Adolph Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot, who were Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Buddhist, respectively. However they fail to mention that Hitler, while waging his genocidal war against the Jews, also assumed an anti-Christian posture, and reduced their influence on society. The other three monsters simply abandoned their religions altogether and became atheists.

I find it bizarre that while the media in America makes every effort to conceal, or at least delay announcing who is responsible for the carnage; the radical extremists proudly proclaim their ideology and motives while taking credit for their crimes. How ironic it is that the media provides cover for the brutes who want exposure.

So why does the media insist on concealing the source of the terrorist’s animus toward us? Consider this as a possible reason.

The liberal media in America focuses its attention on the rights of individuals, whereas the conservative media focuses its attention on the responsibilities of individuals. Both are of great value when applied in a fair and balanced manner. But when news is skewed to support a particular bias, then we the viewers are caught in a perfect storm of deceit, thus protecting neither our individual rights nor obliging us to attend to our individual responsibilities.

The media, in its commendable desire to protect one group or another from unfair criticism, need not forego honesty and integrity in the process. The use of euphemisms and playing word games will not protect a group; it will only serve to raise unwarranted suspicion of it. Today the overwhelming numbers of radical extremists are not Somalians, Iraqis, Saudi Arabians, French, English, Americans or any other nationality; they are radical Islamists.

We are advised, but not taught, how to recognize and report anything suspicious to the authorities. I guess it’s obvious that a collection of assault weapons, a cache of home-made bombs and a gaggle of cell phones found in someone’s basement would qualify as suspicious. But what about the newest weapons of terror: a truck, a kitchen knife or a pack of matches; are we to report those as well?

The real weapons of terror are those who the media often describe as disenchanted lone wolves, unfortunate dupes who have been radicalized. Such a characterization portrays the perpetrators of atrocities as victims. That is as wrong as it is dangerous.

The First Amendment of the United States Constitution affords the media special protections under the not to infringe upon the ‘freedom of the press’ provision. Therefore it has a special obligation and responsibility to report the news in a fact driven unbiased manner. Honestly we can handle the truth; our lives may very well depend on it.


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