John Leo

Like many news junkies, I’ve noticed that stories putting Muslims in a bad light tend to be sketchy and underreported. A minor example is the comment - “the greatest terrorists in the world occupy the White House”--by the head Muslim chaplain of New York City’s prisons.  In Manhattan, remarks like that are nearly as conventional as talk about the weather, so the controversy was fairly small. It might have been larger if the media had shown any interest in other points the imam made. For instance that Muslim prisoners are being tortured in Manhattan, and that Muslims must be “hard against the kaffir” (i.e., nasty to infidels), which presumably city employees are not paid to recommend. (By the way, why are clergymen city employees at all?)

A much bigger example is the misleadingly low-key reporting of the Ilan Halimi murder in Paris. We now know that Halimi was killed as a classic expression of Jew Hatred. But with so much evasiveness and misdirection by police, government and press, it took a month to get that fact clearly on the table. Halimi, a cell phone salesman, was kidnapped and held for ransom by a mostly Muslim gang. He was horrifically tortured for three weeks, then slain.  From time to time, neighbors had come to watch the torture or to participate in it. Nobody called the gendarmes. At first the government and the press presented this story as a straightforward kidnapping for ransom. A spokesman said Jewishnesss may have played a role simply because the kidnappers thought Jews were rich. AP and UPI, in feeds to the U.S., barely mentioned the possibility of anti-Semitism. After arrests were made, the BBC worked hard to avoid using the word “Muslim,” though verses from the Koran were recited during the torture.

The Los Angeles Times account of February 28 shows how hard candor can be. It reported that the gang made hundreds of abusive phone calls to Jews and had systematically tried to kidnap Jews. But the reporters wrote this: “Rather than a premeditated anti-Semitic murder, it seems a more complex product of criminality and dysfunction in the narrow world of thug culture: a poisonous mentality that designates Jews as enemies along with other faces of ‘outsiders.’”  Oh, please. If whites had tortured and killed a black man, I doubt that reporters would be carrying on about how complex and unpremeditated it all was. They would just say it was a lynching

In an excellent article last week, Colin Nickerson of the Boston Globe said the crime was being attributed to a “predominantly Muslim youth gang” notorious for  “virulent anti-Semitism.”  The gang’s taunting phone calls to Halimi’s father were filled with anti-Semitic slurs and a rabbi had been told, “We have a Jew.” The Globe said hatred of Jews is now a hallmark of what’s cool in France, even among young immigrants from non-Muslim nations. Very strong article. No dancing around, just good reporting.

Governments and the media often avoid calling terrorism by its proper name. Presumably the idea is to calm the public and avoid embarrassing Muslims. It took nine months for the FBI and the government to admit that the attack on L.A. airport in 2002 was a terrorist operation. We had been told that personal reasons might explain why a pro-Palestinian gunman, who openly admitted the desire to kill civilians, would kill two people at an El Al counter. The same verbal dance took place recently when the Iranian student rented a large van and tried to run down and kill as many students as possible in North Carolina. He said he was attempting to: “avenge the deaths of Muslims around the world.”  But the university tried desperately to avoid the obvious T-word.

Tony Blankley wrote a column, March 8, on the underreporting of Muslim violence. He said British politicians tell him there is increasing radical Muslim street violence, explicitly motivated by radical Islam, but not reported or characterized as such. Blankely said rioting Moroccan youths in Antwerp went on a rampage, beating up reporters, and destroying cars, but police were instructed not to arrest or stop them. A database search shows little reports on Antwerp riots. The scary riots in Australia last December, pitting Lebanese immigrants against native whites, were well covered.  But nobody seems quite sure that we are getting the full story about other serious disturbances. From time to time, the Internet carries reports of riots that don’t make the newspapers, but they are mostly uncheckable.

Suppressing news, whether out of multicultural deference or fear, is a perilous business. We can’t know how to react to upheavals if we aren’t told about them.


John Leo

John Leo is editor of MindingTheCampus.com and a former contributing editor at U.S. News and World Report.

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