Wednesday, November 11, 2009

James Taranto on the Ft. Hood Massacre Media Party Line

This essay on Best of the Web really made me think. An excerpt:
Some have detected in the Fort Hood coverage a return to a pre-9/11 mindset, and there is some truth to this. In particular, the left-liberal tendency to stereotype servicemen and veterans as psychopaths, suckers and victims is a return to form. But the bending over backward to explain away the role of religious fanaticism in the Fort Hood massacre is, it seems to us, something new--something distinctly post-9/11, or post-post-9/11.

Politically correct sensitivities have, of course, long been with us. But as we noted Monday, journalists and political leaders really seem to be going to extremes to avoid acknowledging the evident religious motivations for Hasan's alleged crimes. We'd suggest that there are three reasons for such denial, all of which grow out of 9/11:

First, the liberal left has embraced the notion that America overreacted after 9/11, was beastly toward Muslims, and now needs to "reach out" and atone. There is very little truth to this. President Bush constantly reminded the world that we were not at war with Islam, which he called a religion of peace. But Bush-was-too-aggressive rhetoric is a much better fit with liberals' natural inclination toward inaction than the Bush-wasn't-aggressive-enough rhetoric that Barack Obama occasionally used while still a candidate.

Second, it is comforting to think that 9/11 was a one-off rather than the most horrific example (so far) of a continuing threat. From this standpoint, it's psychologically preferable to emphasize that the Fort Hood suspect appears to have been a lone nut rather than that he seems to have espoused an ideology similar to that of the 9/11 terrorists.

Third, the impulse to protect a religious minority from prejudice and discrimination is a noble one. Muslims are not collectively guilty for the worst crimes of their coreligionists. We've encountered enough anti-Muslim prejudice to say that fears of it are not unfounded.

But the denialist attitude is counterproductive on all three grounds. Willful ignorance of the enemy's ideology is of no help in fighting the enemy--or preventing future attacks. In any case clarity, not obfuscation, is the enemy of prejudice.