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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Media Watch: Muslim Terrorists

The media in the west freely and routinely, often without substantiating facts, names the religion of terrorists.

The Basque terrorists, or the Irish terrorists, or the Red Army Faction, or Tamil separatists are not referred to by their religious leanings.

I am reminded of this when I read the following story: (Please remember to click on the heading to read it in full – t.)


USA Today Responds on Racist Labeling
Paper can't make judgments, editor says

1/29/08

USA Today Reader Editor Brent Jones responded to questions, prompted by a FAIR Action Alert (1/23/08), about the newspaper's failure to identify a white supremacist group by arguing that doing so
would have been an illegitimate "judgment" on the part of the paper.

USA Today had run two stories on the Nationalist Movement, a group that marched against civil rights in Jena, La. on Martin Luther King Day, that characterized the group only by its self-description of "pro-majority."

Jones wrote:
Your question -- why don't we call the Nationalists racists? -- is one I'm sure many people would ask. The simple answer is that the term "racist" is a judgment, and judgments are open to interpretation. It's the newspaper's responsibility to report only the facts. That way, all sides on an issue can be confident that we're reporting the truth without bias. If we give readers a full, accurate, factual picture, they can form their own judgments.


Of course, newspapers make judgments all the time-- from what language to use to which stories to cover. For example, the paper made the judgment that a small demonstration by the Nationalist Movement merited coverage in a national
newspaper; it's not as though all political gatherings involving a few dozen people are automatically reported.

These judgments routinely include choices about how to describe various groups. When USA Today refers to Al-Qaeda as a "terrorist group," it's not because that's how the organization identifies itself; it's because the paper believes that's a phrase that conveys the group's ideology and activities to its readers. In using or avoiding the word "terrorist," the outlet is making a journalistic judgment; in neither case is it reporting "only the facts."

Similarly, USA Today is making a judgment by choosing not to let readers know that the Nationalist Movement has a well-documented racist ideology. As the Southern Poverty Law Center has documented (9/23/07) the group's leader and spokesperson Richard Barrett openly advocates against racial equality, and has called for the expulsion of non-whites from America.

In his 1982 autobiography The Commission...he calls for the "resettlement" of blacks, Jews, Latinos and other U.S. citizens in other countries.. He has led rallies of Klansmen and others and worked alongside some of the most extreme racists in America. In 1988, he hosted a "Warrior Weekend" for racist skinheads at his Learned, Miss., home and used a picture of Martin Luther King Jr. for target practice. More recently, he demanded a pardon for assassin Byron de la Beckwith, who was convicted of the 1963 murder of civil rights activist Medgar Evers.


The Anti-Defamation League likewise describes the National Movement as a "white supremacist" group, citing Barrett's assertion that "the Negro race... possess[es] no creativity of its own [and] pulls the vitality away from civilization."

3 Comments:

Blogger Jawahara Saidullah said...

..perhaps because the other groups don't identify themselves by their religious affiliation and claim to be fighting for god? :-)

Fighting (or terrorizing) for national cause or ideology is not the same as people around the world of different nationalities and races...who claim to be Muslims and say that they are doing x, y, z for Allah.

January 30, 2008 11:30 AM  
Blogger temporal said...

jawahara my beef is with reporting

...when facts are yet to be ascertained one way or the other

...the way western reporters of all hues eagerly attach a religion to the perpetrators when they are likely to be muslims and desist from doing so (rightly) when they may not be muslims

January 30, 2008 3:37 PM  
Anonymous saira said...

Islam is the relegion of Peace.
May Allah Bless Mujahdeen.

November 23, 2008 11:14 PM  

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