Whistling Past the Graveyard
Vol: 61 Issue: 27 Friday, October 27, 2006
The Associated Press is reporting French police preparations for renewed violence around Paris as, says the AP report, “mourners marked the deaths a year ago of two teenagers that ignited three weeks of riots in largely immigrant housing projects across France.”
The AP remembered “the outburst of anger at the accidental deaths of the youths, electrocuted in a power substation while hiding from police.”
More ominously, noted the AP, “attackers have torched four buses after forcing off passengers in the outskirts of Paris in recent days, and police have been ambushed in several organized attacks in recent weeks, raising fears of a new wave of violence around the anniversary.”
Who are these violent protestors? What is it about the ‘accidental electrocution’ of two ‘youths’ running from police that would spark three weeks of rioting?
What is the common denominator between the ‘rioters’ and the deaths of the ‘two youths’ that is central to understanding the story?
If you aren’t pretty good at reading between the lines, odds are good you could read the entire column and never get the answers to any of those questions.
The AP story, picked up by ABC News, contained 728 words.
The AP story was rooted in last year’s Islamic riots in France following the deaths of two Muslim teenagers who were hiding from police to avoid questioning.
Out of 728 words in the AP story, the word ‘Muslim’ appeared once. There was no other mention of Islam or any Islamic connection.
Since the story was all about Islam and Muslim rioting, it was impossible for the AP story to completely ignore the fact the common denominator was Islam.
But when it was absolutely necessary, the AP writer let it slip out. Note the almost apologetic context:
“Last year’s events jolted France into recognizing its failure to offer its 5 million Muslims, and its minorities especially those of Arab and black African origin a fair shake. Instead of France’s vaunted “egalite,” or equality, immigrants and their French-born children suffer police harassment, struggle to find work, and live in cinderblock public housing rife with crime and poverty.”
From this single sentence outlining the tragic conditions of France’s Islamic population one learns that somehow, Islam is connected. But that is the only clue in the entire column.
Without mention of France’s five million Muslims, one would conclude that the rioters were ‘minorities’ or ‘immigrants’. The only other clue to the Islamic nature of the rioters is a mention of the rioters as ‘teens of African descent’.
The AP column’s author, Jean-Marie Godard, was so excruciatingly careful not to offend French Muslims that the end result was a collection of facts devoid of context.
But Anita Elash, of Toronto’s Globe and Mail, was even more careful. In a story headlined “French Youth Still Feel Abandoned” she managed to tell the story of both last year’s riots and this year’s unrest without ever using either the word ‘Muslim’ or any form of the word ‘Islam’ in the process.
EuroNet News reported unrest in the Parisian suburbs in this morning’s editions, also without ever mentioning the words ‘Muslim’ or ‘Islam’.
The Los Angeles Times mentioned that the rioters were ‘hoodlum’ but it, too, dared not to connect the words ‘Islam’ or ‘Muslim’ with words like ‘rioter’ or ‘hoodlum’.
It merely noted, way down in the third to last paragraph, that “The majority of those rioting were the French-born children of immigrants from northern and sub-Saharan Africa, most of whom are Muslim.”
The most infamous ‘Christian fundamentalist group’ in America today has got to be hands-down, the ‘Westboro Baptist Church’. That’s the hate group headed by the self-styled “Reverend” Fred Phelps.
His ‘church’ consists of members of his family and they make headlines by protesting the funerals of fallen US soldiers, carrying signs proclaiming, “Thank God for Dead Soldiers.”
THAT ‘Westboro Baptist Church.’ But when the AP writes about IT, it is always identified as being ‘fundamentalist Christian’. The LA Times never fails to identify Phelps as the head of a sect of ‘fundamentalist Christians’.
I typed ‘fundamentalist Christian’ into Google and got returns on Eric Rudolph, the abortion clinic and Atlanta Olympic bomber, and Fred Phelps, of the Westboro Baptist Church.
But when describing riots that threatened to burn Paris to the ground, the fact the rioters are all Muslim is handled by the mainstream media on a need to know basis.
This is more that mere nit-picking; there is much to be learned here. America is some 90% self-professing Christian. It is 1% Muslim.
It is therefore hardly relevant to preface every single mention of the Westboro Baptist Church as either ‘fundamentalist’ or ‘Christian’ to an almost universally Christian audience. If anything, there would be a crying need to differentiate between Westboro’s incestuous cult and New Testament believers.
Barring that, the mere mention of the group as a ‘church’ is pretty self-explanatory to an audience made up of people steeped in Christian tradition. But the media never misses a chance to redundantly connect the Westboro cult with ‘fundamentalist Christianity’.
The same media all but ignores the Islamic connection with the Paris riots, which is highly relevant to understanding what the rioting is all about.
It is easy to figure out why. They are afraid of accidentally offending Islamic sensibilities and sparking further rioting. It also runs afoul of the law of unintended consequences.
Islam benefits from media deference in two ways.
In the first, appeasement always encourages more violence. Appeasement is like paying a blackmailer. Once you start, it only gets more and more expensive. One need only look at Israel’s experiences since Oslo.
Secondly, the other way to appease Islam is by presenting Christianity in as negative a context as possible. This provides the enemy with reams of propaganda material for use in recruiting new jihadists.
“Thou art snared with the words of thy mouth, thou art taken with the words of thy mouth.” (Proverbs 6:2)