Deification of the Zero

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

What I am about to say is not a reflection on me, but on terrorists: Ho hum. People have been killed in Allah's name. Again.

It also reflects on the uniformly poor reporting of terrorist events by our news media, which consistently focus on the most non-newsworthy aspects of each terrorist atrocity, while just as consistently ignoring vitally important ones.

Once again, "holy" "men" have convinced a few of their most gullible, superstitious, and perhaps mentally disabled followers to bring about their own deaths, murdering as many other people as possible besides, by bombing three hotels in Jordan all at once, killing at least 57 human beings.

Suicide bombers carried out nearly simultaneous attacks on three U.S.-based hotels in the Jordanian capital late today, killing at least 57 people and wounding more than 115 in what appeared to be an al-Qaida assault on an Arab kingdom with close ties to the United States and a common border with Iraq.
This is not to dismiss the murder and mayhem (and trickery, if it occurred) as unworthy of notice and mourning. Indeed, every one of the innocent lives -- and those who ordered this vile act are in no position to say who is or is not innocent -- lost today is the end of a whole unique universe, of a precious human life. Every single civilian casualty on either side is a direct result of the war against civilization being waged by Islamic fundamentalists. Every such casualty -- and each one in our military -- should be mourned, and should remind us of the fact that we have been given a choice: to live our lives or allow them to take them from us. Every drop of blood has been spilled because of these men, and the flow will not cease until they are rendered unable to continue their activities.

What I discussed in the above paragraph is all that was newsworthy about today's event, aside from the fact that it is yet another reminder that we are at war with brutal, superstitious barbarians who will only kill or be killed, and whom we are still not killing fast enough.

As such a reminder, the news media should strive to convey accurately the horror of this event. They will fail. We will get a sense of the mayhem and the wanton destruction from our news media, but the stories, in the name of the moral agnosticism wrongly termed "objectivity", will fail to convey the proper sense of indignation and moral outrage these atrocities deserve. We will hear from the terrorists about how much more gruesome future atrocities will be, but this will be presented, like the atrocities themselves, as if a meteorological event, and not a cold-blooded mass execution, had occurred. One would think from the coverage that some rogue hurricane had just landed in Amman, and that al Zarqawi (a prime suspect) were merely a weatherman giving us the bad news that this year's hurricane season is going to be worse than usual and that there's nothing anyone can do about it.

Such reporting does the public a major disservice: It causes us to forget that, because other human beings are doing these things, we can do something about them. Impotent terror or, equally dangerous, jaded indifference, is what this kind of reporting fosters, when an angry determination to set things right is what reports from a properly objective brand of journalism would more likely cause in a civilized audience.

The almost always un-newsworthy demands of the terrorists will be dutifully broadcast as if our honoring of them would matter one jot to the kind of reprobate who would devote so much time and energy conspiring with an imaginary friend named "Allah" to blow several hotels up at once. To recount a famous, recent example of such pacifistic appeasement failing to work:
It's a barely kept secret that Mr. Chirac led the opposition to the Iraq war out of fear of how his Muslim population would react. This fear is a big part of why France portrays itself as America's counterweight and why it criticizes Israel at every turn and coddled the terrorist Yasser Arafat right up to his death. This doesn't elicit thanks from Muslim radicals in France. It turns out to project an image of weakness. Unsurprisingly when faced with some unhappiness they believe they can pressure the French state into submission.
We already know that what the terrorists want is for us to submit to Islam, dhimmitude, or death. Every demand articulated by terrorists tends to be some tired variant of this theme, usually framed in such a way as to elicit guilt among consumers of the Western media for having "oppressed" the Islamic world for so long. This last is merely a rhetorical tactic designed to sap the will of the various Western electorates to continue fighting. Since we all know what the Islamists want already and reporting their demands as if they are new(s) with every fresh attack merely aids the enemy, our media should, from now on, refrain from discussing terrorist demands as a matter of policy.

By contrast, the barbarism of the terrorists, who know by observing the West that a more civilized way of living exists, and yet choose otherwise, is grossly underreported. Take their parasitism. Without the superior achievements of the civilization they say they despise and hope to eradicate, the terrorists would not: be able to synchronize their explosions, have the entire world know of them almost instantaneously, be able to broadcast the latest lame excuse for what has become merely the last in a long line of similar acts, have explosives in the first place, or have nice, modern hotels as targets. But our news media take the great achievements of the West for granted, making the terrorists seem much more than they really are: Impotent without the aid of Western technology.

One wonders how much more resolve our nation would have were the news media not so busily presenting the demands of terrorists to the voting Western public as if they -- delivered with threats -- were worthy of attention. One wonders how much more forcefully (and quickly) our war could be won were bad reporting not constantly undercutting the moral distinctions between the terrorists and the civilization they would enslave or destroy. One wonders how appealing terrorism would be to disaffected youths in the West if it were presented as the parasitic, unmanly activity it really is.

Ayn Rand once coined a term, reification of the zero, to describe a fallacy employed in certain philosophical arguments. With apologies to her, I will play on her term to describe the pathetic dependence of terrorism on the willingness of the Western media to shirk -- in the name of "objectivity" -- from truly objective reporting. Terrorist atrocities are routinely whitewashed. The September 11, 2001 attacks are blithely called "tragedies" instead of the atrocities that they are. Terrorist attackers in Iraq are called "insurgents". Ad nauseam. The impotence of terrorism without the West is downplayed.

Evil, impotent men are thus granted by the Western media a larger than life status a lifetime of studying the Koran in a cave -- or deploying in open battle only weapons developed by their benighted civilizations -- could ever afford them. These men are nothing and yet, Wizard of Oz-like, they are made to look greater than they are.

The media are thus guilty of Deification of the Zero. In the process, their bad reporting is making this war far more difficult in many ways than it should be.

-- CAV

1 comment:

Mike Landfair said...

I have been visiting posts I made in Sept 2006 and I came across "Gus Van Horn Draws on Ayn Rand" and the reification of zero. Not much has changed since we both posted back then. BTW, I posted about "The Stoning of Soraya M." This movie should be required viewing not "An Inconvenient Truth" by our high school students.