Kudos to the Islamic terrorists yesterday who shot up the Charlie Hebdo offices yesterday for doing so in such a way that the media could not pretend that they were not Muslim or that their belief in radical Islam was not the primary motivating factor for their actions. Having been robbed of their normal playbook of refusing to use Islamic names or to report that terrorists were Muslims or motivated by Islam at all, the media has instead been forced back to their second-line garrison for this type of story - which is to say, to express concern about whether Muslims now face a rising tide of "Islamophobia" - as opposed to concern about whether non-Muslims face a rising tide of being-beheaded-or-shot-to-death-phobia.
Here is a useful thought experiment. Pretend that yesterday's French terrorists were not radical Muslims but instead members of the Westboro Baptist Church. How many news stories would a) omit their religious affiliation or b) express concern that members of the Westboro Baptist Church now faced anger and discrimination in their community? Of course the answer is zero, and in fact we could expect a steady stream of stories that examined the exact opposite and laid out in painstaking depth how the twisted religious beliefs of the Westboro Baptist Church members and the poisonous rhetoric of church leaders directly led to this abominable event. Nightline and 20/20 would doubtless send reporters to Kansas for lengthy pieces complete with videos of the scary rhetoric to which the Westboro members are regularly exposed.
The most absurd thing, of course, is that the main reason Westboro is (justly) hated by the media is their rhetoric on homosexuality and homosexuals - rhetoric which is functionally indistinguishable from radical forms of Islam from which these attacks spring. In fact, the main difference between the two is that Westboro Baptist Church members do not actually kill gay people whereas hundreds of gays and lesbians are killed in Muslim dominated countries every year - in fact, the main difference between a "moderate" Muslim country and an "extremist" one where gay people are concerned is that in a "moderate" Muslim country the government looks the other way while private citizens stone gay people whereas in an "extremist" one the government does the stoning or hanging themselves.
On a surface level, the media's refusal to engage the ugly underbelly of Islam is baffling, especially in the context of a story where press freedom is directly at stake. So called moderate Muslims like Anjem Choudary spent all day yesterday patiently explaining on twitter that insulting the prophet should be illegal and that any Westerner who does so just has to understand that if they get killed for doing so, they had it coming. And it's too easy to chalk this up to cowardice in the face of intimidation. After all, the press has a lengthy history of coddling and treating brutal and totalitarian regimes - regimes that systematically oppress freedoms of expression that the press ostensibly stands for - as long as those regimes meet one condition: they must be opposed to the interests of America.
From the Soviets throughout the cold war, to Mao, to Che, to Hugo Chavez, to modern totalitarian Muslim dictators, if you oppress your own people BUT publicly hate and humiliate America, you will either be portrayed by the press as misunderstood, treated with kid gloves, or not mentioned at all. But if you are an autocratic dictator who is actually on the side of American interests abroad you will be the subject of numerous media exposes that lament the terrible plight of human rights in your country. A comparison of the way Augusto Pinochet and Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi were covered by the media of their day with the way Hugo Chavez and Robert Mugabe are covered today reveals that you can get away with quite a lot in the Western media as long as you strike a public anti-American pose.
And with respect to the current crop of radical Islamic terrorists, surely even the most dense member of the Western media must understand by now that if they had their way, freedom of the press as we know it would not exist and many journalists would be either jailed or executed - either for what they have written or for how they choose to live their personal lives, or, you know, for being Jewish. And yet, even these facts are not enough to cause them to treat radical Islamics with the contempt reserved for the Westboro Baptist Church freaks or to honestly shine a spotlight on the extent to which radical Islam has taken hold even in Western countries (particularly in Europe) or to frankly report on the doctrine that is taught there.
And the only possible reason is this: however bad and offensive their doctrine is, at least they are opposed to America. And that trumps all.