The wrong publicity
Back in the 1960s there were a number of airline planes hijacked to Cuba. Financially this was huge business for Castro, since each plane that landed in Havana was “ransomed” by large amounts of cash. I don’t know how much the TV networks played the news since I was a) too young and b) living in Puerto Rico at the time, but I do know hijackings on flights to the Caribbean became common enough that one of my cousins ended up spending several days in a hijacked plane in Havana — by all accounts an awful experience that he didn’t like talking about. After several hijacking incidents, legal measures were agreed upon, and the news industry placed a moratorium on the reports. The hijackings were mentioned, but on page 15, and no longered featured as “the day’s top story” in the TV news. The publicity factor was gone.
But responsible journalists should consider the wisdom of allowing media-savvy terrorists to play them like a violin.
Sensationalism sells; on TV, “if it bleeds, it leads.” Audiences are surely drawn to tearful interviews with worried spouses and children. Bloggers get “hits” from posting the most gruesome pictures. Cable ratings rise by milking the pathos in the drama created by the Zarqawi network: first comes the kidnapping report; then televised pleas from the kneeling, doomed innocents; then coverage of marches and vigils to plead for the payment of ransom; finally, in one case out of four, the delivery of dismembered bodies and gleeful claim of blame.
Do we have to become conduits for this grisly, real-death kidnap choreography? We are obliged to report it, but we need not go along with the terrorist propagandists in milking the most horror out of it.
All this is quite counterintuitive — you’d think that the terrorists would realize that this should hurt them, make them look like the murdering slime they are. But this is a counterintuitive world with the most countercivil people: They don’t care about bad PR. They don’t care if we hate them for they hate us; in fact, if we hate them, it’s a badge of honor. So the worse we think of them, the better it is for them. And playing their videos accomplishes that goal.
But playing their videos too much eventually desensitizes us to the horror of their crimes. The sameness of the videos and of the reports of terrorist bombs killing civilians in Iraqi marketplaces or outside Iraqi police stations is becoming numbing. And that, too, suits the terrorists just fine; it dilutes our resolve to fight them.
Putin lashed out at some media’s choice of terms, such as “rebels” and “siege,” in describing the Beslan school seizure.
“If a person seeks to achieve his goals by means like these, we should all have the same definition of such a person — a murderer and a terrorist,” he said.
“If we don’t learn to speak the same language, we won’t achieve our common goals and won’t be able to protect our people,” he said.
For starters. It would also be a good idea to realize that in the terrorists’ own words, “What is laughable is the insistence of the ministers of all infidel nationalities on the phrase ‘no negotiations’. As if there was any question of negotiation. Far from it – they must obey the demands of the Mujahadeen. If you refuse, we slaughter.”
For the past month France has been attempting to negotiate the release of two men currently held hostage. The initial reports in the France2 TV news repeatedly assured viewers that there was no threat of killing them, something that changed within a few days. In an interview for Front Page Mag (via Barcepundit), Bat Ye’or points out the repercussions of France’s trying to negotiate with terrorism:
FP: What have you to say about the French journalists taken hostage and France’s reactions?
Bat Ye’or: Chirac hoped that they would be liberated as a favor to French Arabophile and pro-Palestinian militancy, a dhimmi service for Arab policy that deserves a favor not granted to others. This tragedy has revealed France’s good relations with terrorist organizations such as Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah and others. It has also uncovered France’s dependency on its considerable Muslim population for its home and foreign policies, as it appeared earlier that their advocacy would determine the liberation of the hostages. But the incredible conditions subsequently put by the terrorists prove that Islamist terrorists apply the same rules to all infidels. It also demonstrates the inanity of a policy of collusion and denial that has always whitewashed Islamic terrorism to avoid confronting it and has constantly transferred its evils onto its victims.
France’s situation illustrates, in fact, what threatens the whole of Europe through its demographic and political integration within the Arab-Muslim world, as promoted now by the Anna Lindh Foundation. France with Belgium, Germany and perhaps Spain is ahead of the rest of Europe. Britain, Italy and to some extent the East European countries are less marked by the subservience syndrome of dhimmitude which consists in submission and compliance to Muslim policy or face jihad and death. Dhimmitude is linked to the jihad ideology and sharia rules pertaining to infidels and represents the complex historical process of Islamization of the Judeo-Christian, Buddhist, Hindu civilizations across three continents.
America has the choice of forgoing its liberty and adopting the European line of dhimmitude and supplication, or maintaining its resolve to fight the war against terrorism for freedom and for universal human rights values.
She concludes by stating: The war will be won if we name it, if we face it, if we recognize that it obeys specific rules of Islamic war that are not ours; and if democracies and Muslim modernists stop justifying these acts against other countries. The policy of collusion and support for terrorists in order to gain self-protection is a delusion. Rarely have I agreed with anything Putin says, but he’s right in making clear that we must speak the same language.
Name it, face it, fight it, defeat it.