TYRRELL: A deadline decision at the Newseum

The temple to journalism nearly enshrines deceased terrorists

Recently in Washington, the Newseum was saved from what could have been a very embarrassing event. Or maybe the people who run the Newseum would not have been embarrassed, but the institution was saved anyway. The Newseum is an interactive museum dedicated to the study of news and journalism. It was going to honor two terrorists as journalists before genuine journalists intervened.

On a wall dedicated to journalists who have perished while pursuing a story, such as The Wall Street Journal’s Daniel Pearl, who was beheaded by Islamofascists, the two deceased terrorists would have been solemnized. The wall is dedicated to “reporters, photographers and broadcasters who have died reporting the news.” The Newseum proposed to solemnize Mahmoud Al-Kumi and Hussan Salama, presumably because they were incinerated by an Israeli missile last year. However, their deaths came during Israel’s hostilities with Hamas, and the Israelis had every reason to think that they were not reporters but terrorists. The United States government concurs.

The men worked for al-Aqsa TV, which was designated a terrorist organization in 2010 by the U.S. Treasury Department. The organization is part of Hamas. As to the programming of al-Aqsa, the Treasury’s Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence has concluded it “airs programs and music videos designated to recruit children to become Hamas armed fighters and suicide bombers.” For instance, among the videos it airs is one that calls upon Allah to exterminate Jews, Christians and communists: “Kill them to the last one, and don’t leave even one.” Not even the communists.

At the time of their deaths, Al-Kumi and Salama were riding about in a car with “TV” hastily sprayed on its hood. There was no one else in the car — not a photographer, not a reporter. Similarly Hamas‘ fighters have used Red Crescent ambulances to transport arms, materiel and even its fighters. They locate command posts in civilian population centers and close to mosques. When our government and the government of Israel have declared al-Aqsa a terrorist organization, I would think the Newseum would steer clear of honoring al-Aqsa’s fallen.

Actually, the Newseum is a rather curious place. Its main interest — news and journalism — is pretty serious stuff, but its officers have no demonstrated grasp of their subject. James C. Duff, the Newseum’s CEO, is a lawyer admittedly with a background in the Constitution, but also “diversity” and no journalistic experience whatsoever. He was called by Clifford May, once of The New York Times and now a columnist with Scripps Howard News Service and an officer with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, and asked about his choice. Mr. Duff never called back. Neither did the Newseum’s spokesman, Scott Williams, also an expert in “diversity” and once the vice president of marketing and media for Elvis Presley Enterprises. Yes, Elvis Presley.

Luckily, Mr. May struck a chord and “just minutes before its ceremony honoring a list of ‘fallen journalists,’” writes Mr. May, the Newseum decided, in its words, “to re-evaluate the inclusion” of Al-Kumi and Salama “as journalists on our memorial wall pending further investigation.” Whatever was the Newseum thinking about when it accorded the title of journalist to two terrorists designated as such by our government? Does the Newseum’s expert in diversity know more about terrorism than our government or than the government of Israel?

Frankly goody-goody organizations such as the Newseum could be forgiven back in the days of the Cold War when they were expected to be duped by communists claiming to be journalists. Today, however, when the goody-goodies are duped by Islamofascists, it is a little bit surprising. The communists were always seen as “liberals in a hurry,” but the Islamofascists hate women, homosexuals, the 21st century and modernity itself. Why would the Newseum have a soft spot in its heart for these thugs?

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is editor in chief of the American Spectator and adjunct scholar at the Hudson Institute.

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