Radio talk show host Michael Savage led off his Monday night show with a collage of sound bites from the weekend network television news shows. The empty skirts and empty suits — as he calls the news anchors — were heard filled with news about Washington’s new baby panda, the “disappointingly” mild Hurricane Dennis, the continuing non-news from Aruba, the latest media thoughts on Karl Rove’s statements from two years ago and other similar topics.
What drove Dr. Savage (and me) to distraction was the de minimis level of news about the terrorist attack on London — which had happened only 48 hours previously. CBSNBCABCCNNMSNBCFOX had all returned to regular programming — as it were — within hours of this historic and appalling event.
When the media thinks something is truly important, they find a way to keep the story intensely reported. A few years ago New York Times Editor Howell Raines thought the failure of Augusta National Golf Course to let women join their club was terribly important, so he put the same story on the front page of the Times incessantly. The lack of news coming out of Aruba has not stopped cable television from putting on wall-to-wall coverage of that non-event for almost a month now. But network reporting of the Islamist terrorist attack on London subsided within hours, and only re-appears when there are hard news events — such as finding the bodies of the terrorists.
But the media is certainly getting an un-useful cue from government officials. Almost every topBritishofficial seemed to be taking the attack far too well in stride. They have taken “stiff upper lip” to the point of parody.
A very disturbing pattern of response in the West is developing to terrorist attacks. Within hours of the event — almost literally once the dust has settled — intensity of reporting slackens. Government officials, perhaps still concerned about panicking a manifestly somnambulant public and governing class, understate the danger and concern and talk about the terrorist attack largely as just another police investigation.
And of course, the evil influence of political correctness quickly suppresses honest language and clarity of thought. In the immediate aftermath of the terror attack, reporters blurt out the truth. “In terribilis veritas.” Once they have calmed down, political correctness regains control.
As has been noted by AndrewSullivan.com, the BBC offered a particularly Orwellian example of political correctness: “Early on Friday morning another BBC webpage headlined ‘testing the underground mood,’ spoke of ‘the worst terrorist atrocity Britain has seen.’”
But at 12:08 GMT, while the rest of the article was left untouched, those words were replaced by “the worst peacetime bomb attacks Britain has seen.” In its round-up of world reactions, BBC online was also quick to highlight the views of conspiracy theorists. The very first article listed by the BBC started by quoting Iranian cleric Ayatollah Mohammad Emami-Kashani saying Israel was behind the London attacks. It was followed by a commentary on Iranian state radio explicitly blaming the Mossad.
There were other examples of political correctness gone mad. I saw a senior British law enforcement official on Thursday making the explicit point that the words Islam and terrorist do not belong in the same sentence. Yesterday, the head of the Scotland Yard press briefers finished his factual account of various details with the statement that extremists and criminals did these acts, and no one should “stigmatize any community with these acts.”
But, of course, no one was, nor should be, stigmatizing “any community”. On the other hand, while some very large percentage of the two million Muslims living in Britain are law abiding, it is also the case that a hundred percent of the “extremists and criminals” so far identified by Scotland Yard who attacked London were Islamic — or more to the point “Islamist.”
The danger manifestly comes from those Muslims — either born or converted — who believe in the armed jihadist policy of terror attacks.
Political correctness started out as an externally applied pressure placed by academic elites on regular people not to say certain things which were judged improper.
But it has become a more dangerous phenomenon now. Government, law enforcement, military officials and many regular citizens are beginning to internalize the politically correct mentality. If government officials, the media and increasing elements of the public actually begin to believe that there is no relationship between Islam as currently practiced by some percentage of the Moslem population and the mortal threat of terrorism — then it will be hard if not impossible to mount an effective defense.
The first lesson of war is to know thy enemy. While we should never put people in that category who don’t fit, it is suicidal to refuse to acknowledge the accurate nature of the enemy. I have much more to say on this matter in my book — “The West’s Last Chance” — which will be published by Regnery in September.