Victor Davis Hanson wonders why al-Qaeda atrocities in Iraq aren’t getting much play in the media:
It is hard to recall an enemy so savage and yet one so largely ignored by rich affluent and distracted elites as the radical jihadists, as we have to evoke everything from mythology to comic books to find analogies to their extra-human viciousness.
For a self-congratulatory culture issuing moral lectures on everything from global warming to the dangers of smoking, the silence of the West toward the primordial horror from Gaza to Anbar is, well, horrific in its own way as well…
Sadly, I think he’s correct. The West doesn’t want to hear of what’s going on Iraq for several reasons. The first is political: if the world has to confront the reality of what’s going on in Iraq, it’s much harder to make the case that it’s George W. Bush that’s the greatest threat to world peace and not the radical Salafist head-choppers. By remaining willfully blind, people can pretend that “outrages” like Gitmo or NSA wiretapping are the crucial issues of our day. To confront the evil of groups like al-Qaeda would be to lift one’s perspective above the mundane world of politics.
Glenn Reynolds had a telling email from a professional journalist that helps explain this phenomena:
Yon’s story doesn’t get attention because it is humiliating.
It is humiliating because it is obvious that we media – and our allies in the state department, the legal trade, the NGOs, the Democratic Party, the UN, etc., – can’t do squat about such determined use of force.
Our words, images, arguments and skills can’t stop the killing. Only the rough soldiers and their guns can solve the problem, and we won’t admit that fact because the admission would weaken our influence and our claim to social status.
So we pretend Yon’s massacre – and the North Korean killing fields, the Arab treatment of women, the Arab hatred of Israel, etc. – doesn’t exist, and instead focus our emotions and attention on the somewhat-bad domestic things that we can ‘fix’ with our DC-based allies. Things such as Abu Ghraib, wiretapping, etc. When we ‘fix’ them, then we get status, applause, power, new jobs, ego, etc.
Please don’t be surprised. We media are an interest group not much different from the automakers, the unions, and the farmers.
That admission is hardly shocking to those who have studied today’s media: journalists aren’t taught to tell the story, they’re taught to shape events. Journalists aren’t driven by facts so much as a agendas, and telling the story of what happens in Iraq interferences with that agenda — it doesn’t give the journalists and the chattering classes any advantage to tell stories that don’t fit in with the narrow worldview they’ve constructed.
Another explanation is pure racism: most people don’t care if a bunch of Arabs kill other Arabs. It’s not our concern. The world is full of horrific acts, and most people have no personal involvement in them. After all, caring about Darfur is much trendier anyway.
The West is self-obsessed, to the dangerous level that it was before the horrors of September 11, 2001. It was said then that everything changed — and it did, but only for a short while. It will take an attack that completely devastates our way of life for people to be shaken from their slumber and remain awake to the reality that our superficial world is being threatened by a group of fanatics who will not stop until the world is subjugated to their will. We try to convince ourselves that the threat we face isn’t real, can’t hurt us, and that our petty and temporal concerns are what’s really important.
Meanwhile, al-Qaeda prepares their next attacks, and an entire nation faces destruction because we haven’t the will to finish the job we started.
The sound of our silence is deafening.