Is there a double standard perpetrated by Western media in its coverage of violent killing sprees depending on the race, ethnicity, or religion of the perpetrator? Harvey Morris of the International Herald Tribune, the global edition of the New York Times, asserts just this in his recent op-ed about the recent killing spree by a young Muslim terrorist, Mohammed Merah, in France.
Morris, echoing the thesis of Salon.com’s far-left Glenn Greenwald, contrasts the “Western media’s” coverage of Merah’s killing spree to the coverage of American Sgt. Bales, recently charged with killing 16 innocent women and children in Afghanistan. Both Morris and Greenwald indite Western media for its supposed hypocrisy in assuming that a Muslim charged with committing violent acts is a radical jihadi terrorist, while an American soldier’s actions must be rooted in some sort of mental problem or emotional dysfunction.
Morris closes his article by quoting Greenwald:
There is, quite obviously, a desperate need to believe that when an American engages in acts of violence of this type, there must be some underlying mental or emotional cause that makes it sensible, something other than an act of pure hatred or evil. When a Muslim engages in acts of violence against Americans, there is an equally desperate need to believe the opposite: that this is yet another manifestation of inscrutable hatred and evil, and any discussion of any other causes must be prohibited and ignored.
The problem is, this analysis is just plain wrong.
Look back to the New York Times‘ coverage of another violent killing spree, this one by Major Nidal Hasan, the American Muslim Army psychiatrist. Here the New York Times, which also happens to be “Western media,” not only afforded the same courtesy to Hasan, a Muslim, as has been asserted to have been afforded to Sgt. Bales, but also went out of its way to do so in light of overwhelming evidence that Hasan had been previously radicalized.
What both Morris and Greenwald have wholly brushed aside are the factual underpinnings for concluding that Merah was acting as a jihadi terrorist. Merah proclaimed himself to be a jihadi and a member of Al Qaeda and screamed “Allahu Akbar” when he attacked paratroopers in Montauban on March 15, 2012.
If we already know that Merah and others who killed or tried to kill innocent people have become radicalized and received terrorist training, isn’t this what a fact-based journalist ought to concentrate on?
If Greenwald and Morris are seeking to condemn Western media for bias, they ought to turn the mirror on themselves and their alacrity to make sweeping justifications without following the first rule of vetting their story: fact-gathering.