In the wake of the assassination of the British Member of Parliament, Jo Cox, at the hands of Thomas Mair, both the conservative and liberal press have once again followed the same old trend of using different labels and language to describe attackers based on their race, religion and ethnicity.
To quote an example, The Guardian— often a favorite daily among the so-called "progressives" — published a story a day after the attack on June 17 with the headline: ”Suspect in Jo Cox's killing described as quiet, polite and reserved.”
The article goes on to list how Mair’s family and friends spoke of a gentle and quiet man whom they least expected to commit such a hideous crime.
“The picture that emerged of the man known as Tom or Tommy from those who knew him best was of a quiet and caring loner,” The Guardian wrote. “His half brother, who is mixed race, claimed he had been volunteering at a school for children with disabilities for several years and had never expressed any racist views.”
This sort of language is rarely, if ever, used by mainstream media in the West to describe non-White attackers, who are quickly labelled as terrorists. And if the words of families and friends are used, they're usually taken out of context and twisted to serve a particular narrative and agenda. It has been a common occurrence for years fanned by mass media in the United States and Europe.
We look at five examples of when the same biased coverage was resorted to by the western media :-
1. 2015 Charleston Shooting by Dylann Roof
On June 17, 2015, during a prayer service at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, Dylann Roof entered the church, locked its doors and started shooting at the people in it, mostly Black folk.
Roof killed nine African Americans, including Senior Pastor and State Senator, Clementa C. Pinckney, and injured one other person. He was later arrested after reports emerged that he was motivated by a longstanding hatred of Black people and had told friends that he favoured segregation. Later confessing he committed the shooting in the hope of igniting a race war, the media failed to focus on Roof’s history of bigotry and hate. Instead mental illness and inadequate mental health resources were the primary go-to explanations behind his horrifying actions.
Activist Deray McKesson noted in a tweet days after the incident that while discussing Roof’s motivations, an MSNBC anchor said: "'We don’t know his mental condition."
"That is the power of whiteness in America," McKesson commented.
The Guardian also published a story describing how Roof had a history of drug abuse, further individualizing the narrative as one of subjective misfortune and poor decisions.
2. 2011 Norway Attacks by Anders Behring Breivik
On July 22, 2011, Norwegian national Anders Behring Breivik carried out two lone-wolf attacks, a bomb attack against the Regjeringskvartalet Government Complex in Oslo and later a shooting of 69 people at the Workers' Youth League-run summer camp. The attacks claimed a total of 77 lives.
Several articles emerged following the incident demanding that he not be called a terrorist and that he was insane and mentally ill. “Anders Behring Breivik's not a terrorist, he's a mass-murderer,” one headline on The Guardian newspaper read in 2011.
The British Telegraph published an article with the headline: “Don't call Anders Breivik a terrorist – he is a sad fantacist leading an army of one." Despite a Norwegian court charging Breivik with carrying out a “terrorist act”, the author argued that to "call Breivik ‘a terrorist’ is to give him exactly what he wants. The most appropriate response to this psychopathic narcissist is ridicule, as the author claimed.
Forensic psychiatrists examined Breivik before his trial and and he was eventually diagnosed as a having narcissistic personality disorder.
But denying the political — and therefore terroristic — nature of the crime was really quite extraordinary, especially considering Breivik himself wrote a 1,518 page political manifesto titled "2083: A European Declaration of Independence" which called for a civilizational war against Muslims and migrants.
3. 2012 Aurora Shooting by James Eagan Holmes
On July 20, 2012 James Eagan Holmes carried out an attack on moviegoers at Century movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, killing 12 people and injuring 70 others.
As is the case for most other White attackers, the media was quick to brand Holmes as a mentally ill individual who snapped and decided to kill people due to his condition. The Associated Press ran a news story with the headline: ”Doctor who found James Holmes sane says mental illness caused him to attack Colorado theater.”
Major media organizations ran stories on the attack and Holmes with comments from the FBI saying he had no significant criminal record, while local police said he had a speeding ticket from 2011, and no links to terrorism. Medical professionals in fact testified in court that Holmes was sane.
While we now know that the attack had no political motive, the media's collective response in immediately designating the White Holmes psychologically ill is a trope we have all become accustomed to.
4. 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting by Adam Peter Lanza
|The victims of the attack|
On December 14, 2012, 20-year old Adam Peter Lanza stormed into the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, where he shot 20 children aged between 6 and 7 years old, as well as six adult staff members. As police and emergency services arrived at the scene, Lanza committed suicide by shooting himself in the head.
Shortly after the incident, news outlets in the U.S. went on to portray Lanza as a “troubled and disturbed kid from a rich family” who was a “ticking bomb." There was no mention of terrorism or him carrying out one of the most disturbing terror attacks in U.S. history.
A day after the attack, The New York Daily News published a story with the headline: “Sandy Hook mass murderer Adam Lanza, 20, 'deeply disturbed kid,'” in which the newspaper went on to push for a mentally ill and unstable man who was pushed over the edge and committed a troubled yet almost understandable crime against innocent children.
Fox News also digged into Lanza’s past, pushing the mentally ill narrative as it revealed that the attacker had been diagnosed with psychiatric conditions which could explain his actions. Again no mention of terror or terrorism! While many have argued the shooter did not commit terrorism because he lacked a political motive, the argument has long since been debunked. In fact Lanza, like other shooters, posted a political screed to a website shortly before the incident.
“It goes without saying that an AK-47 and enough ammunition could do more good than a thousand ‘teachers,’ if one is truly interested in reforming the system. In short time the children will be brainwashed, pumped full of Xanax and told to conform, until they have been turned into the oppressors,” Lanza had written ahead of his attack according to MSNBC.
5. The 2010 Austin Suicide Attack
When Andrew Joseph Stack III desliberately crashed his plane into Building I of the Echelon Complex in Austin, Texas, killing both himself and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Manager,Vernon Hunter, and injuring 13 others, the United States Department of Homeland Security issued a statement saying the incident did not appear to be linked to international terrorist groups.
But the targeting of the IRS and the political nature of the incident soon emerged as Stack's suicide note condemned the "greed" and "insanity" of the central government, the bailing out of banks and financial institutions, corporations, unions and the Catholic Church.
"I saw it written once that the definition of insanity is repeating the same process over and over and expecting the outcome to suddenly be different. I am finally ready to stop this insanity. Well, Mr. Big Brother IRS man, let's try something different; take my pound of flesh and sleep well," he wrote in the letter.
The terrorist attack — widely reported as a suicide by local and nationalmedia — eventually resulted in the media and government closely scrutinizing the Tea Party, as it was believed Stack was linked to the group. But following the attack, the New York Times published an article saying that "Mr. Stack" was not driven by "terrorist ideology" but was rather "described as generally easygoing" and a "talented amateur musician with marital troubles."
What essentially comes out of the picture is a deliberate toning down of terrorist attacks and dressing them up as cases of psychiatric disruptions or subjective misfortune for that matter. This not only tosses out the possibility of a political probe into the happenings with sheer convenience, but also manages to secure public sympathy through victimization of the terrorist and puts a permanent seal on such cases as it were. We wish the Western media was a bit empathetic in yellowing up the massacres of non-White terrorists too, instead of belching out a thoroughly racist stance in this regard.Or better, it realizes that it's high time to see terrorism for what it is and not to doll it up for what it is not.
Article by :- Igor Gorbachev