Terrorism, global reactions, the media and their general position in society
In July 2011 when the Norwegian tragedy took place, the news was lettered with items related to the tragedy, however, did you notice a weird thing there? The word terrorist or terrorism didn’t seem to be mentioned as much when describing the act or the person causing it!
This is particularly surprising, knowing how the media usually portray these type of incidents and how they love to sensationalise and dramatise news. Weirder still, a few weeks later and outside of Norway, you will barely hear about the issue any more!
A question that would pop in my head here is would this have been different if news agencies managed to find an Islamic link anywhere?
Let us back up for a moment and start from the beginning; if we look at the dictionary definition of terrorist, it comes out as:
1. a person, usually a member of a group, who uses or advocates terrorism.
2. a person who terrorises or frightens others.
Another definition is:
a person who employs terror or terrorism, esp. as a political weapon.
So it seems our Norwegian culprit with his misguided ideas, concepts and methods of execution, far right extreme Christian views, his rambling manifesto and claim of being a solder in the Knights Templar, seems to fit the bill perfectly, however, he is called the gunman, the shooter or the killer at most.
The Norwegian police informed us in the news that Anders Behring Breivik was indeed flagged a while back for buying large quantities of fertiliser, but then dropped it, due to lack of any major evidence of wrong doing and didn’t feel it needs to be investigated any further.
The question here would be how would the media have reacted if the person that did the killing happened to be of an Islamic religious background instead of a native Norwegian of a Christian background?
I would like to think that they would have acted no differently from how they acted here; however, this would be a flight of fancy; the first media reports of the incident was already speculating that it might have been the work of Islamic terrorists, luckily Norwegian officials, to their credit, were quick to deny any connections between the killer and Islam.
Would the intelligence service that flagged Breivik for buying large amounts of fertilisers then later on dropped the matter, have done so if he were indeed a follower of Islam? We would not be able to know the answer to that one, however, if he happened to be in the USA then the answer would have been yes, because profiling there is very evident and documented by the media.
Intelligence services in Norway did however know of the emergence of hard right extreme Christian movements in the country, but concluded, to their own detriment, that they do not pose a real threat to the Norwegian pubic because of a lack of centralised leadership.
A month or so after the tragedy the media, at least outside Norway, seem to have almost completely moved on to other issues and problems, either explosions in Pakistan or rioting in the UK among other world issues. This could be caused by many things, but could the lack of Islamic connection be a possible reason? Because no such connection ultimately means it robs them from sensationalising the issue and making it international and part of the war on terror that George Bush started after 9/11 as if terror is someone to fight against!
The world of media in general is sadly the most culprit in this mad hysteria of war on terror, they are the ones that fuel politicians by bowing to their needs and playing their game instead of seeking the truth, reporting on facts asking the hard questions and demanding answers.
In the era of mass media, there is a responsibility on the media to be the beacon that protects democracy, outs corruption, exposes bigotry and racism it needs to be an institution of knowledge that informs the world of what really happens behind the scene and how it affects all of our lives. This could be a lot to ask from the media, however, they find themselves in the position of power and such power demands great responsibility, they are not simply another business going for profit or a way to control and high jack the political process and controlling it.
Discrimination against anyone based on religion, race or gender is something that no media should tolerate or advocate, at this time in the worlds history, many of our media outlets do just that; they cause tension and promote intolerance to serve their own agendas regardless of the greater good of society. Just looking at networks such as Fox in the USA and the now defunct News of the World in the UK you would see but two examples of such media outlets. It is frighting to watch Fox news and see what passes as news these days there and how they are willing to destroy a person if he does not agree with them on anything, no balance in reporting not even a pretence of impartiality either, but to top it all they call themselves Balanced!
I hope that this is but a phase that the human race is going through and just as slavery has largely became something of the past, all types of discrimination, be it religious, sexist or racist would also become something our future generations look up in the dictionary. An overly optimistic view, I know, but one I would still wish it could ever happen. Having said that, such optimistic vision could never begin to happen with the kind of media mentality we have at this time, the majority of which are lacking in any redeeming quality that helps in promoting and building a better future for us all.
Of course, we can’t simply just blame the media, we can share the blame, living in the type of societies that allows for such media to exist.
Lets all hope for a better future, if not in our life times maybe in our children’s.