Jewish World Review April 9, 2002 / 28 Nisan, 5762
http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | It's time to take all the black and white and pour them together to make gray, lots of gray, to paint the current state of moral confusion in the so-called war on terror.
Make that immoral confusion. What else to call the obfuscation and equivalence-speak about terrorism creeping into common usage among our media and government elites? It's one thing for the 57 Muslim nations of the Organization of the Islamic Conference to stew over a definition of terrorism, as they did this week in Kuala Lumpur, and come up with zilch. You might wonder who the heck asked them anyway, but that's another story. We know what "terrorism" is: driving jets into buildings, detonating strollers on sidewalks, and massacring families at dinner tables. Simple, right? Not for the Islamic conferees. As that meeting of the minds adjourned, deferring to group mental-block, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad could only put it this way: "Muslims everywhere must condemn terrorism, once it is clearly defined." But don't hold your breath.
Meanwhile, what the Muslims did define or, rather, declare, was that terrorism has nothing whatsoever to do with Yasser Arafat's suicide-bombers and their heinous assault on civilians in Israel and civilization everywhere. Indeed, these do-it-yourself pogroms come under the heading of what the Muslim ministers collectively called "the blessed Intifada." Such propaganda defines terrorism not only down, but completely out for Yasser Arafat, his assorted suicide gangs, and their allies, from the al-Aksa Martyrs Brigade, the relatively new kids blowing themselves up on the block, to senior scourges such as Hamas and Hezbollah.
Nothing new here -- just another demonstration of the official Islamic mindset staged periodically since Sept. 11. What is new, however, are the shouts and echoes of that mindset increasingly heard in the West. Nearly seven months after the attack on America, the shock and terror has subsided at home and The Terrorist is getting the benefit of the doubt. It's not that terrorism per se is gaining supporters, or being condoned exactly. But there's now a determination to see through to the "other" side of terror, past the unconscionable slaughter of innocents, to entertain the terrorist's point of view. This perspective requires crossing a line of decency it would be nice to think has heretofore separated Us from Them.
Thus, CNN's Connie Chung introduces a spokesman for Hamas by explaining in very her best anchor-manner ("Thank you so much for being with us, sir") that her terror-apologist of a guest is from "an organization seen by most as a terrorist group, even though he would probably prefer the term freedom fighter." Freedom fighter? Women-and-children killer is more like it.
MSNBC's Lester Holt preps a piece on Hezbollah -- the terror group Americans first encountered back in 1983 when it blew up the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, killing 63, and the Marine barracks, killing 241 -- with the tease: "So are they terrorists or freedom fighters? You be the judge." Turn back the clock and imagine a report on Hitler's SS: "So are they Nazi thugs or German patriots? You be the judge." It's easy to see that once upon a time there weren't two sides to every story.
Maybe we should just let the Islamic ministers figure this one out -- or, better, Peter Jennings. Reporting on Hezbollah, the ABC anchor attributed the terror tag on Hezbollah solely to "the Bush administration," subsequently providing Hezbollah with an unobstructed rebuttal -- "We are not terrorists" -- from the gang's leader himself. As reported by the Media Research Center, which provided an account of these on-air comments (http://www.mediaresearch.org), Mr. Jennings also described Hezbollah's attacks on the United States in Beirut -- but without mentioning Hezbollah. "A man simply drove his truck to the front door" of the embassy, Mr. Jennings explained, "and blew himself up. ... Later that year, the Marine barracks here were destroyed in much the same way."
How about "a man from Hezbollah" drove his truck? Guess it's tough to face facts. Not that Mr. Jennings is alone. The Islamic ministers in Kuala Lumpur couldn't face facts either, looking at suicide bombers and declaring they have nothing to do with terrorism. This makes strategic sense in that they support the bombers. But what gives over here?
Both George W. Bush and Colin Powell are now looking at Yasser Arafat, a man incurably contagious with terrorism, and declaring he has nothing to do with terrorism -- or that if he does, he can "still" redeem himself. And we support the Israelis. The administration's motives may be different, but the deception is the same -- only more damaging. Where moral myopia serves the Islamic ministers' cause, it imperils our own. You can't win a war against terrorism without facing up to what it is and -- just as important -- who the terrorists
JWR contributor Diana West is a columnist and editorial writer for the Washington Times. Comment by clicking here.