“Paris attacks: Do not call Charlie Hebdo killers ‘terrorists’, says head of BBC Arabic Tarik Kafala,” the London Independent reports. Check out this Orwellian dissembling:
Tarik Kafala, the head of BBC Arabic, the largest of the BBC’s non-English language news services, said the term “terrorist” was too “loaded” to describe the actions of the men who killed 12 people in the attack on the French satirical magazine.
Mr Kafala, whose BBC Arabic television, radio and online news services reach a weekly audience of 36 million people, told The Independent: “We try to avoid describing anyone as a terrorist or an act as being terrorist. What we try to do is to say that ‘two men killed 12 people in an attack on the office of a satirical magazine’. That’s enough, we know what that means and what it is.”
Mr Kafala said: “Terrorism is such a loaded word. The UN has been struggling for more than a decade to define the word and they can’t. It is very difficult to. We know what political violence is, we know what murder, bombings and shootings are and we describe them. That’s much more revealing, we believe, than using a word like terrorist which people will see as value-laden.”
“Of all the giveaways in those few lines, the most telling may be the reference to the U.N. as a supposedly neutral authority,” NRO’s Andrew Stuttaford writes in response.
And I love this line from Kafala:
“The value judgements frequently implicit in the use of the words ‘terrorist’ or ‘terrorist group’ can create inconsistency in their use or, to audiences, raise doubts about our impartiality. It may be better to talk about an apparent act of terror or terrorism than label individuals or a group.”
Raising “doubts about our impartiality?” Wait, when it comes to the writers at Charlie Hebdo — whatever you think of their work — when it comes to choosing sides between journalists and cartoonists, and those want to kill them, you’re going to remain impartial? Gee, I think this is one issue where the media might want to take sides. But then, to borrow from Glenn Reynolds’ recent USA Today column, it isn’t just Islam that’s a tarnished brand in the years after 9/11.
Or as Stuttaford writes, “There’s little that’s more revealingly subjective than the elaborate pretense of objectivity.” (Note to self: file that sentence away for future use.)