News & Politics

The 10 Obfuscatory Essentials for Covering Jihad as a Journalist

Steven Sotloff ISIS video of Steven Sotloff 'beheading' - 02 Sep 2014 (Rex Features via AP Images)

If you are a journalist covering the slow-motion global jihad, there is a certain formulaic nature to how you treat its victims, victimizers, and the “broader context” of and for jihadist savagery.

The key is obfuscation. Minimize the extent of the threat, separate the jihadist’s ideology from his acts, and if possible, proudly display your Western guilt by attributing the attacks to perceived slights and injustices at the hands of Israel, Europe, or America.

Here are the 10 essentials for crafting the perfect narrative on the jihad as a member of the media:

  • Make sure that in the headline, lede and/or tweets covering the jihadist attack, you describe events in terms of the inanimate object used to carry out the savagery, whether a car, knife or rock. Remember: jihadis don’t kill people, guns kill people.
  • Use non-descriptive identifiers so as to conceal the identity of the Muslim attacker(s), such as “Asian,” “North African,” or best of all, “youths.” “Youths” is superior not only because it is the vaguest of identifiers, but because the actions of “youths” can be ascribed to immaturity, or garden-variety student radicalism.
  • Be sure to quote sympathetic members of the jihadist’s community claiming said jihadist(s) were polite, studious, and never showed any signs of “radicalization.”
  • Always and everywhere use passive language, such as with the New York Times’ construction “Jewish Man Dies as Rocks Pelt His Car in East Jerusalem.” Passive language allows you to avoid having to identify the victimizer and other inconvenient details damaging to the narrative you wish to craft. It also may keep the jihadist attack off of the search engines.
  • Never ever tie the Islamic identity of the attackers to terrorism, or far worse, jihadism. In fact, do not use the word “jihadism” at all — you must not link Muslim terror attacks to Islam. If you can reverse-engineer your article with the goal of illustrating that such acts are random man-caused disasters, do so. If you must identify any ideology, “nihilist” is best, because nihilism and Islamic supremacism are utterly incongruent.
  • Never ever make it explicit that Muslim attackers are targeting Jews or Christians. Doing so implies that there is a religious motivation for killing infidels.
  • Where possible, create the appearance of at least a modicum of moral equivalence between victim and victimizer, or even better, a justification or provocation that inspired the jihadist act. If you can, include the jihadists among the body count. This is doubly powerful as it not only creates moral equivalence, blurring the lines between victim and victimizer, but creates a new victimizer of the authorities who killed said jihadists.
  • Cite government officials and other academics and think-tankers who tie jihadism to material factors, like poverty caused by climate disruption, or socio-economic status generally. If possible, sprinkle in something about Western intolerance, political disenfranchisement, or a lack of effort by the West to integrate Muslims. “Assimilation” should be excised from your mental dictionary.
  • More broadly, seek to delegitimize the “side” the victims represent. This will help make the victims prima facie.
  • If it hurts the narrative, omit omit omit!

Master these steps, and you too will be able to be a member in high-standing of the mainstream media.