Sunday, October 24, 2004

The Language of Insurgency 
MSNBC talking head Dan Abrams has aired a commentary asking why press outlets are afraid of the word "terrorist."

Dan Kincaid takes MSNBC to task for being guilty of the same syntactic spinelessness.

We searched the MSNBC web site for stories about the terrorists and found an Associated Press story referring to beheadings of Americans committed by "Islamic militants." We found a story about Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who runs the group that claims responsibility for suicide bombings, kidnappings and hostage beheadings. He was merely labeled a "Jordanian-born militant." Ironically, Abrams had complained about the media labeling Zarqawi "an Iraqi insurgent, not the terrorist that he is." But his own network ran a story calling him a "militant."

...MSNBC on September 30 ran an AP story about three bombs exploding at a neighborhood celebration in Iraq, killing 35 children and seven adults. The story said, "The bombs in Baghdad's al-Amel neighborhood caused the largest death toll of children in any insurgent attack since the conflict in Iraq began 17 months ago." Insurgent? Once again, MSNBC failed to meet the standards that Dan Abrams says he expects of other media. The Washington Post wasn't any better, calling the attacks "a dramatic escalation of the country's violent insurgency…" The refusal to identify and describe terrorism dulls the public mind to the realities of what we face in this war. Using terms like "militant" or "insurgent" gives some form of legitimacy to the terrorism they were responsible for.

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