What do you call someone who uses bombs to turn civilians into body parts? If you’re not afflicted by moral relativism, you call them “terrorists.” If you’re The New York Times, you call them “militants,” “extremists,” or “insurgents.”
An article in today’s paper reports that as the U.S. prepares to withdraw from Iraq, “jihadi and Baath militants are rejoining the fight.”
It noted that among the spate of explosions which have left 123 dead in recent weeks, “three were suicide bombings, signatures of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, a homegrown Sunni extremist group.” The same article observed that some “former insurgents who switched sides for pay” are believed to have rejoined “Islamic extremists or other insurgent groups.” (Emphasis added.)
Do the families of the more than 4,000 U.S. servicemen who died in Iraq understand that, according to The New York Times, their loved ones were killed not by terrorists, but by “militants” or “insurgents?”
In a December 14 story (which we critiqued on December 15), Times public editor Clark Hoyt explained why the paper is reluctant to apply the terrorist label. This followed widespread criticism of The Times for initially refusing to call the Mumbai murderers “terrorists.”
The word terrorist carries “connotations of opprobrium,” Hoyt wrote. “What you call someone matters. If he is a terrorist, he is an enemy of all civilized people, and less worthy of consideration.”
Why, that must mean that those who engage in indiscriminate acts of slaughter in Iraq are more worthy of consideration. Of which civilized people are they not the enemies?
The Times might as well admit it — while it may deplore terrorists’ tactics, it frequently sympathizes with their goals. Witness the op-ed forum it gave to unrepentant ex-terrorist William Ayers, on December 6, to try to rationalize Weathermen terrorism (critiqued in our December 8 posting).
If someone blew up The New York Times building, would they be “terrorists,” activists militantly opposed to biased news coverage or extremists showing their disdain for the paper’s moral relativism? We certainly wouldn’t want to heap opprobrium on them.