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Media War of Words on Terrorism

Distorted reality ultimately presented to public

President Bush recently demonstrated that the choice of words can set the tone and mood of the nation.

It was the first time that in describing the nation’s fight against terrorism the president modified his prior rhetoric and clearly stated that what we are engaged in is a “war with Islamic fascists who will use any means to destroy those who love freedom [and] to hurt our nation.”

Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum has been ahead of the curve when it comes to the vocabulary of war. In a July 2006 speech at the National Press Club, Santorum examined President Bush’s penchant for use of the phrase “war on terror.”

“Some say we’re fighting a war on terror,” Santorum said. “That’s like saying World War II was a war on blitzkrieg. Terror, like blitzkrieg, is a tactic of war used by our enemy; it is not the enemy. … In World War II, we fought Nazism and Japanese imperialism. Today we are fighting against Islamic fascism.”

Bush’s use of the more specific terminology brought an immediate denunciation from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).

In a letter to the president, Parvez Ahmed, CAIR board chairman, wrote, “The use of ill-defined hot-button terms such as ‘Islamic fascists,’ ‘militant jihadism,’ ‘Islamic radicalism’ or ‘totalitarian Islamic empire’ harms our nation’s image and interests worldwide, particularly in the Islamic world.”

It seems that when the news and/or entertainment media attempt to report on, or include within a product’s content, the suggestion that a relationship between Muslims and terrorism exists, CAIR typically goes on offense and pressures the individual or company in question to make the proper adjustments. This causes the news and entertainment media to change messages, approaches or presentations, and a distorted reality is what is ultimately presented to the public.

Mike Wallace recently interviewed the president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The 88-year-old correspondent called the Hezbollah-backer “an impressive fellow,” “obviously smart as hell,” “reasonable” and “an interesting man.”

Meanwhile ABC used a recent segment of “World News with Charles Gibson” to showcase Richard Clarke, the former counter-terrorism chief in the Clinton and current administrations, an ardent Bush critic and now an ABC News consultant. In his appearance, Clarke used al-Qaeda and Nazi in the same breath but in so doing did not receive the same linguistic chastisement as Bush and others have. Clarke also implied that the Bush administration has not been aggressive enough in its war strategy.

Clarke responded to a question about the use of the term “Islamic fascists” by pointing out that Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan were beaten in less than four years “but five years into this war against al-Qaeda, they’re out there still plotting major attacks against the United States.”

Life is good for critics of the war. Besides being a consultant for a major television network, Clarke’s 2004 book, “Against All Enemies: Inside America’s War on Terror,” is being made into a motion picture, which will reportedly star actor, peace activist and avocational journalist Sean Penn.

Hollywood has an extensive track record of bending to special interest groups, and CAIR has played a prominent role of late. In the screen version of Tom Clancy’s “Sum of All Fears,” Arab terrorists were transformed into white European neo-Nazis for their onscreen appearances at CAIR’s and others behest.

CAIR gave its approval to Ridley Scott’s “Kingdom of Heaven” only after, according to a CAIR spokesperson, Muslims in the film were “shown as dignified & proud people whose lives are based on ethics & morality.”

Actress Eva Green told the Associated Press, “I think Muslims will be extremely proud and happy, because they’re seen as noble, chivalrous characters. . . . Especially in this Crusade, the Arab people behaved in a more noble way than the Christian people.”

George Clooney’s 2006 Oscar vehicle, “Syriana,” denigrated U.S. politicians and businessmen while simultaneously portraying suicide bombing as a noble pursuit.

In a 2005 episode of NBC’s television program “E Ring,” Christians were portrayed as terrorists who stage a takeover of a Muslim mosque.

After an episode of Fox’s popular television show “24” featured Muslim terrorists, the network appeased CAIR with a disclaimer in which actor Kiefer Sutherland announced “that the American Muslim community stands firmly beside their fellow Americans in denouncing and resisting all forms of terrorism.”

The moral of the media story? Truth in nomenclature poses no present day obstacle for those who tell a Hezbollah version of history.

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Written By

Mr. Hirsen is a New York Times best selling author, commentator, news analyst and law professor.

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