Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Moving Along . . .

There are two separate narratives taking shape in the MSM. The first is typified by this J. Krishnamurti-attributed saying making the rounds on Facebook:

So you see, any particularist attachment (especially, it goes without saying, among you American Christians) is itself a manifestation of violence, preceding any, um, actual violence that may proceed from it. Likewise, UC-San Bernadino professor Brian Levin, head of the Orwellian-sounding director of the Center for Study of Hate and Extremism, had this to say:

This line of reasoning – all religious nationalism is equally bad – is so empirically and morally false that even as ardent a Liberal as Bill Maher is calling bullsh!t.  But more problematically, its policy implications are tricky:  even if, like Prof Levin, you pretend to believe that Christians are just as bad as Muslims, it doesn’t follow that you should want more Muslims immigrating to the U.S.

A fully mainstream, although somewhat more subtle, expression can be found in the NYT:

On Monday, a spokesman for the Islamic Society of Boston, a Cambridge mosque, said Mr. Tsarnaev disrupted a talk there in January, insulting the speaker and accusing him of deviating from Islam by comparing the Prophet Muhammad to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It was the second time he had disrupted an event at the mosque because he felt that its religious message was too liberal, said the spokesman, Yusufi Vali, according to a report in The Boston Globe.

See! Just like all those nasty TEA-partiers, hating on MLK!

The second line of attack is the dominant one:  nothing to see here, move along.  This is the reasoning that suffuses the MSM, so much so that it is hard to pick the best example.  But this Atlantic article will suffice (H.T.:  Steve, who has done a Yoeman’s service accumulating these articles):

That the brothers Tsarnaev are more than the labels we would hastily apply to them is obvious, I know. Then again, labels are especially tempting amidst the twin confusions of breaking news and municipal lockdown. Stories like the one that has now been shorthanded as the "Boston Bombing," or the "Marathon Bombing" -- among them "Aurora," "Newtown," "Columbine" -- have their cycles. And we have entered the time in the cycle when, alleged culprits identified, our need for answers tends to merge with our need for justice. We seek patterns, so that we may find in them explanations. We confuse categories -- "male," "Muslim" -- with cause. We focus on contradictions: He had a girlfriend, and killed people. She was a mother, and a murderer. And we finally take refuge in comforting binaries -- "dark-skinned" or "light-skinned," "popular" or "loner," "international" or "homegrown," "good" or "evil" -- because their neat lines and tidy boxes would seem to offer us a way to do the thing we most crave right now: to put things in their place.

The problem is that there is no real place for the Boston bombings and their aftermath, just as there was no real place for Aurora or Columbine or Newtown. Their events were, in a very literal sense, outliers: They are (in the U.S., at least) out of the ordinary.

Steve observes:

Now this is the kind of intelligent-sounding boilerplate that gets churned out whenever anybody from a vibrant demographic does anything stereotypical. To extrude this kind of text, you don't have to actually know anything. In fact, the implicit message is fundamentally anti-knowledge: do not notice patterns, do not see what is in front of one's nose because one should be stabbing oneself in the eyeballs with Occam's Butterknife.

Exactly.  But I’m not sure this is going to work much better than all-religions-are-equal.  A lot of people are learning a lot about Chechnya, and Chechens, and Beslan, and the organized crime.  And I hopeful that they aren’t going to buy the story that there’s nothing to see here.

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