Journalism based on gossip or rumors is a form of “terrorism” and media that stereotype entire populations or foment fear of migrants are acting destructively, Pope Francis said on Thursday.
Journalistic terrorism? If this idea gains any traction, the First Amendment will be gone by the end of next year. In any contest between free speech and the defeat of “journalistic terrorism,” it’s the latter that will probably win.
The question: Is there such a thing as journalistic terrorism? Even if you define it clearly, which Pope Francis did not?
The context for his comments was obviously Islam. Pope Francis gets really upset that people criticize Islam, and as a result are reluctant to easily let proponents of Islam into their country. Instead of making the rational case for why letting Muslim immigrants into one’s country, and never associating Islam with terrorism, are reasonable things to do, he instead reverts to telling people who disagree that they’re the equivalent of killers.
You’ve seen children playing games. When one of the children sees he or she isn’t going to win, the game board gets thrown over, or the computer screen gets slammed shut, or the child walks away in a huff. That’s precisely the kind of thing I visualize when anyone — I don’t care if it’s Pope Francis, or anyone else — calls you names after they realize they have nothing to say in response to your points.
Pope Francis’ premise is that people have no control over their actions. For example, last year, the right-wing Italian newspaper Libero headlined its story on the Paris attacks that killed about 130 people: “Islamic Bastards”. Another right-wing newspaper, Il Giornale, headlined a story last year on the chaotic situation in Libya and the risk that militants might sneak into Italy with migrants: “ISIS is coming. Let’s arm ourselves.”
Pope Francis’ unstated assumption? People reading these headlines cannot help themselves. Because newspapers call Muslims who perpetrate actual terrorism unpleasant names, this will force readers to become violent themselves. At that point, the blood will be on the newspapers’ hands, not on the people who originally initiated the violence: You know, the Islamic bastards.
We might say, “Who cares what Pope Francis thinks? He’s just a religious official with no political clout.” True enough. But we all know that the PC in Europe as well as the United States cheer Francis’ words. This includes President Obama and his very possible successor, Hillary Clinton. Our own Attorney General, who (Clinton promises) will be Hillary Clinton’s Attorney General, if she’s elected, has already threatened to go after people criminally if they verbally assault or condemn Islam. When the time comes, do you think she’ll rely on Pope Francis’ premises, if not cite his actual words?
Francis’ ideas represent a crude example of blaming the victim. Instead of challenging (1) the Islamic terrorists themselves and (2) the ideology of Islam upon which Islamic terrorists justify all their acts of brutality, Pope Francis turns his moral weaponry on the people responding with perfectly understandable anger, outrage and fear over the real terrorists’ hideous actions.
What is wrong with this man, and with the people who applaud him when he says such things? Given his role as leader of the original Christian Church, Francis’ fixation on celebrating Islam is more puzzling or mysterious than anything claimed by his faith.
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