Yesterday, a 29-man named Sayfullo Saipov plowed through a bicycle path in Lower Manhattan with a white truck, resulting in the death of 8 and the injuring of 11 more.
Along with the lives lost, an additional casualty of the attack is liberals’ ability to recognize reality: among them, that the culprit of this act of terrorism adhered to what he at least understood to be Islam and carried out the attack for the advancement of the self-described “Islamic State.”
As reported by the Daily Wire, a CNN host began by choosing to withhold from his report the description of the attacker the network had obtained by the police. Then, as Newsbusters reported, an MSNBC terror analyst denied any role Islam might have played in the attack, because — and get this — “we have seen Catholics in Canada who converted to, quote unquote, Islam.” He went on to suggest that the attacker may have been Catholic two weeks before. Of course, he did not even consider the implications of a correlation between religious conversion and radicalized actions. Certainly a nascent convert is in a poor position to understand the true embodiment of his new faith, but whether the conversion is a justification for an act he wished to undertake or the misappropriated object of the act itself, it is an indispensable psychological component to his actions.
It is routine in the wake of ISIS-related attacks to discount the importance of the role played by Islam, just as it is routine in the wake of attacks by white males to point out the number of terrorists who have been white or Christian, or even to question why some attacks carried out by white males are not labeled terrorism. The Las Vegas shooting is only the most recent example of this. A Newsweek article on the subject is typical, and only one of many. It points out the differences between Nevada law and federal law on the subject, as well as what President Obama defined as terrorism in addressing the Boston Marathon bombing.
But presidential remarks do not such a vital definition make, and a law contains merely a legal definition of what can be designated terrorism for the purpose of charging a perpetrator with that specific crime. What we are concerned with here is not terrorism as a crime, but terrorism as a tactic. Therefore, it doesn’t matter what Obama said or even what Nevada law says; for observers nationwide, terrorism is not understood to be something so broad as an act intended to harm innocent civilians or “intended to cause great bodily harm or death to the general population.” Federal law comes closest to the standard academic definition: “unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.” Motiveless attacks are, by any meaningful definition, not terror.
Despite the obviousness of this distinction, the media seem intent of muddying the waters when the facts regarding the motives themselves are not in dispute. The first fact — that the attack was carried out by vehicle, like an increasing number of ISIS-related terrorist attacks in Europe have been — should at least have tipped everyone off to the possibility. But again, terrorism is a tactic, and a vehicular attack could be employed in service of any cause. The second fact, which CNN ultimately reported — that the attacker yelled “allahu akbar” — should have sealed the deal.
Additional facts, such as the description of Saipov the CNN host initially withheld — which would have included a photo and the fact that he was from Uzbekistan, a country which is over 96 percent Muslim — would merely strengthen the already obvious conclusion about his motive. Ultimately, a note was found inside the attacker’s vehicle “claiming the attack was made in the name of ISIS.” Case closed.
But the first aim of the liberals in the mainstream media is not to report facts, but to advance (or undermine) certain narratives. No wonder we’re so suspicious of fake news these days.
Of course the vast majority of Muslims are neither terrorists nor approve of terror. Of course the bulk of terrorist attacks are wholly unrelated to Islam. Of course President Bush was right when he said we are not at war with Islam. The left appears not to trust those facts when it withholds the facts about specific attacks. In order to combat what it considers to be fake news about Islam and terrorism, it creates fake news about specific terrorist attacks carried out by Muslims. Ostensibly, the media don’t trust ignorant Americans to come to the right conclusions, but they undermine their own authority to place terrorists in their proper context whenever they lie by omission.
Even if we decide that true Islam has absolutely nothing to do with creating terrorists such as Saipov, it is imperative to understand what terrorists believe that drives them to use such tactics. It is vital to get inside their heads, in order to understand how to prevent such attacks in the future. We cannot combat what we willingly choose not to see.