Commendable Restraint or Willful Blindness?

May 5, 2010

Commendable restraint or willful blindness to the obvious?
Should we refrain from implicating Islam among the suspect's motives?

Faisal Shahzad, an immigrant from Pakistan is the major suspect in the failed bomb attempt in Times Square.The main stream media [MSM] were puzzled by his motives. This attitude is in keeping with the Obama administration's determination to eliminate certain words and phrases from American policy documents and statements concerning Islam, so that analysts, experts and advisors cannot use expressions such as "radical Islam," "Islamic extremists," "Islamists," and "Islamic terrorists."  While it is true that such a policy of avoiding terms such as "Islamic terrorism" began under Bush, and in Britain under Tony Blair, they were confined to public statements. Now Obama's policy applies to internal government documents as well, which can only have disastrous consequences for our understanding of individual acts such as those of Faisal Shahzad, and political groups and events in the Middle East, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and South and South East Asia. As Barry Rubin said, "Suppose I'm an intelligence analyst in the State Department, Defense Department, armed forces, or CIA, and I'm writing about one of these groups or this ideology. How can one possibly analyze the power and appeal of this ideology, the way that ideas set its strategy and tactics, why it is such a huge menace if any reference to the Islamic religion and its texts or doctrines isn't permitted?"
Before any of us had any idea as to the identity of the perpetrator The Nation's Robert Dreyfuss ruled out a priori that the act could be of a jihadi from the Pakistan-based Taliban, "it seems far more likely to me [he] was either a lone nut job or a member of some squirrely branch of the Tea Party, anti-government far right." Yes, perhaps a follower of Sarah Palin!

Even though we now have far more information about the suspect, the MSM refused to speculate that Islam may have had something to do with it:
CBS News: "It isn't clear if more suspects are at large OR what the motive could be."
Associated Press headline: "NY car bomb suspect cooperates, but motive mystery." (May 5, 2010)
Associated Press Story: "Federal officials aren't talking about a motive in the arrest of a naturalized U.S. citizen charged with attempting to set off a bomb in New York's Times Square." (May 5, 2010)
USA Today headline: "Motive of NYC car bomb suspect remains a mystery." (May 5, 2010)
The Guardian headline: "Times Square bomb: Pakistanis puzzled by bomber's motives." (May 5, 2010)

Is this refusal to implicate Islam commendable restraint, or willful blindness to the obvious?

Comments:

#1 SimonSays on Wednesday May 05, 2010 at 8:34pm

re: motive(s), we can also look at what news reports about the suspect in particular are:

The Pakistani-American man suspected in Saturday’s attempted car bombing in New York’s Times Square has told authorities he was upset over U.S. drone attacks in Pakistan, especially a drone attack while he was in the country, a U.S. official told Fox News.

Source: FOX News: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2010/05/05/times-square-bomb-suspect-met-pakistani-taliban-leader/

Is this unexpected among security/intelligence experts? Hardly. Here’s what the intelligence community goes on the record with about drone attacks:

There is no doubt among intelligence officials that the barrage of attacks by C.I.A. drones over the past year has made Pakistan’s Taliban, which goes by the name Tehrik-i-Taliban, increasingly determined to seek revenge by finding any way possible to strike at the United States.

The C.I.A.’s drone program in Pakistan, which was accelerated in 2008 and expanded by President Obama last year, has enjoyed strong bipartisan support in Washington in part because it was perceived as eliminating dangerous militants while keeping Americans safe.

But the attack in December on a C.I.A. base in Afghanistan, and now possibly the failed S.U.V. attack in Manhattan, are reminders that the drones’ very success may be provoking a costly response.

Source: NY Times May 6: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/06/nyregion/06bomb.html

If the suspects motives are indeed not adequately discussed (I’m not sure that’s the case), it is a plausible hypothesis that the MSM would prefer to not discuss the drone attacks in Pakistan.


re: Islam and MSM political correctness, I do not accept the premise that the US MSM is motivated by any desire to appease or assuage Muslims. This is evidenced by the fact that (at least in the past 6 years I have been in the US), there has never been any kind of act of political violence in the US that is not labeled ‘terrorism’ by the MSM that does NOT involve Muslims. On the flipside, abortion clinic bombers, white supremacists, et al are as a rule never ‘terrorists’ according to the MSM.

#2 Michael De Dora on Thursday May 06, 2010 at 8:40am

“As the media focuses on the fact that the suspect in the failed Times Square bomb plot is a Pakistani Muslim. What about the man who first noticed the smoke rising from the SUV? A street vendor, a Muslim immigrant from Senegal, says he first sounded the alarm and helped stop the plot.”

http://www.democracynow.org/2010/5/6/muslim_vendor_gets_no_credit_in

#3 SimonSays on Thursday May 06, 2010 at 8:57am

Michael, a fair point.

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