Posts from July 8, 2005

News as it doesn’t happen

I’m at MSNBC now, ready to go on Connected. I was to do London bombing links. Then they said they wanted the hurricane. Oh, no, I pleaded, not the No. 1 Cable Cliche?!? No, they agreed, we’d do both. Whew. I just hate being a cliche. But then came the rumors that at least one Supreme would step down. So I’m ready with late-breaking blog links. This is news.

: Before going on, I’m watching Christopher Hitchens fence with Ron Reagan over Iraq and terrorism; much fun. We want our Hitchvision.

The Muslim problem

Here’s the elephant in the world that we too often don’t dare address in our PC era:

Are Muslim terrorists a Muslim problem? And should the Muslim world — its religous and political leaders and its citizens — be fixing this problem by condemning and hunting down and jailing and stopping those who murder innocents in their name?

When we ask that, we meet responses like the ones in the comments directly below. Some of the folks there have no problem condemning the war in Iraq and George Bush and America with it. What’s wrong with looking for condemnation from the Muslim world? What’s wrong with looking to see demonstrations against Muslim terrorism by the vast majority of Muslims in the Muslim world just like the demonstrations against an American war held by Americans in America?

Last night on the BBC, I heard a leading London Muslim cleric respond to the bombings by complaining that the likely perpetrators are called Muslim terrorists.

We’re dancing around PC wording when we should be directly dealing with the problem here.

But today, Tom Friedman dances closer to the flames. He says that, indeed, this is a Muslim problem… because, if the Muslim world does not deal with it, the actions of the worst among them will affect them all (my emphasis):

Because there is no obvious target to retaliate against, and because there are not enough police to police every opening in an open society, either the Muslim world begins to really restrain, inhibit and denounce its own extremists – if it turns out that they are behind the London bombings – or the West is going to do it for them. And the West will do it in a rough, crude way – by simply shutting them out, denying them visas and making every Muslim in its midst guilty until proven innocent.

And because I think that would be a disaster, it is essential that the Muslim world wake up to the fact that it has a jihadist death cult in its midst. If it does not fight that death cult, that cancer, within its own body politic, it is going to infect Muslim-Western relations everywhere. Only the Muslim world can root out that death cult. It takes a village.

What do I mean? I mean that the greatest restraint on human behavior is never a policeman or a border guard. The greatest restraint on human behavior is what a culture and a religion deem shameful. It is what the village and its religious and political elders say is wrong or not allowed. Many people said Palestinian suicide bombing was the spontaneous reaction of frustrated Palestinian youth. But when Palestinians decided that it was in their interest to have a cease-fire with Israel, those bombings stopped cold. The village said enough was enough.

The Muslim village has been derelict in condemning the madness of jihadist attacks….

The morning after

Jonah Lehrer on the morning after:

The mood of London is a strange one this morning. As Auden wrote in “Musee des Beaux Arts”: “everything turns away/Quite leisurely from the disaster.” He was right. Outside I hear buses, not sirens. The sun is shining, and the usual crowd has gathered in the Starbucks across the street. Having been in NY for 9/11, I find something deeply inspiring about the way these cities dust themselves off.
But there is no doubt that the conversation has changed. The peace, love and understanding of July 6th has morphed into questions of who, what and why. It’s time to count the dead. Gone is Bono and Geldof. The TV’s are now saturated with incessant loops of the Police Commissioner explaining exactly how much he doesn’t know. It makes me sad to say, but no one in this city is thinking about melting glaciers and rising oceans. Let’s hope our leaders give us some news to cheer us up.

: And on Global Voices, they’re aggregating views from the Muslim blogopshere. They’re quoting condolences. I wonder how representative that is. If only it were.

: LATER: Various commenters are going after me for that last night. I’ll repeat what I said in response to one in the comments on the post above:

No, Ethan, I am saying that if the good sentiments in those blog posts were truly representative of the street and leadership of the Muslim world, we would see that condemnation and legal recourse and broad demonstrations. I truly wish it is representative. But it is a legitimate question to wonder whether it is.

New news

Fred Wilson saysthis [my post below about witnesses to news reporting it on their blogs] is what its all about and why CNN with its 24×7 news channel is hopelessly out of date.”

Not if CNN et al are smart enough to take advantage of the millions of new reporters who can keep them on top of the news.

: Ironically, I was supposed to have lunch yesterday with the president of such a news network to talk about just this. But, of course, we had to cancel because of the big news. But we did reschedule.

: I also think this is ironic: The blog segment on MSNBC, which I was to do last night, was preempted by the London news. But, of course, there was news — at least Londoners’ stories about that news — on the blogs.

: As I also noted yesterday, it is now reflex for the BBC and the venerable Times of London to solicit stories from the public and to publish them. Of course, they didn’t have to ask. All they had to do was go reading their local bloggers.

: I’m also struck by the new definition of news. As I wandered through the London blogs listed by subway station, I found, again and again, bloggers using their new tool just to tell their family and friends, “I’m fine.” That is the news that matters most, isn’t it?

: ALSO: I found Technorati — its search and its tags — useful in finding London bombing news and reaction yesterday. They put together a special page aggregating the tags.

: Joe’s Dartblog as a montage of front pages.


In the Guardian, Polly Toynbee argues that the Olympics should be London’s memorial to the attack — and, stiff upper and all that, I can see Brits taking on the games with just such determination.

She also joins in the game of equivalencies that tries to make terrorism equal something. For Galloway, it equals retribution for Iraq. For her:

How barbaric, Tony Blair rightly said, that the terrorists should strike just as the G8 at least strives to do better on Africa and climate change. Yes indeed. But then barbarism is in the eye of the beholder and every act of war is justified in the warped minds of its perpetrators. Barbaric might also be 30,000 children a day dying in Africa while a mere 25,000 US cotton farmers keep their trade-denying subsidies. Or Bangladesh soon to be washed away in global-warming floods. Or arms sold to those who will force them upon child soldiers, or any number of worldwide atrocities.

Dangerous game, that. Cotton farmers… soldiers hunting down terrorists… and terrorist themselves won’t appear in the same sane dictionary under “barbaric.”