Monday, April 8, 2013

The Associated Press's Blanking Out

In Eleanor H. Porter's 1913 novel, Pollyanna, the title character, a child, adopts an unreserved, delusional perspective of optimism. When given a pair of crutches instead of a doll for Christmas, she proclaims she is happy because she didn't need them. From that point forward, she turns all bad things into good things.

The Associated Press (AP) this year is one hundred and sixty-seven years old. As a news gathering and distributing organization it is not a child and presumably is not staffed by children. Yet, it has adopted an even worse delusional perspective than Pollyanna's on how to encounter bad things, such as Islamic jihad and illegal immigration. It has excised the terms Islamist and illegal immigrant from its style book. It will no longer accept copy containing those terms. In effect, the policy isn't merely one of turning bad things into good things. It simply eliminates knowledge of bad things from one's consciousness in an attempt to remake reality. No good things replace the bad things.

It is an exercise in what novelist/philosopher Ayn Rand called "blanking out." Discussing the source and power of evil, John Galt, the scientist/philosopher of Atlas Shrugged, said:

Thinking is man’s only basic virtue, from which all the others proceed. And his basic vice, the source of all his evils, is that nameless act which all of you practice, but struggle never to admit: the act of blanking out, the willful suspension of one’s consciousness, the refusal to think—not blindness, but the refusal to see; not ignorance, but the refusal to know. It is the act of unfocusing your mind and inducing an inner fog to escape the responsibility of judgment—on the unstated premise that a thing will not exist if only you refuse to identify it, that A will not be A so long as you do not pronounce the verdict “It is.”

Non-thinking is an act of annihilation, a wish to negate existence, an attempt to wipe out reality. But existence exists; reality is not to be wiped out, it will merely wipe out the wiper.1.

The AP's action invites ribald mockery and loads of satirical comments. Jay Leno scoffed that from now on he will use the term "undocumented Democrats," referring to the Democrats' support of illegal immigrant amnesty as a means of recruiting millions more voters in future elections. Another organization said it will employ the term "illegal invader."

However, the AP's action is symptomatic of a seriously flawed mental condition. Both instances are examples of an evasive psycho-epistemology, or voluntary blind-sidedness. Or, again, of blanking out. Islam, Islamism, and Islamists, as Daniel Greenfield explains in his column, "Talking About Terrorism," will no more conform to a name change than the tides obeyed King Canute and ceased to come in.

The first rule of the Jihad Club is that there's no talking about it. For the second rule, see the first rule. The culture of silence and terrorism denial is sometimes well meaning. Since the Bush days, experts on Islam have warned that the best way to defeat Islamic terrorists is to undermine their claim to fighting on behalf of Islam by refusing to call them Islamic.

The average Al Qaeda recruit is utterly unaffected by whether the White House press secretary calls the group Islamic, Islamist or terrorist or militant. He similarly does not care whether Nidal Hasan's shooting rampage at Fort Hood is called an act of terror or workplace violence. Such concerns exist only in the bubble of experts who offer shortcuts to fighting terrorism that don't actually involve killing terrorists.

If the AP or CNN truly wanted to push back against Islamist violence, instead of censoring the Islamic part in the vain hope that their followers might not then identify the Muslim Brotherhood or the Islamic Jihad with Islam, they would challenge their premises by telling the truth about Islamism and Islam.

And if President Obama truly wanted to fight Islamic terrorism and defeat Islam, would he have ordered the redaction and discarding of all training materials for intelligence and law enforcement agencies that identifiedIslam as the prime mover of Islamic terrorism? Quoting from The Daily Caller, Raymond Ibrahim of The Middle East Forum, in his November 2011 article, "Obama Administration Bans Knowledge of Islam," wrote:

The move comes after complaints from advocacy organizations including the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and others identified as Muslim Brotherhood front groups in the 2004 Holy Land Foundation terror fundraising trial. In a Wednesday Los Angeles Times op-ed, Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) president Salam al-Marayati threatened the FBI with a total cutoff of cooperation between American Muslims and law enforcement if the agency failed to revise its law enforcement training materials. Maintaining the training materials in their current state "will undermine the relationship between law enforcement and the Muslim American community," al-Marayati wrote. Multiple online sources detail MPAC's close alignment with CAIR. In his op-ed, Al-Marayati demanded that the Justice Department and the FBI "issue a clear and unequivocal apology to the Muslim American community" and "establish a thorough and transparent vetting process in selecting its trainers and materials."

What explanation does the AP offer for blanking out the term Islamist? In 2012 it defined an Islamistas precisely what it is now denying one is.

Supporter of government in accord with the laws of Islam. Those who view the Quran as a political model encompass a wide range of Muslims, from mainstream politicians to militants known as jihadi.

Which is a very good and precise definition, indeed. Islam is a political/theological ideology whose end is world domination and global submission to Islamic Sharia law. However, now the AP has atomized the concept Islamist and made numerous unnecessary exceptions to the definition, and advises its writers that an Islamistis:

An advocate or supporter of a political movement that favors reordering government and society in accordance with laws prescribed by Islam. Do not use as a synonym for Islamic fighters, militants, extremists or radicals, who may or may not be Islamists.

Where possible, be specific and use the name of militant affiliations: al-Qaida-linked, Hezbollah, Taliban, etc. Those who view the Quran as a political model encompass a wide range of Muslims, from mainstream politicians to militants known as jihadi. [Italics mine.]

So, a writer must suborn his mind and go through mental gymnastics to distinguish between Islamic fighters who are and are not Islamic fighters, or Islamists. The implication is that not all Islamic fighters fight in the name of Allah; some might be fighting in the name of the Elks or Rotary Club or the Egyptian Copts and just happen to fancy the appellation Islamist. You never know, you never can be sure. Suicide bomber A can be A and non-A at the same time. You see, the world is littered with the bodies of Baptist and Atheist jihadiswho blew themselves up in the Mall of America and Afghanistan, the AP has run dozens of stories about those terrorists, haven't you read them? Who knows? The 9/11 hijackers killed 3,000 people and themselves because they may have been having a bad hair day.

What prompted the AP to change its mind, and not so much back-pedal on the definition, as dismount from the bike? Political pressure and political correctness in the form of the communications director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Ibrahim Hooper. CAIR, an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation money-laundering case with strong links to Hamas (the terrorist organization which President Barack Obama is seeking to legitimize, just as he has legitimatized The Muslim Brotherhood), has acted as the point man in the conversion of the U.S. into a Sharia-compliant nation. Its brothers in this country are the Islamic Circle of North America, the Islamic Society of North America, the Muslim Public Affairs Council, and the Muslim Students Association, all of which have chapters strewn across the country, in addition to a passel of lesser Muslim organizations.

U.S. News & World Report, in reporting the pressure Hooper applied on the AP, has taken no chances and refers to CAIR in deceptively benign terms.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, an American advocacy group sometimes labeled "Islamist" by critics, previously lobbied for the AP to drop the term. In a January op-edCAIR's communications director, Ibrahim Hooper, wrote the term "has become shorthand for 'Muslims we don't like'" and "is currently used in an almost exclusively pejorative context."

True, CAIR is just an "advocacy group." But, what does it advocate? Compliance with and deference to Sharia law and Muslim religious customs. In short, submission to Islam. And CAIR is not "sometimes" labeled Islamist; it is often labeled Islamist.

Islam is a bad thing. Islamic fighters, militants, extremists or radicals, are all Islamists, and all bad things, whether or not they are al-Qaida-linked, Hezbollah-linked, Taliban-linked, Hamas-linked, and etc. Lone wolf jihadi, such as the French Muslim Mohammed Merah, all acting in the name of Islam, are bad things. Ibrahim Hooper of CAIR is a stealth jihadist, working to subvert the U.S. from within per the Muslim Brotherhood manifesto. He and the Manifesto are bad things. Hooper is definitely an Ikhwani, or Muslim Brother.

The process of settlement is a "Civilization-Jihadist Process" with all the word means. The Ikhwan must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and "sabotaging" its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God's religion is made victorious over all other religions.2.

Hooper and his cohorts across the American Islamic spectrum all pose as "moderate" Muslims, when they are essentially Islamist. Which means "radical." Which means committed to the fundamental tenets of Islam. A very and incontrovertibly a bad thing.

But, what is a "moderate" Islamist? What is a "moderate" Nazi, or a "moderate" Communist, for that matter? The contradictions engendered by the term "moderate" boggle the mind, as they are intended to, and disarm anyone attempting to grasp the nature of the evil to which the country is submitting, whether that evil is Islam or socialism or the rudderless, destructive statism of Obama's basketball prowess. Further, anyone charging Hooper and his cohorts with waging stealth or "civilization jihad" is without fail branded as an "extremist" or an "Islamophobe."

All "moderates" of any ideology must ultimately devolve and default to one of two states: "extremists" or nothing. They must commit themselves to the entirety of their chosen ideology, or repudiate it altogether, and become "extremists" (as the neo-conservatives are)– or become manqués with nothing to say. This is no less true for those who are "moderates" for freedom, for capitalism, or for the Bill of Rights. There is no honorable middle ground, compromise, equivocation, or shilly-shallying between "extremes."

And it is no less true for an ideology. By their definitions, "moderate" socialism must end up as full-scale, omnivorous socialism, "moderate" communism must end up with the universal expropriation of private wealth and gulags, and "moderate" Nazism must end up with death camps and war. "Moderate" Islam must achieve universal conquest and the imposition of Sharia law. Else it is not Islam, but instead just another California cult that worships moons and magical pyramids, and bows five times a day to totem poles dedicated to halal organic food.

Teri Blumenfeld, writing for The Middle East Quarterly, discusses how the excision of politically incorrect terms connected with Islam from the political lexicon, and the desiccated minds which political correctness produces, made possible the evil of Nidal Hasan and the Fort Hood jihadist massacre in 2009. She ended her article with:

Islamists often raise the specter of "Islamophobia" whenever any legitimate question about or criticism of Islam is broached. But real Islamophobia stalks the corridors of Washington and other Western capitols [sic]: The fear of upsetting Muslims of any stripe is so rampant that the security of the American citizenry has been compromised.

Incidentally, it is only government force that can fuel and sustain political correctness in speech. See my “Speechless Speech” and other essayson political correctness and incorrect speech on Rule of Reason. "Stealth" censorship can accomplish this if it has a head-lock on a nation’s educational institutions, as the government now has.

Syme, a character in Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four who works on the ever-shrinking Newspeak Dictionary, remarks to Winston Smith,

“Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought?...Every year fewer and fewer words, and the range of consciousness always a little smaller….Orthodoxy means not thinking, not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness…Every year fewer and fewer words, and the range of consciousness always a little smaller…It's merely a question of self-discipline, reality-control...."3.

Except that in the AP's case, words and concepts are not banished, but smashed into their countless referents and sub-concepts, with the rule being that they may not be re-integrated again, neither in print nor in one's mind, under pain of the politically correct punishment of being silenced. Reality, however, will not be controlled. It will not conform to the whims, wishes, or fears of those who blank it out.

When it comes to combating Islam and Islamists, what you refuse to know will hurt you, later, if not sooner.

1. Galt's speech. Atlas Shrugged. 1957 (New York: Dutton 35th Anniversary Edition., 1992), pp. 1017-1018.

2. The Muslim Brotherhood Manifesto, p. 21 of 32 of pdf file. Investigative Project on Terrorism.

3. Nineteen Eighty-Four, by George Orwell. 1949. Ed. Irving Howe. (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1982), p. 36.

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