Please be aware of the following guidelines when writing copy in the wake of a terrorist attack:
- If the terrorist is non-White (as usual, unfortunately), reinforce the idea that White males are in fact still the biggest threat. Let this guideline be your controlling idea throughout.
- Keep the focus on gun control; i.e., get guns away from White males (regardless of the race of the actual shooter).
- Deplore the cynicism of right-wing politicians who attempt to use the attack as a way to further their agenda, should they propose actions which could actually reduce terrorist attacks, such as importing less terrorists. Also, it is perfectly acceptable to deplore the politicization in one breath, and in the next breath advocate more gun control. No one will notice.
- Denounce terrorism in vague terms, rather than specifically Islamic, and make frequent reference to White male terrorists such as Timothy McVeigh to muddy the waters. It is also appropriate here to point out that “Christians do this too.” If necessary, go back to the Middle Ages to demonstrate this point—that is fair game.
- To further muddy the waters, get into an obscure discussion about the different branches of Islam and how sectarian tensions may have led to this terrorist act. In doing so, viewers and readers will throw up their hands and realize that the situation is best left to the “experts.” After all, no one wants to learn about the confusing history of Islam.
- Find a picture of a non-White who was the victim of the terrorist act, even if they were just one out of a hundred victims. An African American woman running with mouth agape and a look of horror will do just fine, lest viewers feel that Whites are under attack from non-Whites, or otherwise perceive the situation to be a larger racial conflict. Also, try to get an Arab news reporter to tell the story, with an appropriately furrowed brow of disapproval (he’s just like us).
- Conflate terrorism with hatred in general, i.e. racism. This means that an Arab committing terrorism actually allows you to go full throttle against right-wing White men.
- Tout the virtue and courage of showing solidarity with Muslims and reaffirming our belief in diversity and multiculturalism. See #illridewithyou.
- Decry racism against Muslims which was A.) probably the cause of the terrorist attack in the first place and B.) will also probably be the effect of the terrorist attack, i.e. backlash.
- Frame the attack as an assault on “freedom” or “diversity” or some other abstraction with minimal emotional resonance as compared with an attack on an actual people; for example, an attack on French people or White people. How does one respond to an attack on freedom? By being “more free.” An attack on diversity? Why, we need to be even more diverse. This can be rounded out with a cliché, such as “This will make us stronger in the end,” or “we won’t give in to terrorism.”
So you see, journalists, we need not despair that our agenda will be derailed when an incident occurs which is in direct opposition to our depiction of reality. In this game, it is "heads we win and tails you lose." Never let our enemies state flatly that we are being attacked by Muslim terrorists and draw out the implications.
Witness Joe Scarborough (cuckservative, MSNBC):
I would love to see a news conference by Republicans, and Republicans only, saying that the way to beat ISIS is by pulling Muslim Americans more deeply into the fabric of America, as we have done for years. In a way that France has never done…in a way that England has never done, and in a way that other European countries have never done. That is the way, we are the melting pot. But that narrative seems to be turned on its head right now. I’m waiting for leaders in Washington DC to stand shoulder to shoulder to say enough.
By “enough,” Mr. Scarborough means “enough of Trump and his hate speech.” Joe is hitting #8 pretty hard here, reaffirming our identity as a “melting pot” (although we actually now consider the “melting pot” trope racist, we will allow it here). A terror attack which apparently confirms everything the Trump candidacy is based on is nonetheless used as an opportunity to demand that Republicans oppose Trump and his Muslim ban. When I say “tails you lose,” this is what I mean. Brilliant, yes?
“Stand up and be counted,” Scarborough urges Republicans, hoping they will toe the line on even more Islamic immigrants. Mr. Scarborough doesn’t make this pitch in a dry academic tone; he is positively charged and indignant, as though to say, “Follow me, cuckservatives, I know the way!” Reportedly, the Orlando night-club terrorist became enraged after seeing a same sex couple kiss, which would seem to exonerate Donald Trump from inspiring the attack. Perhaps you think we should take the terrorist at face value when he tells us his motives. I say no; this is when we need to be most brazen. Headline of the Daily News covers guideline #2, keeping the focus on guns: Thanks, NRA.
David Ignatius of the Washington Post expounds on Trump’s comments after the attack in Orlando:
His comments right after the shootings might appear to some to be opportunistic attempt to say “I told you so” but, so, but those may have hurt him. But I do think that there is a real danger in a general election campaign of the same kind of politics that we’re seeing in Europe, in France, in, in, in Germany, in Austria, in Britain, where people are speaking, where politicians are speaking to the fears people have, rather than trying to bring them together and have more sensible, more inclusive, policies, they’re doing the opposite. I do think we have to look at this as a national security problem, what’s breathing life into ISIS around the world is this sense, this rhetoric, that’s coming from prominent politicians, that confirms their view of the world, that Muslims are on one side, discriminated against, that the world is ganging up on them, and that’s going to give them life rather than squeezing them off, and people have to see that. As per guidelines #3 and #9, Mr. Ignatius deplores the cynicism of Trump saying “I told you so” (even though, to be fair, he did tell us so); and Mr. Ignatius quite cleverly suggests that Trump actually caused the terrorism in Orlando in the first place, through “this rhetoric.”
Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism, I don't want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance. We must be smart!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 12, 2016
Remember, journalists, racism is a likely culprit in inspiring terrorist acts. In that vein, Ignatius gives a blanket condemnation for all those political parties across Europe who would resist Islamic invasion. This is the perfect tone to strike.
Finally, Michael Hayden is an approved and acceptable General who also reaffirms that terrorism is caused by racism:
Joe, back to the earlier point, the narrative of ISIS is undying enmity between Islam and the West, and when we say things that seem to confirm that narrative, we confirm, we increase the threat against us.
If we repeat this enough, it will become accepted by our American audience; this has been proven. Good General, you have behaved well; you may appear on TV whenever you like.
I know I don’t need to tell you this, but journalists, when you appear on TV or write one of your editorials, please reference the above guidelines; and in so doing, you will be providing the approved version of reality, which is actually the only one that it is allowed.
M. Jaggers aspires to be a malevolent voice in journalism. Contact him via email.