Glenn Greenwald says that it is really telling how the media are avoiding calling the murderer of British MP Jo Cox a terrorist, a label that they have no difficulty assigning if the killer is a Muslim or if the motive for the attack involves the various wars being waged against Muslim-majority countries.
British Labour MP Jo Cox was brutally murdered yesterday. Although the motive is not yet proven, there is mounting evidence that the detained suspect, 52-year-old white male Thomas Mair, was motivated by political ideology. Cox was an outspoken advocate for refugees. At least two witnesses say Mair, as he carried out the attack, yelled “Britain First,” the name of a virulently right-wing anti-immigrant party. He has years of affiliation with neo-Nazi groups: what Southern Poverty Law Center describes as “a long history with white nationalism.” The UK is in the midst of a bitter and virulent debate about whether to exit the EU – Cox opposes that – and much of the pro-Brexit case centers around fear-mongering over immigrants.
Despite all of this, it’s virtually impossible to find any media outlet calling the attacker a “terrorist” or even suggesting that it might be “terrorism.” To the contrary, the suspected killer – overnight – has been alternatively described as a gentle soul or a mentally ill “loner”:
This stands in stark contrast to a very similar incident that took place in the UK in 2010, when a British MP, Stephen Timms, was brutally stabbed and almost killed by a woman angry over his vote in support of the Iraq War. In that case, British media outlets almost uniformly called the attack “terrorism”; The Guardian, for instance, described it as “the first terrorist attack to injure someone on the UK mainland since 7 July 2005.” The headline of the British tabloid Mirror called the attacker “woman terrorist.” And just yesterday, another tabloid, The Sun, reported on Timms’ comments about Cox and, in its headline, referred to him as “Terror Stab Survivor.”
The difference is obvious: Timms’ attacker was a Muslim of Bangladeshi descent, while Cox’s alleged killer … is not. As I’ve written repeatedly, the word “terrorism” has no real concrete meaning and certainly no consistent application. In the west, functionally speaking, it’s now a propaganda term with little meaning other than “a Muslim who engages in violence against westerners or their allies.” It’s even used for Muslims who attack soldiers of an army occupying their country.
When the killer is white, the quick conclusion is that they are ‘mentally disturbed’, an exculpatory formulation that excuses the rest of the population from collective guilt in the way that all Muslims are tarnished when the attacker is a Muslim.
The propagandist mindset of the media is deep-rooted and almost reflexive. As Greenwald says, “Does anyone have any doubt at all that if Cox’s suspected killer had been Muslim and yelled “Allah Akbar” instead of “Britain First,” then every media outlet on the planet would be describing him forever as a “terrorist”? The fact that they are not doing so here sheds great light into what this word really is.”