Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Festival of the Hardliners

As I predicted in my last post, the media latched onto the word "hardliner" when describing Likud like a pit bull. The dearth of independent thinking in the media is always fun to watch, as each "news" source mindlessly follows the lead of others in finding a shorthand way to describe people they disagree with.

"Sharon broke away from his hardline Likud Party on Monday"
pushing for a March election after deciding to leave his hardline Likud Party"
just hours after deciding to leave his hardline Likud Party"
"Israel's Sharon leaves hard-line Likud Party"
"PM Ariel Sharon quit his hard-line Likud party, saying..."
The Gaza pullout, which was bitterly opposed by Likud hard-liners..."
Ariel Sharon's final break with Israel's hard-liners instantly redrew the political ..."
when he quit Likud, the hardline party he helped found..."
"Declaring that hard-liners in his conservative Likud Party had made life "unbearable,"
" pursue plans to end the conflict with the Palestinians without having to battle Likud hardliners..."
"...what was expected to be a difficult contest with hard-line rival Benjamin Netanyahu..."

The media shapes the news as much as it reports it. Sharon is now being hailed as a "centrist" because there is a major party to his right. But a week ago, despite his political moves in Gaza, you would never have found Sharon called a centrist in the media. And keep in mind that Sharon has done things that well-known "dove" Yitzchak Rabin would never have considered.

This gives rise to the absurd situation where Palestinian terror-supporting groups are labeled consistently as "moderate" while Jews who want to live in the territories are consistently labeled "extremist." The average news reader internalizes these messages and starts thinking that families who just want to live where they grew up are equivalent to suicide bombers; and Holocaust deniers are more moderate than the party that gave Egypt Sinai in exchange for a piece of paper.

When the press applies inaccurate or overly simplified language to situations, it affects reality. It gives real terrorists carte blanche and puts people who truly want peace on the defensive. It is irresponsible and dangerous. It costs lives.

(This morning I saw the BBC report on this story and the person they felt was best qualified to comment on Israel's political earthquake was none other than Hanan Ashrawi! She tried very hard to say that Sharon's new party is "right" and that the Likud is "far right." It would be far more accurate to describe Ashrawi as a "terrorist supporter", her party Fatah as a "terror group" and Hamas as a "hard terror group.")