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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Who does the AP consider an "extremist"?

Here are all the recent stories I could find by AP that used the word "extremist" as a factual statement, not as a quote:

October 19: A northern Virginia man who warned the creators of the animated TV show "South Park" that they risked death for mocking the prophet Muhammad is scheduled to plead guilty to supporting an al-Qaida linked terrorist group, according to court records....Prosecutors say that Chesser tried twice in the last year to travel to Somalia and join al-Shabab as a foreign fighter. ...After his latest attempt to leave the country, Chesser apparently tried convincing FBI agents he had renounced his extremist views and said he would work for the FBI if the government helped him travel to Africa, according to the affidavit.
October 21: Radical Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki lunched at the Pentagon as part of a program to reach out to moderate Muslims in the months after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, a military official said Thursday....The report said he had also been investigated by the FBI in 1999 and 2000 for having been "contacted by a possible procurement agent for (Osama) bin Laden" and for connections to extremist fundraising groups.
October 23: A U.S.-born spokesman for al-Qaida on Saturday urged Muslims living in the United States and Europe to carry out attacks there, calling it a duty and an obligation....He spoke in Arabic in the video, which was made available by the U.S.-based SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors extremist activity.
October 27: US drone strikes killed up to six militants in Pakistan's tribal belt on Wednesday, targeting the extremist Haqqani network and a compound harbouring foreign fighters, officials said.
October 27: An American who was arrested on suspicion of having links with al-Qaida has been charged with the murder of a Yemeni soldier and the wounding of another during a failed escape attempt....U.S. officials say Mobley, who grew up in Buena, N.J., traveled to Yemen more than two years ago with the goal of joining a terror group and that the U.S. government was aware of his potential extremist ties long before his arrest.
In all of these cases, the word "extremist" is used to refer to murderers and/or supporters of terror groups with a long track record of murders and terror attacks.

(AP also uses the word in quotes when referring to, say Democrats accusing Republican candidates of "extremism.")

But one other group in the world also gains that title in AP's world: right-wing Jews:
October 20: In the West Bank on Wednesday, Palestinians said Jewish settlers set fire to a girls school near the northern city of Nablus. The school was found vandalized with Hebrew graffiti on the wall reading "regards from the hills." The fire caused minor damage. The incident appears to be the latest action in a campaign extremist Jewish settlers call the "price tag."
Admittedly, arson is not something to belittle - but why is it called "extremist"?

Even more glaring was this report from yesterday:
Israeli police and stone-throwing Arabs clashed in northern Israel on Wednesday as a group of extreme right-wing Israelis tried to march through the Arab Israeli town of Umm al-Fahm.
Hundreds of police clad in riot gear fired tear gas and stun grenades to disperse angry Arab youths, many with scarves wrapped around their faces, who burned tyres and hurled stones in protest ahead of an extremist rally in their town.

Tensions were high as around 20 Israeli demonstrators from a group called "Our Land of Israel" turned up for a march calling for a ban on the radical wing of the Israeli Islamic Movement, which is led by the firebrand preacher Sheikh Raed Salah.

"Death to terrorists!" they shouted, waving banners reading: "Make the Islamic Movement illegal," and "Death to Raed Salah," although they were prevented from marching by police who hemmed them in with three coaches, an AFP correspondent at the scene said.
While some may disagree with these protesters, they hardly have a track record of political assassinations or mass murders. Their protest was peaceful, if provocative. Their targets are terrorists and those who incite terror (like Raed Salah, who constantly makes up stories about Israeli plans to desecrate the Al Aqsa Mosque and has more that a bit of anti-semitism.)

Here we have a planned, legal, peaceful rally. Arabs who opposed it burned tires and threw stones. By any sane standard, the violent protesters should be labeled "extremist," not the Jewish protesters.

But in AP's worldview, nationalist Jews who claim disputed land and who protest Islamic terror incitement within their own country are regarded the same way as Al Qaeda.

(h/t Zach, also see Meryl Yourish)

UPDATE: After I wrote this I see that Just Journalism, the British media watchdog, caught The Independent and the BBC also using far more pejorative terms for right-wing Jews than for extremist Arabs.