Friday, March 07, 2008

Moral Relativism and the Media

There was yet another vicious terrorist attack against Jews in Israel. Much of the world stops for a moment, shrugs, and life goes on. And that's the best of them. The worst of them actually celebrates.

Any time any innocent human being is murdered it is a tragedy and cause for sorrow. We must stop, take note, and reflect. And no less is it the case when it is one of our own people. When it is a member of one's own family the tragedy for the family is immeasurable. The Torah world is one big family. And the people slaughtered yesterday were the cream of our crop, young religious Jews studying Torah in a Yeshiva. The pain is real. It is thick. It hurts.

Words fail me. I can’t imagine the pain of a mother or father… sister or brother of the victims... Karbonos all. And who knows the extent of the injuries suffered by the surviving victims. The physical pain and untold emotional toll on these victims and their families is impossible to imagine. All at the hands of an Arab who lived in East Jerusalem.

Yesterday at about 8:00 PM local time, he calmly walked into Yeshivas Merkaz HaRav, took out a machine gun from a cardboard box and fired 500 to 600 bullets at Yeshiva students in the library killing 8 people before he was himself shot and killed.

The moment I heard of this event, I quickly turned to as many media reports as I could find to get details about what happened. Expecting various levels of media bias, there was one media outlet that was particularly grating in how it reported the story: England’s BBC. As always they put it in the context of Palestinian suffering.

I’ve come to expect a certain bias from the BBC. Their reporting exemplifies much of how the media report on the events involving Israel. But even as I expected to see exactly what I got, I could not hold back my anger and contempt for a media whose mindset is so blatantly exemplified by the BBC.

How does one explain this obvious bias?

Unfortunately it is all too simple to explain. The more one is an adherent of the philosophy of moral relativism - the favored philosophy of the liberal thinker - the more sympathetic one ends up being to evil. This is a philosophy that knows no absolutes. Everything is relative. It is a philosophy that says one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. It rarely if ever looks at historical context except to promote its agenda. Nor does it even look at significant current factors in making judgments. Right and wrong? That’s relative.

Moral relativists look at good and evil in the situation of the moment. As such they always favor the underdog. This does not make them inherently evil. Sometimes this kind of thinking will be on the side of justice and right. This was true during and immediately after the holocaust. Jews were the oppressed people of the time. We were the underdog. When Israel fought for its independence at great odds, it was the morally relativist liberal who was our greatest ally. The mighty Arab armies swore to eliminate us and drive us into the sea. Israel was a small nation with a small army that was woefully under funded and with very few arms.

Anyone looking at that picture saw a people about to be annihilated by their neighbors. So the obvious darling of the liberal with his morally relativistic mindset was Israel. We were championed by them. The conservative mindset at the time was old school and much of it anti-Semitic. In fact some of Israel’s biggest supporters then became some of the biggest champions the Palestinian cause. The actor Marlon Brando comes to mind.

This liberal mindset was true all the way up to the Six Day War.

And that is why the Palestinians are the darlings of the liberal minded media now. The Palestinians are the current underdogs. They are the ones suffering. It isn’t that difficult to spin every story into one of sympathy for the plight of the Palestinian people. They are truly suffering. Images and stories of that suffering abound and flood the media all the time.

That was the dominant theme on the BBC yesterday, another day in the reporting of how the oppressor nation Israel is making the poor Palestinians suffer. The lead story of course was the slaughter at Merkaz HaRav. But it was immediately followed with what was very likely their original lead until the story of the massacre broke. But that didn’t eliminate it. It was the very next story.

Images were shown of a poor Palestinian family in Gaza that lives in near squalor and starvation… complaining about their plight… all while a reporter cites international condemnation of Israel as being responsible for it because of their blockade. They didn’t even mention the real reason for the suffering: Israel’s only means of defense against a Hamas leadership in Gaza determined to wipe Israel off the map.

The blockade was put in place to prevent arms smuggling into their hands. To the extent that they mention the Israeli side at all they use phrases like: ‘The Israeli government says it is because of….’ As if to imply that what they say is not true… maybe they are really deliberately trying to commit a Nazi-like slow genocide ala the Warsaw ghetto!

There is no mention of the fact that Hamas, their elected leadership has sworn to wipe Israel off the map. No mention of the ongoing daily rocket attacks from Gaza or planned suicide attacks against innocent people by every Islamist faction as their only 'legitimate means' to regain all of Palestine.

There is not even a hint that the real cause of the Palestinian plight in Gaza is their very own democratically elected leaders. No mention of the fact that they could have it all - if they just stopped trying to kill us!

There is not a single Israeli leader that wouldn’t make a generous peace deal with them if they would just… stop killing us! And they would have the support of almost all the Israeli Charedi Rabbinic leaders.

The moral relativist doesn’t see any of that. He looks at the moment. Palestinians are suffering. Israelis live a relatively good and prosperous life. Images of suffering Palestinians are always juxtaposed with prosperous Israelis or Israeli military images... disciplined soldiers armed to the teeth with the most sophisticated supply of American weapons. You see tanks and guns. You see aircraft bombing selected terrorist targets and the innocent Palestinian victims suffering the results of these attacks.

And there’s the ever popular tactic of citing the larger casualty numbers among Palestininas over Israelis. No context. No explanations. Just the big bad oppressor Israel and their Nazi-like actions against a poor defenseless people.

It’s all about the underdog for the moral relativist. Nothing else matters. No right. No wrong.

I don’t have any solutions as to how to change this media bias and that’s too bad because they tend to shape public opinion… except to make ourselves the underdogs again. And I definitely do not support that idea.

However I will say this. Thank God that the support for Israel is very strong in America on both liberal and conservative sides of the aisle. The only dispute may be in how to best show that support... whether it should be more hard line or more Clinton-esque. But there is no doubt in my mind that continued media bias will take its toll. Just how much remains to be seen.