Teaching Journalists How to Report on Jihad

Mark Tapson, a Hollywood-based writer and screenwriter, is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He focuses on the politics of popular culture.


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Muslim-American advocacy groups with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, like the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), are on a mission to combat what they claim is the Western media’s habitually negative reporting on Islam. After all, it’s difficult to advance the Brotherhood’s agenda of “eliminating and destroying Western civilization from within” when the media keep reporting on a steady stream of terror plots, honor killings, and encroachments by shariah on American soil. But if journalists take to heart the message of an online course from The Poynter News University, then their “skewed” perspective won’t be a problem anymore.

Covering Islam in America” is a free, self-directed course offered by the Poynter Institute,* which describes itself as “a school dedicated to teaching and inspiring journalists and media leaders.” It purports to give journalists a basic education in how “to humanize, analyze and put news about Islam and Muslim communities into context.” Check out the course and you will discover that what putting such news “in context” means is finding ways to deflect negative attention from jihad and shariah, and instead to give credence to Muslim “grievances” against the West, cast suspicion on politicians who speak out against shariah, and spotlight a right-wing network of “bigots” as the real threat.

The course asserts that “context is essential” and recommends, for example, that journalists report in ways that do not “amplify fears of jihad.” It notes that journalists “are far more likely to report on jihad-related incidents than other violence,” giving readers a “skewed impression of the prevalence of jihad” – as if the existence of other kinds of violence somehow renders violent jihad less egregious or less deserving of media attention. (The phrase “jihad-related incidents” itself is an almost Orwellian, innocuous euphemism for the murder and mayhem of terrorism – even blander than Homeland Security’s new terminology, “man-made disasters.”)

To correct what the course deems to be this misleading bias against Islam, journalists are told to get some perspective by comparing the mere 3,000 people killed on 9/11 by terrorists to the greater numbers of the overall murder rate and of other, leading causes of death like malaria, AIDS, and malnutrition. This illogical and offensive comparison, which suggests that violent jihad isn’t that serious, ignores the fact that we take those other causes of death – indeed, every cause of death, from plane crashes to breast cancer – very seriously and go to superhuman lengths to eradicate them. Should we not also undertake similar measures against Islamic terrorism? Should jihad become newsworthy only when the casualty threshold skyrockets? Moreover, terrorism has a broader significance and impact than simply a body count; while, say, murder is an undeniably heinous crime, terrorism is an act of war calculated to sap our political will and destroy our way of life. It’s fair to say that journalists are justified in giving “jihad-related incidents” their due.

Besides putting a more innocuous spin on jihad, the course reveals its leftist agenda by shifting into an attack on conservatives:

Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, a group of right-wing activists who view themselves as ‘anti-Jihadists’ have aggressively tried to tie American Muslims to terrorism overseas and in the United States.

The course steers journalists to reports funded by the Left to uncover more about these “right-wing activists” and their agenda. The recommended reports are the Center for American Progress’ insubstantial “Fear, Inc.: The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America,” the bias and smears of which have already been noted and discredited numerous times at FrontPage Magazine, and Bob Smietana’s “Anti-Muslim Crusaders Make Millions Spreading Fear,” from The Tennessean in Nashville, another discredited smear-fest that accuses conservatives of a financial motive behind their “hate-mongering.” The Center for American Progress is funded by the leftist multi-billionaire George Soros.

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  • mrbean

    The U.S. should just abandon Afghanistan and Pakistan and leave them to their tribal feuds and internal squabbles, but act militarily, if we are threatened, with overwhelming force. Winning the “hearts and minds” of those two countries is a lose-lose proposition, which it is intended to be. That cannot be over-emphasized. That is altruism in war, regardless of our General's or Obama’s assurances. The role of America in the world cannot be razed by bleeding it to death financially and morally in a “war of appeasement” — for the appeasement of zeroes.

  • Larry

    I wonder if they are going to give them the actual context of classic taqqiya like "islam is a religion of peace", "there is no compulsion in islam", and "islam doesn't target innocents".

    Without knowing exactly what the "peace", "compulsion", and "innocence" mean to moslems it is impossible to report on it.

    And they will need to explain exactly what taqqiya is as well, so that the journos will know they are being lied to every time one of them talks English.

  • http://www.contextflexed.com Flipside

    I think it’s funny that you attack the Poynter Institute when they do so much to steer neocon war-hogs into public television to manufacture a pro-war consensus.

  • StephenD

    Look, it's either this soft on-line course or eventually the re-education camps if Soros has his way. Sooner or later we will come to realize our fate is to be subjugated to Islam as dhimmis, or converted…or killed. What amazes me is that so many on the left don't get this and so they help perpetuate the lies.

    • http://www.contextflexed.com Flipside

      What amazes me is Zionist paranoia.

    • El Cid

      You are a true moron.

      • http://www.contextflexed.com Flipside

        The real El Cid had to reconquer Spain from the Muslims and the Conversos had to be tortured for their role in abetting the conquest. Interesting choice if name for you.

  • ObamaYoMoma

    (The phrase “jihad-related incidents” itself is an almost Orwellian, innocuous euphemism for the murder and mayhem of terrorism – even blander than Homeland Security’s new terminology, “man-made disasters.”)

    Actually, jihad should never be conflated with terrorism as the two manifestations are mutually exclusive of each other and two entirely different things altogether. Indeed, the reason today that jihad is routinely conflated in the West with terrorism is because it complies with the multicultural boundaries of discourse that have been intricately laid out and defined by the left, whereby all cultures are equal and thus the violence emanating from them are all also equal as well. However, just like multiculturalism is a demonstrably false ideology because not all cultures are equal, so is equating and conflating jihad with terrorism.

    Another reason not to conflate jihad with terrorism is it causes people to misunderstand what jihad really is, which is gravely detrimental to our national security. For instance, terrorism, which is a product of Western civilization only can be for any number of political causes, and as its name implies is always violent. While jihad, on the other hand, which is a product of Islamic civilization only is holy fighting in the cause of Allah against unbelievers to make Islam supreme, and in stark contrast to terrorism, can be both violent and non-violent. In fact, the non-violent varieties of jihad relative to the violent varieties of jihad takes place astronomically far more prevalently today. Yet, because violent jihad is always conflated as being terrorism thanks to multiculturalism, the non-violent varieties of jihad today unfortunately takes place completely unacknowledged and unopposed, and in many cases is even encouraged by the Left.

    As a matter of fact, mass Muslim immigration to the West and other non-Islamic countries is in reality a form of non-violent stealth and deceptive jihad. As in country after country and everywhere and anywhere mass Muslim immigration is occurring in the world today, just like clockwork the vast overwhelming majority of Muslim immigrants have flat out refused to assimilate and integrate and have instead formed segregated Muslim no-go zones ruled by Sharia as fifth columns and in direct contravention to the laws of the states in which they reside.

    In fact, we see this same exact distinct pattern of behavior manifesting every place in the world where mass Muslim immigration is currently occurring today without even a single exception. Hence, this distinct pattern of behavior is irrefutable and undeniable.

    Thus, it couldn’t be anymore obvious that Muslims never ever migrate to West or other non-Islamic countries to assimilate and integrate, but instead to eventually make Islam supreme via demographic conquest. Indeed, I challenge anyone to point to a single country anywhere in the world where the vast overwhelming majority of Muslim immigrants have actually assimilated and integrated instead of implementing that same exact distinct pattern of behavior?

    Therefore, if we continue to conflate jihad with terrorism per the dictates of multiculturalism and its corollary – political correctness – as laid out by the left, we will continue misconstruing the realities of violent and non-violent jihad, the supremacist nature of Islam, its extremely barbaric and draconian laws, and the threat it represents to our national security.

    As a matter of fact, allowing Muslims to migrate in mass to the West is analogous to allowing Communists to migrate in mass to the West during the Cold War. Had we previously been so stupid and naïve back then like we are today, we would all be living in a Communist state today as slaves, and if we continue to allow Muslims to migrate to the West in mass as we are doing today, we will all eventually be living in an Islamic Caliphate as harshly oppressed and subjugated dhimmis.

  • LindaRivera

    Americans will never forget that THOUSANDS of Palestinian Authority Muslims celebrated with great joy the terrible suffering and cruel mass slaughter of our 3,000 innocents; dancing in the streets, passing out sweets and firing into the air. Inhuman Muslims that Americans are forced to support with their taxes. And reward with a Muslim terror state in Israel bent on Jewish genocide.

    We will never forget that Muslims also celebrated in the streets in America and other countries. In Berlin, Germany, Turkish Muslims celebrated the 9/11 murder of innocents by sending up hundreds of bottle rockets into the air.

    We will also never forget that thousands of PA Muslims celebrate in the streets whenever a Muslim terrorist blows up amongst our Israeli brothers and sisters.

    • Keystone State Steve

      Not only did they celebrate in the streets when Muslims murdered three thousand Americans. They will celebrate just as enthusiastically when they defeat the Little Satan after the UN gives them the terror state they need to launch their final attack on the Zionist Entity. And given the strong hold of Radical Islam in Palestine, they will support terrorist groups who will bring the jihad to the Great Satan—just like the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001.

      Now I can't say with 100% certainty that this necessarily will be the case, I can only say this with 99% certainty. So tell me why we should ever support a two state solution in which the Muslims do not have to recognize Israel's right to exist? In order to promote peace in the Middle East?

  • LindaRivera

    A 9/11 Victory Mosque is the same as a Statue of Hitler at Auschwitz.

    Supremacist Muslims want a mosque honoring Islam at sacred Ground Zero where our cherished 3,000 were slaughtered without mercy by the followers of Islam. Muslims who obeyed the commands in the Koran to wage jihad and eager to claim their expected promised reward of 72 virgins in Islamic heaven. Muslim supremacists demand the right to rub salt in the wound of our pain, grief and tears with a 9/11 victory mosque.

    NO victory mosque now. No victory mosque ever!

    • alexander

      it is not clear to me – those 72 virgins – are they for all of them, or for each of them? Used goods or deflowering pain for both – every "time"? Can a muslem jump in, even the Big one (blink blink) and help me to fully comprehend the depth of that paradise feast?
      Gosh…
      How brainwashed a dude must be to believe in that idiocy…..

  • ObamaYoMoma

    Actually, the anti-jihadists in question – such usual suspects as Jihad Watch’s Robert Spencer, the Investigative Project on Terrorism’s Steven Emerson​, and ACT! for America’s Brigitte Gabriel​ – have not “tried to tie American Muslims to terrorism” (the recently deceased al Awlaki did a pretty good job of that all by himself). They have merely exposed the American Muslims who have tied themselves to terrorism here and abroad. Somehow that “context” is never addressed in the Poynter Institute’s course.

    Actually, in a glorious celebration of multiculturalism and political correctness, this writer is himself guilty of conflating what is jihad with terrorism, at the same time he is also inadvertently misrepresenting the realities of Muslims living in America as well. I hate to rain on his multicultural adherent parade, but all Muslims living in America and indeed in the West today are in fact stealth and deceptive jihadists. A few of them will become violent jihadists, but most of them will remain non-violent jihadists, and the few that aren't jihadists aren't Muslims at all, but instead blasphemous apostates that per the dictates of Islam should be executed.

    Nevertheless, because he habitually conflates jihad with terrorism according to the dictates of multiculturalism as defined and laid out by the Left, he is oblivious to the realities of the many varieties of non-violent stealth and deceptive jihad, as to him violent jihad equals terrorism, and since violent jihad and terrorism to him are one and the same, inevitably he is also oblivious to the many varieties of non-violent stealth and deceptive jihad taking place in his midst and right under his multicultural nose.

    In addition to suggesting that “bigoted” right-wing activists have over-inflated the threat of jihad, the course asks students to consider what “grievances” might “sources associated with ‘Political Islam’ hold against Western journalists.”

    Actually, the issue of Islam along with sharia and jihad, which are intrinsic to Islam, should not be a right wing or leftwing political issue, as Muslims are fighting jihad in the cause of Allah against all unbelievers regardless of their political leanings to make Islam supreme. Nevertheless, the reality is the truth about Islam is being intentionally suppressed by the useful idiot Left and Muslims in mutual cooperation, which, by the way, is also the sole purpose of this course, that is to suppress the truth about Islam.

    With respect to justifiable grievances, there isn't any justifiable grievances. Muslims wage both violent and non-violent jihad against unbelievers not because of any imagined grievances, but instead because it is an obligatory duty in Islam incumbent upon ALL MUSLIMS to fight jihad in the cause of Allah against unbelievers to make Islam supreme. No exceptions.

    Finally, although I have been perhaps a little harsh to the writer of this expose', let me nonetheless thank him for exposing this course and its backers to the light of day. I just wish he would finally learn to remove his own multicultural glasses, but obviously his heart is in the right place.

  • LindaRivera

    Dhimmi journalists are submitting to sharia and are GUILTY of not WARNING about the truth of Islam.

    Islamic terrorists have carried out more than 17,829 deadly terror attacks since 9/11 http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/

  • maturin20

    We don't really go to superhuman lengths to eliminate AIDS, malaria and malnutrition. We barely go to human lengths.