Mark Steyn Ponders Media Allergy of Labeling Militants "Islamic"

In his column for the Chicago Sun-Times, Mark Steyn notes that reporters seemed a bit allergic to mentioning that "militants" in Russia (after the latest violence in Nalchik) and elsewhere could be described more clearly as "Islamic militants," but that wasn't something they wanted to underline:

Ah, "Islamic militants." So that's what the rebels were insurging over. In the geopolitical Hogwart's, Islamic "militants" are the new Voldemort, the enemy whose name it's best never to utter. In fairness to the New York Times, they did use the I-word in paragraph seven. And Agence France Presse got around to mentioning Islam in paragraph 22. And NPR's "All Things Considered" had one of those bland interviews between one of its unperturbable anchorettes and some Russian geopolitical academic type in which they chitchatted through every conceivable aspect of the situation and finally got around to kinda sorta revealing the identity of the perpetrators in the very last word of the geopolitical expert's very last sentence. When the NPR report started, I was driving on the vast open plains of I-91 in Vermont and reckoned, just to make things interesting, I'll add another five miles to the speed for every minute that goes by without mentioning Islam. But I couldn't get the needle to go above 130, and the vibrations caused the passenger-side wing-mirror to drop off. And then, right at the end, having conducted a perfect interview that managed to go into great depth about everything except who these guys were and what they were fighting over, the Russian academic dude had to go and spoil it all by saying somethin' stupid like "republics which are mostly . . . Muslim." He mumbled the last word, but nevertheless the NPR gal leapt in to thank him and move smoothly on to some poll showing that the Dems are going to sweep the 2006 midterms because Bush has the worst numbers since numbers were invented.

I suspect the story is this one, where the expert almost whispers "Muslim" at the end. Steyn concludes:

 I'm aware the very concept of "the enemy" is alien to the non-judgment multicultural mind: There are no enemies, just friends whose grievances we haven't yet accommodated. But the media's sensitivity police apparently want this to be the first war we lose without even knowing who it is we've lost to.
Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis