Keep Calm and Propagandize On - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Keep Calm and Propagandize On

In 2006, Melanie Phillips wrote a book called Londonistan: How Britain Is Creating a Terror State Within. She argued that Britain was a sitting duck for Islamic terrorists, owing to its idiotic embrace of political correctness, multiculturalism, and religious relativism.

She wrote:

Britain is in denial. Having allowed the country to turn into a global hub of the Islamic jihad without apparently giving it a second thought, the British establishment is still failing even now — despite the wake-up calls of both 9/11 and the London bomb attacks of 2005 — to acknowledge what it is actually facing and take the appropriate action. Instead, it is deep into a policy of appeasement of the phenomenon that threatens it, throwing sops to both radical Islamism and the Muslim community in a panic-stricken attempt to curry favour and buy off the chances of any further attacks. This disastrous policy ignores the first law of terrorism which is that it preys on weakness. The only way to defeat it is through strength — the strength of a response based on absolute consistency and moral integrity, which arises in turn from the strength of belief in the values that are being defended.

The left greeted the book with hisses and dismissed Phillips as an alarmist crank. But on Monday her description of Britain’s capital as “Londonistan” came graphically to life, as a terrorist chose one of its chief symbols, the area around the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, as the place to plow his car into pedestrians and then stab a police officer.

The initial reporting after terrorist attacks these days is often full of hesitation and curious silences. The death toll is usually low-balled and the identity of the attacker is left hazy for as long as possible. So it is not surprising that the first reports on this attack identified the terrorist as merely “Asian.”

“Witnesses describe Asian man in 40s with eight-inch long knife,” reported the Telegraph.

For hours and hours after the attack (which happened at 2:40 p.m.), the media didn’t identify the attacker, only hinting that he was thought to have been “inspired by international terrorism,” which sounded like a PC euphemism for Islamic terrorism. The Drudge Report offered late Wednesday evening the suggestive headline, “Jihad at UK Parliament,” but the story to which it linked contained no meaningful details about the attacker. Just a picture of him lying on the ground, sporting a beard that appeared to conform to Mohammed’s specifications: “Trim the mustache and let the beard grow.”

One scoured most of the British press in vain for any reporting on the identity or motivation of the attacker. The euphemisms for his motivation were a little better in other foreign outlets. The French press agency, among others, attributed the attack to assumed “Islamist-related terrorism,” citing British counterterrorism official Mark Rowley.

But almost nobody was playing that up. The average reader would have to work pretty hard to find even that comment. By almost the end of Wednesday, the New York Times hadn’t included it in its “what we know and don’t know” story. That story quotes Rowley but only to say that the “working assumption” is that the attacker was motivated by “international terrorism.” Is that really what he said? The French press agency had quoted him saying, “Islamist-related is our assumption.” Why didn’t that appear in the New York Times story?

When a normally garrulous and gossipy media turns taciturn, the explanation is usually political correctness. In this case, an extreme sensitivity to Islam has a chastening effect on reporters who would typically exert themselves for a scoop. Even many hours after the mayhem, few of their stories contained any descriptions of the attacker from witnesses.

Reuters, late Wednesday evening, appeared a little bit more ambitious than the New York Times, though it made sure to cleave to the term “Islamist” rather than Islamic, as if these attacks spring from an off-the-wall ideological accretion rather than orthodox jihadist theology contained within the Koran. “Five people were killed and about 40 injured in London on Wednesday after a car plowed into pedestrians and a suspected Islamist-inspired attacker stabbed a policeman close to Britain’s parliament,” it reported, before reviewing other attacks by “Islamists.”

Keep calm and propagandize on — that’s the attitude in Sadiq Khan’s London, where terrorism, as he put it last year, some months after his election as mayor, is “part and parcel of living in a big city.”

George Neumayr
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George Neumayr, a senior editor at The American Spectator, is author most recently of The Biden Deception: Moderate, Opportunist, or the Democrats' Crypto-Socialist?
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