Although it is fundamentally biased in favor of the West, one good thing about Reuters is its attempt at neutrality regarding its use of the buzz-word “terror”. Reuters only uses the term and its variants in direct quotes. This is because, as the head of global news for Reuters said in an internal memo, “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter”.
Yet, almost all outlets, corporate, mainstream, and independent, fail to rise to the standard standard set by Reuters regarding the term. While claiming to strive for neutrality, most use it in their own, self-styled “objective” statements. But as Reuters notes, declaring a person or group to be terroristic is an opinion, an act of editorializing, not a fact. “Terrorist” is in reality almost exclusively an observer’s term used to demonize others, not to describe one’s self, group, or allies, regardless of how terroristic they may be.
The outlets that “factually” refer to certain acts, people, or groups as terroristic do not, almost without exception, refer to acts of their favored groups, regardless of their nature, in the same terms, or in language anywhere near as severe and condemnatory as that used for groups currently in disfavor.
A result of this nearly all-pervasive Western media bias in favor of the West has been to increase the overall amount of international terrorism.
It works in three main ways.
1) By describing it in neutral, positive, or excusing terms, or omitting it entirely, Western media increases the amount of terrorism committed by the West (imperio-terrorism) by conditioning the Western public to allow, support, or participate in terrorism carried out by Western governments, which have for hundreds of years been the principal international terrorist groups and perpetrators of terrorism. Favoritism of the West by Western media, which is designed to appear ‘objective’, also stokes the Western public’s inherent false sense of nationalist and cultural superiority. People who deeply believe that they are superior to others are more willing to personally harm or promote violence against ‘inferior’ groups. In sum: Self-aggrandizing bias in Western media increases terrorism by increasing the amount of terrorism committed by the West.
2) Because Western media conditions the Western public to allow, support, and/or participate in the commission of Western imperio-terrorism, the West suffers more terroristic retaliation, or, as the CIA puts it, “blowback”, than it would suffer if the media did not practice favoritism of the West. There is a positive correlation between Western terrorism and retaliatory terrorism against the West. This is shown specifically in studies conducted by the US government itself. In sum: Western media increases the amount of terroristic retaliation against the West.
3) Refusal by Western media to use terms as severe to describe the West as the terms the West uses to describe ‘enemy’ groups is, if one accepts that the double-standard is often applied unconsciously and not as intentional propaganda, highly illogical. For example, killing five hundred thousand Iraqi children does not, in the estimation of Western media, merit the label of “terrorism”, yet killing 150 Parisians does. (Details below.)* This double-standard makes it appear that Western people are either so indoctrinated or so stupid that they cannot understand simple logic or common sense and hence can only understand, if anything, violent retaliation. This further increases terroristic retaliation against the West. In sum: Western media makes it appear that Westerners are illogical, cannot understand common sense, and will only respond to force, resulting in further resort to terroristic retaliation against the West.
*Specific examples of the Western media’s favoritism of the West include the following:
US media does not refer to the US government as genocidal, or even terroristic, for killing some five hundred thousand children (UN study) in Iraq through the Bush Sr. and Clinton regimes, yet Western media flatly refers to the killing of 150 Parisians as terroristic. When done unconsciously and not for intentional propaganda purposes, this level of bias is illogical to the point of being pathological. The US per-capita equivalent of the number of Iraqi children killed by the US/UK would be in the millions, and that is just counting the kids. The UN diplomats charged with monitoring the US/UK mandates and attacks that killed these children both resigned in protest, calling it a campaign of “deliberate genocide”. Seventy members of the US congress went even further, calling the US/UK offensive an “infanticide” – the intentional extermination of infants – yet the Bush and Clinton regimes were never and are never referred to as infanticidal, genocidal, or even terrorist regimes in Western corporate/mainstream media, nor consistently in Western independent media. Indeed, these crimes are essentially never mentioned in the major media. Yet all of these outlets are instantaneous to declare as “terrorism” the killing of 150 Parisians. Even if, for whatever reason, the distinction makes sense to some Westerners, it does not make sense to the majority of the world. And if a foreign country killed millions of US children, US citizens would not accept the self-aggrandizing and self-excusing rhetoric of that country. This example is about as extreme an example of real-life bias as possible, and tells people around the world that they simply cannot talk to the West; the West won’t and can’t understand; it is irretrievably immersed in its extremist fundamentalism and macabre self-flattery. The West’s double-standard thus promotes terrorism, as people think (perhaps rightly) that the only possible chance of stopping the West from doing things like killing five hundred thousand of their kids is to use violence, since the West will not and/or cannot comprehend simple logic.
Another case: While engaging in a textbook Bernaysian propaganda campaign, the Bush Jr. regime invaded Iraq, directly murdered hundreds of thousands of people and further caused the deaths of about a million overall, conservatively. The initial bombing campaign was named, by the Bush regime, “Shock and Awe”. “Shock” and “awe” are both synonyms in a standard thesaurus for “terror”. Yet even when the government essentially directly states, while murdering hundreds of thousands of people, that it is committing terrorism, the Western media does not refer to it as terror, or to the US government as a terrorist group. This promotes further terrorism by illustrating to victims of the West and their sympathizers that the West is illogical, if not insane, and, if anything, can only understand force.
Another example of the double-standard: Western media largely refers to the Paris attacks, which killed 150 people or less, as the “deadliest attacks in Paris since WW2”. However, Parisian police massacred 2-300 peaceful protesters in the 1960s and dumped their bodies in the river Seine. They were protesting French colonialism in Algeria, where France killed millions in pursuit of extending its dictatorship over that country. Completely forgetting about, or intentionally omitting, this massacre is a key insight into the Western mind.
To eliminate the self-aggrandizing and terror-producing bias pervasive in Western media, Western media outlets must, when applicable, classify Western governments and their relevant acts as ‘terroristic’ or ‘imperio-terroristic’, and objectively place retaliatory terror against the West in the context of aggressive imperio-terror committed by the West, when applicable (as it usually is, as US government studies illustrate). This can sometimes be a fine point, as it is not necessarily applicable to every case, but given the current distribution of power, it is always, at the very least, a key factor to consider. It is also more obvious when considering outside situations: we have no trouble understanding, for example, that ISIS attacked Russia because Russia started attacking ISIS. It never seemed like a coincidence, and ISIS gave the reasons for the attack, as terrorists usually do. Further, we have no trouble understanding that militias often form in direct response to imperio-terrorism, as people tend to try to defend themselves: for example, the IRA is a response to imperio-terrorism by Brtiain, and Hezbollah is a response to imperio-terrorism by Israel. However, it is harder for US nationals, who often conflate themselves with their rulers, to acknowledge (though many do) the simple fact that ISIS is largely, if not principally, a response to US imperio-terrorism against Iraq.
One objection to classifying Western governments as terrorist groups is that, since no one definition of ‘terrorism’ is agreed on, some people adopt a definition that says the term “terrorist” can only be applied to non-state groups, not to widely recognized states. (Needless to say, it is people supporting certain states who insist on this definition.)
For those who prefer the restriction, the solution then is to introduce into the common vernacular a different term that is equally as emotionally evocative as “terrorism” and apply that term, when applicable, to Western governments and their relevant actions. “Imperialism” and “aggression” are technically worse than terrorism, but the terms are not as evocative, at least within imperial countries. Thus, examples of acceptably evocative terms could be “imperio-terrorist” (adding a qualifying term to the original term), “horrorist”, “sadist”, or “atrocitist”. These are all based on terms found in a standard thesaurus to be synonymous for “terror” or similar terms.
While a common sentence reflecting the current terror-producing bias of Western media might read: “The ISIS terrorist attacks in Paris were reportedly carried out in response to Western policy in the Middle East”, the same sentence updated to eliminate the terror-producing Western bias would read (for those who accept that the term “terror” can be applied to states): “The ISIS terrorist attacks in Paris were reportedly carried out in response to Western terrorism in the Middle East.” And for those who prefer to restrict the term “terror” to non-state groups, it could read: “The ISIS terrorist attacks in Paris were reportedly carried out in response to Western imperio-terrorism in the Middle East”, or, “The ISIS terrorist attacks in Paris were reportedly carried out in response to Western horrorism in the Middle East”, or, “The ISIS terrorist attacks in Paris were reportedly carried out in response to Western sadism the Middle East”, or, “The ISIS terrorist attacks in Paris were reportedly carried out in response to Western atrocities in the Middle East”.
The double-standard in Western media applies to far more than the use of the word “terror”. It applies to the general severity of the terms Western media chooses to use for its favored groups versus terms it chooses to use for ‘enemies’, and the punishments Western media recommends for ‘enemies’ (military invasion, overthrow, execution by firing squad or via explosive or other devices, torture, rendition, prison, solitary confinement, etc.) compared to the punishments it recommends for its favored groups (usually none, sometimes internal investigations, sometimes fines, probation, or prison time for low level soldiers).
Those in media who wish to help reduce international terrorism will not cheat; they will do their best to treat Western groups and governments, when applicable, with equal or greater severity, and recommend equal or greater punishments for them, than they do for ‘enemy’ groups, which are almost always smaller and far less destructive than Western governments. Media must also work to view the West in the context of its real history, not the omissions, genocide-denial, and “fairy-tales” (Prof. Horne) normally offered.
After adoption by Western media, the more objective and accurate classifications of Western governments and their actions will be gradually absorbed by the Western public, which will then do more to prevent Western governments from carrying out imperio-terrorism, and thereby prevent additional, retaliatory terror.
If Western media had, instead of encouraging the idea, used terms as severe for the US plan to illegally invade and attack Iraq as the media now uses for the killing of 150 Parisians, more of the US public may have been mobilized, and thus may have been successful in preventing the US from carrying out the invasion, which resulted in an approximately 700% increase in terrorism in the region (excluding US terror) and millions more deaths and refugees than would have occurred absent the initiating crime.
While many in Western media do not care about fostering terrorism (some surely do it intentionally) and knowingly employ their double-standard for various reasons, such as for ratings (self-flattery sells) and conflicts of interest involving their careers, power, or wealth, those who do not can contribute to decreasing international terrorism by making good-faith efforts towards eliminating pro-Western bias. If even 10% of the media made objectivity a concerted goal, the cumulative effect would be a huge reduction in international terrorism committed by and, in turn, against the West.
Author focuses on force dynamics, national and global, and also writes professionally for the film industry. Updates on Twitter. Author’s review of the historical background to the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement.