The media coverage of Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has one theme and one tack. Like 30 of the 31 men on the FBI's Most Wanted Terrorists list, they were terrorists who just happened to be Muslim.
While the New York Times dispatched its best and brightest lackeys to Boston to write sensitive
pieces on how hard it was for the two Tsarnaevs to fit in leaving them no choice but to bomb the Boston Marathon and then send LOL texts to their friends, it fell to a UK tabloid like The Sun to conduct an interview with the ex-girlfriend of the lead terrorist and learn that he wanted her to hate America and beat her because she wouldn't wear a Hijab.
There are all sorts of jobs that Americans won't do. Like pick lettuce, bomb the Boston Marathon and report honestly on the motives of the bombers. The only news network that operates outside the media consensus is owned by an Australian mogul who also owns The Sun.
Americans like to think of their press as freer, but it's only free in the sense that it voluntarily puts on its own muzzle. European tabloids get into bloody brawls with regulators. American newspapers have nothing to brawl about. They will gleefully report anything that undermines national security at the drop of a hat, knowing that they won't be touched, but there is a long list of subjects that they won't touch with a million mile pole.
In Europe, editors risked their lives to publish the Mohammed cartoons. In America, on the rare occasion that they were depicted, they were usually censored. CNN, which could show Kathy Griffin trying to molest Anderson Cooper, without the benefit of pixelation or a suicide button, blurred out Mohammed's face; assuming that Muslims would appreciate the sensitivity of treating their prophet's face like an obscene object.
The American media does not need to be censored. It censors itself.
Did the New York Times really fail to come across Tamerlan Tsarnaev's ex-girlfriend and domestic abuse victim while they were busily interviewing every single person in Boston who ever ran into the future terrorists? Doubtful. The New York Times may be incompetent, but it isn't that incompetent. If it could track down Tamerlan's old coach, it could track down his old girlfriend. It chose not to.
So did every other paper.
Either The Sun is staffed with crack journalists who could do what no American newspaper, news channel and network news program could, or The Sun got the scoop on Nadine Ascencao because no newspaper on this side of the ocean wanted to touch it. And it's easy to see why.
Nadine talks about being beaten in the name of Islam, forced to memorize Koran verses and being taught to hate America. Most journalists on this side of the ocean want quotes on what nice boys the two Tsarnaevs were and how, in true liberal fashion, no one could have expected them to do something like this.
Every background story on them is filled with the same pabulum, because the endless march of “We couldn’t have known” quotes provides the government-media complex with the plausible deniability it needs to continue doing the same thing all over again. If the people couldn’t have known, then it stands to reason that their government or their media couldn’t have known either.
No Islam please, we're American was the mainstream media's unspoken message. We don't do Islamic terrorism. We only report on terrorists who happen to be Muslim.
The only newspaper besides The Sun to do an interview with Nadine Ascencao was the Wall Street Journal; which just happens to be owned by the same tabloid mogul. But there is an interesting difference between The Sun and the Wall Street Journal. The WSJ piece doesn't mention Hijabs, Koran verses or hating America. It doesn't mention Islam at all.
Co-written by a Pakistani journalist, it emphasizes only that Tamerlan was a bully of no particular religion. That reporter's twitter feed features a retweet from another Muslim WSJ reporter who broadcasts that the plans of Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to head to Times Square amounted to nothing. Nothing to see here. Move along.
The "folks who did this", in Obama's patently false folksy parlance, were caught. Or at least one of them was. The sacred liberal ceremony of the Miranda warning was recited by a judge at his bedside and the trial will now move through the traditional phases of expensive lawyers paid for by the taxpayer pleading that their client was traumatized by our foreign policy and the entire story being shoved to the back of the media's coat rack behind the next sports star who comes out of the closet.
This is the surreal world of the American media, which wields its weapons of mass distraction with clinical precision, so that the news hour and the local paper are virtually indistinguishable in content from an old episode of The Jerry Springer Show. But it can't possibly spare the time for a coherent discussion of the real world motives of two men who carried out a major terrorist attack in Boston.
Soviet citizens listened to the Voice of America to find out what their own government wouldn't tell them. American citizens have to read The Sun and the Daily Mail, publications whose standards are slightly above that of The Huffington Post and yet, like the National Inquirer, have become one of the few outlets that will chase after the stories that the media has embargoed as effectively as Pravda.
Instead of wasting time on a dead end like Islam, the media has spent its time chasing down every other possible angle.
Did Tamerlan turn terrorist because he took too many blows to the head while boxing? Could the Boston Marathon bombing have been prevented if only we had let him win?
The New York Times assembled a touching story of an aspiring immigrant boxer radicalized by the petty restrictions of a government that wouldn't let him apply for citizenship because of his history of domestic violence and appearance on a terrorist watch list. But how does that jibe with the Tamerlan from five earlier who beat up a boy that his sister was dating because he wasn't Muslim?
When the media must deal with Tamerlan's theology, it keeps him in the category of the troubled man who turned to some wacky extremist version of Islam propounded by a YouTube convert. The man who beat his sister's boyfriend because he wasn't a Muslim and beat his ex-girlfriend because she wouldn't wear a Hijab wasn't some brainwashed drone who had his mind stolen by YouTube videos. He was a Muslim.
The Tamerlan of 2007 might not have watched as many Jihadist videos, but it would be a mistake to assume that he would have disagreed with their content. That Tamerlan might not have been looking at bombing targets, but neither would he have been upset and angry if some other Muslim had done what he would go on to do. Like Dzhokhar's two Muslim friends, his first reaction would have been to cover it up.
When it comes to serial killers and mass shooters, the media is conditioned to look for a break that follows some life crisis. But with Muslim terrorists there is no discontinuity, only continuity. A few setbacks might have made terrorism more appealing to Tamerlan, but that would not have happened if it had not already been on his menu of life choices. Or that of his brother.
That angle is the most terrifying one that the media can think of. It's the one that they can't touch. It's the one that they won't let anyone else touch either. If they have to mention the "I" word, they will sandwich it between "extremist" and "radicalization". But it's not Tamerlan who was the radical extremist. Among Muslims, his views were mainstream. The Wahhabis are in ascendance in most parts of the world, including the United States. Islamist parties roundly won the Arab Spring.
What was the difference between Tamerlan Tsarnaev and any of the Syrian Jihadists held up by the media as the epitome of courage and bravery? What is the difference between Tamerlan Tsarnaev and the Hamas and Fatah terrorists that the media peevishly contends Israel must make peace with? What is the difference between Tamerlan Tsarnaev and any of the tens of thousands of Muslim terrorists fighting in conflicts around the world?
While the European media, for all its faults, occasionally grapples with the incompatibility of liberal values and Muslim values; on this side of the ocean the topic is all but untouchable. There is no national censorship body that does this. Instead stories are held down by the weight of a consensus that insists the media exists to promote liberal values. All else follows from there.
The stories that promote liberal values are reported. The stories about a future Muslim terrorist beating his girlfriend because she wouldn't wear a Hijab are not because those stories create a sneaking suspicion that Muslim multiculturalism is incompatible with liberal values. And the incompatible Muslims, like Mohammed’s face, have been pixelated out of existence in reports on the terrorist attacks by disgruntled boxers, doctors and perfume salesmen who just happen to be Muslim.
These are the Muslims that the media doesn’t see. And it is doing everything possible to make sure that we don’t see them either.