CHARLOTTE, NC, September 29, 2014 — Ray Rice, Derek Jeter and Alton Nolen, the Oklahoma beheader, have been prominent names in the news of late and their stories tell us much about the media and the way they cover stories.
On Sunday Derek Jeter played his last game in a New York Yankees uniform. Like his predecessors, former teammate Mariano Rivera and Baseball Hall of Famer Cal Ripken, Jeter was a class act throughout his entire career.
Somehow, the media failed to mention the influence professional baseball at the major league level of these players may have had as role models for youngsters.
How exactly does that compute?
Then there were the 19 Saudi terrorists who flew hi-jacked planes to topple the World Trade Center in New York, yet somehow, as we all have been told, Islamic extremism is not Islam.
In other words, if you follow the rules and become a positive influence for who knows how many young lives you are basically a non-story. If you kill, maim, behead, rape and murder innocent people you are extreme, but it has nothing to do with Islam. But in a fit of anger, if you hit someone and knock them out, an entire league is responsible for your shortcomings.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has been forced to make public apologies for his league. He has been chastised to the point that many journalists as well as fans called for his resignation.
Other incidents have occurred since, as they always do, which brought the focus of deeply rooted domestic violence issues within the NFL which employs nearly 1,500 players.
Three major league baseball players have illustrious 20 year careers and major league baseball is criticized for being boring. Three or four NFL players have anger issues off the field and suddenly all 1,500 active members on National Football League rosters are child beaters and wife haters. Nineteen al Qaeda terrorists and multiple other worldwide acts of violence occur since 9/11/01 but they have nothing to do with Islam.
The media cannot have it all three ways. If Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and Cal Ripken are positive influences in sports in general, chances are good there are a high percentage of players in every sport who emulate their character.
Conversely, a handful of football players are caught doing despicable things and suddenly the whole league is to blame.
Yet, when terrorists who just happen to be of the Islamic faith destroy and kill, their violence has nothing to do with that religion.
Dr. Sebastian Gorka has a different perspective about dealing with Islam and the Islamic State when he writes in “Breitbart News, “Treating the Islamic State as the problem misses the central nature of the jihadi threat, the fact that it is global. Whether the group is called ISIS or IS, or it is the al Nusra Front in Syria, or Al Shabaab in North Africa, or Boko Haram in Nigeria, these are all one and the same threat. Every member of each of these groups–and the hundreds of other groups fighting in theaters as dispersed geographically as Chechnya or the Philippines– believes exactly the same thing: that they are the best Muslims, true warriors of Allah, and the West is un-Islamic and must be destroyed so a new theocratic empire of Islam can be re-established and expand to cover the world. Focusing on one threat at a time–al Qaeda, then ISIS, and then the next one–will only mean we will be fighting such groups for decades if not centuries.”
Continuing his thoughts Gorka says, “it is clear that The Islamic State is simply the manifestation of a problem, not the cause of the problem itself. The disease which links all the aforementioned threat groups – which are symptoms – is the ideology of Global Jihad. It is the narrative of Holy War which unites bin Laden to the Boston Bombers, which unites the Boston Bombers to al Baghdadi. One cannot defeat an ideology with bombing runs. You can’t even destroy it with boots on the ground. The final victory against a totalitarian ideology – as in WWII, or even the Cold War – can only come when one discredits the enemy’s message, when you delegitimize his narrative.”
The old story in journalism is that “if it bleeds, it leads,” meaning bad news is almost always more titillating than good news. Which is why Jeter et al received less coverage than Rice and company.
However, if that philosophy is going to prevail, then media should, at the very least, be balanced and honest in its assessments.
Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award winning television producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe.
Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
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