The bombings in Brussels on March 22 were terrible. Over 30 people were killed by lunatic Islamic fanatics, and Europe fell into a spin of panic. The western media went berserk with dynamic comment. Television, radio, websites and newspapers had a wonderful time seeking out personal stories of horror and grief aimed at exciting, titillating and gratifying an audience that is eager to be provided with lurid sensationalism.
Typical of the grubby gutter journalism was the lip-smacking report that «Adelma Marina Tapia Ruiz was about to catch a flight to New York on Tuesday. The plan was to meet up with her husband and young daughters a few days later for Easter. But as Ruiz’s young family stepped away from the departure area, she walked into the path of suicide bombers». This front-page tear-jerker was helped by the fact that she was an attractive-looking woman whose photograph could be prominently placed.
Then came the story of the distraught man who «has been scouring the city's hospitals looking for his partner and mother of their one-year-old child, Sabrina» who might or might not have been killed at the time of reporting, but that made an ever better story because it could go on for a few days. It’s the sort of grubby stuff that sells Western airtime and newspapers by attracting advertising profits. But there’s no profit in reporting terrorist slaughter elsewhere in the world. Western reporters can’t get all the intimate stories, for a start – and nobody in the west is really interested in what happens outside their own backyard. The sick joke British newspaper headline that «TSUNAMI DISASTER KILLS TWO BRITONS As Death Toll Reaches 60,000» is very close to actuality.
The UN recorded that in January alone there were 410 Iraqi civilians killed, most in Baghdad «where 277 civilians were killed and 838 wounded». One of the most recent terrorist incidents in Iraq was on March 1 when a car bomb killed twice as many people as died in Brussels three weeks later. Given its normal selectivity, the western media treated the butchery lightly. There were a few lines, here and there, and one mention on the BBC (none on US TV) – but nothing even approaching the vast coverage of the Brussels bombings.
As I write this, on the evening of Friday March 25, a report comes in that «a suicide bomber killed at least 29 people and wounded 60 others in an attack on a crowd gathered at a soccer stadium south of Baghdad».
US Secretary of State John Kerry went to Brussels 3 days after the attacks that killed 30 people and «met with Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel, the country's foreign minister, the King of Belgium and the president of the European Commission. He also laid a wreath at Brussels National Airport’s Remembrance Site». But when scores of Iraqis or Afghans are killed by terrorist bombs there are no visits by Mr Kerry or anyone else to meet presidents or prime ministers or strew wreaths all over the place. He won’t be laying wreaths at Baghdad’s soccer stadium.
There are no remembrance sites in Iraq or Afghanistan, because these divided and devastated countries are themselves vast remembrance sites whose surviving citizens are the wretched memorials to the consequences of US and US-NATO wars.
The monstrous hypocrisy is revolting, but all too familiar, and the European and US media, with energetic help from governments, are dancing to the terrorists’ tunes of fear-spreading by describing horrific scenes and predicting worse to come. There is little positive thinking about how to combat the menace of Jihadi fanaticism. National political leaders concentrate on soundbites and photo-ops as they always do. The more bodies the bigger the headlines.
Enter Donald Trump, the crass vulgarian who is never reluctant to seek headlines either. But this time – as on several lightly-reported occasions in the past – he had some good advice to give.
Trump concentrated on saying what he would do to reduce the terror threat. In an interview (albeit with a lightweight British journo) he declared that «I have great respect for Muslims. I have many friends that are Muslims. I’m just saying that there is something with a radicalized portion that is very, very bad and very dangerous. I would say this to the Muslims: when they see trouble, they have to report it, they’re not reporting it, they’re absolutely not reporting it and that’s a big problem».
He is quite right, because in Islamic society in Europe and elsewhere there appears to be no desire whatsoever to identify terrorists in their midst and tell the authorities about them.
The Brits tried to put as good a face on this obvious truth by having their majestically ineffectual Home Secretary, Theresa May, announce that «Trump is wrong». But then one of London’s Assistant Commissioners of Police had to admit that «We need more reporting from the Muslim community and all communities». How true.
It is much more important, however, that many of the thousands of influential mullahs throughout Europe – the preachers to whose every pronouncement their communities pay particular and even unquestioning attention – do not condemn Islamic terrorists in their Friday sermons. These clerics join with their brothers in the world’s centres of Islam in preaching the Word of the Prophet. But their decrees do not include instruction to refrain from killing innocent people. There are rarely any orders issued, in the name of God and the interests of humanity, to refrain from murder by suicide bombing or mass throat-cutting or burning to death in an iron cage, to name only some of the more exotic forms of Jihadi faith-slaying.
If all the mullahs in the world got together – Sunni and Shia – and agreed that on a particular Friday they would preach a sermon stating that suicide bombing and the slaughter of innocents are against the teaching of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) in both of their interpretations of their Faith, and therefore wholly and unforgivably un-Islamic, then the menace of quasi-Islamic terrorism would at least begin to weaken in a subsequently grateful globe.
But the mullahs do nothing to detect or discourage the murderous fanatics who are increasingly being regarded by the rest of the world as presenting the real purpose of Islam.
At the moment the barbaric jihadi thugs are winning their war against the rest of mankind. The international social consequences of their bombings are immense, as was seen at once in the total disruption to life around and within Belgium. Not only that, but the economic effects on the important summer tourist season are going to be substantial. It’s all very well for Kerry, surrounded by more bodyguards than there were people killed in Brussels, to declare that «He would ‘absolutely’ vacation in Europe and ‘without doubt,’ Americans should feel comfortable visiting European countries», but the average tourist doesn’t travel in armoured cars with posses of gun-toting minders.
Trump is right in saying that «I would say this to the Muslims, and in the United States also, when they see trouble they have to report it». It is the powerful mullahs who know or can find out where «trouble» exists – and it is the mullahs who could stop it. Only them. Nobody else.
And watch this space, because Trump is saying other things that make sense to the world, if not to Washington’s sabre-brandishing warmongers.