For strange psychological reasons that archaeologists who sift through the rubble of our civilization will long ponder, the biggest story of our time cannot be reported honestly.
For example, the Islamic State's rapidly growing Libyan branch office has just held a mass execution of 21 men. The Government of the United States deplored it thus:
Statement by the Press Secretary on the Murder of Egyptian Citizens
"Egyptian citizens"? They didn't die because of their passports; they died because they were Coptic Christians - or, as their executioners put it, "followers of the cross".
Why would the White House so dishonor the dead? As I wrote a week ago, the Administration's lies about the perpetrators necessitate lies about their victims:
Lies beget lies. The Obama Administration insists that the Islamic State is not Islamic, Islamic terrorism is nothing to do with Islam, there's no Islam to see here, no way, no how. You can't hold the line at one lie, and tell the truth on everything else. The lie on Islam infects everything else. If they're just "violent extremists" in general, they have to be violent and extremist in general - or "randomly", as the President would say.
Because the United States Government will not tell the truth about the Islamic motivation of the killers, it cannot tell the truth about the victims - whether Jews in France, or Copts in Libya, or Anglicans in Nigeria.
It is an absurd lie but many influential people are willing to serve it. Step forward, Daniel Burke, CNN's "Religion Editor". Attempting to make sense of the horrors of the last week, Mr Burke filed a story called "Religion's Week From Hell". Yes, "religious" people are getting up to all sorts of hellish stuff. Just ask any expert:
If you want to rally troops to your side, few tools are more powerful than religion, said Michael Jerryson, co-editor of "The Oxford Handbook of Religion and Violence." "If you can turn a battle into good versus evil, or doing God's will, you will get so much more devotion," he told CNN.
This "religion" business is a powerful tool, eh? Daniel Burke then listed various examples of the "religious" hellishness going on around the planet. As John Hinderaker noticed, one of these things is not like the other:
Monday: Boko Haram take 20 hostages in Cameroon and detonate a car bomb in Niger;
Tuesday: Three Muslims in Chapel Hill, North Carolina are killed by an atheist neighbor;
Wednesday: ISIS bombs Baghdad, killing dozens of Iraqis;
Thursday: Al-Qaeda seize a key military base in Yemen, killing four soldiers;
Friday: Boko Haram kill five people in Chad;
Saturday: A gunman kills a Danish film director and a Jewish security guard in Copenhagen;
Sunday: The Libyan subsidiary of ISIS beheads 21 Copts on a beach.
With the exception of that Carolina guy, who is of no religion, the "religious" violence in seven different countries was all perpetrated by adherents of one particular religion. But CNN can't say that, so its only way of covering this trend is to tut about all this - what's the word? - random religious fervor getting everyone all randomly fired up. I prefer the way I put it in my bestselling book America Alone way back in 2006, right up front in the prologue:
Though there are many trouble spots around the world, as a general rule it's easy to make an educated guess at one of the participants: Muslims vs Jews in "Palestine", Muslims vs Hindus in Kashmir, Muslims vs Christians in Africa, Muslims vs Buddhists in Thailand, Muslims vs Russians in the Caucasus, Muslims vs backpacking tourists in Bali, Muslims vs Danish cartoonists in Scandinavia. The environmentalists may claim to think globally but act locally, but these guys live it.
Muslims vs [Your Team Here]. That stands up pretty well almost a decade on - which is why if you don't already have a personally autographed copy of my book, you should. But don't worry, there's no chance of me getting invited on as an expert by CNN's Religion Editor.
Faced with all these random religions getting out of hand, what should the Government of the United States do? State Department spokes-coed Marie Harf is looking at the world through rose-colored glasses:
We cannot kill our way out of this war. We need in the medium to longer term to go after the root causes that leads people to join these groups, whether it's lack of opportunity for jobsâ€¦ We can help them build their economies so they can have job opportunities for these people.
The man who beheaded the Copts in Libya has a North American accent. The guy who beheaded the Americans in Syria has an estuary English accent. The bloke who gave a severed head to his seven-year-old kid to wave around on social media has an Aussie accent.
Like thousands of other Islamic State volunteers from the western world, like the Copenhagen killer (a graduate of a fast-track high school) and the Ottawa killer (the son of a super-senior Canadian bureaucrat), these guys had all the "job opportunities" they could dream of in the most advanced economies on earth - and they gave it all up to go head-chopping. Because they found jihad - whoops, sorry, "religion" - more appealing than being the sort of fey western metrosexual eunuch who hung around Marie Harf in college.
Maybe we could just offer everyone in ISIS interns at the State Department. For one thing, in Foggy Bottom if you chopped off everyone's heads, who'd notice?
~My daughter alerted me yesterday afternoon to the sad news that the great Lesley Gore had died, far too young. I saw her at Michael Feinstein's club in New York some years back, and assumed I had all the time in the world to catch her again. She was a fine songwriter, and I loved her singing voice. But it wasn't all teen angst. A few years ago, my daughter and I whipped up a version of this Lesley Gore hit that we liked to do. But really you can't improve on the original:
That was the first hit song composed by Marvin Hamlisch, who also died too young. Hard to beat that for the maximum infectious perkiness packed into 90 seconds. Lesley Gore grew up and, like a lot of pop stars, had to live with the reality that you're older and wiser and your command of your craft is far more sophisticated, but you're just not as big a star, and that moment will never come again. But she made her peace with her youthful success, and, if 90 seconds of "Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows" isn't enough, here she is a quarter-century later on stage in Melbourne;
Rest in peace.
~The New York Times' media columnist David Carr has also died, very suddenly, right after a very blah defense of Brian Williams. To be honest, I can't say I mourn him as I mourn Miss Gore. Our only intersection came five-and-a-half years ago after a New York Times front-page story reported that I'd compared Barack Obama to Kim Jong-Il and Saddam Hussein. Actually, I hadn't. But "media critic" David Carr picked up the error for his own column and took it to the next level. After The Irish Times and other newspapers that made the mistake of believing America's "newspaper of record" issued corrections, The New York Times issued its own somewhat snotty and defensive correction (I didn't ask for one - the only time I've ever demanded a correction I played it strictly for laughs.)
That's by way of saying that, for all the effusions about his brilliant insights and high style as a media analyst, in the only matter of which I had direct personal knowledge he was just another lazy third-rate hack playing journo-Chinese whispers rather than actually listening to the media he was paid to "analyze". Funny how that works.