Patterico's Pontifications

1/27/2006

A Potentially Reasonable Clemency Request

Filed under: Crime — Patterico @ 10:29 pm

Unlike the Tookie Williams situation, this sounds like a reasonable request for clemency — assuming the story’s facts are accurate (a rather dangerous assumption, given the source).

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Michael Hiltzik Says That Whether or Not Hamas is a Terrorist Organization Is a “Minor Issue of Syntax and Diction”

Filed under: Dog Trainer,Terrorism — Patterico @ 9:27 pm

L.A. Times blogger Michael Hiltzik has complaints about my post from this morning, in which I noted the odd reluctance of L.A. Times editors to call Hamas what it is: a terrorist organization. The Times editorial I criticized contained this infuriating passage:

Although the United States, Israel and the European Union brand Hamas a terrorist organization, Palestinians admire it for the schools and hospitals it runs. And the organization that once routinely dispatched suicide bombers into Israel has mostly refrained from such attacks for about the last year.

(My emphasis.)

As I noted this morning, this amounts to a simple refusal to call Hamas what it is: a group of terrorists. It is also a semi-apology for the group’s behavior, which has maintained its murderous character throughout 2005, notwithstanding the editors’ phony and half-assed suggestions to the contrary.

According to Hiltzik, my complaint amounts to nothing more than “picking at minor issues of syntax and diction.” This criticism is so ridiculous, it refutes itself.

It’s difficult to know just how to respond to someone who doesn’t see the importance of labeling terrorist organizations as terrorist organizations. But I’ll give it a shot.

Certain portions of the left — including, it now appears, the editors of the L.A. Times — seem so opposed to this president’s efforts to combat terrorism that they are unwilling even to call a terrorist a terrorist. It is this unfortunate tendency that I am criticizing, and it is a significant issue. If we can’t get clarity on this point, we can’t get it on anything.

It is the height of absurd relativism to suggest, as L.A. Times editors did this morning (and have in the past), that whether Hamas is a terrorist organization simply depends upon your point of view. Hamas is an organization that, not so long ago, bragged on its web site of its murderous operations, with boasts like these:

“He was able to kill 2 and injure 21″

“Three militants stabbed two Israelis. . .The Hamas members wrote some slogans and considered this operation as a gift for Yitzhak Rabin on the occasion of winning the Israeli elections.”

“The group disarmed the sergeant and took all his papers. He was then exterminated and disposed of.”

Nor has the organization’s thirst for blood disappeared. As I pointed out in my post, Hamas took credit for the brutal kidnapping and murder of Sasson Nuriel last year, and according to this source, sent 29 potential suicide bombers into Israel last year.

It is, quite simply, a murderous, terrorist organization. That’s not all it is, of course. It is also a selfless creator of hospitals and schools — just like that other selfless creator of hospitals and schools, Al Qaeda. But its creation of hospitals and schools doesn’t change the fact that it is a terrorist organization.

A news organization that can’t admit this — such your newspaper, Michael — has a real credibility problem. To call this “picking at minor issues of syntax and diction” is to trivialize a very serious complaint about the paper’s willingness to speak simple truths.

Moreover, Michael, this is a problem that appears to be characteristic of the staff at your paper. Take, for example, the refusal of your paper’s Barbara Demick to call Kim Jong Il “evil” — despite his deliberate responsibility for a famine that killed up to 2 million of his people.

It is irrelevant to me whether this stems from a misplaced desire for “objectivity,” some off-kilter form of moral relativism, or a mixture of the two. Who cares? If your paper and its staff can’t tell the truth, it is worthless as a source of information.

Kim Jong Il is evil. Hamas is a terrorist organization. If you can’t bring yourselves to acknowledge and articulate such obvious facts, how can you expect anyone rational to trust you?

I’ll put the question to you directly, Michael Hiltzik: is Hamas a terrorist organization? If so, shouldn’t your editors simply say so?

The question answers itself.

Hiltzik also complains that I selectively quoted from the editorial:

Applying his customary method of leaving out any and all information that contradicts his theme, the conservative blogger Patrick Frey unloads on the L.A. Times today for an editorial whose language he brands as “enraging.”

What did I leave out? While I noted that the editors were strangely unwilling to call Hamas a terrorist organization, I didn’t tell you that they did manage to bring themselves to say some bad things about Hamas:

Let’s fill in the blanks, shall we? Here’s some of the language the editorial employs to describe Hamas, phrases Frey conveniently forgot to mention: “Dedicated to the destruction of Israel…[with] leaders who have refused…to disarm and renounce violence…preachers of hate.”

Wow. They really let Hamas have it!

Let me paraphrase commenters Dana and perfectsense in response. Let’s say, hypothetically, that I were to write the following:

Although Adolf Hitler has been branded by the Allies as a racist who has ordered massive genocide, he built autobahns, liked dogs, and was a vegetarian. And his Luftwaffe, which once bombed London, largely refrained from such attacks after 1942. However, Hitler certainly was a preacher of hate and refused to renounce violence.

If I were to write such tripe, the news would be in the first two sentences, which suggest that: Hitler may not have been a mass murderer; may not have been such a bad guy; and didn’t do such a bad thing in ordering the bombing of London. Do you really think that someone who criticized me for these two sentences would be misrepresenting my position if they failed to quote the third sentence, which weakly criticizes Hitler for some of his lesser sins??

Apparently, Michael Hiltzik would complain if you quoted the first two sentences, but omitted the third. What nonsense.

Ironically, Hiltzik does exactly what he accuses me of: ripping a sentence from its context and “conveniently” failing to include critical surrounding sentences. (The difference is that I didn’t really do that, as I have already explained.) To see what I mean, see what I really wrote (read the whole paragraph) about everything being “okey-dokey” if Hamas has “mostly” refrained from terror attacks. Then look at how Hiltzik characterized my post. Note especially that Hiltzik omits my documentation of Hamas’s continuing terrorist activities in 2005, including a murder unrelated to suicide attacks. Once you’ve read my entire post, tell me whether you think he’s being fair. (Hint: he’s not.)

Weak, Michael. Very weak. This is the best you can do???

Postscript in the extended entry:

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Branding Terrorists as Terrorists

Filed under: Dog Trainer,Terrorism — Patterico @ 6:46 am

A Los Angeles Times editorial this morning caught my attention with this enraging sentence:

Although the United States, Israel and the European Union brand Hamas a terrorist organization, Palestinians admire it for the schools and hospitals it runs.

Sorry? We “brand” Hamas a terrorist organization? How about simply saying that Hamas “is” a terrorist organization?

But putting it that way might make it seem kind of silly to then praise it for running schools and hospitals. After all, a sentence like this would be kind of jarring: “Although Hamas is a murderous terrorist organization, Palestinians admire it for the schools and hospitals it runs.” Doesn’t have that ring to it, does it? It would almost be like praising Al Qaeda for establishing schools and hospitals — which it has done, by the way.

How about Al Qaeda, L.A. Times editors? Is Al Qaeda a terrorist organization — or is it just branded one? If the Palestinians overwhelmingly voted in Al Qaeda, would you still be saying that most Palestinians want peace, and praising their wonderful hospitals and schools??

The editorial goes on:

And the organization that once routinely dispatched suicide bombers into Israel has mostly refrained from such attacks for about the last year.

Well then! As long as they have mostly refrained from dispatching suicide bombers into Israel, everything is okey-dokey! They’re not really a terrorist organization — just an organization that we “brand” as a terrorist organization! (“Mostly” means only 29 potential suicide bombers from Hamas were arrested in 2005.) You might think that it’s small comfort to, say, the family of Sasson Nuriel, who was kidnapped and murdered by Hamas terrorists in September 2005 — but who knows? Maybe his family is grateful that Hamas has “mostly” refrained from terror attacks.

Note how full credit for “mostly” refraining from terror attacks goes to Hamas, with no mention of the role that the security fence has played in controlling the attacks.

I wish I were an artist or a photoshopper. The image that comes to mind is a rancher branding a steer with a brand that reads: “Steer.” Whether you brand it or not, a steer is a steer. Regardless of how it is branded, Hamas is a terrorist organization. And the editors of the L.A. Times, who can’t bring themselves to call Hamas a terrorist organization . . . well, they are also what they are, regardless of how they might “brand” themselves.


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