Sunday, August 22, 2010

Why AP is right and Robert Spencer is wrong

One of the big problems truth has in the present age is the mainstream media’s idea of equivalency. If one side in a controversy describes things as they are and the other side describes things using nothing but rhetorical tropes which benefit its position the main stream media will use both terms interchangeably in order to not be seen as taking sides in the dispute. But because of the damage the controversy over the Park 51, or Cordova House, project is doing to our ability to fight Islamic extremism the Associated Press has decided to abandon the use of the popular rhetorical tropes used to describe this project. They wish to abandon the term “ground zero mosque” in favor of the more accurate term “mosque located 2 blocks from ground zero.” The rational part of the world sees nothing wrong with this.

Of course the Islamophobic part of the world has a different idea. Robert Spencer complains this amounts to taking sides in this dispute. He likes the term “ground zero mosque.” From the point of view of an Islamophobe this is an excellent term. It motivates people to hate the mosque, the people who support its building, the organization behind it, and, hopefully, Islam in general. When AP banned its use it made spreading Islamophobia by attacking Park 51 more difficult. As both a professional and a devout Islamophobe Mr. Spencer is most upset by having one of his most effective weapons taken from him.

Unfortunately for Mr. Spencer the argument over the location of the community center is a case of accuracy in description vs self-serving inaccuracy in description. The building in question is in fact 2 blocks from ground zero. To call it the “ground zero mosque” is to imply it is at ground zero. While this is obviously effective in rallying opposition to it in fact we are dealing with a purposeful misrepresentation of reality for the advantage of those who are so misrepresenting reality. In somewhat more familiar but perhaps less accurate language Mr. Spencer and his friends are lying. So when AP banned the use of the term “ground zero mosque” AP was simply taking the side of truth in a dispute between truth and error. To be more accurate AP has decided to stop being a propaganda outlet for Mr. Spencer and his friends.

And about time. One of the big reasons for the mess this country is the mainstream media’s willingness to be used as a tool for the spreading of right wing propaganda. Its leadership is afraid of being accused of liberal bias when the facts are on the side of the liberals. So it believes in balanced reporting between truth and nonsense. Over time many people come to believe in the truth of pleasant sounding nonsense. At this point it becomes difficult to impossible to convince people the ideas they believe in oar not accurate descriptions of reality as it truly exists. So we elect politicians whose policies are based on fantasy and illusion. Sometimes dangerous illusions such as the idea we can treat all Muslims as the enemy. In the end this last idea is what the argument over the building of Park51 is all about.