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Terror's Double Standard

This tacit favoritism in news coverage has the unintended effect of making European and U.S. cities more attractive targets for jihadist terrorist groups, who want to milk as much media attention as possible for their heinous acts
By The News · 25 of July 2016 08:12:14
People mourn outside the Olympia shopping mall in Munich, People mourn outside the Olympia shopping mall in Munich, Germany July 24, 2016. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann, photo: Reuters/Arnd Wiegmann

On Friday, a lone gunman in Munich killed 10 people.

The following day, a bomb explosion at a protest in Kabul led to the deaths of at least 64 people.

Both were horrific acts of terrorism, but the Munich event was given far more media coverage by the international press.

The reason for this double standard is twofold.

First, terrorism is Afghanistan is seen as a nearly daily fact of life, while in Germany, it is still a rarity.

It is only natural for a city that has for the most part been spared the horrors of terrorism to catch the press’ attention when it becomes a victim of such calculated violence.

But there is also a more sinister reason for the disparity in coverage, and that is that there is often an inherent racial bias by the international media regarding the loss of non-white lives compared to Caucasian lives.

In other words, the skin color of the victims of a terror act determines the importance of the news story.

Of course, most well-meaning international journalists would categorically deny having such callous racial biases, but the simple truth of the matter is that terror acts in Europe and the United States inevitably grab headlines, while those in Africa, Asia and the Middle East are too frequently relegated to the back pages.

This also reflects a perceived prejudice by the news media’s audiences, who registered a global outpouring of sympathy for the victims of the Bastille Day attacks in Nice, France, on July 14, but barely acknowledged the slaughter of 250 Iraqis at a shopping mall in Baghdad one week earlier.

Ironically, this tacit favoritism in news coverage has the unintended effect of making European and U.S. cities more attractive targets for jihadist terrorist groups, who want to milk as much media attention as possible for their heinous acts.

There can be no justification for nor defense of terrorism, whether it be in Europe, the United States, Africa, Asia or the Middle East.

The senseless loss of human life for the sake of instilling fear is reprehensible wherever it occurs.

Terrorist organizations today are not confined by geographic boundaries. They are pan-national.

And we, as citizens of the world, must denounce such acts with shared and equal condemnation — regardless of the victims’ race, ethnicity or national identity — as crimes against all humanity.

Thérèse Margolis can be reached at therese.margolis@gmail.com.