That is the question--and over the past week or so, the answer changed, not only in relation to the information that became available about the identity and goals of the terrorist, but also as the requirements of politics, and political correctness, became clear.
Gerstman notes in No Islamists Here: Media Buries Motive on Toulouse that Mohammed Merah's Islamist identity became something of an inconvenience that called for finessing--by both the media and by leaders. As an example:
With the French presidential election just over the horizon, the French media obviously had reason to see Mohammed Merah's terrorist attacks as a political hot potato to be handled delicately.
For Erlanger [of the New York Times], the nationalist tone of the campaign apparently inspired a racist. For the Washington Post, the failure of France to treat its immigrants adequately served to aggravate Merah and people like him.
While some sought to explain the alienation felt by Merah, others perversely seemed to justify his actions. Most notoriously, EU Foreign Minister Lady Ashton, in a statement, equated the killings of the Jewish children in Toulouse with the suffering of children in Gaza. (Later, she apparently added a reference to the children of Sderot.)
Likewise, the media and pundits in the US were only too happy to assume that they would be treated to a killer with right wing ties, someone like Anders Behring Breivik, who would allow the left wing media another field day.
Thus MJ Rosenberg:
Which of course only raises the question of whether the appearance of this apparent lone wolf terrorist will hold the interest of the French as well as of the West as a whole.
Gerstman's examination of the media's approach to the Toulouse murders leaves little reason to be optimistic.
Read it and see why.
Technorati Tag: Toulouse and Mohammed+Merah and Media Bias.