The danger of tolerating intolerance
Thomas Cromwell

In the October 4 issue of the Financial Times, columnist Philip Stephens wrote an excellent critique of BBC coverage of terrorists and terrorism, pointing out the fallacy of being tolerant of intolerance. (See: The Dishonest Impartiality That Tolerates Intolerance).

Having been raised by pacifist parents in a pacifist Christian community, but having later come to realize the fallacy of seeking moral equivalency between parties driven by very different ideologies, and with very different records of behavior tied to those ideologies, I believe the tolerance of intolerance in BBC reporting that Stephens describes so well as rooted in misguided Christian (religious or cultural) virtue. I am sure its proponents, in the media and elsewhere, think they are only being fair by showing `understanding` of Al Qaeda, as they thought they were being fair (or demonstrating Christian compassion) during the Cold War by trying to equate the policies and behavior of Communist states with those of the free world.

It was only after the Soviet Union collapsed that most media in the West reported anything like the truth about the differences between the two systems, totalitarian and democratic, and described in some detail the realities of the world the Communists had created as compared to the world we know in the West.

I noticed that before the second Gulf War, much the same blinkered reporting treated Saddam Hussein as a legitimate ruler of Iraq. After the invasion and the dictator`s fall, there was some real balance, as media had to report (at least something) about the torture chambers, the random, vicious killings of innocents, the graves with tens of thousands of bodies, etc, that showed something about the reality of his rule.

With the War on Terror (a good and useful term), once again we see much of the mainstream media unable to recognize the real enemies of humanity and the threat they pose to the world. It is a stunning and dangerous blindness.

Having spent 25 years in the Middle East, mainly among the Arabs, I can speak with more authority than most about the good points in Muslim and Arab society. But I also know better than most just how extreme the extremists can be, how ungodly is their ideology, and how dangerous they are to the world.

Unfortunately, it seems that centuries of life under dictators of one variety or another has left Arab populations cowed, and willing to put up with inhuman and immoral treatment by governments. As with the Communist`s violent response to capitalism and 19th and 20th Century governments, the violent response of radical Muslims to failed regimes in Muslim lands (socialist or monarchist) is misguided and wrong. And, as with Communism, Islamic extremism has sold its soul to the Devil, promoting behavior, such as suicide bombings and other terror attacks on innocents, that are fundamental violations of Islam and a real threat to civilization.

We ignore this reality at our peril. The BBC and other media that are busy playing the equivalency game out of some hazy sense of virtue, are contributing to the prolongation and proliferation of evil, and not its defeat.