Thursday, April 19, 2007

Psychobabble of the Media

That the phrase “Fox News” and “Pathetic” should forever be linked is a given. Today, however, the cable network has expanded the frontiers of idiocy by posting a query meant to evoke an email response. Viewers were asked to weigh in on whether or not there is a Muslim link with the VTech massacre, as tenuously prompted by a report that the gunman Cho Seung-Hui had inscribed on his body the words “Ismail Ax.” The query flashed on Fox’s screen Thursday afternoon, long after the world directly watched and heard the unequivocal derangement of Seung-Hui and his psychobabble, in which he made numerous references to Christian symbolism, specifically the Christian narrative of the crucifixion. If I ran or owned a network, I would not ask (nor tolerate) an imbecilic query meant to dig up some link between the VTech massacres and Christianity, Christology, nor any other religious symbolism. However painful it may be, this horrific event needs to be comprehended without abstraction — with no stenciled typecast of “the Muslim” so pathetical accepted with unconscionable loss of rigor — that deflects the issue from its essence. This was an act that involved accomplices: mental illness, easy availability of weaponry, ubiquitous stream of images (particularly from entertainment) that glorify violence, and political posturing, speeches, and decisions that extol the virtues of violence as a solution to world problems and, worse yet, a means to bring about some perceived good (like democracy).

Before Seung-Hui’s written and video babble was released, The Chicago Tribune posted a similar query on the front-page of its online version, as did MSNBC in its broadcast. There were also attempts to associate Seung-Hui’s choice of video drama with videos we’ve seen of recent Middle Eastern vintage, as if the whole concept of a “suicide note” was invented in the region. The link is indefensibly feeble, and one wonders why the pundits and media brains of our land cannot find roots of violence except in the Middle East.

Writer and popular Muslim blogger Ali Eteraz had this to say about "Ismail Ax" and the desperation to connect it with Islam.