Yesterday, after erroneous reports that the Toulouse shooter was a neo-Nazi, the New York Times speculated that the attack was inspired by anti-immigrant rhetoric from right wing politicians. The paper hinted that the incident was a sign of larger societal problems in France, and would prompt public soul-searching:
But the political debate around the shootings, and whether the deaths of an instructor and three young children were somehow inspired by anti-immigrant political talk, is likely to continue — both as a weapon in the presidential campaign and as a more general soul-searching about the nature of France.
You would think the Times would come to a different conclusion yesterday, after the French authorities announced the suspect was a radicalized Muslim with possible al Qaeda ties. And yet its latest article still seems to blame the attack on right-wing, anti-immigrant rhetoric:
After the shootings on Monday, the main candidates in the French presidential campaign, including Mr. Sarkozy, suspended their campaigns as political debate swirled around whether the killings were somehow inspired by anti-immigrant rhetoric. The campaign has been long and heated, and Mr. Sarkozy has been trying to win back voters who drifted to the far-right National Front party.
It remained unclear what the effect of the killings would be on the election, which is only a few weeks away. Nor was it clear whether they would further stoke anti-Muslim rhetoric in the country. Muslims complain widely of feeling vilified by some political elements, on the right in particular, and the anti-immigration far right has been gaining unprecedented popularity in recent months. Some analysts have suggested that the deaths could cause a calming of the political discourse.
The Times has a double standard on Jew-hatred.
When neo-Nazis were supposedly behind the anti-Semitic attack, the paper immediately sought out societal origins of the problem, and wondered whether it was part of a broader national trend. But now that the attack appears to have been carried out by a Muslim extremist, the Times acts as if this radicalism developed in a vacuum; as if the larger community played no role.
And it’s not just the Times. Progressives clamored for national soul-searching after the Tucson shooting and Anders Breivik’s terror attack in Norway, but seem to have little interest in analyzing what drives some young American and European Muslims to embrace radicalism, anti-Semitism and terrorism.
And the reason is clear: If you claim the radicalization of young Muslims is a sign of larger societal problems (in the U.S., France, or elsewhere) that require public soul-searching, then you may as well be House Homeland Security Committee Chair Peter King. Not only would you be raising uncomfortable questions about the Muslim community, you’d also be implying that some members of the Muslim community aren’t already doing everything they can to prevent radicalization. And as the New York Times has editorialized in the past, that’s outside the bounds of politically correct discourse.