In the tortured lands of Syria and Iraq an American journalist has been beheaded apparently by a man who spoke with an accent which indicated that he originally came from London or the South East of England. Because it is a journalist who has been murdered other journalists place undue emphasis on the crime.TV and radio news programmes are filled with speculation on the crime. Experts have told us that returning Britons from the Islamic State pose a serious threat to us in the United Kingdom. Our Prime Minister has had to speak to Mr Obama about the crime and Mr Cameron has cut short his Cornwall holiday.
I do not wish to suggest that the beheading of a news reporter is not a serious crime. It is and the perpetrators should be brought to justice for the crime they have committed. I do doubt that the news media, especially the BBC should waste so much time on this crime, for several reasons. The crime, although serious as a murder, is not in itself particularly heinous when considered with other crimes committed by those claiming to be part of the Islamic State. If the victim was not a journalist and the perpetrator was nor apparently a Briton there would have been no coverage of it, just as there have been almost no coverage other than cursory reporting, of other beheadings. The purpose of the crime was not to kill a man but to strike fear into the hearts of those who do not support the aims of the Islamic State; reporting the crime, almost endlessly, makes many people feel insecure because there are more than two hundred men who have fought for the Islamic State and who have now returned to the United Kingdom. The coverage of one beheading plays into the hands of the Islamic State by making people feel afraid, instead of brave, frightened instead of courageous.
The world is a wicked place. there have been many serious murders committed recently but some of these are not reported as murders or crimes. Today three leaders of HAMAS were murdered by the State of Israel but the event is not reported as a crime or as a murder. Many Palestinian children have been murdered by the State of Israel but these murders are depicted by the media as war events, not the war crimes they are. Many people have been murdered by explosive drones operated by the USA on the instructions of Mr Obama but these events are not considered as murders, but as acts that are justified rather than as crimes. Hundreds of school children are captured in Northern Nigeria and kidnapped in a modern version of pedomasima; the world lights a brief candle which is soon extinguished.
The Islamic State is killing journalists as part of its war, because it seeks to strike fear into the hearts of its opponents. Its opponents, by reporting the killing of journalists so extensively are helping the Islamic State in its aims. In a war the beheading of a journalist only has significance if it is so widely reported. There are more serious crimes that we should be told about and although every single crime committed in the course of a war should be punished we should bear in mind that the slaughter of a few is simply a tactic to enable the slaughter of many, and by concentrating on the slaughter of a few we lose sight of the slaughter of the many.