How media mayhem turns suspicions into truths

Dear Diary:
The other night, being gluttons for punishment, we watched Wendy Mesley earnestly deliver the evening news about events in Germany, noting that a number of women had complained to police there about being molested by “a group of men.” She was careful not to indicate that race, culture or ethnic origin were at play, despite an overwhelming series of reports from journalists and officials in Cologne that that is very much the case.

We assume this is due to an interpretation of guidelines similar to the Canadian Association of Journalist’s code of ethics, which states:

“We do not refer to a person’s race, colour, religion, sexual orientation, gender self-identification or physical ability ounless it is pertinent to the story”

which makes it clear that the CBC believes it is irrelevant that a mob of men of Middle Eastern and North African heritage roamed the streets robbing and molesting women in a country that has just admitted one million migrants. Even the fact German police have reported that the majority of suspects are migrants and that that is the cause of political turmoil is either ignored or dismissed. Nothing to see here folks. Move along now.

Later that evening, “a group of people” were standing by a bus stop in Vancouver and were overcome by pepper spray. As best we can discern, of the dozen or more folks waiting for their bus, one of them saw a person, assumed to be male by those on the scene, ride by on a bicycle and spray everyone by the bus stop.

Police are looking for a person of slim build who was on a bicycle and wearing a white – or grey – hoodie. There are no reports of any verbal aggression – no one shouted an Allah Akbar equivalent in other words – and people appear to have only become aware anything had occurred when they felt the very uncomfortable non-lethal effects of the spray (coughing and stinging eye pain) which seemed to have made its way into the building and intensified. The perp could be a White Supremacist or other redneck. Or maybe an Iranian Shia wacko who holds a grudge against the Muslim Association of Canada (MAC) and its past links to the Muslim Brotherhood and assumed Sunni sympathies. Or, it could be some wanker out for a lark who didn’t have a clue who was at the bus stop. Or did. Or, it could be someone who hates Syrian refugees.

Regardless, this became the story of the weekend due to the race, colour and religion of the victims who were newly arrived Syrian refugees about to head home from a party held in their honour at the MAC centre.

There may very well be evidence forthcoming that the perpetrator of this unfortunate incident intentionally targeted this innocent group of people and justice should be done. Alas, so far there is nothing reported to indicate whether this differs from apparently random pepper spray attacks elsewhere and justifies the abandonment of journalistic rigour which is turn prompts political responses.

Vancouver Police have pulled out all the stops and engaged their major and hate crimes units. The Prime Minister, the Premier of British Columbia, the Immigration Minister and, most fulsomely, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, condemned the incident.

Mayor Moonbeam, in fact, has already reached a conclusion on the nature of the crime.

“Last night’s pepper spray incident was a disgusting display of hate – and Vancouver won’t stand for it,” he tweeted.

He might turn out to be right but still we are appalled. The breathless publicity granted to this dreadful incident and the hyperbolic reactions by leading officials not only gives far more publicity and notoriety to the perpetrator than he or she deserves, it can only build a sense of siege within the minds of every Muslim in the nation. And that is only going to inspire those who would promote extremist sentiments within that community who will allege “proof” that the secular west hates Muslims, who must stick together.

That is not helpful and is bound to inspire a reaction somewhere, sometime.that if history is anything to go by is more likely to involve Semtex than pepper spray.

The Toronto Police Service report on hate crimes clearly shows that Jews, followed by LGBT members and black people are the most likely victims. Further, a Jew in Toronto is 10 times more likely to be the victim of a hate crime.

Yet, online scans indicate almost no reporting of this fact or even the use of it as context within its frantic reports concerning Muslims. Nor is there much at all about anti-Semitic investigations other than in the Jewish press.

You wouldn’t know from watching and reading the nation’s primary media, would you, that 2014 was a record year for anti-Jewish crimes, which rose 28%.

And you would likely only learn of a hate crime arrest for a series of crimes against St. Catherine of Sienna church in Mississauga by reading the Catholic Register. A break in at an Alberta mosque was reacted to in knee-jerk fashion (later quietly determined to be just that) was widely reported as part of the ongoing pattern of Islamophobia as was the arson at a Peterborough mosque. But not even the local press showed a hint of concern over a break in at St. Andrews United Church in Peterborough.

It will go on. And on. Until, one day, the anxiety and assumptions created by this pattern of outrageously irresponsible journalism, bereft of context and rich with bias as it is, combines with increasingly frantic political responses to create the reality its overwrought narrative is seeking.

 

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