Here on my tenth-anniversary cruise vacation to Alaska, I have spent relatively little time following the news. On port days where I have wireless Internet access, I am catching up on some of the major headlines, but other than that it’s just occasional ‘catch-up’ sessions with the news channels available on our stateroom television.
There are three news networks available here on the ship: MSNBC, Fox News Channel, and British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) World News. So my options are American news with a hard-left bias, American news with a hard-right bias, and international news with a . . . British bias? I am spending most of my time on BBC, which is the least offensive of the available options. It seems to be about on-par with CNN, which is the closest thing to television journalism we have left in the United States.
But sometimes the BBC’s journalistic integrity goes out the window, and they suddenly become fearful of speaking the plain truth. As a prime example, consider their coverage of the Islamic State (I.S.), formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Many of the BBC’s presenters have been repeatedly referring to I.S. as the ‘so-called Islamic State.’
So-called? Look, it would be journalistic malpractice to paint I.S. as being fully representative of Islam generally, so I understand that we have to be precise about how we discuss them and how we use their name. But at the same time, a dispassionate and accurate report about I.S. cannot separate it from the Islamic religion. Those who founded and support I.S. believe that they are following Qur’anic Islam. Whether they are right or wrong, their name accurately reflects their intent, and their intent is an essential part of the story.
The way that media outlets can separate the I.S. from Islam itself is not to editorialize every time they mention its name, but to interview Muslims who oppose I.S., quote from clerics who condemn them, and—most importantly—show the death and destruction that they have wrought in the lives of the mostly Islamic people of Iraq and Syria. But we can’t gloss over what the supporters of the I.S. believe, and we can’t pretend it has no direct connection to Islam or the Qur’an.
Supporters of I.S. believe that they are creating a new caliphate, a unified Muslim political and religious authority, in accordance with Qur’anic teaching and Islamic tradition. This is the truth, no matter what the ‘so-called journalists’ at the BBC think.