As fighting flares in the Middle East, many in the American media establishment and commentariat have adopted the familiar crouch position known as “equivalency.” The New York Times, for example, faithfully includes both sides’ latest casualty figures, and carefully juxtaposes photos of bombing damage in Gaza with rocket damage in Israel — as if efforts to kill civilians are equivalent to retaliatory efforts to prevent the killing of those civilians.
In that same newspaper, Hamas terrorists are never called “terrorists” because that would undermine the equivalency narrative. Instead, the terrorists are called “militants” –to distinguish them, one supposes, from the imaginary Hamas “moderates.”
The problem with equivalency is not that it adds extraneous information to the mix. Arab lives do matter. Destruction in Gaza is newsworthy. It is proper to report on those subjects.
Rather, the problem with equivalency is that it doesn’t report enough information. It provides no perspective. It doesn’t tell the reader anything about the actors, other than their respective suffering. It would be acceptable for media outlets to present both sides’ casualty figures, and both sides’ property damage — IF those outlets also presented both sides’ values, motives, and aims.
But they do not.
Fortunately, that information is readily available. One need not guess or argue about it because it is there, in the parties’ own words.Continue reading