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‘The media have become stenographers for terrorists’

Batya Ungar-Sargon on how Western journalists became apologists for Hamas.

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Topics Identity Politics Politics World

Since Hamas’s attack on Israel on 7 October, the West’s identitarian elites have tied themselves in knots. The atrocities of that day ought to have challenged their simple-minded view of the world, in which Israel is always the evil aggressor and Palestinians are always the virtuous victims – even when they are Hamas murderers. But that hasn’t happened. Instead, the purveyors of identity politics, especially in the media, have doubled down. Many have gone out of their way to diminish the suffering of Israelis, while excusing the crimes of Hamas.

To help us understand how we ended up here, Newsweek deputy opinion editor Batya Ungar-Sargon joined Brendan O’Neill on the latest episode of The Brendan O’Neill Show. What follows is an edited extract from their conversation. Listen to the full thing here.

Brendan O’Neill: Emily Hand, a nine-year-old Irish-Israeli girl, was released by Hamas recently after she was taken hostage on 7 October. She has been left deeply disturbed by her ordeal. She believes she spent more than a year in captivity. She can’t sleep. She will often burst uncontrollably into tears. She now speaks in a whisper because she was likely conditioned to stay quiet. What’s your take on the elite media reaction to the Hamas pogrom, including the release of innocent hostages like Emily?

Batya Ungar-Sargon: The elite sections of society, and their countless media outlets, have for a long time held a lot of problematic ideas and values. But it is astonishing just how quickly they have become the stenographers of terrorists. There’s nothing Hamas could do that would stop the elites from giving it the benefit of the doubt. Western elites and the mainstream media treat Hamas like a rowdy frat house. The prevailing attitude is that sometimes these terrorists might go too far, but they’re fundamentally the good guys.

When it comes to Emily Hand, the fact that some reacted to her release by arguing that she was treated ‘very well’ reflects a complete moral breakdown. It is so hard to imagine how these people can think the way they do about the abduction of children. But this is exactly what wokeness and victim culture look like in practice. This is what happens when you take a worldview based on a concrete understanding of moral right and wrong, and you replace it with a worldview based solely on who has more power and who has less.

Virtue is ascribed to people or groups who have less power, while total suspicion is applied towards people who have any amount of power at all. Anyone perceived to be a person of colour, or to be simply marginalised, is robbed of their agency and becomes a victim incapable of any wrongdoing. This is exactly why identitarians have lost the basic ability to decipher right from wrong. They simply refuse to make that distinction, especially when confronted with people like Jews who look white – people who, in their view, don’t have the right credentials to be a victim. It’s a completely amoral system.

We are seeing in real time how this worldview leads people to implicitly or explicitly side with Hamas. A lot of it is out in the open, such as the New York Times continuing to regurgitate the casualty numbers provided by the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry. This is still happening even after the media were made to look like idiots for feeding the Hamas narrative that Israel bombed a hospital that was actually hit by Islamist terrorists.

O’Neill: Do ordinary people, outside of these elite circles, have any truck with this Hamas apologism?

Ungar-Sargon: The truth is that this is about class. It’s about how the vast majority of journalists in America, often emerging from elite universities, have been swimming in this identitarian worldview for eight years before they hit the job. So they’re totally compromised. They see their job as not to tell the truth, but to bring a version of ‘justice’ to the world. They have a totally naive view of what justice looks like, grounded in a cartoonish understanding of the West as evil. They are completely disconnected from any sense of right and wrong. The total inability of many journalists to act like human beings is forcing the vast majority of everyday people – who often have a stronger moral compass than those elites – to lose respect for traditional media.

The identitarian left has effectively allowed Hamas to get away with committing the worst anti-Jewish pogrom since the Holocaust. These people are doing all the dirty work for Hamas and absolving them of all responsibility. Their mistake, however, was to assume that their woke worldview was more prevalent than it is among ordinary people. Most people have started to recognise it as sociopathic.

Batya Ungar-Sargon was talking to Brendan O’Neill on The Brendan O’Neill Show. Listen to the full conversation here:

Matthew Goodwin and Brendan O’Neill – live and in conversation

Matthew Goodwin and Brendan O’Neill – live and in conversation

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Topics Identity Politics Politics World

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