The only way to describe the butcher of Virginia Tech, who killed 32 people, is as a sick person. The aired footage and pictures that he took of himself in the two hours between the first crime, in which two fell victim, and the second wherein he killed 30 students in the student hall can only prove that he was sick.
Sadly, today instead of going to clinics and hospitals for treatment, the mentally ill go to the media! This is a crisis from which we all suffer worldwide both as media personnel and as audiences. Some might argue that if we prevent them from getting into the media they would resort to the Internet and the new world of YouTube. What is disturbing is that we, as media personnel, follow them sometimes to their garbage bins – the Internet is not all good.
If we were to look at Arab media, which is to look at ourselves, one is puzzled: why do we allow space for criminals and not the victims? Why does the spotlight shine down on incitement over rationale? Why is failure highlighted rather than success? Why do we concern ourselves with what is responsible for narrowing the horizons instead of caring about what spreads optimism and promotes good taste? Why is it that adventurers, saboteurs, ravagers and those fascinated by vice are given more space than those who can refute the claims of such people?
Why does death get more attention than life – and which is more difficult: to blow yourself up using an explosive belt or to learn a new language? Which is harder: to transform your thoughts into reality and gain public support for it through effort, perseverance and patience – or to agonize all who follow you? These perplexing questions require answers from us!
The funeral traders, as I like to call them, of intellectuals around us, rushed to blame poverty in Morocco and Algeria after the suicide operations – that simple. Some may argue that Bin Laden is not poor, neither is al Zawahari, but that is not the point; the point is since when has poverty become an insult or detraction?
We have been brought up to think that idle hands are worthless and to not be contemptuous of any profession. We heard our parents and grandparents proudly remind us that they are as poor as their fathers were before them; I have often heard my father say: “There were days when I had nothing to eat” and there are many like him in the Arab world.
The Virginia butcher, and others like him; all they seek to achieve is to instill fear in the hearts of the people through the media. Their madness does not subside except with our terror. As for the funeral traders among us, ideology-makers and the sons of the 1967 defeat and some of the symbols who represent it, we say to them: occupation did not only start today and corruption was not born today either, the oppression of rulers is not a third millennium phenomenon but televised terrorism, of which you are among its stars, is the scourge of our times.
In a nutshell, the controversy in the Western media in dealing with terrorism and criminality continues, and it has become more intense today after the photographs and footage of the Virginia killer were broadcast. As Arab media personnel, we have a huge duty that we must take into account and respect – otherwise we can await a killer every day.