There is no denying that there is high hostility toward Muslims in the West. However, this hostility is being misappropriated to make political points. This is the stuff that urban myths are made of. For example, in a recent article in Foreign Policy Watch:
The Western press is largely avoiding the term “terrorist”... The term “terrorist attack” is also absent from the headlines of our country’s major media outlets... In the American press and in mainstream political discourse, “terrorism” simply means “violence committed by Muslims whom the West dislikes, no matter the cause or the target.”
This is just absolute nonsense. I’m not talking about tabloids here (neither is FPW). I’m talking about mainstream media, the kind of reliable websites that will be used in history books. And just because I’m British and I’ve heard people over here making similar arguments, I’ll include the British press.
Firstly, to get the basics out of the way, FPW cites three examples: the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. The Washington Post article they link to refers to “Two coordinated terror attacks in Norway.” And the Washington Post has continued to describe these actions as “terrorist attacks” and “terror attacks.” The Wall Street Journal has also referred to “terror attacks” and refers to the supposed two other cells as the “two other terrorist cells.”
As for the New York Times, they also faced a similar accusation from the Daily Kos where JackinSTL quotes a paragraph from an NYT article which apparently shows “once we eliminated the Arabic terrorists and found our right-wing Christian perp, he's suddenly not a ‘terrorist.’” Except it doesn’t, the paragraph which the Daily Kos quotes says:
Terrorism specialists said that even if the authorities ultimately ruled out terrorism as the cause of Friday’s assaults, other kinds of groups or individuals were mimicking Al Qaeda’s signature brutality and multiple attacks.
But if you go to the New York Times article itself, it says:
Terrorism specialists said that even if the authorities ultimately ruled out Islamic terrorism as the cause of Friday’s assaults, other kinds of groups or individuals were mimicking Al Qaeda’s brutality and multiple attacks.
Its possible that the New York Times amended their article after it was written but in the context of where that paragraph was, it should have been obvious they were talking about Islamist terrorism. Rather than showing how insensitive the New York Times is to the word terrorism, it shows the opposite. (Oh, in case you had spotted the pattern, the NYT also refers to the Oslo attacks as acts of domestic ‘terrorism’).
And the same goes for The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Times, The Sunday Times, the Associated Press, The Los Angeles Times, the Independent and the BBC. So as far as mainstream media outlets, even just the ones that FPW cited, they are not wary of using the term terrorist or terror to refer to these attacks. So what media outlets are FPW reading?!
And just a note and counter-example on using the word ‘terrorist’ in the British media: it is used in a limited way when talking about Palestinian terrorists. The official policy of the BBC on its 'Israel and the Palestinians' page states that:
The word "terrorist" itself can be a barrier rather than an aid to understanding. We should try to avoid the term, without attribution.
Which is why if you read an article on the BBC about Hamas doing something – even if its a suicide bombing against innocent civilians, even if its someone firing a rocket at a civilian town – the article will refer to them as “militants.” And the BBC is not alone in this: Reuters does the same thing (refusing even to call the 7/7 attacks ‘terrorist attacks’). Whether one agrees with this policy is another matter but what is clear is that terrorism is not just used for certain types of people and it is in fact not used when it is actually Islamists or brown people or whatever. Making simplistic statements doesn’t achieve anything.