I don’t want to keep writing about terrorists. I really don’t. But every time I try to walk away from it and do something else for a while I read something that annoys me enough that I have to pen something or silently seethe, and I would always rather write. As such, here we are again.
Today that frustration stems from how terrorism is dealt with in the media, particularly how certain, individual, terrorists are treated. Yesterday a tape was released threatening the brutal execution of two Japanese men who crossed the border into Syria, and the media is once again filled with talk of ‘Jihadi John’ and his threats.
Can they just not? This isn’t your mate John from down the pub, you know, the one with the funny nickname that’s completely ironic. No, this is a man who has committed a number of brutal murders on camera for purposes of propaganda, a man who is threatening more murders still. And yet, the papers have the nerve to give him a cute, diminutive nickname that quasi-legitimises what he is doing by putting it in the context of Jihad.
Frankly, they should know better. They, of all people should be aware of the power of words and the effect that they can have on people. What he is doing is not a ‘holy war’ it is murder and snuff videos, and it is about time we started calling it that, in all contexts. The only thing this nickname achieves is to enhance his own fame, whilst his victims, who were trying to do good in the region, are slowly forgotten. I wonder how many people could name any of those killed now without looking it up? My guess would be not many, and that is the real tragedy.
So, in future, whenever I read ‘Jihadi John’ in print, I shall be taking a pen to it, crossing it out, and writing ‘Murderous Coward’ in its stead, and I would encourage everyone else to do the same.