“Children make us stupid” is but a corollary to the law often stated here, “Bias makes you stupid.” Our natural bias in favor of caring for, protecting and seeking happiness for children is genetically wired into our being. Thus, in action movie after action movie, when the villain puts a gun to a child’s head, the hero invariably drops his weapon, apparently giving the world over to dictatorship, pestilence or death to save one rosy-cheeked kid. (Well, except for Dirty Harry, who picks off the creep holding the gun to the kid’s head with one well-aimed shot.) The trade-off is really, really stupid, and not ethical either: sacrificing the welfare of the many for a single child is simply illogical and wrong. But to those sentimentalists who don’t strain themselves by thinking, and to cynical politicians who know better but also know that convincing morons is all it takes to win “a majority” ( “…if even one child’s life can be saved…“—President Obama, 2013 State of the Union Message), the human bias that gives irrational priority to children is pure gold.
Obama’s use of the false ethic was his call for gun control in the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy, in which an anomalous attack on a grade school was used to make it seem like children were being hunted down like rabbits. We are currently watching another classic demonstration of the “children trump everything” fallacy, and it is both a logical and an ethical fallacy: the emotional and irresponsible rhetoric over the fate of the unaccompanied South American children being sent to the United States as a predictable response to Democratic promises of a better life, a college education, and eventual citizenship. The fact is that child illegal immigrants are just as illegal and just as undesirable as any other variety: they are just cuter, sadder, less culpable and easier to use to demonize principled opposition.
It is not surprising that the Palestinians, who pioneered using children as suicide bombers, figured out that sacrificing their own kids might be a dandy way to turn public opinion against Israel in its long, mad, apparently endless quest to eliminate the Jewish state. Israel turned over control of Gaza to the Palestinians there, and the Palestinians elected Hamas, which seeks, as written policy, the elimination of Israel. Instead of using its resources to create a state and a stable infrastructure for society, Hamas spent millions importing and producing rockets, launchers, mortars, small arms, and even drones to do battle with Israel. It built a network of tunnels, and stockpiled the weapons in hospitals, religious sites, and crowded residential areas, using these locales to fire a barrage of rockets into Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
The Palestinians know the rockets can’t inflict serious damage, being almost uniformly intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system. Why are they attacking, then? Simple: it is a perverted use of “Think of the children!” As a Washington Post editorial pointed out, the goal of the missile barrage is to draw Israeli missiles in response.Israel has given advance notice to civilians, dropping leaflets urging them to leave before its retaliatory attacks, and Hamas has told families to remain and serve as human shields, all the better to produce pathetic civilian casualties and death to be contrasted with the lack of the same on the Israeli side.
“To deliberately wage war so that your own people can be telegenically killed is indeed moral and tactical insanity. But it rests on a very rational premise: Given the Orwellian state of the world’s treatment of Israel (see: the U.N.’s grotesque Human Rights Council), fueled by a mix of classic anti-Semitism, near-total historical ignorance and reflexive sympathy for the ostensible Third World underdog, these eruptions featuring Palestinian casualties ultimately undermine support for Israel’s legitimacy and right to self-defense.”
Got it. But while the public has a right to know the facts, and reporting on the carnage of war, wherever it is, is a necessary duty of objective journalism, what the Western media is doing goes far, far beyond this. It is following the Hamas script by wallowing in sentiment porn, lingering over footage of wounded children and grieving parents, and creating powerful cognitive dissonance that makes Israel appear to be the villain. CNN spent a substantial portion of its coverage Saturday morning on feature about one such wounded child, translating the father’s lament, “What has he done to deserve this? These are only children!” Then we got a return to the tut-tutting CNN anchors, talking about how heart-wrenching such images are, how horrible the results of the Israeli attacks have been, and expressing free-floating outrage without making the slightest effort to clarify the facts, the issues, or the truth beyond raw emotion.
Since the Palestinian methods, motives and strategy are well known, for CNN (and other networks) to knowingly follow the script and thus aid and abet the brutal anti-Israel propaganda campaign is irresponsible. dishonest, unfair and incompetent—and deadly. Hamas is killing its own children as surely as if they were suffocated in their beds, and CNN’s tear-seeking coverage is making the slaughter a successful, if evil and insane in its extreme utilitarianism, tool of war.
At our news networks, “Think of the children!” has metastasized from a bias that promotes stupidity to irresponsible exploitation that promotes death.
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