11 July 2006

Something stuck in your throat, sir?

It is funny to watch the verbal acrobatics some people go through when talking about Basayev's demise. Of course, Guardian (easy guess, ain't it?) produces the best example of the tortuous squirming. See today's on-line edition headlines:

Even before we start with the articles, the smell of controversy is already in the air: "terror leader" on one hand and "the militant who went too far" on the other.

The first article in the above list, the one dubbed "Beslan terror leader killed" in the picture above, is by Nick Walsh. Not a bad egg, all things considered. So, when you open the article, the internal headline is "Beslan massacre mastermind dies in blast as Russia says he was plotting new attack". Well, the despicable an brutal murderer was much more than Beslan massacre mastermind, but still...

But then the author slips into a familiar groove. The word "terrorist" appears only between quotation marks, attributed to various Russian sources. And the inevitable happens almost immediately: "He and 12 other militants were killed in a blast...". Obviously, the habit is stronger than the truth: the insidious "militant" is in.

Nick Walsh is also the author of the next opus on the same subject. It is headlined "Explainer: Shamil Basayev" (yeah, sure, who but Guardian to "explain" the unspeakable?). Here the cozy "Militant who went to far" appears for the first time. Sounds almost like a schoolboy who missed a lesson on purpose, or stole a candy in a grocery shop. You will find "gunman" but no "terrorist" in this one. Gunman is defined in a dictionary as "a person who shoots a gun", by the way.

But all this is a mere appetizer - before the inimitable Jonathan Steele comes in to take the whole cake. Forget "terrorist", forget "militant", it is now:

Chechen politician seeking independence through terrorism

Or, if you will: one-time guerrilla commander, politician and warlord, and even ruthless adventurer... An impressive dictionary - fits an image of a scribe who is hard put to avoid the unavoidable.

Poor show, Guardian, but not quite surprising.

Cross-posted on Yourish.com