Imagine, for one moment, that on 11 September 2001, you turned on your television set to find the following news headlines: “Headquarters of murderous American war machine hit by attacks”; “Epicentre of US financial exploitation rocked by blasts”; “Many deaths as planes hit belligerent global hegemon”.
Chances are you’d view such renderings as al-Qaeda-inspired propaganda and a repulsive affront to the civilians who perished.
When it comes to brutal attacks on cities further from home, however, this exact sort of media approach is shamelessly allowed to fly. It helps, of course, when the people on the receiving end of the attacks have already been so dehumanised as to eliminate the option for civilian identity. Think Iraq or Afghanistan - where, in November of 2001, New York Times foreign affairs columnist Thomas Friedman took the liberty of placing “Afghan ‘civilians’” in quotation marks in order to excuse their slaughter by the US.
Nowadays, Lebanon is an increasingly frequent victim of media efforts that are at once sloppy and pernicious. This is particularly true in the case of Dahiyeh, the southern suburbs of Beirut, which are reduced ad nauseam to a “Hezbollah stronghold”. Google “Hezbollah stronghold” and you’ll see what I mean.