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Sun May 15, 2022, 07:04 PM

Why NPR isn't using the word 'manifesto'



Tweet text:

Mark Follman
@markfollman
I applaud @NPR for not calling the hateful screed posted by the accused Buffalo mass shooter a "manifesto." It's vital for media to inform the public about such evidence, but we can do so without giving it undue stature—which is what shooters want https://npr.org/2022/05/15/1099014432/why-npr-isnt-using-the-word-manifesto… @TCavin

npr.org
Why NPR isn't using the word 'manifesto'
The Buffalo suspect allegedly published a 180-page document online that repeats a series of racist conspiracy theories in an attempt to justify his plan to search out African Americans and kill them.
3:49 PM · May 15, 2022


https://www.npr.org/2022/05/15/1099014432/why-npr-isnt-using-the-word-manifesto

Any decision involving how to cover a mass shooting is by definition difficult and to some extent a balancing act. We have a duty to inform listeners and readers what happened. Details are important to paint a full and accurate picture of events. But at the same time, we are dealing with an individual who has committed an horrific criminal act in an attempt to win attention either to themselves or to a "cause" that they are trying to promote. Our job is to report the facts, not to help the shooter carry out those aims.

As anyone following the story now knows, the Buffalo shooter allegedly published a 180-page document online that repeats a series of racist conspiracy theories often referred to as the "Great Replacement" in an attempt to justify his plan to search out African Americans and murder them. It is very important that audiences know what the shooter's purported motives were and that the "Great Replacement" theory was part of them. That argument has moved from the far right fringes to more mainstream politics in recent years and the shooter's citing of it is newsworthy.

Webster's New World Dictionary defines "Manifesto" as, "a public declaration of motives and intentions, as by a political party or by an avant-garde movement" So to refer to the shooter's document as a "manifesto", in my opinion, implicitly takes the twisted racist and anti-Semitic rantings that comprise it, far more seriously than they deserve to be taken and gives it a level of credibility that furthers the shooter's aims.

Unfortunately mass shootings are common enough that we've had far too many opportunities to weigh this issue. Back in 2019, my predecessor as editor for Standards and Practices at NPR, Mark Memmott, responding to the shooting in New Zealand by a man who expressed similar motives, asked the newsroom to "move away" from calling the document that shooter left on line as a "manifesto."

*snip*


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Response to Nevilledog (Original post)

Sun May 15, 2022, 07:07 PM

1. Innocent people are DYING

So lets have a debate about the use of a fucking word

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Response to Nevilledog (Original post)

Sun May 15, 2022, 07:09 PM

2. Manifesto, racist screed, Nazi crud, all the same, and they can buy gunz,

 

body armor and fly trump flags.

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Response to Nevilledog (Original post)

Sun May 15, 2022, 07:11 PM

3. Bullshit

" So to refer to the shooter's document as a "manifesto", in my opinion, implicitly takes the twisted racist and anti-Semitic rantings that comprise it, far more seriously "than they deserve to be taken and gives it a level of credibility that furthers the shooter's aims."

We DON'T take it seriouly at our own peril. These ARE the teachings of a political party. NPR needs to wake the fuck up.

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Response to Nevilledog (Original post)

Sun May 15, 2022, 07:11 PM

4. It doesn't fit the narrative.

The not fascist yet media is determined to be ‘neutral’ and ‘objective’ right up to when they get shut down by the fascists.

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Response to Nevilledog (Original post)

Sun May 15, 2022, 07:21 PM

5. Duh. B/c "Ranting hate-filled word salad" is far more accurately descriptive. n/t

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Response to Nevilledog (Original post)

Sun May 15, 2022, 07:30 PM

6. Hmm, not sure I agree with NPR here

From the article:

Webster's New World Dictionary defines "Manifesto" as, "a public declaration of motives and intentions, as by a political party or by an avant-garde movement" So to refer to the shooter's document as a "manifesto", in my opinion, implicitly takes the twisted racist and anti-Semitic rantings that comprise it, far more seriously than they deserve to be taken and gives it a level of credibility that furthers the shooter's aims.

So how many people have to be murdered by white supremacists before we start taking them seriously?

If the murderer's manifesto said "I did this because the aliens who live in my closet told me to do it" then I agree it would be a stretch to call it a manifesto.

But this seems to fit the definition perfectly: "a public declaration of motives and intentions, as by a political party or by an avant-garde movement." To be clear, the movement in question is violent white supremacists and the political party is the Republican Party, which is the party of white supremacists. Indeed, the last Republican president was a blatant white supremacist who thought his fellow white supremacists were "fine people."

This decision by NPR seems like the exact same thing we struggled with all through Trump's presidency -- is it better to publicize his hateful rhetoric so that people know how deplorable he is, or ignore it so that it doesn't inspire other deplorable people?

I guess we still haven't figured out the answer -- but in this case, it seems like the guy's manifesto is a real manifesto, so why not call it that? Other violent white supremacists are certainly going to see it that way, and will probably act on it. Shouldn't we talk openly about that, and about how dangerous these people are? Surely refusing to refer to his manifesto as something other than a political statement implies that once again this is just a "lone wolf" who is "mentally ill" and not part of an organized, dangerous group.

Meanwhile, I'd suggest that if NPR is going to spend a lot of time debating the language they use, they probably shouldn't coyly refer to the perpetrator of this latest massacre as a "shooter." "Murderer" or "terrorist" would probably serve as a better descriptor.

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Response to EarlG (Reply #6)

Sun May 15, 2022, 07:37 PM

7. Yeah, I agree. Seems like a stupid thing to focus on.

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Response to EarlG (Reply #6)

Mon May 16, 2022, 12:43 AM

11. It's the rantings they're not taking seriously, not the danger

No, what one violent racist writes is not a "manifesto". And calling it a "manifesto" will encourage other white supremacists to take it as a coherent statement of aims and reasons, rather than the nasty ramblings of a psychopath.

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Response to Nevilledog (Original post)

Sun May 15, 2022, 07:46 PM

8. Some of the use of that term was because DHS had this very narrow "definition" of "terrorist"

and it always pointed away from white supremacists. For. Reasons. (one being that there is no "federal law" against "domestic terrorism" ).

Democrats grill FBI, DHS officials on white supremacy threat

Democrats hope to spotlight white supremacy as a threat to national security.

By Alexander Mallin
June 4, 2019, 4:55 PM


(snip)

According to the official, a significant issue that the bureau faces is that the federal criminal code has made it more challenging to bring charges against domestic terror suspects than in cases involving international terrorism or foreign terrorist organizations. That's because, according to the FBI Agents Association, "domestic terrorism" itself is not a federal crime. "Domestic terrorism is about political violence," Tom O'Connor, the president of the FBI Agents Association said in a statement to ABC News. "Congress must do everything in its power to provide law enforcement with the tools needed to combat this threat to our country."

Investigators often are forced to rely on other federal crimes to charge suspects with or rely on state or local laws, such as in the recent case of Coast Guard Lt. Christopher Hasson, who despite being accused in court of plotting mass murder "on a scale rarely seen in this country," is currently facing only gun and drug charges from U.S. attorneys in Maryland. And while then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions initially described the Charlottesville, Virginia attack by James Fields Jr., which resulted in the death of Heather Heyer, as "the definition of domestic terrorism," Fields in March pleaded guilty to 29 counts of violating federal hate crime law.

The issue surfaced in a contentious exchange between Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and McGarrity, where McGarrity was pressed on why the 2015 Emanuel AME Church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, and last year's Tree of Life Synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh were treated as "hate crime incidents" rather than acts of domestic terrorism. "That's not correct," McGarrity said, pointing out that while the attacks are considered instances of domestic terrorism by the Department of Justice, "there's no domestic terrorism charge."

In an emotional exchange on the subject later in the hearing, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-MI, read a death threat letter sent to her and fellow Muslim congresswoman Rep. Ilhan Omar that cited the New Zealand mosque attacks and remarked, "the only good Muslim is a dead one." "How is that not enough to fall under domestic terrorism?" Tlaib said through tears. "How come we don't have enough tools right now to pull these people in?" McGarrity expressed sympathy for Tlaib and urged her to bring her concerns directly to the Department of Justice, after earlier noting he personally would welcome Congress passing a law that makes domestic terrorism a federal crime.

https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/lawmakers-grill-trump-administration-officials-white-supremacy-threat/story?id=63478001





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Response to Nevilledog (Original post)

Sun May 15, 2022, 09:02 PM

9. They probably dont want to sensationalize it.

They dont want a bunch of others reading it, and giving them something to follow. Just like this kid followed the other guys. Plus the fact that he labeled him self a mild moderate authoritarian left populist. He stated at 12 he was a communist, moved further to the right as he got older but still called himself the above.

Lets face it there is racists and gun nuts on both sides of the center. Insane deluded people dont always fit one group and are also normally their own group.

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Response to Nevilledog (Original post)

Sun May 15, 2022, 09:06 PM

10. I think anyone not taking racist and anti-Semitic rantings seriously is part of the problem.

Taking racism and anti-Semitism seriously doesn't elevate the desires of the bigot.

It means actually doing something about racism and anti-Semitism.

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