Saturday, September 11, 2004; Page A19
Reading your paper's accounts of the butchery by terrorists in Beslan, Russia [front page, Sept. 5-8], I have been struck by your reporters' repeated employment of euphemisms for "terrorists," as though substituting the terms "guerrillas," "hostage takers," "militants" and "fighters" could whitewash the identity of these killers. Why can't your editors just identify these people for what they are: Islamic terrorists.
These killers executed 22 men who had been forced to build barricades. They shot anyone who exhibited defiance, such as a 14-year-old girl. One of them used a bayonet to kill a 5-year-old boy who asked for water. They allowed their captives almost no food or water. They rigged the building to blow up. The list of atrocities goes on.
And yet your reporters treat the killers as though they were "rebels" with legitimate causes or grievances who were only bluffing. That euphemistic terminology allows your paper to evade the fact that these were people who killed for the sake of killing. What terminology will your editors use if Islamic terrorists pull the same thing here in this country? Will you call them "dissidents"?
American journalism has become as contemptible as the legal profession.
-- Edward Cline