By Ben Norton
When civilians are killed, media reaction is often contingent upon who did the killing and why. Instead of blanketly condemning such attacks, the bombing of civilians can be implicitly justified if those civilians were in the wrong place at the wrong time—say, in a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Afghanistan, or, more recently, in a neighborhood in Lebanon.
Two ISIS suicide bombers killed at least 43 people and wounded more than 230 in attacks on a heavily Shia Muslim community in Beirut on November 12. This was the worst attack on the city in years.
The vast majority of the victims were civilians, not armed militants—but many media headlines obscured this.
“Deadly Blasts Hit Hezbollah Stronghold in Southern Beirut,” declared the New York Times (11/12/15). Absent from this headline were crucial facts—namely, that this supposed “stronghold” of the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah is in fact a busy civilian area, and moreover that dozens of civilians were killed in the attacks.