Ethical headlines are expected from the news

Photo courtesy of Fox News

The shadowy fear of terrorism is a darkness that hangs over the heads of all Americans and innocent people worldwide. The tragic loss of life due to terrorism on 9/11 is a permanently-etched scar on the heart of the United States.

Terrorism is an evil of the highest accord. The murder of innocent people in the name of radical beliefs is despicable.

For over a decade, the war on terror has been an effort that has united people of all backgrounds, beliefs and political views. The United States gathered together in the face of evil and collectively agreed that the fight was ours.

This is why the media coverage of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s death at the hands of U.S. special forces was so utterly shocking to me. The Washington Post’s sickening online article covering the death of the infamous terrorist leader was absurdly irresponsible.

One of The Washington Post’s headlines, before it was retracted in a cowardly display of damage control, described Baghdadi as “an austere religious scholar.”

The first time I read the article, I was taken aback. I tried to convince myself there was no way a paper as reputable as The Washington Post just referred to a terrorist as an austere religious scholar. But on my fifth read through, the headline hadn’t magically changed.

From the time I realized my passion for journalism, I dreamt of being a writer for The Washington Post. I wanted my name printed on their bylines and associated with their publications for the rest of time. Now, I’d be hard pressed to ever voluntarily read one of its articles with any measure of respect.

I was physically sickened, and still am, by the moral blindness and blatant disrespect that allowed the writer of the obituary to put such kind words into a headline about a terrorist. I have so many questions about how the article ever got approved for online publication. I will never understand how such words made it through a proofread by the writer themselves, multiple editors and, ultimately, out to the public.

The article and headline are a repulsive display of moral grayness and blindness toward human decency that journalism as a whole must not fall into.

The day a terrorist dies is a day we should all thank God for, and the media should share that similar respect.

While I do my best to live by principles of love, kindness and understanding, I will never find it in my heart to forgive the atrocious actions of terrorists.

The Washington Post’s handling of the death of a monster was disrespectful to the victims of al-Baghdadi’s cruelty and inhumanity, and to their families, who live with the pain and consequences of his actions.

The mission that resulted in the death of the ISIS leader was named in honor of Kayla Mueller by President Donald Trump and military officials.

Mueller was an NAU alumna and resident of Prescott who was in Syria engaging in humanitarian aid, as reported by The Lumberjack. Mueller was kidnapped and suffered unspeakable abuse at the hands of al-Baghdadi’s troops before her execution. The pain of her loss radiates through the NAU community, and forgiveness for the brutality she and hundreds of other innocent victims of ISIS’ actions suffered will not come soon, at least not from me.

The Washington Post should take into consideration that if it decides to cover the death of one of the world’s greatest fiends ever again, it should be respectful to those that deserve it. Words such as “austere,” “religious scholar” and cheerful anecdotes about childhood sports do not belong anywhere near descriptions of terrorists.

Al-Baghdadi was evil personified. He must be depicted as such.