One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter: Sure, if the other man is an idiot. Was Martin Luther King Jr. a terrorist? Was Bin Laden a freedom fighter? Immigration is the issue of the moment in the United States following Rep. Eric Cantor’s primary defeat this week. But the U.S. is not alone in playing host to illegal immigrants and struggling with sharply divided views over what to do about them.
Yet the coverage of the substance of these issues has been rather thin. The press here and abroad has been resorting to stock phrases and cliches to describe the controversies.
But where would newspapers be without cliches? In trouble most likely — for cliches enable authors to communicate ideological assumptions to their readers thus avoiding having to take the time or space to make an argument. European-style advocacy journalism relies on cliches to set the ideological tone of a story. Stock language lets the initiated know how they should approach an issue before they are presented with the facts.