New Media Project
Is Everything How it Seems?
The media is a very powerful thing. In society today, people are very reliant on the media and respect almost everything that they say. Look around you, almost three out of every five people you see has a phone with internet capability. Studies have shown that over 57% of all Americans have smartphones, and this is even higher between the ages of sixteen and forty (internetretailer.com, 2013). So as you can see, the majority of people can access the media at any time and any place. This can be a good thing or, in the case of Muslim Americans, a bad thing. The media, especially after it was reported that the two men who were involved in the Boston Marathon Bombing were Muslim, the media started to only portray Muslim communities when something bad happens. They are portrayed as a people with “wrong” views.
The media is so influential that people in our American society are starting to act out against Muslim people. It is not every person that does these things, but the handful of people who do are the ones who stand out the most in the media. After the terrorist attacks at the Boston Marathon, one man assaulted a Muslim cab driver. Taxi cab driver Mohamed Salim recorded one of his passengers ask him, and accuse him of being associated with, the type of people who flew the planes into the World Trade Center and the people who placed bombs at the Boston Marathon. Salim did not provoke this man into saying these things and just told him that he was recording everything that was being said and that he would call the police. This apparently infuriated the man enough to punch Salim in the face. Mohamed Salim suffered from a concussion and a fractured jaw. There was a news release on CNN of the incident and it says at the beginning of the piece it just barely mentions that Salim actually fought in the war against terrorism in Iraq. The news did not do much to show their viewers the bad implications put on Salim by the man who assaulted him; they barely mentioned that Salim was a soldier in the United States Army (CNN, Cab Driver, 2013).
There is a new birthday card out! Unfortunately, it has some very bad intentions. The front of the card has an advertisement for a new doll for children. Doll carries the name of Aamina and is a Muslim girl wearing traditional Muslim attire. Everything seems ok so far, right? Wrong. The packaging of this box has terrible, racist things written all over it. Some of these include saying that she talk and to “pull the string, if you dare!” and “She’ll love you to death!” These are obviously insinuating that the doll is a terrorist and putting a bad reputation on all Muslim people. The worst part is the saying in the bottom right corner that says “She’ll blow your brains out!” If I were a Muslim, that would be extremely insulting (nydailynews.com, 2013). It shows that people are naïve enough to believe that all Muslim people are terrorists, and that just is not right.
When you think of the White House, you think of a place that would have the least amount of racism. Apparently, it is not completely abolished in the Nation’s capital. Seema Jilani, whose husband was a journalist in Washington, attended the White House Correspondent’s Dinner, where some racist things happened. She was aware of the levels of clearance to get into parts of the party, and her husband was granted clearance to go into the ballroom with some of the big people in the White House and she was not. Her husband went into the higher clearance level and Seema was going to go home, but realized that her husband had the keys in the rooms coat closet. She asked the guards if she could go in to the coat room and they told her not to, and she was upset but not about being refused entrance. She got upset because ten minutes later, the same guard allowed a white woman, who had a lower clearance than Seema, into the party to get something from her husband. Seema then asked the security guard why that lady got in, and got the response saying she could not go in because of her clearance. This was obviously a racist encounter, and Jilani decided to write a book about it called My Racist Encounter at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner that goes through the situation and why it upset her so much (idesigntimes.com, 2013).
The good news is that more Muslim people are deciding to speak out against the attacks and defend both themselves and their religion. Dean Obeidallah wrote an article for CNN that is called I am Muslim, and I Hate Terrorism. He is a former attorney and a political comedian who decided he wanted to speak out against the rise of stereotypes for Muslim people. In his article, he answers three big questions about Muslim culture and terrorism. First question is ‘why do Muslims commit terrorism?’ And he responds to that by saying that he is not an expert, but he has talked to people who are and they have given him insight. The terroristic acts are not religious at all. They are political. The terrorist groups only use the religion of Islam to recruit people into doing the deed. The people they recruit are told false truths and are tricked into doing these things. Obeidallah then answers the question ‘Why don’t Muslims denounce terrorism?’ This one got my attention because they do. American-Muslim communities denounce terrorism over and over but the media will not air it. “Despite our best efforts to get this message out there, what attracts more media attention: A Muslim denouncing terrorism or footage of an explosion?” Does that seem wrong to anyone else? He kept reiterating the point that yes, Muslims do denounce terrorism. The last question seems like a question a racist, unintelligent person would ask. ‘Why don’t Muslims stop blowing stuff up?’ From my standpoint, this seems like a very disrespectful question. But Obeidallah goes on and answers it by first saying that he has never blown anything up. He then goes on to state that 88% of all attacks are by ecoterrorists and anarchists while only 12% is by Muslim people. But still, it is 12% and those are the attacks that get on the news. He also adds on the bottom that almost all Muslims wish that twelve was a zero, but the fact is that no police or Muslim community can stop every sing terrorist plot; it’s just unrealistic. Obeidallah wraps up his article by saying he hopes that his culture will not be defined by a handful of people by the end of his life (CNN.com, I am Muslim, 2013).
As you can see, the media can be a dangerous and powerful thing, and almost three out of every five people can bring the news up on their phone within seconds. Media has taken a religion and a culture and turned it into something else in the eyes of the viewer. The media has used events like the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the bombings at the Boston Marathon to paint a picture of Islam. This picture is grotesque and untrue in so many ways, but it attracts viewers. Media is business that used to portray the news to the community, not bash a culture. The problem is that the sole purpose of media today is to sell papers or magazines. They are trying to get more viewers or get more people to see their webpage instead of doing what they are supposed to: displaying the news. Unfortunately, I do not see this getting better in the near future, and with the rise in technology going so fast, this issue could get a lot worse very quickly. There is a bright side though. Muslim-American groups and communities are beginning to speak out against the attacks in the newspaper and by doing that, more and more people are becoming aware of what is happening. This also is bring their communities closer together and hopefully all of their efforts in trying to restore respect to the religion of Islam will pay off.
“Boston Marathon Bombings: A Test of Attitudes toward American Muslims Yields a Hopeful Outcome.” Fox News. FOX News Network, 26 Apr. 2013. Web. 17 May 2013.
“Can Europe Teach U.S. Something about Engaging Islam?” Global Public Square RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 May 2013.
“Muslim Cab Driver: Passenger Attacked Me.” CNN. Cable News Network, n.d. Web. 17 May 2013.
“Muslim Drivers Suspended over Praying Time.” NBC News. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 May 2013.
“Muslim Terrorist Doll on Birthday Card Angers Council on American-Islamic Relations: ‘blatant Bigotry'” NY Daily News. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 May 2013.
Obeidallah., The Opinions Expressed in This Commentary Are Solely Those of Dean. “I’m Muslim, and I Hate Terrorism.” CNN. Cable News Network, 01 Jan. 1970. Web. 17 May 2013.
“Opinion: After 9/11, Reaction to Muslim Americans More Nuanced.” In America RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 May 2013.
“White House Racism: Who Is Seema Jilani? Muslim American Woman Is Victim Of Bigotry At Obama’s Home [VIDEO & REPORT].” International Design Times. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 May 2013.