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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 12/20/17

Whitewashing: The Media's Two Narratives on Terrorism

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From Palestine Chronicle

Students, Deah Barakat (R), his wife, Yusor Abu-Salha, and her sister, Razan Abu-Salha (not pictured) were killed by Craig Hicks on Feb 10, 2015.
Students, Deah Barakat (R), his wife, Yusor Abu-Salha, and her sister, Razan Abu-Salha (not pictured) were killed by Craig Hicks on Feb 10, 2015.
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Within hours after Akayed Ullah, a Bangladeshi immigrant, allegedly detonated a pipe bomb in New York City on December 11, severely injuring himself and wounding four others, a most comprehensive official and media narrative emerged.

The formulation of the narrative concerning Ullah's motives, radicalization and assumed hate for the US was so immaculate, one would have thought it took authorities months, not hours to compile such demanding evidence.

Strangely, Ullah's own family was surprised by the accusation concerning their son.

However, the exact nature of what truly happened matters little. Not only was Ullah instantly found guilty by the media, all Muslims and immigrants, in fact, were.

Following each attack of this nature, Muslims in the US mobilize to fend off accusations concerning their faith, their values and their allegiance to the country in which they live.

But it is not an easy fight to win. When President Donald Trump is constantly tweeting anti-Muslim propaganda, while his administration exploits every opportunity to advance anti-immigrant initiatives, the beleaguered small community of Muslims in the US can do little to stop the rising tide of Islamophobia.

The media has played a major role in propagating the negative attitudes towards Muslims and Islam, which, in turn, provide the much-needed public support for the government to continue with its anti-Muslim measures.

Compare such attitudes with the way in which mass shootings carried out by white American men is communicated by the government and media alike.

Although mass killings by white males have proven to be the deadliest in the US, the discussion generated in the media and official discourses are centered mostly on mental illness of white attackers. In other words, there is consensus that violence perpetrated by members of the white community is not inherent to that community's race, culture or religion.

Five years after Adam Lazna killed 20 first graders and six adults at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, many are still at work trying to analyze Lanza's supposed mental illness that drove him to commit such a reprehensible act.

The fact that Lanza was carrying more than 30 pounds of weapons seemed superfluous. Many pundits and politicians still refuse to engage in a discussion about guns.

The "mental health" argument in also championed by Trump himself.

"Mental health is your problem here," Trump said in a statement in response to a mass shooting by Devin Kelly, a white male who killed more than two dozen people in a Texas church last November.

Resorting to easy answers when white men kill is now the norm. Killers of other races, skin colors and nationalities, however, get entirely different treatment.

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Ramzy Baroud is the Managing Editor of Middle East Eye. He is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media consultant, an author and the founder of PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza's Untold (more...)
 

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