The Wisconsin Sikh temple shooting and the role of the Media.
August 6, 2012 Leave a comment
I was horrified and saddened to learn of yesterday’s shooting targeting worshippers at a Sikh Temple. When an attack specifically targets a group of people rather than it being a random shooting by a psychopath, it feels very personal and hits closer to home. I pray for the families directly affected by this tragedy and those who lost their life for no reason other than being different.
As a community I commend them on how they have responded. So gracious and very honorable. Because of this tragedy I have learned aspects of the Sikh faith, which I didn’t know before and have now come to appreciate. I hope our Nation is spared from seeing any rise of hateful attacks on religious minorities (or any other group). Just minutes ago I read about of a mosque burning down from an arson attack in Joplin, Mo.
Although the ultimate accountability is upon the individual who commits the act, I do believe some of that responsibility for crimes such as this is shared by the media and organizations like FoxNews and those with similar agendas. They incite hate and thus make crimes like this occur. I see little to no difference between these organizations that are mouth pieces for far right ideologies and those whose ideology encourages “death to the west”. FoxNews and other far right commentators may not right out say “death to Arabs/or Muslims”, but they do so in subtle language. The radio world of right wing ideologists is even more vocal in their hatred for Muslims (which in my opinion is a cover-up for hate against anyone who isn’t their race).
Although I do believe in freedom of speech, I do think there is a dangerous line when the speech involves minority groups. The majority of the Nation has little contact with Muslim people and what they do know of Muslims is from the media. This almost always involves historical violent political conflicts in the Muslim world.
So what do have? We have a narrative that is being fed to the Nation, in which Muslims are not the tellers of their own stories. Since there is a lack of power to reach millions of Americans, those who do have this power, the major media, I believe do have responsibility in how they approach minority groups. But often times what do we see when the matter concerns Muslims?
We see violent conflicts, terrorism, and hateful Mullahs bent on destroying Western civilization and oppressed women who are in need of being saved from them. So when a “patriotic” isolated American views these images over and over again on FoxNews, who does he view as his enemy? Them, who look like the images he sees on TV. It’s classic propaganda that has been used throughout history to demonize the “other” and as consequence it leads to killings like we saw yesterday in Wisconsin. It’s no surprise Hitler used the media as did the Hutu militia just to name two infamous examples. And we all know the tragic consequences.
The quote by Malcolm X comes to mind:
The media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses.”
You may be wondering what does all of this have to do with the tragedy that occurred yesterday at the Sikh Temple. I have followed the news coverage and the sentiment seems to be Sikhs were mistaken for Muslims. The implicit suggestion here from the media seems to be it is understandable to hate and attack Muslims. The gunmen and the ideology he follows may very well be most outspoken about their hatred of Muslims, but make no mistake their hatred is of the Other. The attack on the Temple was not just an attack on Sikhs, or Sikhs “mistaken” for Muslims, but an attack on anyone who was not his race. I say race and not religion, because right wing “Christians” hate black people as much as they hate people of other religions. In my opinion I think their hatred of black folk is even greater than that of religious differences, it just that in the years following 9/11 the media focus has shifted to those folk overseas.