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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

May 19, 2003

Muslims and the Media


Some pereceptions about Muslims and the press fromDisaffectedMuslim
[...]Now we come to the crux of the problem; while complaining about how Muslims and Arabs are portrayed in Western media, Arab media is infamous for its Nazi levels of invective and hatred against Jews, and of course one can hardly expect a good image of Westerners either! Suppose Jews and Israelis complained about how they were portrayed by Muslims; do you think they would get a sympathetic response? How about if Americans complained about the barrage of anti-Western rhetoric, the portrayal of Western women as whores, the depiction of Americans as "controlled by the Jews," and on and on? One constantly repeated claim is that American media is controlled by the Jews (or "Zionists") and that is why Muslims and Muslim causes can't get good press. Well, has it ever occurred to them that they are indulging in the same kind of racism and bigotry they accuse the media of? Or is it that hatred of Jews is not racism? (I don't like using the term "anti-semitism," because Arabs and others will frequently say that, since they are Semites, they can't be anti-Semitic, or that hatred of Arabs is "anti-semitism." I want to make it clear that I am referring to hatred of Jews.)


Frankly, one reason I'm often not very sympathetic to Muslim complaints of media bias is the fact that the Arab media in particular, and that of many other Muslim nations as well, is so ravingly insane, filled with hatred of Jews and Westerners (forget about a sympathetic documentary depicting an Israeli family, or an American one!). It is, it might be said, bad PR, and the way Muslims often react to the revelation of this insanity doesn't help: either flat denial or the same old tired claims that 1) it's for purely "understandable" reasons, 2) you just don't understand the context, how Muslims have been humiliated, and 3), the most ridiculous, showing displeasure, not that there is so much hatred in Arab media, but that Westerners have been informed about it!


Why does it go only one way--Americans and Westerners must "understand" Muslims and Islam, depicting them in a good light, but Muslims can say whatever crap they want about Westerners and Jews on their media (admittedly usually state-run, but even independent sources are generally just more of the same)? Why must Americans realize how their actions upset Muslims and humiliate them, while Muslims do not have to realize how their actions and attitudes upset Americans? Why can't Jews/Israelis be portrayed as human beings, the way Muslims say they want themselves to be portrayed, instead of as the font of all evil?


Another part of the crux of the problem is that, frankly, many Muslims cause more than their share of trouble! Terrorist acts, seemingly constant warfare against both Muslims and non-Muslims, calls for jihad and the destruction of Israel and the West, anti-American demonstrations, synagogue torchings, and so on, do not do much for the image of Muslims and Islam! Pacifist Buddhists hardly ever get into the news in this fashion! It seems as if many Muslims would like to see the media ignore all of this, which isn't going to happen anytime soon. More troublingly, the typical Muslim reaction to these acts is not to apologize for how Islam is being misused, or how the terrorists are bad Muslims, or some kind of condemnation, but instead whining about how Muslims are "unfairly treated" and that Islam is given a "bad image" by the media. (For example, Muslim organizations in America didn't really condemn the actions of 9/11 or other terrorist acts in a forceful manner, or sometimes at all, instead focusing on profiling of Arabs/Muslims at airports and complaining about the shutdown of Muslim charities funneling money to terrorist organizations.) This attitude alone does a lot to create distrust and dislike among non-Muslims towards Muslims, it must be said, leading many to conclude that Muslims in America, by failing to say anything about terrorist acts, are implicitly condoning them, or at least refusing to condemn them[more]