Arab, Muslim, brown, and foreigner are just a few of the common words that American media uses to describe terrorists. In light of the Boston Marathon bombings, a fearfulness of who could have committed such an act – an act on American soil – immediately emerged. As soon as word spread of the attacks, focus in the media immediately shifted from surpassing feelings grief to “who did it.” With terms such as “Islamism, “Arab Terrorism”, and “al-Qaeda” being thrown around, American masses honed in on the possibility of the perpetrator being of foreign descent. While any reason could have been possible, it was easy and almost natural for most to assume this terrorist attack was in fact, the act of a terrorist. As redundant as that last sentence may seem, it is the unfair and unfortunate reality that ignorance uses to make sense of such a heinous crime.
What’s more interesting is when I came across Fox News’ popular segment, “The Five”. Now, readers may begin to argue that Fox News has some sort of reputation as a strictly right-winged source, but I encourage readers to view Fox News for what it’s actually worth; a news channel, available for all people, including those who are right, left, OR independent politically affiliated. (It’s not like the news stemming from their center can only be viewed by a preferred group of supporters). This particular segment, having aired Tuesday, April 23, 2013 (a short eight days after the attack) was hosted by Robert Beckel. To my disgust, the headline read:
Beckel: Hold off on Muslim and Chinese students coming to US
Equally intrigued, I watched on to find out that Beckel thought that ALL Muslims, and even Chinese, hated America and Americans. (One common misconception of anti-Americanism is that, since cultures and religions differ drastically, those differences automatically equate to hatred). To subside his fear of actions, such as terror plots and attacks, that occur due to anti-Americanism, Beckel suggested that America should not let any more Muslim or Chinese students into the country for educational training. For one, he thinks that Muslim students come to America to study. However, he doesn’t think their education is a priority due to their hatred for America. Influenced deeply by terrorist leaders outside of America, Muslim students, according to Beckel, are really just being given the opportunity to commit Anti-American crimes freely. Secondly, he believes that Chinese students should be banned from coming to America to receive technological education, since, apparently, “Chinese students are brought here to study computers, go back home, and then hack us”.
These statements seem highly inappropriate in the aftermath of the event in Boston, as the details are still not completely clear. Furthermore, I think that it is even more offensive to group such components of our population into one category assuming that every Muslim and every Chinese student to be Anti-American.
This segment affected me deeply, as I’m sure it did to large sums of other viewers as well. As a friend to Muslim and Chinese students, and even as a Sikh student myself, I began to wonder how other students feel about this issue. What if Beckel had targeted Sikh students? European students? African-American students? Latino students? It’s not fair to judge a population on the acts of non-representative extremists. I think that American media, specifically, needs to reevaluate the content published in their post-attack broadcasts. Because frankly, Beckel’s broadcast shows as a major blemish on Fox News’ public face.
If I want readers to take home anything from this occurrence, is that NOT ALL MUSLIMS ARE TERRORISTS and NOT ALL FOREIGNERS ARE ANTI-AMERICAN.