AC W10 Stereotypes Arabs and the Media

AC W10 Stereotypes Arabs and the Media - ARABS AND THE MEDIA

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ARABS AND THE MEDIA by Narmeen El-Farra Journal of Media Psychology Volume I, Number 2, Spring 1996 A stereotype is the creation of a biased opinion or view -- an individual will take the behavior of one person and state that all people belonging to that particular group, be it an ethnic, religious or social group, behave in the same manner. The establishment of stereotypes encourages people to react and behave in a manner that is both judgmental and biased. The word Arabs is used to describe an individual from the Middle East. Despite the fact that these individuals are from different countries, with diverse cultures, beliefs and a variety of religions, they are characterized by one term, "Arabs." The word Arabs reduces individuals and countries to a distinct target, open to stereotypes and bias. The Western media has often projected individuals of Arab descent in a negative manner. Currently, Arabs are seen as terrorists and murderers due to how the media presents them. Newspapers use key words such as extremists, terrorists and fanatics to describe Arabs. According to Shaheen (1984), "The present day Arab stereotype parallels the image of Jews in pre-Nazi Germany, where Jews were painted as dark, shifty-eyed, venal and threateningly different people." These distortions of the Arab people have created a general mistrust and dislike for Arabs among Americans. To identify Arabs with terrorism is to classify them as enemies. In research conducted by L. John Martin (1985), results showed that the word "terrorism" was used by the press in describing events and individuals they disapproved of. Yet, when describing these same acts by individuals who are not Arabs, the media was careful to appear neutral and unbiased.
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A good example of media coverage which presented facts of an actual event in a prejudicial manner was the Oklahoma City bombing. In 1995, within minutes of the event, news reporters were insinuating that the bombing was an act of terrorists. Raised with unpopular stereotypes of Arabs, the American public was quick to develop images of Arab terrorists destroying American property. These views were fueled by the fact that it was a state building containing several government agencies. For example, "Steven Emerson, a terrorism expert, told viewers not to believe Islamic groups when they denied involvement." Furthermore, CNN, a major news channel, gave the actual names of Arab suspects being detained for questioning in connection with the bombing (Alter, 1995). This type of reporting was a departure from the normal objective stance CNN usually takes of protecting the identity of individuals involved in criminal activity until the facts have been confirmed. It was impossible for the American public to conceive of the word terrorist in application to citizens of their own country. The word terrorism is synonymous with Arabs. Yet, the arrest of an American citizen for the Oklahoma bombing
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This note was uploaded on 03/21/2012 for the course COMM 1000345 taught by Professor Mccloud during the Fall '10 term at Mohawk College.

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AC W10 Stereotypes Arabs and the Media - ARABS AND THE MEDIA

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