Fox News (and most other news outlets) doesn’t usually have anything favorable to say about Muslims, so you can imagine the shock some of us received when
Geraldo Rivera spoke out regarding the media’s coverage of the murder of three young Muslims by a crazed man in Chapel Hill, NC. When most of us learned of the murders, it was by way of social media. Very few news outlets bothered to report the murders and those that did, chucked it up to three people being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Never mind the fact that they were at their own home. The outrage voiced in social media forced more major news outlets to cover the story. According to Geraldo, the reason for the lack of coverage had to do with the so-called small Muslim population in the country. I’ll go ahead and tell you why I strongly disagree.
Studies show that people tend to unite (or become friends, if you look at it on a smaller scale)over mutual dislikes. It sounds weird, but take a moment to think about events in history. National unity is never stronger than it is when there is a common enemy to hate. Widespread bias allowed slavery to accepted as the norm until 1865, and Jim Crow laws to be easily enforced after the abolition of slavery. It permitted Adolf Hitler to murder countless Jews in Germany, and it promoted the hatred of the Japanese immigrants during World War II. It now encourages prejudice against Muslims.
Allowing Muslims to be seen as a group of normal folks causes splinters in the unity that we have managed to re-establish in our country. We somehow feel safer at night when we can go to sleep knowing who the enemy is, and knowing where to direct our animosity. As long as we know what a terrorist looks like, we know who we are fighting to save our country from.
But what happens when people slowly begin to recognize the subliminal messages promoting hostility towards a particular group as a form of brainwashing? What happens when people start questioning whether an enemy is really an enemy, or a friend is really a friend? You get people who don’t trust the government to keep them safe. You get people who don’t rely the news to tell the truth. You get a nation that is no longer bound by mutual loathing of a common foe, but rather fragmented by disheartenment and skepticism.
This is why you won’t see Craig Hicks labeled as a terrorist. This is why you won’t hear about the torching of an Islamic school in Houston unless you are tuned into social media. The murder of the 15 year old Somali immigrant in Kansas City, while labeled a hate crime, won’t be called an act of terror. Not only were the perpetrators not Muslim enough to be crowned terrorists, but the lives of the victims weren’t quite valuable enough for these abhorrent acts to be publicly condemned. But you’d better believe if the tables were turned and Atheist, anti-theist Crag Hicks was murdered by his three Muslim neighbors, something as implausible as a parking dispute would never have been mentioned. The three Muslims would have immediately been deemed enemies of the state, with no other explanation taken into consideration. Sean Hannity and Bill Maher would have demanded that all Muslims apologize and loudly denounce the acts of terror. As it stands though, those figureheads were deafeningly silent.
When my kids ask about the general opinion the public holds regarding Muslims, I give them the most optimistic answer possible because I don’t want them to lose faith in humanity. I only hope that one day, those won’t be lies I’m telling them.