Thesis: Muslim Islam Within the Media and Global

Pages: 4 (1457 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 4  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Terrorism  ·  Buy This Paper

Islam in the Media

Traditionally, the media has been viewed as impartial. Journalists are objective, while editorialists, essayists, and of course, writers of fiction, have subjective agendas or points-of-view. Yet, it is not always easy to divorce oneself from one's biases and preconceptions. Though journalists are supposed to set aside their personal beliefs when reporting a story, it has become increasingly apparent that much mass media coverage is actually skewed toward particular ideas. American mainstream media news outlets are not publicly owned, nor are they directly controlled by the government. Nevertheless, in recent years, many of these new outlets have found themselves in the position of backing official policies. Especially since September 11, 2001, the mainstream media has tended to tout the official line on policies toward the Islamic World. The media shape public opinion and, responding to that now created "majority view," further reinforce certain perceptions. In the United States, Islamic peoples and causes are commonly portrayed in a highly negative light. Islam is often directly linked to terrorism and other forms of presumably unprovoked violence against Americans and American interests. Islamic governments are portrayed as "regimes" ruling over "rogue states" or acting through means of organization the sole aim of which appears to being the sowing of death and destruction. The message is sent that Islam itself is illegitimate, or violent, or in need of extensive reform. Customs and traditions are misunderstood and described in ways guaranteed to elicit negative emotional reactions on the part of Americans, and Westerners in general. The media covers Islam from a largely American, and American-government point-of-view, one which is adversarial and meant to support invasive and transformative global campaigns.

A notable example of American media coverage of the Islamic World involves the stories regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The American mass media -- television, newspapers, and magazines -- tend to slant their stories to the official line of both the American and Israeli governments i.e. that the Palestinian cause is dominated by radical Islamic extremists with no regard for human life and suffering. As pointed out by Marda Dunsky, the media endlessly, and unquestioningly, repeat tales of a "Washington Consensus" that immediately creates the impression of a "good" world arrayed on the side of the United States, and a world of ever-recalcitrant "evil doers" represented first and foremost by Palestinian organizations, like Hezbollah.

Specifically, the term Washington Consensus is used to describe the neoliberalist philosophy of opening up nations and governments to global markets, a definition that automatically casts media coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the light of a kind of culture war.

As the side that is subject to the negative coverage, the Palestinians come across as opposing modern ideas and thus in pressing need of social and cultural reorientation and reorganization. The violence of groups like Hezbollah is seen as the manifestation of anti-Western, and therefore, anti-modern ideas, in the Islamic World. In contrast, the United States is represented as the epitome of all that is modern. Modernity, in the sense of global markets and secular democracy is further equated with "good" as opposed to an "evil" that comes in the form of fundamentalist religion i.e. superstition, and jingoistic nationalism i.e. racial and ethnic bigotry.

On another level, the terrorism of Hezbollah, Hamas, bin Laden, and other individuals and groups, is literally seen as an attempt to use the American media to further extremist Islamist causes. James S. Albritton discusses a "New Terrorism" that thrives on the idea of mass violence as a form of theater or entertainment.

In various other contexts, graphic violence has been shown to be a ratings grabber in media offerings, study after study citing the high incidence of violence in popular television shows and cinematic films and establishing as accepted wisdom the notion that "violence sells." Placed into the Islamic context, it follows that terrorists promote their cause by keeping it before the public eye through the further commission of atrocities. In this case, too, it is the Islamic extremists who manipulate the media, and not the other way around. Again and again, experts depict the media as being evaluated by potential terrorists with terrorist plots being carefully calibrated according to how they will play on television. Blowing up buildings in an American city or detonating car bombs on an American street are good acts because it will obtain the maximum of media… [END OF PREVIEW]

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