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Arabs, Muslims and September 11

The unconscionable tragedy that besieged our nation September 11 has shocked Americans. Indeed, images of the carnage that traveled around the world proved how vulnerable the world is to barbaric terrorism.

But as that shock turned into anger, a dangerous mix of emotions began to settle across America.

Talk-Radio callers queued on the phone to vent their anger after the attacks. “We need to nuke them all!” said one caller. “Throw all foreigners out of the country,” declared another.

Television news broadcasts brought in so-called experts to discuss the identity of the perpetrators. “All fingers point to the Arabs,” alleged one analyst. “We need to keep our eyes on those Muslims,” concluded another.

These hateful comments were the backdrop to the fear that swept the Arab and Muslim communities here in the United States. Mosques were fire bombed, Muslim women were harassed and some who “looked like they were from that part of the world” were attacked.

Regardless of who is ultimately found to be responsible for these terrorist attacks, no ethnic or religious community should be collectively blamed. Blaming ethnicity and religion as the root of this catastrophe only drags countless more innocents into a cycle of hate.

Grouping Muslims or Arabs with terrorists is unjust and prejudiced. Even as the unscrupulous criminals behind this tragedy cloak themselves under a veil of religion, we in the civilized world should distinguish between religious beliefs and murderous terrorists.

Indeed, all Muslims are utterly and completely disgusted at any acts of violence carried out in the name of their religion. In fact, such violence contradicts the views, teachings and ideals of Islam and Muslims. Islam expressively forbids such acts of violence.

Arabs and Muslims are as afraid of this terrorism as are all Americans. The results of terrorism do not distinguish between different religions or different races as it is blinded by its politically motivated goals.

The War on Terrorism and the US Propaganda Machine

The War on Terrorism and the US Propaganda Machine

Totalitarian regimes control their people by bludgeoning and incarcerating them. Critics of Western societies claim that democratic governments maintain approval for their actions through the “manufacture of consent”, a cryptic and insidious form of propaganda.

“How?”, you ask skeptically. By framing the debate, the theory says. By setting up a debate between two opposing acceptable views–one slightly left of government policy, and the other slightly right–the media can marginalize the radicals and legitimize the party line. Thus the debate surrounding the war in Vietnam was a debate of the hawks (“If we keep fighting we can win”) vs. the doves (“It’s too costly; we’re fighting a losing battle”). There was no question of our right to interfere in the mainstream media, no question of the purpose of the war. You can see the same framing of debate in the US media’s coverage of the “war on terrorism”.

If you look for it, anyway. It all sounds like a conspiracy theory, though, doesn’t it? It seems rather far-fetched that the government is controlling the media, even if National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice did “suggest” that the networks broadcast only “abridged” versions of any future appearances by Osama bin Laden and friends. It’s much more plausible that the big companies control the government, but I’m not going to open that kettle of fish. So let’s forget about conspiracies for the moment, and simply focus on the media coverage: are we getting a fair shake?

Increasing numbers of Americans don’t think so. Despite the fact that UK is our strongest ally in this conflict, their media has been considerable more even-handed in cov…

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…s a “war on terrorism”, but kills countless innocent Afghanis because their government refused to give over bin Laden without some evidence of his involvement in the WTC attacks.

But if that’s the radical view, and the media comments above are mainstream, we’d do well to broaden our scope. British support for the war has fallen drastically, and is now outnumbered by those opposed. If you’d like to find out why, you’ll have to look further than CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, etc. Try the Guardian, the Independent, BBC,, or just search Google for Noam Chomsky Afghanistan. Even if our dangerous ignorance is not the result of a conspiracy, we’ve still got plenty of good reason to alleviate it. Surely we’re educated and critical enough to decide for ourselves what constitutes a valid perspective. We don’t need the purifying filter of the mainstream media.

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