By Congressman Keith Ellison
At a time when our nation is seeing a rise in intolerant behavior, crossing every cultural line, whether based on race, religion or sexual orientation, we seem simultaneously stuck with a national news media that is preoccupied with conflict and controversy when we desperately need one that weighs facts and reports fairly. A recent national news program reinforced these concerns. Let me explain what I mean.
Imagine a respected TV show or news magazine article with the title, “Should Americans Fear Black People?”
Imagine staccato hip-hop music for the teaser, with clips of black gang members toting guns, hanging around urban scenes, looking scary. Imagine the zoom-in close up of a shoulder tattoo, proclaiming “Thug for Life.”
As the host (some household name) opens the show, imagine that the white expert opining about the root causes of urban decay is a nationally recognized racist, like for instance, David Duke. With a straight face, and no sense of irony, the host solicits Duke's views, who proceeds to declare, “when the American people saw the LA riots, they received a peek into their future.”
Imagine the television cameras going in search of voices of 'real' black people. Where do they go? The 'hood of course! I mean, where else do black people live?
The intrepid host invites regular Americans to ask the experts to explain black pathology: “Why is their rap music so degrading to women?” Cynthia from Wyoming wonders. “Why are so many blacks at the bottom of the economic and educational ladder?” Chuck from New York State muses.
Is this starting to get a little uncomfortable? Of course, it is. Just ask Don Imus about the wisdom of indulging in racial stereotyping against blacks. Add Jews, Catholics, gays and others as well. Not a good idea.
Now replace black with Muslim, and that's just about how ABC News treated Islam and Muslims this past weekend, on 20/20 and This Week with Christiane Amanpour…
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