Connect with us

#Current Affairs

Rutgers vs Ohio State: The Difference In Coverage is Black and White

Guests
Support MuslimMatters for Just $2 a Month

MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

by John Robbins

By now, everyone has learned the details of how Abdul Razak Ali Artan carried out a violent attack against seemingly random passersby on the campus of Ohio State University. But a nearly identical stabbing attack also took place earlier this month at Rutgers University, and practically no one heard about it.
The main difference? The attacker’s race.

Artan was a young black immigrant from Somalia who had spent time in Pakistan, and who evidently came from a Muslim family. In contrast, the attack in Rutgers was carried out by Joshua S. Thompson, a 25-year-old  business student, from Mountainside, NJ., who stabbed two people with a knife before turning the weapon on himself.   The attack also appears to have been unprovoked, and also to have targeted random individuals.

The media, as usual, began digging into the Somali attacker’s life for evidence of “radicalism” and labeling him a terrorist as soon as his name, race and national origin were discovered, and his perceived faith was described as a credible motivating factor for his actions.

However, articles about Thompson’s attack uniformly lack this breathless speculation about race or religion; frantic digging into the attacker’s background for any clue about motive or church attendance; and follow-up stories in the days after the event as more information became available. In my research into the coverage, I could not find a single instance of a piece about the event printed later than a day or two after it occurred by a major outlet.

In their coverage of the Rutgers incident, MSN simply stated that “It was not clear what motivated the attack,” and didn’t investigate further.

image

image

image

However, their article about the violence at Ohio State, luridly headlined “Ohio State attack: What we know about Abdul Razak Ali Artan,” provides detailed documentation of his social media habits and personal life. It digs through his postings and background, drawing together past statements to craft a narrative charting a path toward violence.

Fox News’ coverage of the Rutgers story is remarkably balanced: it describes, without hyperbole, the facts on the ground, plainly laying out the unknown and known elements (“the attack reportedly took place in a university office;” “Rutgers University posted the following statement…”), and avoiding speculation in the absence of clear evidence.

In contrast, their reporting on the tragedy at Ohio State, headlined by an article titled “Investigators believe OSU attacker self-radicalized, inspired by ISIS propaganda,” focuses purely on the attacker’s motive, racial and religious background, and the potential scope of his connections with ISIS. He is presented as part of a broader pattern of terrorist-inspired violence that threatens to strike at any moment.

Simply comparing the results of the first page of a simple Google search for the incidents is telling:
The variation in coverage lies not only in the addition of “terror” or “terrorism” as suspected roots of the Muslim perpetrator’s spree, but, more essentially, in the distinction between fact-based reporting in the former case and speculation about motivations in the latter. As has been voluminously documented, when a white male carries out an attack against civilians, the blame is placed on factors such as circumstances (“he just lost his house”) or environment (“she was from a bad family”); in the case of the Rutgers attack, Thompson’s motivations go unquestioned, and his actions are not taken to be stand-ins for larger existential threats.

But when an individual perceived to be Muslim commits a crime, media outlets immediately begins searching for intrinsic, belief-centered motivations for his or her actions. The impetus is to connect them to larger “terror networks” instead of assuming that they are individuals acting in isolation, or similarly acknowledging the presence of the same external factors that can drive any individual to commit an act of violence such as losing a job, going through a breakup, mental health issues, or substance abuse.

It’s entirely possible that Artan carried out his attacks based on a perverted understanding of Islam’s mandates; such actions manifest among people from all religious backgrounds. But regardless of whether this is the case, the immediate labeling of his actions as related to “terrorism” as soon as he was found to be from a Muslim background, and the disproportionate emphasis on his religion as a motivating factor to the exclusion of all others, stands in contrast to the media’s treatment of white individuals such as Joshua Thompson.

Unless such incidents are covered more responsibly, it will only serve to further reinforce the public perception that Muslims are responsible for all acts of terrorism, and to stigmatize the broader Muslim community more deeply. If media outlets are going to profess adherence to their own principles of fair and balanced coverage, then they either need to thoroughly investigate the motivations of everyone who commits such crimes, or no one; race or religious affiliation cannot remain the litmus test for journalistic ethics.

John Robbins, PhD. is the Executive Director of CAIR-Massachusetts

Support Our Dawah for Just $2 a Month

MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Avatar

    GregAbdul

    December 2, 2016 at 7:59 AM

    This is the conversation we need to have. On the American political right, there are no signs of anyone trying to fix the institutional racism that permeates even media coverage of the bad things kids do. White kids get a pass at every opportunity and non white (i.e. Muslim kids) are condemned as “radical jihadists” at every opportunity. The Right’s reaction is they are tired of talking about race. I can only wish that someday racist white Americans will get tired of being racist.

  2. Avatar

    Masood

    December 4, 2016 at 9:51 AM

    Thank you Dr Robbins for pointing out in black and white what is visible but not “seen”.

  3. Avatar

    a human being

    December 12, 2016 at 7:14 PM

    I knew all along..but help …im being framed.too…subhan Allah…..how long will the injustices in all our lives go on. Hasbina Allah.

  4. Avatar

    Yusuf

    May 29, 2017 at 2:03 AM

    Beautiful article about the truth of how the media paints a picture in whatever light they feel like potraying.

    They do this in war too. As a military OIF/OEF veteran I see how they always make sure to report attacks on our soldiers in the Middle East. However, you almost never see news reports on how many innocent civilians we murder (trust me, it happens way more often than you would like to believe)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

#Current Affairs

Former Infowars / Alex Jones Staffer Admits Lying About Shariah Law Threat

Support MuslimMatters for Just $2 a Month

MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Former staff member and video editor for Alex Jones’ conspiracy theory media platform Infowars, Josh Owens, wrote in the New York Times he and other staff members knowingly faked and lied about stories regarding the threat of shari’ah law in the US.  He writes in particular about the community of Islamberg, stating:

“Days before, we spoke to the sheriff and the mayor of Deposit, N.Y., a nearby municipality. They both told us the people in Islamberg were kind, generous neighbors who welcomed the surrounding community into their homes, even celebrating holidays together.

The information did not meet our expectations, so we made it up, preying on the vulnerable and feeding the prejudices and fears of Jones’s audience. We ignored certain facts, fabricated others and took situations out of context to fit our narrative”

During the time the stories related to Islamberg and another town close to Detroit, Hamtramck, were receiving hit jobs from the Alex Jones camp, the San Bernadino shooting story occurred.  Owens wrote regarding this:

I knew that when the details emerged, they would substantiate the lies we pushed to Jones’s audience. It didn’t matter if the attack took place on the other side of the country or if the people in Islamberg had no connection to the perpetrators in San Bernardino. Jones’s listeners would draw imaginary lines between the two, and we were helping them do it.

The piece went on to cover the many eccentricies and insecurities of the egomaniacal personality that is Jones. He’s previously claimed that a type of psychosis is what caused him to believe and propagate stories and statements that are factually false such as the Sandy Hook massacre being staged.

The Muslim Oppression Profit Motive Vs The Truth

The reality is that Jones is one of many profiteers in the war against Muslims, monetizing fear and hatred through site clicks and advertising dollars.  In this regard, he is no different from the military industrial complex and law enforcement agencies that see Muslims and their people as an opportunity for career advancement and financial enrichment.

The cynical view might lead us to take a negative worldview – much like Jones, we might think the world is out to get us, everything is false flag and staged, and there’s a threat around every corner.  But I like the silver lining in Owens’ own statements:

I thought of the children who lived in Islamberg: how afraid their families must have felt when their communities were threatened and strangers appeared asking questions; how we chose to look past these people as individuals and impose on them more of the same unfair suspicions they already had to endure. And for what? Clickbait headlines, YouTube views?

Owens was in the belly of the proverbial beast, helping create lies and propaganda against our community he knew as false for the sake of the almighty dollar.  In the end, he recognized the truth, that the Muslims of Islamberg were not a threat, but good, decent people preyed upon by exploitative elements.

That recognition by Owens means he’s not the only one who knows this – for every person that admits it publicly, there are likely more that are silent, but feel the same.  We as Muslims have to continue doing as we always do – worship Allah alone, keep good manners, call to modesty and decency, be good neighbors, and never feel that our opponents are so beyond the pale that perhaps one day they may come to admit their wronging of us, become our best allies and even become Muslim after a political career of opposing us, such as the former right hand man of Geert Wilders, Joram van Klaveren as well as Arnoud van Doorn and his son.

Discredited Infowars Stories:

 

Support Our Dawah for Just $2 a Month

MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Continue Reading

#Current Affairs

Ten Reasons You Should Support MuslimMatters This #GivingTuesday

Support MuslimMatters for Just $2 a Month

MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

With so many amazing #GivingTuesday campaigns running, why should you choose to support MuslimMatters?

1. MuslimMatters publishes Islamic news and perspectives not given voice in mainstream media, and we do it for free.

2. We bring awareness to the issues otherwise sidelined by mainstream media, like refugee rights, Palestinian self-determination, the oppression of the Rohingya, mass internment of the Uighur, and government lockdown and repression of the Kashmiris.

3. We are the oldest, largest, and more reputable online site for Muslim-specific content. When Muslims have an important message for other Muslims, MuslimMatters is how to reach them.

4. Your funding keeps us independent, allowing our writers to speak truth to power without worrying about losing funding, government support, or corporate donors. Click To Tweet

5. Muslimmatters is the global platform that is proud to raise other Muslim voices up. Anyone can write for us, and everyone can benefit from what we’ve worked to establish.

6. We’re taking back the narrative about Islam that is too often hiijacked by people not Muslim and entirely ignorant of Islam. People won’t have to believe what others are saying about us when we have the platform to speak for ourselves.

7. Our content has been cited by media outlets like CNN, ESPN, Buzzfeed, and the Washington Post.

Your contribution to MuslimMatters is building a reputable, credible source of news that other outlets look to for clarification.Click To Tweet

8. Articles published on MuslimMatters have appeared in Supreme Court Briefings, reading requirements for College Classes, and Interfaith Education events, granting their authors reach beyond what micro-blogging could ever accomplish.

9. Many of our pieces have inspired Friday Khutbas, and Khateebs from all over the country have shared how something they read gave them insight and inspiration to write a more informed, more relevant sermon than they would have been able to otherwise.

10. MuslimMatters brings difficult and otherwise taboo issues to the table for discussion, not shying away from the responsibility of trailblazing and myth busting in the Muslim community.

MuslimMatters is provided for free, and supported entirely by readers like you. So please, help us continue our work.

Support Our Dawah for Just $2 a Month

MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Continue Reading

#Current Affairs

A Letter From The Executive Director

Support MuslimMatters for Just $2 a Month

MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

AssalamuAlaikum Dear MM Fam,

Alhamdulillah in 2007, I was fortunate to be a part of the team that started up a little website called MuslimMatters.org. It’s hard to believe it’s been over a decade. In that time MM has grown from a group blog into a full-blown media entity giving an independent and authentic Islamic voice to contemporary spiritual, social, and political issues that we face.

MM's work has been featured in CNN, Washington Post, ESPN, Buzzfeed, and more. This platform has grown tremendously and now reaches millions of readers every year.Click To Tweet

With 2020 around the corner, we are at a critical juncture. Traffic has grown beyond our current capacity – yes, we’re basically the masjid that now has an expansion project lol – and we have to grow in order to meet our community’s media needs.

Your help is needed to invest in the MM infrastructure so we can not only keep up with our current growth but also develop new content such as podcasts and videos to continue to reach more readers all across the globe.

Your contribution on #GivingTuesday is particularly vital as it will count as double with a Facebook match. We need your help to make vital improvements that will enable MuslimMatters to continue being a voice for the voiceless and a platform for mainstream Islam in the media.

This #GivingTuesday I’m raising money for Muslimmatters Inc and your contribution will make an impact, whether you donate $5 or $500. Every little bit helps. And on GivingTuesday Dec 3, Facebook will match a total of $7 million in donations first come, first served. Thank you for your support.

Contribute what you can, and please share this post to help us hit our #GivingTuesday target to keep MuslimMatters strong for 2020.

JazakAllahuKheiran,

Omar Usman

Executive Director

Support Our Dawah for Just $2 a Month

MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Continue Reading

Trending