Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Glenn Greenwald on Media Memes about the Norwegian Events

Glenn Greenwald discusses the media's response to recent events in Norway with Amy Goodman at Alternet today.  Points he makes:

1. The American mainstream media routinely use the term "terrorism" when events of this sort involve Islamic people, but, after initially tagging this latest event as an act of Islamic terrorism, they immediately yanked the word "terrorism" from media coverage when the real perpetrator was discovered.

2. The media were intensely focused on the attacks as long as they assumed these were Islamic attacks.  When the identity of the perpetrator was discovered, the intense focus quickly diminished.

3. The huge amount of attention that acts of violence done by Muslims receive in the U.S. media is never matched by any interest in and reporting on violence the American military in the middle east does to Islamic civilians.

4. We handle events such as the Breivik event by denoting the enactor of violence as a "lone wolf," a crazy whose behavior makes no sense.  Similar violence done by anyone with an Islamic background, no matter how tenuous, is firmly rooted in the Islamic religious beliefs of that person, in our media memes.

Greenwald's conclusion: 

And what’s really amazing is, you know, every time there’s an act of violence undertaken by someone who’s Muslim, the commentary across the spectrum links his Muslim religion or political beliefs to the violence and tries to draw meaning from it, broader meaning. And yet, the minute that it turned out that the perpetrator wasn’t Muslim, but instead was this right-wing figure, the exact opposite view arose, which is, "Oh, his views and associations aren’t relevant. It’s not fair to attribute or to blame people who share his views or who inspired him with these acts." And it got depicted as being this sort of individual crazy person with no broader political meaning, and media interest disappeared. It’s exactly the opposite of how it’s treated when violence is undertaken by someone who’s Muslim.

Meanwhile, right-wing Catholic media guru Pat Robertson Buchanan* joins rabid homophobe and ordained Christian minister Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association in finding Anders Breivik's analysis of the threat posed to Western Christendom by Islamic culture "accurate."  But, of course, it's only those on the Islamic side who think as they do about these matters due to religion.

Robertson and Fischer are merely doing their job as objective journalists.

And Christianity is, after all, a religion of peace.  Unlike Islam.

* Thanks to Mark Davenport for pointing out my mistake here.

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