ONE QUESTION: Anne Marie Ameri
HYPERTEXT MAGAZINE ASKED ANNE MARIE AMERI, AUTHOR OF AWAKENING THE SLEEPING TIGER WITHIN: BREAKING THE POWER OF MAINSTREAM MEDIA’S PORTRAYAL OF ISLAM AND THE WAR ON TERROR, “WHAT QUESTION DO YOU WISH YOU’D BEEN ASKED ABOUT YOUR WORK?”
By Anne Marie Ameri, Ph.D.
Why are Islam, Muslims, and Arabs now assaulted in the mainstream media?
Let us search for accurate answers and reasons for negative mainstream media coverage of Muslims and Arabs and how this relates to the political objectives of the Pro-Militant Right Wing.
Islam, Christianity, and Judaism are all monotheistic religions. That means these three religions have the belief in One God. Historically, Muslims defended Jews with regard to Jerusalem and in Nazi Germany. The Islamic Holy Book calls on Muslims to help the oppressed, regardless of their religion.
Why now are Muslims and Arabs vilified in the mainstream media, called “terrorists,” and other anti-Islamic, anti-Arab rhetoric? Many individuals who rely on the mainstream media and not taught “critical thinking skills” believe the gross over-generalizations they hear.
I have lived among Arabs and Muslims in the U.S. for over 60 years. The Muslims I know are honest, welcoming, generous, law abiding, and God fearing. If they have one negative quality, it is their passivity. How else can you explain allowing negative media bombardment, supported by investments of millions of dollars to besmirch their religion and cultural character? Of course, some Muslims are proactive and assertive, but not enough. Otherwise, those who besmirch the character of Muslims would be held legally responsible for their ethnic intimidation.
Attempting to cast the world’s second largest religion, two billion people, as “terrorists” is ludicrous. The motive is political and is used as a rationalization for power, land grabs, and greed. This strategy is used to put Muslims on the defensive and delegitimize Palestinian grievances about being oppressed in Gaza where they live in open air prison with restricted movement, and the West Bank where the Palestinians are being displaced by settlements, and deprived of their basic freedom.
Legal History in the U.S. that allows Anti-Muslim rhetoric in the media
In 1983, 50 media outlets were allowed to merge. Now there are only six conglomerates. Consequently, six corporations presently, control 90% of the information that Americans read, hear or see. This consolidation set the stage for unbalanced media coverage. Also, in 1954, ‘The Fairness Doctrine’ was voted for because lawmakers believed the three giant television networks-NBC, ABC and CBS-could set a biased public agenda. By the 1970’s the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) called the doctrine the single most important requirement of operation in the public interest. By the 1987, the FCC panel repealed The Fairness Doctrine with a 4-0 vote. Repealing this doctrine allowed the media to represent one side without giving a balanced coverage to the other side.
Effect on Muslims
The toxicity of bias, unfair media coverage is absorbed and becomes part of Muslim and Arab consciousness. Constant negative feedback about our identities can affect our subconscious and unconscious minds as well as the attitudes of the non-Muslim general public.These are the goals of psychological warfare.
If we accept the untruth that Muslims and Arabs are untrustworthy and not entitled to equal rights under the law, then we could become passive, discouraged and resigned to whatever happens to our situation and to us. Mosques and communities are put under surveillance and monitored. Unsuspecting Muslim youth are lured into illegal activities by the FBI so the unknowing youth can be termed “terrorists”. On the other hand, if we demonstrate strength and confidence, we can earn people’s respect by standing up for ourselves in a legal, logical and unemotional way.
Effects on Non-Muslims
If Muslims are perceived as untrustworthy, then the public will be dismissive of their views. Their voices will be ignored, hate crimes will increase and they will no longer have any political power because the public at-large will not vote to support issues defending the Muslims’ constitutional rights. Businesses owned by non-Muslims may not be frequented.
Who is behind this anti-Muslim, anti-Arab rhetoric?
When top tier media attacks and denigrates entire groups of people because of the actions of a few, we must ask ourselves who is financially backing the perpetrators of these baseless attacks upon so many? Pro-militant, Pro-Israeli right wing has the power to spread baseless over-generalizations in the media against the minority who has literally no media connections and minor political power. Some people who hold power positions in the U.S. are the same as the ones formulating policy for the present Israeli government.
Current Political Climate
As the “War on Drugs” resulted in the destruction of a portion of the African-American community, by imprisoning many of their young men; the “War on Terror” is destructive to the Arab and Muslim communities. The manufactured “War on Terror” as Trevor Aaronson stated in his book, “The Terror Factory”, said that 99% of Muslim “terrorists” are manufactured and not real. One reason for this sound bite is the fear that Muslims or other minority groups including active young Jewish college students who are pro-human rights including Palestinian rights, are increasing and could be capable of expanding the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement as well as influencing a more balanced change in U.S. policy between Israel and the Palestinians.
An example of a more balanced stance was President Obama’s abstention during the U.N. Security Council vote on December 23rd, 2016, regarding the illegality of Israeli settlements in the occupied territories in Palestine. That vote had the positive effect of getting Netanyahu to temporarily stop settlement building, as he stated, “due to diplomatic controversy”.
Secretary of State, John Kerry, on December 28, 2016, spoke of the impact of continued building of illegal settlements making the “two-state” solution impossible. Kerry and Obama advocate a “two- state” solution where Palestinians would have the same equal rights as Israelis. Kerry referred to the conditions a “one state” would impose on Palestinians. “…millions of Palestinians permanently living in segregated enclaves in the middle of the West Bank with no real political rights, separate legal, education and transportation systems, vast income disparities, under a permanent military occupation that deprives them of the most basic freedoms—separate but unequal.” “Nobody can explain how that works. Would an Israeli accept living that way? Would an American? Will the world accept it?”
On December 2nd, 2016, the U.S. Senate quickly, unanimously passed the constitutionally dubious, Anti-Semitism Awareness Act which, according to Jewish Voice for Peace, “would enable a crackdown against activism for Palestinian human rights on college campuses.” The devastating effect would stop freedom of expression on college campuses by Pro-Palestinian Groups and activist Jewish students who are pro-human rights for Palestinians. The bill is equating stating the truth about Israel and even questioning Israel’s “Democracy”, as an assault on Judaism. Obviously, the religion of Judaism is not the same as the political organization of Zionism.
Effects in Palestine
Extremists in Israel want to remove the Palestinians off of their land. They want to expand Israel and break the near-by Arab countries into mini-states. If the world can be convinced of Palestinian, Muslim and Arab “untrustworthiness and lack of humaneness”, would the world allow the Israeli government to treat the Palestinians, Muslims, and Arabs, in such a degrading manner?
Effects in the U.S.
Anyone seeking balance and a “two state” solution in the Middle East is apprehensive to see Trump’s Middle East policies implemented. Will the new U. S. administration allow discriminatory treatment of these minority groups to become a microcosm of Israeli actions towards them? Expanding upon the question that Secretary of State John Kerry asked, “Will the world accept Israeli expansion, and the degrading and criminal treatment of Palestinians?
The majority of U.S. citizens believe that Israel is either getting “much too much” or “too much” foreign aid. Can we stand together and become more politically and legally active if our U.S. administration does not represent our needs and views? Dissent is not disloyal. It is one aspect of being a patriotic citizen.
Anne Marie Ameri, Ph.D., is the author of Awakening the Sleeping Tiger Within: Breaking the Power of Mainstream Media’s Portrayal of Islam and the War on Terror. Buy it HERE.