Article Op-Ed

A Muslim's Open Letter to the Media

A Muslim's Open Letter to the Media

Author Kareem Al-Mulki by

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Dear Media,

Your rhetoric has consequences. As the public source for news and information, you must realize this imperative truth and exercise appropriate responsibility. Unfortunately, over the past 14 years, anti-Muslim bias has become pervasively interwoven within the fabric of your discourse. Given the racially charged dialogue that dominates news broadcasts, a tragedy such as the Chapel Hill shooting seemed inevitable.

Whether or not this shooting was motivated by hate is entirely irrelevant to the content of this letter. My argument is that proceeding to interweave the ideologies of moderate, mainstream Islam with radical fundamentalism produces an environment conducive to violence against innocent Muslims. Therefore, media networks which utilize charged, anti-Islamic rhetoric unarguably played a role in the horrendous Chapel Hill shooting.

In his article, “Public Narrative, Collective Action, and Power,” Marshall Ganz examines the methods utilized by leaders to mobilize public action. One of Ganz’s central arguments is that our values trigger emotions, which inspire action. Citing cognitive psychologists, such as Jerome Bruner, Ganz relates that we “map the world affectively by coding experiences, objects, and symbols as good or bad for us, fearful or safe, hopeful or depressing, and so on.”

Therefore, we perceive information from outside sources and determine how to react to that information based on emotion rooted in personal values. Inspiring emotion is key to producing action.

Based on Ganz’s research, I find it more than reasonable to assume that the way in which you (the media) over-generalize and demonize the diverse opinions of 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide has rooted anti-Muslim sentiment within certain American value systems.

Claims such as “Sharia law, where women have no rights and no protection from the government” by Sean Hannity reinforce a singular, degenerate, and false version of Islam within the public psyche. Even while reporting the deaths of Deah, Yusor, and Razan, Bill O’Reilly could not help but mention that “the people being destroyed by Jihadists around the world are also innocents.”

Statements such as these animate human emotions and inspire action, as Ganz demonstrates. Thus, under no circumstances can the media claim complete innocence in the murder of Our Three Heroes.

You may not have pulled the trigger, but you subtly whispered to and encouraged the one who did.

I do not write this letter to be critical or demeaning. My purpose is exclusively to advocate greater responsibility on the part of all media networks. I pray you take these brief words to heart and exercise greater prudence.

As the public’s source for information, you have an inalienable duty to perform proper research, convey verified facts, and engage qualified scholars (FYI, Phil Robertson is not a scholar). Utilizing falsities to instill hatred within viewers has cost three innocent Muslims their lives. Moreover, it continues to perpetuate outbreaks of stereotype and prejudice against numerous minority groups.

As much as I hope that your use of false rhetoric will cease, in Mr. O’Reilly’s own words, “for the haters among us in America, the facts don’t really matter, do they?”

1 Marshall Ganz: Harvard University, Senior lecturer in public policy, Kennedy School of Government
2 Ganz, Marshall. “Public Narrative, Collective Action, and Power.” pp 275.

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