Saturday, February 06, 2010

Backlash Fever

I’m always harping about how the media runs articles about hypothetical anti-Muslim “backlashes”--stories that are always short on facts, and project attacks against innocent people erupting some time in the near future. Months and years later, the sheer volume of stories form the basis for an unhistorical myth that a brutal anti-Muslim backlash actually took place.

It’s now treated as a documented fact, like the French Revolution or the Trail of Tears, that there was an anti-Muslim pogrom in Dearborn after 9/11. Years from now, people will recall the anti-Yemeni backlash that terrorized south Dearborn in the wake of the Christmas bomb attempt. Except there is none. It is now 6 weeks after Christmas and nothing like that has happened. No one waits six weeks to unleash a backlash. Backlashers haven’t got that much self-control.

like that
has happened.

And yet, in Friday’s Detroit News is a full-page article under the headline, “Yemenis in Metro Detroit fear backlash from failed bomb plot.”

Surpise! it turns out the article actually has nothing whatever to report about any backlash against Yemenis. I blame the copy editor who wrote the headline in this case, not the reporter. The article is really just about Yemenis in the metro area, their history in the area, and how they feel about the bad things happening in Yemen. Yemenis have concerns that their native land is the new base for al Qaeda, and they have understandable anxiety that the hatching of the Christmas bomb plot in Yemen might make people look at them funny. But vague fears about possible events in the future that may never happen aren’t facts, you know.

In the News’s 1100-word story the sum total of substance regarding any backlash is the following:
While many in the local Yemeni communities in Dearborn's south end, Hamtramck and Coldwater are second- and third-generation Americans, they fear they'll be looked at suspiciously in light of news about terrorist activities in Yemen.

[TRC: They will be looked at suspiciously? Then report it when it happens.]

The fear is warranted, said Alexander Knysh, a Middle East expert and professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Michigan. "They will be guilty by association," Knysh said. "They will be subject to more scrutiny.

[They will be guilty by association? Then report that when it happens. I’ve consumed thousands of words a day since Christmas about Abdulmutallab and the mishandling of his case by the Obama administration. The concern is focused on al Qaeda, not on Yemenis, and not even on Nigerians, though Abdulmutallab was a Nigerian. I have not read or heard one syllable suggesting Detroit’s Yemeni community bears any guilt for the al Qaeda Christmas attack, or had anything to do with planning it.]

"Prior to (the attempted bombing) no one paid attention to Yemen. Now the media hysteria will reflect very negatively in the community," Knysh said.

[Is there media hysteria about Yemen and the Yemeni community in America? I’ll bet Eric Holder would just love some hysteria about Yemen right now, to get the hysteria off his fouled-up management of national security.]
These articles aren’t just bad reporting. They actively cause damage by reinforcing in the Muslim community what Thomas Friedman powerfully describes as “the Narrative”:
The Narrative is the cocktail of half-truths, propaganda and outright lies about America that have taken hold in the Arab-Muslim world since 9/11. Propagated by jihadist Web sites, mosque preachers, Arab intellectuals, satellite news stations and books — and tacitly endorsed by some Arab regimes — this narrative posits that America has declared war on Islam, as part of a grand “American-Crusader-Zionist conspiracy” to keep Muslims down.
And, writes Friedman, this narrative is “now omnipresent in Arab and Muslim communities in the region and in migrant communities around the world.”

CAIR is spreading that narrative, and the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee, and many of Dearborn’s mosques are spreading it. Do we really need the Detroit News spreading it, too?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Keep shedding light on the lies. Thank you!