A lot of shit went down in the Boston area on the week of April 15. A couple of pressure cooker bombs went off at the Boston Marathon, injuring hundreds and filling a few. It wasn’t long soon after that police engaged the suspects in a violent battle. One of the suspects was killed along with a police officer. The other was shortly apprehended unharmed.
As tragic as the bombings and the hunt for the suspects were, it was not the only thing that was wrong during that troubling week. The news media not only spun it into a conspicuous wonder you may only find in Hollywood, but they pulled no punches on letting their racist assumptions on who the suspects are take flight. To add insult to injury, many people took to net (mainly twitter) to express their hypocritical moral outrage. Suffice to say, the words ‘sand nigger, towel heads’ and the usual animosity towards Obama appeared hundreds of times.
Colorlines goes indepth with how CNN’s own John King got it wrong with his infamous “dark-skinned suspect” and the reaction that followed:
CNN correspondent John King took to Twitter to offer more context on how he ended up reporting that a suspect, described as a “dark-skinned man” had been arrested in connection with the Boston Marathon bombing. CNN ran with King’s “exclusive news” of the “dark-skinned” suspect for an hour until they announced their report turned out to be false.
“Source of that description was a senior government official. And I asked, are you sure? But I’m responsible,” King tweeted on Thursday evening. “What I am not is racist.”
Even the FBI released a statement asking journalists to be more thorough because his action lead to real world effects.
But that’s not all, as Colorlines made note:
In one of the most widely circulated collection of images, a young man was singled out as a suspect because he was wearing a backpack, alone and brown. On the image, posted on 4chan, “alone” and “brown” were written in all caps. Subsequently, the website Reddit wrongly fingered a missing South Asian student from Brown University as the suspect—for which they, rightfully, later apologized.
One should not expect the right wing media not to join in on the fun of playing ‘Find the Muslim/Arab Terrorist’ that their liberal counterparts were engaged in. Some were so impetuous to find any link between the suspects, who turned out to originally be from the former Soviet nation of Chechnya, and the Muslim world who, as many of them would say, despises America’s “freedoms”. As you may recall, one of the injured, a Saudi Arabian, was considered a suspect.Yet, conservative media wants him tried and convicted.
But after all assumptions from the news room were exhausted, the news named their suspects. One of them was 17 year-old Salah Barhoun who turned out to be completely innocent. Another suspect was Sunil Tripathi, who would later be reported to be a missing Brown University student, also turned out to be innocent. The third suspect was Mike Mulugeta who – of course – was falsely identified.
In the end, the suspects turned out to be two brothers from Chechnya Tamarlan (the older of the two who was murdered by police) and Dzokhar Tsarnaev.
Despite the suspects were quite literally Caucasian – in the U.S. they’re white males, after they were identified by a quick-to-conclusion news media, people were still looking for the Muslim/Arab terrorists responsible! Many people still believed that the Boston bombing was the committed by Muslim extremists. They wasted no time when news broke out to take to the computer to let the world know how much they resent Muslims and Arabs sticking to racial epithets and blaming President Obama while praising George W. Bush via 9/11.
It must noted that both brothers were indeed Muslim, but that doesn’t mean they were apart of an extremist network. Yet, to most Americans ‘Muslim’ and ‘Islam’ are associated with ‘terrorism’. And even if it turns out they were a part of a group – the media will be more than happy to make that known – it will paint the Islamic community with one solid color of violent anti-Americanism with no explanation other than “hating this country’s freedoms”.
Another thing that was expected from all this was how it impacted politics in regards to immigration reform. Buzz Feed reports:
Ranking Senate Judiciary Committee member Chuck Grassley warned Friday that Congress must take into account the events in Boston this week when working on comprehensive immigration reform to ensure “those who would do us harm do not receive benefits under the immigration laws.”
As a chaotic, frantic, and violent hunt for a suspected bomber unfolded in Boston, the Iowa Republican pointed to the situation during the committee’s first hearing on a new comprehensive immigration bill. Grassley argued consideration of the issue is important “especially in light of everything that’s happening in Massachusetts now.”
In his opening statement, Grassley also argued the Boston terror case can help strengthen immigration reform since “it will help shed light on the weaknesses in our system … [and] how can we beef up security checks on people who would enter the United States.”
So many things went wrong with how the bombing was perceived by the media and its audience. So many assumptions were used. So much racial and religious hatred was on display. And so much fear was felt by many communities. I still wonder if this will result in a call for war against Chechnya? I also wonder if this will revitalize the red scare of the last century. If so, Joe McCarthy will dance in his grave.
One thing is a given, however. The two brothers will join the ranks of the crazy-ass, white male psychotics who’ve killed many people in their fascination with bombs and weapons and resentment towards mankind. And, they will all be immune to racial stereotyping thanks to white male privilege. But, on that same token, their religion will -once again – be declared a threat to America’s safety and values. Their whiteness will hardly be regarded as a Pathology, as usual.