This is another controversial post. Don’t like? Don’t read.]
Also, to clarify before you read, this post in no way begins to support the atrocities that have been committed by ISIS, other terrorist affiliations and lone terrorists. This post seeks to highlight the disparity in the portrayal of terror by the media, to convey my view that terrorism has no race, culture or religion.
According to the Oxford Dictionary, terrorism is defined as “the unofficial or unauthorised use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims”.
International terrorism is defined as terrorism that is practiced in a foreign country, where the terrorists are not natives to the place of attack.
Domestic terrorism is defined as terrorism carried out by native citizens of the place of attack.
In the above written definitions however, there is no reference to race, culture or religion.
What tends to happen when global media report acts of terror as they unfold, is that a stylised focus on the terrorists, specifically their nationality or religion, augments the reality of the destruction and heartbreak that accrues from such an act.
This is where my concern arises.
There’s a new way of reporting, a new tone and a new style of reporting, that sets the atmosphere about how, we as the general public, react to these acts of terrorism.
In the most generic manner I could possibly write in, when the media covers incidents of school shootings in the USA, or more recently, the shooting in the planned parenthood centre in Colorado Springs and the Charleston Church shooting, the media went into significant detail about the attacker’s name, job, status in society, their contributions to former clubs etc etc etc. Weeping family members of the “gunman” (note, they are never referred to as terrorists) lamenting over how it happened take over our news channels.
However, when the media covers incidents involving people of colour, and I use the Paris attacks and the shooting of Police officer Curtis Cheng, here in Sydney as my sources, an in-depth analysis of former acts of violence, social media relations with other terrorist affiliations and the cruel religious or cultural motivation behind the attacker’s motive comes to light. Straight off the bat, they’re referred to as terrorists. There is no in depth analysis of their families and jobs and life.
There is a clear distinction drawn between how the media portrays attacks of terror conducted by caucasian people, and acts of terror conducted by people of colour.
The article above links the clear disparity between “white terrorists” and POC terrorists to frame it loosely.
To sum it up, our media shaves off our ability to rationalise these situations by painting two very different stories about how acts of terror depending on the terrorist’s nationality and religion, are presented to us.
In the above mentioned definitions of terrorism, there is no mention of race, culture or religion.
Therefore, there is no distinction between the “white gunman” who shot dead 30 children, and the “Islamic terrorist” who shot dead 10 civilians.
Both have blood on their hands.
Both killed with a motivation.
But one gets presented as the “mentally unstable, alcoholic white gunman” and one gets presented as the “radicalised, Islamic terrorist preaching radicalisation and terror to all”.
In reality, there is no distinction.
Terrorism has no race. Terrorism has no religion.