Teen Views: Naming the scapegoat " 5 Muslim men
Middle Park High School
Grand County, Colorado
In the Dec. 23, 2008 issue of USA Today, a headline read, “Five Muslim men guilty of scheme to attack Fort Dix”. They were allegedly accused of “scheming to massacre U.S. soldiers”. The article goes on the say that one was a Jordanian-born cab driver, one a Turkish-born convenience store clerk, three brothers, “ethnic Albanians” who had a roofing business, and a sixth man, origins unknown charged with only gun offenses.
If you just happened to skim the newspaper and read the headline, you may think, “Oh, just another failed terrorist attempt; just another day in America.” But then I thought about it a little longer.
“Five Muslim men”? And what if they were Christian? What if they were Jewish? Allow us to turn toward Germany as an example. After World War I, the country faced a catastrophic economic depression. Then, risen from the despair, came a man named Adolf Hitler. Hitler, with his charismatic speeches, recognized Germany’s problems, and created a scapegoat for the economic downfall. He blamed the Jewish people. The media (controlled by the Reich) latched on to this, portraying Jews negatively in cartoons and tossing the religion around in headlines. Fear of the Jews gave much of Germany something to unite them. The media propaganda turned toward open marking of Jewish people with the yellow Star of David, then they were removed from schools and forced into certain neighborhoods until finally, the Nazi Party of Germany conducted a systematic killing of two-thirds of the European Jewish population.
The national media promotes xenophobia. So what if the criminals also happened to be Muslim? Is that fact crucial information to further enhance the article? Lets say the terrorists happened to be Christian. You flip the paper open one morning and find a headline that reads, “Five Christian men guilty of terrorism”. Do you now fear all Christians? Maybe not this time, but what about when you turn on the news? The breaking story is about a 34-year-old white, Christian, male who was indicted for murder. Does it change it if it says Christian? Are you scared yet? Are you offended? A terrorist is a criminal, and, regardless of ethnicity or religious background, we should recognize them as that and nothing more.
We fear the unfamiliar. So much, in fact, we feel that we need to define things that we don’t know or understand to make ourselves feel better. In this time of economic downfall, we have chosen a sort of scapegoat for our fear: the Muslims. You must ask yourself, how far will we tell the truth before we are looking for somebody to point the finger at? How far will we take the propaganda before it turns to action? The American people need a true clarification of “extremist”. Every group in the world, whether it be religious or otherwise, has an extremist sector that does not necessarily portray what the group is. Not all Muslims are terrorists. Criminals are criminals, and should be treated that way. But good people exist also, and deserve a chance to receive respect despite their race, culture, language, or religion.
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