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Muslim Shooter = 1.3 Billion Muslims Held Responsible?

Muslim Shooter = 1.3 Billion Muslims Held Responsible? published on 2 Comments on Muslim Shooter = 1.3 Billion Muslims Held Responsible?

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A friend of mine, in response to my recent article on Beliefs and Internet Memes showed me the above picture, asking what I thought. Rather than improvise, I decided to do a little research to see how things look.

The meme claims that the media presents violent crimes differently, according to the race, religion or occupation or the shooter. That is, all Muslims are responsible when a Muslim commits such crimes, while the media would not make any such connection for a white shooter, for example. I want to test this claim.

So, let’s be systematic about this. When people refer to the media, they imply the top networks, papers and websites. To save time, let’s look at the big four television networks in the USA, specifically because of the extent to which these networks shape public opinion and because of their relevance to the Orlando shooting.

I’m interested to examine all the perpetrator types that the above meme describes, but I only really have time to look into the Orlando shooter. To do so, I went to the websites of the top four: NBC, CBS, ABC, Fox; and typed ‘orlando’ into the search bar. I then visited the first five relevant articles that the search brought up and recorded the times they mention the religion of the attacker and what they say about it. (I can’t watch videos as I’m working via my mobile internet.)

This is a crude approach, but I think it’s slightly better than making my own claims from memory.

The Results

NBC

Orlando Nightclub Shooting: Mass Casualties After Gunman Opens Fire in Gay Club

  • Muslim groups rebuke the attack
  • Attackers father stresses that there’s no link with Islam

Gunman Omar Mateen Described as Belligerent, Racist and ‘Toxic’

  • Exploration of what motivated the killer: Islam mentioned, but with no explicit statement that it was to blame
  • Exploration of the Quran and the question of whether homosexuality is sinful within Islam and of the punishments for it in different countries

Orlando Gunman’s Wife Gave No Warning to Cops Before Attack

  • No mention

First Funerals Held for Victims of Orlando Massacre

  • No mention

Orlando Highlights Islam’s Complicated Relationship With Homosexuality

  • Article explores the place of homosexuality in Islam, both reporting scholars that stress the presence of homosexuality within Islamic societies and how some imams preach that homosexuality is sinful

CBS

(Much of their site content was video, which I couldn’t watch.)

Orlando starts saying goodbye to nightclub massacre victims

  • No mention

Orlando shooting: Omar Mateen stalking victim comes forward

  • No mention

Orlando shooting victim’s death takes a toll on Puerto Rico town

  • No mention

Orlando shooting victim’s funeral procession police officers hit by car

  • No mention

ABC

Attorney General Says Mateen Investigation Moving Forward

  • Mention of Council on American Islamic Relations, neutral

Florida Assistant State Attorney Suspended for Controversial Facebook Post Following Orlando Attack

  • No mention

Donald Trump Open to Gun Law Change, But Says Armed Clubgoers Could Have Stopped Orlando Gunman

  • No mention

First Funerals for Slain Orlando Victims to Be Held Today

  • No mention

FBI: We Didn’t Have Enough Info on ‘Suspicious’ Gun Customer Before Orlando Shooting

  • Describes of Mateen’s status on Facebook which describes the attack as ‘Islamic state vengence’

Fox

Report: Orlando killer grew up in unstable, violent home

  • Reports that Omar was conflicted about his Muslim faith

Funerals for 2 Orlando massacre victims marred by protests, out-of-control driver

  • No mention

Orlando massacre prompts some in LGBT community to come out — for Trump

  • Mentions the presentation of Islam: ‘Some among the reliable Democratic constituency were not persuaded by President Obama’s post-attack call for new gun control measures and renewed warning against painting Islam in a negative light.’
  • Mentions Islamic terrorism: ‘ “I knew I had to fully support Trump because he called out the threat for what it was — radical Islamic terrorism,” the 23-year-old from Schaumburg, Ill., told FoxNews.com. “He stood up for the LGBT community and called himself a friend. It’s something we all needed and he was there — Hillary was not. She was making excuses for the religion and calling for gun control, which is not what I needed to hear.” ‘
  • Mentions radical Muslims: ‘Trump’s counter message that Americans – including those in the LGBT community – must protect themselves against the hatred of radical Muslims struck a chord with Stephen Zieman.’

Gutfeld: Media blaming everything but Islamism on Orlando

  • I wasn’t able to watch this, but the title indicates that Greg Gutfeld will complain that the media is under-representing the role of Islamism in the shooting

Orlando mosques beef up security, fearing retaliation in wake of massacre

  • Mentions the fact that local Muslims fear retaliatory attacks: ‘Throughout central Florida, home to tens of thousands of Muslims, many fear retaliation because the gunman, Omar Mateen, a U.S. citizen, was a Muslim who declared allegiance to Islamic State during his attack on Pulse, a gay nightclub.’

Tally

Let’s count up the results:–

  • Total articles: 19 (only four for CBS)
  • Articles that mention Islam/Muslims: 9 (this includes neutral mentions such as of CAIR)
  • Articles that explore Islam as it relates to homophobia: 2
  • Articles whose references to Islam relate to fear for the safety of Muslims/are comments from Islamic activists/Mateen’s family: 2
  • Articles that mention ‘radical’ Islam and/or Islamism: 2
  • Articles that blame the religion of Islam: 0

Interpretation

As you can see, within this very small but fairly diverse sample, there was nothing that explicitly blamed Islam for the attack, let alone blaming 1.3 Billion Muslims. Greg Gutfeld came close: but, when I’m able to watch the video, I’m positive that Gutfeld will decry the fact that hardly anyone is mentioning Islamism, and blame this ideology for the attack. Gutfeld blames Islamists, not Muslims.

It seems appropriate to use anti-extremism campaigner and ex-extremist Majiid Nawaz’s definition of Islamism (thanks to Quilliam): “the desire to impose any interpretation of Islam over society by law”.

Maybe it’s unfair for Gutfeld to blame Islamism, in that Islamists could impose Islam via non-violent means. Foremost, Islamists make up a small portion of the religion as a whole, he most certainly was not blaming 1.3 Billion Muslims.

I think that my friend should be pleased with these results, look at what we have here: of the output that I read, more than half didn’t mention religion at all. Of those mentions, some were neutral, out of concern for Muslims, quoting Muslim organisations, some exploring the place of homosexuality within Islam or quoting the attacker. The red-blooded Fox News only went so far as to quote and report new LGBT support for Trump due to his stance on the attack.

The Narrative Narrative

Back in the day, the media used to report news, then they started to report the narrative. Take the example of the Trayvon Martin shooting: NBC cut the tape of George Zimmerman’s 911 call so that when you watched the news report, Zimmerman said, “This guy looks like he’s up to no good. He looks black.”, when in fact Zimmerman only commented on Trayvon’s race after the police dispatcher specifically asked him about it, according to CBS.

This made the news story more strongly align with the current narrative of ‘racist white guy shoots black person’. Whatever you think about Zimmerman and this event, you have to notice NBC’s desire to make the story fit more snugly into the narrative.

The result of this, repeated again and again, is that people start to react automatically to news events, assuming that they comply with the overall narrative rather than letting the facts speak for themselves. Now we’ve gone one further, we’ve gone meta. People are starting to construct a narrative about the different narratives that people are trying to create.

Alligator

Another friend of mine shared this on Facebook, suggesting that the media blame everything on ISIS. Meanwhile, memes like this pop up, implying that the American media and political establishment were hoping that the San Bernardino shooter would turn out to be another Zimmerman or Dylan Roof:

nra-meme

Now, the media and your friends aren’t just encouraging you to imagine yourself as part of a grand saga, they are telling you that the other side are trying to fool you into thinking that you’re part of a false grand-saga. It is, to quote Milo Yiannopoulos, a battle of narrative narratives.

The problem of social media confirmation (wherein all the people whom you follow agree with you, creating an echo-chamber) is already draining our critical faculties, but soon the battle of meta-narratives may turn the battle of left and right into a thought-war of rival conspiracy theories.

Already, people are inventing forged false narratives for their enemies, that is, false narratives that their enemies are supposedly peddling – the purpose being to make you distrust so aggressively any source of information or viewpoint other than yours, to the extent that it is possible only for you viewpoint to be correct and, moreover, that those who fall for the false narratives of your enemies have such a warped perspective that they are incapable of reason. The meme at the beginning of this article is a well-cooked example of this.

If you think political discussion is difficult now, imagine David Icke debating anti-David Icke, both of whom are utterly convinced of the other’s false-consciousness.

The media is already peddling false-narratives, but, soon, we’ll see a proliferation of fabricated false-narratives, all designed to trick people into believing in their own superiority to the whole fray and of the credulity of the sheeple. Meanwhile, all this content is designed to advance the aims of some individual or special interest. How could it be any other way?

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