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Stereotyping Arabs in the Media

The media version of an Arab is either a terrorist or a murderer (El-Farra). The author speaks of the stereotype the media has sold to the public and the public has bought this piece of information and taken it to the bank. According to El-Farra, the media in general only use the word ‘terrorist’ when they describe a suspect whose characteristics match the ‘Arab look’. If the suspect does not have an Arab origin, a less demeaning word is used. El-Farra is convinced that the media stereotypes Arabs in general.

Arabs states are classified as violent states and non- Arab states as victims (El-Farra). In any war, there has to be aggressors and victims. Unfortunately, if one of the warring states happens to be Muslim, the first finger is pointed to them because of stereotypes created in the past. Many Americans and other nations do not classify their own violent perpetrators as terrorists (EL-Farra). The media has painted the Arab as a terrorist for so long that any Arab creates fear in the heart of Americans.Stereotyping Arabs in the Media

Arabs are treated as less humans by Americans (El-Farra). People care less when Arabs are treated badly because they believe they deserve it. Arab nations are not viewed as politically and economically stable but as extremists for their religion (El-Farra). Entertainment media casts Arab as people with lots of money to spend but backward, have an insatiable desire for sex and so fond of violence that they enjoy acts of terror (El-Farra). This kind of entertainment is availed to young developing minds that grow up with the notion that this is what normal Arabs act like. Cartoons have also borrowed this stereotyping  and young children all over the world grow up thinking that all Arabs are evil and stupid (El-Farra).

A common belief is that Iranians are Persians, not Arabs (El-Farra). The Arab has also been stereotyped for his Islam faith, which is portrayed as violent and one that produces fanatics who are ready to do anything in the name of faith. Muslim women are presented as weak, unable to speak for themselves and as sexual creatures available for men’s satisfaction.

Stereotypes exist because of propagated myths (El-Farra). Myths do not explore the whole truth and mostly take the negative and ignore the positive. Stereotypes will see an end only if media roles take up the positive and negatives about Islam and Arabs. Stereotypes have been extended to American school books where the description of Arabs most of the time is untrue. Novels also portray Arabs in negative light.Stereotyping Arabs in the Media

My thought after reading the paper is that Arabs belong to the most ill represented groups in the history of mankind. I partly blame Arab-Americans who know better and are in a position to influence change for not taking a stand against these wide array of stereotypes. I agree with EL-Farra that as soon as there is an attack on the American soil, the first pictures of the perpetrators will determine if they are terrorists or not. There are times I have seen pictures of Americans who committed crimes but were only labeled as ‘Gun men’. When the coin is flipped and the perpetrator has little ‘shades’ of Arab in him, the media does not think twice about using the word ‘terrorist’ even if the ‘Arab’ committed the same crime as the American.Stereotyping Arabs in the Media

I also agree that all kinds of media have misrepresented Arab lands. Any news piece from the Arab world is negative news. I am yet to see a reporter report positives or present Arabs who are doing well in their society because they exist. Entertainment media sails the same boat. In a movie, every time a place is identified from the Arab world, I immediately expect to see violence. 99% of the times, my expectations are met but I wish I saw films that told me the other story of the Arab world. I believe I would learn more about Arabs because surely they must have something educative to offer and lessons to learn from. I believe that the portrayal of Arab nations as violent is the reason that most Americans fear Arabs. There is a saying that White Americans immediately feel they will be robbed when they spot an African American young male and the same has been applied to Arabs whose image immediately represents an enemy that is either spying or planning to bomb a place with a suicide vest or worse.

I agree that Americans have been socialized from a young age to see Arabs as savages. Cartoon networks ensured of this and adult movies continued with the stereotypes into adulthood. The Arab in children movies is stupid and easily manipulated and an American kid meeting an Arab American kid in school is likely to assume the same. Kids are impressionable and feeding them myths from a young age does not help matters. The media carrying kid’s content should be smarter because educating children half-truths does not help anyone. Kids should be taught to explore different cultures without bias and given the leads to want to know more about a particular group of people and not just let them assume what their minds are fed. These stereotypes are the reason Arabs are dehumanized in America. They are seen as half human beings and it is totally unfair. When an Arab is in danger, the general American feeling is that he probably deserves it because he is a savage. I can hardly identify groups of Americans that do not have an Arab identity stepping up to the plate and demanding justice for unfair treatment of Arabs. In fact, such a group would be viewed as mentally disturbed or brain washed.Stereotyping Arabs in the Media

It was until I read this paper that I realized in horror that Iranians have always been thought to be Arabs by a large part of the American population. They somehow look like Arabs and because Americans rarely take the time to research before jumping into conclusions, this myth will go on for a long time before kids are taught in school that there is a difference between Arabs and Persians. Because America can hardly separate Arabs and Islam it is good to note that not all Islamic states are Arab. It is time that textbooks and novels did their due diligence and researched Arab literature before writing myths. Stereotypes are based on widely propagated myths and unlike the truth; myths are believed more easily.

In conclusion, the media is considered the truth when it comes to issues of reporting or content. While they do a good job some of the times, they need to step up their efforts and do conclusive research before they speak on communities that they do not know very well. Otherwise, reporting for the sake of it is doing a poor job in a career they claim to be passionate about and committed to. Americans pride in their education system, but it is only doing half justice when children have little knowledge of the world that surrounds them. Arabs need to play an active role in changing the stereotype by telling their stories from the horses’ mouths through good movies, cartoons, books and television shows.Stereotyping Arabs in the Media

 

 

Works Cited

El-Farra, Narmeen. “Arabs And The Media”. Media Psychology, vol 1, no. 2, 1996, pp. 1-7., Accessed 17 Apr 2019.