Ohio - In addition to the sad news about more losses of lives in the San Bernadino shooting that took place in the State of California, USA on 12/02/2015, what I find really disheartening about this shooting is how some media packaged their discourse as a platform to incite hatred and disdain towards refugees and immigrants. The fist example that comes to mind is Fox News, a predominantly conservative and very popular Media outlet in the US, known for its flashy news and programming networks targeting a huge demographic of less informed audiences who get their information from a single source.
Ohio – In addition to the sad news about more losses of lives in the San Bernadino shooting that took place in the State of California, USA on 12/02/2015, what I find really disheartening about this shooting is how some media packaged their discourse as a platform to incite hatred and disdain towards refugees and immigrants. The fist example that comes to mind is Fox News, a predominantly conservative and very popular Media outlet in the US, known for its flashy news and programming networks targeting a huge demographic of less informed audiences who get their information from a single source.
One would wonder why Fox managed to exclusively dominate that segment of the US population, and the answers might lie in the model that Fox carefully crafted to appeal to their loyal audiences in the Millions with a mixed bag of entertainment and art-crafted tabloid news. The Fox formula is the dream channel for the niche that made it a thriving medium of communication in America: Conservative news on policy matters catering to conservative politicians, and a growing right wing conservative audience. Fox has casually used xenophobia as a tool of panic and fear mongering delivered 24/7.
While San Bernadino shooting was still fresh in the minds of millions of Americans who wanted to be informed about the motives behind such a heinous crime, Fox News was already on the airwaves spinning its usual cocktail of fearmongering that drove the narrative that ISIS is now a fact of life in America.
While most information was still sketchy, Fox did not spare time to fully indulge in a full-fledged plethora of warped vitriolic commentary, and stereotypical discourse on refugees, covertly lumping all Muslims in one guilty verdict. And the menu de resistance often dished out to a completely confused audience heavily references Sharia Law and the Political Muslim World. Based on facts or in most cases not, Fox thrived on feeding its editorials with the ideological conservative leanings of Republican conservative voters. Some experts considered Fox News the media that empowered a radical fringe of conservatives far to the right of the dwindling moderate republican camp in US Congress, and US Senate chambers. This conservative right wing is known as the TEA Party. Some of their emerging candidates are Ted Cruz, Donald Trump, and in the 2008 election, Sara Palin.
Fox News might be a Media corporation that enjoys all the protections of free speech from a nation that was built on the ideals of free speech, yet could also be directly, consciously or indirectly responsible for creating hysterical backlashes that may have altered the lives of many people who were either assaulted or killed as a result of hate crimes aimed at people of Latin American, Middle Eastern, or Asian origins. There are no statistics linking Fox directly to hate crimes, but the prevalence of the insipid rhetorical discourse aimed at the immigrant minorities could trigger such backlash.
The message Fox News has been driving since 9/11 was that there is a problem with Terrorism. The lacking component of the message is that terrorism was born out of a clash of cultures as Shawn Hannity was eagerly throwing in the air while the motives of the San Bernadino shooters were not disclosed and still remain speculative by the authorities in charge of the investigation. These media narratives can be of extreme importance in shaping public opinion during times of uncertainty, as they tend to drive a wedge between reason and conclusion. Fox did not care about the outcome of the message as long as the narrative remained that terrorism has a stereotypical doctrine and a stereotypical cultural identity. ISIS/Daesh which, is a mere 0.00001785% of the Muslim population does not represent Muslims and is not the face of moderate Muslims around the world. Fox’ media spin made it that all Muslims have to bare the brunt of the powerful blunt force of the Fox misrepresentation to its audiences.
In terms of the consequences of the Fox news’ sensational informational model geared mainly towards a faithful conservative congregation, there are three important assertions worthy of mention:
First that the poor ethical “journalism” model of trying and convicting an entire religion is of the worst kind, because it has the potential to invite hate crimes against unsuspecting innocent people.
Second, it could lead to the marginalization of people because of lack of trust that might arise as a result of stereotypes. People would be afraid to come forward if they see something or know of someone engaging in behavior that have the potential to harm populations. Potential witnesses would not come forward because they have been culturally alienated out of the information grid. Third, Fox’ message can potentially drive a religious wedge between people of different religious denominations to come together and try pacific coexistence as their moral message. Sadly, even if there were countless churches, synagogues and mosques trying to resurrect a message of peace, Fox can destroy that faint message with its conquer and divide narrative.
Although the economic circumstances are different in comparison to Europe, when it comes to opportunities, immigrants and refugees to the US have fared better. Immigrants and refugees continue to have ample chances to thrive and find their social footing by integrating in this country, their economic prospects tend to be better, and their children do even better.
This phenomenon is unique, because most Americans continue to believe that the US is a country of immigrants. This welcoming message is slowly fading away with potential political discourse that wants to restrict immigrants to just Christians as Tom Cruz suggested, or making Muslim immigrants register as shameful holders of their faith as Donald Trump bluntly suggested. In the end, it is not really a Christian moral value to deny non-Christians the right to the American dream just because some people are angry because of the turmoil taking place on earth. America has its problems and so does the rest of the world.
Europe on the other hand had a different outcome with the influx of immigrants, which they considered as economic mules, and the immigrants also came to Europe with the same mentality of exploiting the economic opportunities. Most immigrants of the first generations from North Africa and the Middle East lived in two completely distinct cultural realities, which did not allow for their full integration into the European picture and Europe into the “third world picture”. Europe was welcoming, and remained the reclusive good neighbor to those who came with their very extrovert lifestyles, and imposing expressions of existence the way they saw it. They built mosques, neighborhood cafes, and created pockets of insulated cultures within cultures as they expanded demographically into a sizable population within Europe.
All those demographic transformations were part of the new landscape that Europe was not ready for, and was not sociologically equipped to tackle. There was no problem with its segregating nature except that for some forty years, Europe neglected to integrate their immigrant populations into the European landscape. Sociologically, today in America, many of the children born in a culturally polarizing environment of Muslim parents, and millennial children in a Western World tend to be just fine. If not really fine productive children with their own kids. The fact remains a fact that governments to be vigilant and keep a good eye on the exercise of religion within the frame of free speech. This approach is a healthy component that can save children from becoming brainwashed fundamentalists and can prevent religious truancy in the long run.
Fox News is capable of finding an ethical model of disseminating critical news with some sensitivities that can potentially prevent loss of lives due to hate crimes, prevent stereotypes, and emphasize the importance of integrating those among us who remain too timid to join in, those who might have linguistic limitations, and can be religiously conservative, just like the Fox demographics are.
Immigrants and refugees could still be the most peaceful people on earth, and present no danger to society. Fox knows that fueling the fires can be part of the problem, and there is no doubt that ISIL/Daesh likes the Fox narrative because it might indirectly work as a recruiting tool for the jihadists.
Being part of the solution is obviously harder for Fox to try, because it has built such an audience that is growing suspect of all things foreigner. Solutions will make it harder for all those who try to build a world of cultural understanding that shatters every time someone shoots a bullet and happens to have a foreign name, and Fox is always much obliged by the virtue of its hunger for ratings to make a civilizational existential case out of it that pins one group against another group. This fear mongering model could be ethical journalism’s worst nightmare.
© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy