Today’s Toronto Star newspaper article by Shree Paradkar bears blogging about.
It’s a perfect example of how bias works, and how language helps to fuel both unconscious bias, and hatred.
The columnist – Shree Paradkar – makes many excellent points. Here are a few of my favourites.
You can read the whole article here.
- “Why mention Islam in any form at all while describing terrorists? Were the protestant KKK ever labelled a Christian terrorist group?”
Ha! I have to laugh. Only because the idea of a dominant group labeling themselves in any way but positive is…well, it would be a break from the ordinary. Dominant groups (those with social power) tend to use those negative labels and judgments liberally to highlight how bad/wrong the “other” groups are.
- A“ Georgia State University study found that out of 89 attacks in the U.S. between 2011 and 2015, only 11 were carried out by Muslims. However, news coverage was 4.5 times higher if the perpetrator was Muslim.”
Hmmm…if you are surprised by this, then I encourage you to pay closer attention. The media has bias built in – again, in favour of the dominant identities – and it’s this bias that informs what gets covered, and in what way. Both of these impact who we see as the victim and as the villain. This, in turn, informs our unconscious bias – and the cycle continues.
Shree Paradkar also shines a light on confirmation bias when it comes to people’s (mis)beliefs about Islam by sharing the YouTube video experiment of a few years ago. You can access the video through the article. What that experiment showed was that people believe Islam is aggressive, misogynistic and homophobic – as evidenced by what they were reading. Isn’t it funny, then, that it was text from the Bible, not the Qu’ran as people were told?
She also reminds us of the many many acts of terrorism that happen in “non-Western” parts of the world (i.e. not North America or Europe) – also killing innocent people, including children – that we rarely hear about. This silence suggests much about who and what we value.
And here is one last point I want to share from Shree Paradkar’s article. It is her last point:
3. “Calling these terrorists Muslim or Islamic or Islamist serves no purpose other than to comfort those who seek to confirm their existing biases. It’s a vicious cycle; the more interest in jihadist terrorism, the more media coverage it gets, further fuelling suspicions.”
It’s a great article.
It highlights the ways Islamophobia lives and is perpetuated.
And has much food for thought about the words we use, why we use them, and the impact of these choices – on everyone.