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Stereotypes: Products Of The Media Essay

1119 words - 5 pages

Arab people are among the most stereotyped and prejudiced groups in America today. Since the September 11th terrorist attacks, stereotyping of Arabs has increased, especially by the media (Said) and the government (Hassan). This has occurred in conjunction with a large increase in hate crimes against Arabs (Cainkar). Every ethnic group has its negative stereotypes and has experienced hate crimes. But almost every ethnic group also has positive stereotypes associated with it. For example, while Asians are stereotyped as being poor drivers, they are stereotyped as being highly intelligent. While African-Americans are stereotyped as being uneducated, they are also stereotyped as being athletic. ...view middle of the document...

S. embassy in Beirut in 1983 and the Iran hostage crisis in 1979 (Shaheen, Jack G. Part I). The American public could have viewed these incidents as unrelated to Arabism, but rather related to a small group of extreme individuals. However, the media has skewed the American perception of Arabs.
For several years, film and television have portrayed Arabs in a very stereotypical manner. There are numerous examples of this shown in Dr. Jack Shaheen’s documentary “Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People.” Dr. Shaheen showed that Arab stereotypes have existed in film for over thirty years, especially throughout the 1990s and 2000s. In the film Rules of Engagement Arabs who appear to be normal citizens open fire on peacekeeping U.S. Marines. Other films like Delta Force and True Lies portray Arabs only as fanatical terrorists trying to inflict harm on innocent people. Video games, comic books, and television have also vilified the Arabs recently; the object of several games is to kill and/or capture terrorist Arabs, Batman is portrayed fighting against evil Arabs bent upon world domination, etc. (McCarus). It is no wonder that people hold negative stereotypes against Arabs; Arabs are almost always portrayed as the unsympathetic villains.
The news media is also to blame for negative Arab stereotypes. In a July 2003 Counterpunch article, Edward Said wrote,
The media runs the vilest racist stereotypes about Arabs--see, for example, a piece by Cynthia Ozick in the Wall Street Journal in which she speaks of Palestinians as having ‘reared children unlike any other children, removed from ordinary norms and behaviors’ and of Palestinian culture as ‘the life force traduced, cultism raised to a sinister spiritualism.’ (Said).

An article in the Middle East Report by Louise Cankar cites other examples of stereotyping in the media.
A Wall Street Journal piece entitled “Under the Circumstances, We Must Be Wary of Young Arab Men” appeared on October 19, 2001. In her column, former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan said:

‘In the past month I have evolved … to watchful potential warrior. And I gather that is going on with pretty much everyone else, and I’m glad of it. I was relieved at the story of the plane passengers a few weeks ago who refused to board if some Mideastern-looking guys were allowed to board.’ (Cankar)

Renee Dean’s AAPTIS 331.007 class discussed the portrayal of Arabs in the news. It was...

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