Boston State of Mind: Media’s Defense of White Terrorism

Let’s get right to this. The events that transpired/are transpiring in Boston are tragic. The Marathon bombing could be an entire post on its own. As a person who went to college in Boston, Marathon Monday evokes an amazing, celebratory feeling that is tough to convey. We look forward to it every year. It’s a huge deal. That being said, although I currently live in DC, I’ve followed the events very closely. With friends still in Boston, I’m deeply invested.

Media coverage of national tragedies has always rubbed me the wrong way. There is usually at least one or two comments that seem insensitive or just downright offensive. The main issue I see, however, is the need to separate “us” from “them”. “Us”, being a category I don’t even fit into, represents the White [1] heterosexual Christian normative. “Them” being the caricature of other races/religions/ideologies they employ to trigger a fear response.

Proof? I say “terrorist”. You think Arab or Muslim person[2]

I say “armed gunman” you think troubled White man.

I say “robber” you think young Black guy.

This happens unabashedly and often without mass criticism.[3] At best, that is wildly irresponsible “journalism”. At the worst, it’s using mainstream media as a soapbox to maintain White hetero Christian purity. That’s an issue. Tell me, if you will, the religion of these people:

Adam Lanza (Sandy Hook), Christopher Dorner, Eric Harris & Dylan Klebold (Columbine), Timothy McVeigh, Seung-Hui Cho (Virginia Tech).

Right. The very coverage of these people is radically different. When “we” can, “we” label any act of violence on a major level as terrorism and work hard to uncover their extremist radical ideas. Bin Laden, Saddam. But when the media sadly cannot find a way to demonize the “other’, non-White, not Christian American standard of purity and innocence, they feel the need to ease their cognitive dissonance by finding logic in the illogical.

First of all, on a very rational level, when someone shoots small children, or high schoolers, or anyone for that matter, that is an event void of logic. Trying to find the logic is a Sisyphean effort. But, the media does it. I could go into extreme detail and link to news archives but on a very basic level you could just do a simple comparison of Wikipedia pages. Look on the pages of those people mentioned above and tell me which ones have a mention or entire sections devoted to their “psychological analysis”. For my lazier compadres, do a ctrl + F search for the prefix “psych”. You know which pages don’t have any mention? Chis Dorner. Bin Laden. Saddam. Why? 1. Angry Black Man. 2. Muslim. 3. Muslim. So, no further assessment needed. [4] This is called microinvalidation. “Microinvalidations are characterized by communications that exclude, negate, or nullify the psychological thoughts, feelings or experiential reality of a person of color.”[5]

This is why when Black people commit crimes, there is rarely an incentive or motivation for the media, or us as consumers of mainstream media, to wonder “why”. There is a this proclivity to assume he/she as a person of color had means and motives and that’s all the evidence we need. Dave Chappelle handles this brilliantly, by the way.[6] Meanwhile:

I know the media wants to really emphasize the Russian background of the suspects so that they won’t be viewed as White but does anybody read anymore? Is geography still being taught in schools or do we just tell kids to download google maps and keep it moving? You know that word we use when we’re trying to sound politically correct instead of saying “white folks”? Right. Caucasian. Know where that term comes from? Being from the Caucasus region. Know what’s located in that region? ┬áRussia. More specifically? Chechnya. There goes that effort to rid them of their whiteness.┬áMeanwhile CNN is busy creating imaginary connections between the suspects and islamic extremism, TMZ completely comes out of left field with “Deadly Bombing Suspect Heavy Into Hip Hop“. Like, that really happened. Because when all else fails, blame Hip Hop. Always.

This isn’t to take away anything from the tragedy of Boston. This isn’t even to help explain the situation and alleviate some fear. It’s just a friendly nudge to remind everyone to be observant of to what we tie fear to. The bombing/shootings do not become any less tragic or scary because the skin color or belief system of the assailant changed. Ask yourself, what do you fear? Why?

 

Footnotes    (↑ returns to text)
  1. Which seriously is the most ridiculous racial nomenclature we have.
  2. Do you see how ridiculous that is? Imagine if you thought “American or Catholic person” was a completely reasonable description of someone.
  3. Your tweets don’t count. Find a new method of activism.
  4. Sigh.
  5. Source
  6. It may not seem like it at first. Watch the whole video. Dave is sincerely a genius.

Michelle Huxtable

One Comment

  1. Thanks for having the courage to write this very insightful piece that’s worthy of further discussion! So many people see this happen, including me, and just shake our heads in disgust. The gauntlet has now been thrown, thanks to you. Let’s keep the conversation going. By the way, the next discourse should be an evaluation of the use of the labels of patriot, patriotic, patriotism, all with “American” attached. Who gets to use or be assigned those labels? One more, who owns the rights to use or be assigned this phrase ” the American people has spoken”. We got a thought to digest and ponder.

    Papa Hux!

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