Portrayal Of Arabs In Biased American Media

3096 words - 12 pages

Some American Media outlets prove to be biased; the information they mediate through discourse pictures and videos are often slanted. In order to be able to recognize the impartial from the one-sided opinion, and in order to learn how language, images and videos work to create meaning, one should rely on the science of semiotics. This paper will apply a semiotic approach in analyzing the attacks directed to Arabs by some biased American Media outlets. The first part will deal with discourse and will explain some properties in language; the second part will be devoted to images and to their Machiavelli use in achieving meaning; in the third part, it will attempt to decipher the hidden information in videos.
The misrepresentation of Arabs and Muslims is sometimes flagrant in American newspaper articles. There is often a tendency to attribute other signifiers to the term “Arab. This term is usually, substituted with the term “Muslim.” Richard Cohen, a journalist from The Washington Post epitomizes the deliberate mixing of the terms “Arab” and “Muslims.” He intentionally amalgamates those terms with terrorism; thus, Arabs, Muslims and terrorist become synonymous. Cohen states that “one hundred percent of the terrorists involved in the Sept. 11 mass murder were Arabs. Their accomplices, if any, were probably Arabs too, or at least Muslims. Ethnicity and religion are the very basis of their movement.” (Ibish 124)
It is evident for some scholars that the goal of this amalgamation is to implement the terms Arabs and Muslims with terrorism as a connotation. “Arab” equals “Muslim,” and “Muslim” equals “terrorist;” all become identical. It can also the other way round; the signifier “terrorist” can prompt other signifiers such as “Arab” and “Muslim”.
The stereotyping of Arabs and Muslims in Media goes back to more than half a century ago (Simon 1989). The goal behind assimilating the words is primarily political. “Demonizing” Arabs and Muslims can, for example, legitimate the American intrusions in Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan. In the near future it is probably going to be the turn of Iran, for it has recently been accused of being linked to the 9/11 attacks, according to a CNN news bulletin aired on December 15, 2011. Establishing a connection between the three terms Arabs, Muslims and terrorists is hardly a new phenomenon; the West defines the periphery because it is different from the center. The definition of the periphery is the definition of what the center does not look like.
A research conducted by the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee in 2003 shows a few other examples of statements directed to both Arabs and Muslims that connote irony. The New York Post referred to Muslims as missionaries who wanted to take over the American land. “The ambition to take over the United States is hardly a new one. The first Islamic missionaries from abroad arrived in the 1920’s and unblushingly declared, ‘Our plan is, we are going to conquer...

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