Selective Coverage Shapes Our Thoughts

In light of the Chapel Hill shootings, it seemed almost arbitrary that the media would mention that the victims were three Muslims. To all of us it just seems intuitive to mention the category that defines the victim as a minority, especially when it is a suppressed minority like the Muslims in America.

However, surely it’s against our interest to arbitrarily make these important decisions. We should be reluctant to fuel the conflict unless the situation truly does fuel the conflict inherently. The suicide of Leelah Alcorn for example, a transgender teenager, did inherently raise the discussion of transgender rights (a discussion that urgently needs addressing). There is far less clarity about intent in the Chapel Hill shootings. But the media has to make a choice prior to the case being settled, regardless of how conclusive the evidence is; whether to include the victim’s religion or not. So, should they have included that the victims were all Muslim?

What the Chapel Hill shootings incident is, at the most basic level, a parking dispute between neighbours. I’ll admit I was very unsure if there was anything beyond that. But after putting some thought and research into it, and with a little help from Google news, the real issues were brought to light.

Craig Hicks was a self-appointed vigilante of the apartment complex near where the shooting happened. He took it upon himself to protect his neighbourhood, and this dispute was not his first. He often approached his neighbours with a gun holstered around his belt, as they reported. He was known to harass everyone in the community over parking and noise complaints.

This begs the question, why is it that when the dispute involved three Muslims on the other side, the dispute ends in murder? The answer can be seen all over modern news. It is because of a rotten attitude towards a group of people, which affects the minds of almost everyone in society. Even if Hicks was not Islamophobic, which he probably was, the modern attitudes of the media, the government, and individuals are affecting everyone. If the media were to ignore the victims’ religion, then we run the danger of ignoring the intricacies of a society with widespread Islamophobia.

It would simply be turning a blind eye to details of one’s thought process. Unconsciously or otherwise, the popular attitude of Islamophobia has an effect on the perpetrator. There wasn’t any clear-cut evidence that this was fuelled by anti-Muslim sentiment, but you will rarely be wrong in assuming that a parking dispute is not the real cause of a triple homicide. That, alongside the aforementioned Islamophobia makes it quite peculiar that the media would be reluctant to cover what was most likely a hate crime.

Whilst we’re on the topic of media coverage, what separates this situation, as well as the aurora shooting, from terrorist attacks? The white man behind the gun.

This is exactly the problem. Even if each individual is not an islamophobe, violence committed by Muslims will immediately make everyone think ‘terrorism’, but that reaction very rarely happens when the perpetrator is white, and these little intricacies shape our minds, and in this scenario may have given Hicks a more casual attitude towards committing violence against three innocent Muslims. That is why we cannot ignore suppressed group, whether it be women, Muslims, black people, the transgendered. We have to acknowledge that we don’t think fairly, and challenge that with these stories.