In a blog post on The New Yorker, Naunihal Singh points out that the media covered the shootings at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin very differently from the shootings at the movie theater in Aurora, CO.
[T]he massacre in Oak Creek is treated as a tragedy for Sikhs in America rather than a tragedy for all Americans.
I agree with his post completely, especially that the media has an obligation to educate its viewers and inspire them to right wrongs. He puts it plainly.
Sadly, the media has ignored the universal elements of this story, distracted perhaps by the unfamiliar names and thick accents of the victims’ families. They present a narrative more reassuring to their viewers, one which rarely uses the word terrorism and which makes it clear that you have little to worry about if you’re not Sikh or Muslim.
Unfortunately, Singh didn’t spend much time discussing why the media covered it this way, which is equally important.
It’s frustrating and depressing that this country has a history of racist violence, but the problem is one we know. It’s easier to understand and feels like something we can avoid, even if that’s because our looks and beliefs align with the mainstream.
When a person goes into a crowded movie theater and guns down people at random — without any explanation or note — and leaves his apartment booby-trapped for law enforcement, that’s something nearly impossible to fathom or predict. It’s frightening to think that you could happen upon this at any given time without any explanation.
It’s depressing, but the twist logic of Wade Page and the murders he committed in Oak Creek didn’t surprise me. Even as cultural and religious tolerance improves, it’s been the source of much of the violence in recorded history and I don’t see that trend fading quickly. The ones in Aurora are something relatively new and, seemingly, uniquely American. It’s a disturbing trend and a new source of fear, which explains why we spent so much time trying to understand it.
[Article via @rafeco]