The media stereotypes western ideas of terror in the middle east

Zeinab Saleh and Zeinab Saleh

The media plays a vital role on creating stereotypes and stirs up conflicts concerning the Arab culture.

The “War on Terror” is in fact not keeping us safe.

Not only is this “war” perpetuating false stereotypes of Middle Eastern peoples and their cultures, but also giving the American population a false sense of security from these so-called barbarian terrorists.

After the Sept, 11 attacks puzzled the United States and its citizens, many have been left with the notion that their national security is at stake due to the sole reason that a small minority of people are jealous of their freedom and democracy.

What would emerge after the unprecedented attacks was the ongoing, decade long “War on Terror”, with the basis of destroying the enemy before it has a chance to expand and attack again.

But did the “War on Terror” actually begin in 2003 or is it just the continuation of the 1990-91 Gulf War which left a bitter relationship between Iraq and the United States?

While not to simplify the term alliances, or lack of, of the Levant solely to the US/Iraq war in the 90s, it definitely plays a huge part in what led the US back into Iraq years later.

However, the average civilian will not notice this important piece of history due to the fact that we have been spoon-fed mindless propaganda through the media and Hollywood alike.

Donna Young, a student majoring in Literature from UC Santa Cruz agrees with the often racist portrayals of non-Western societies and says: “The media is flooded with biases of American values and ideals.”

Arabs and Muslims have often been vilified in western media as barbarians who prefer to follow backward tradition as opposed to the free path the US has taken, desensitizing a race and therefore making it easier to believe the US military has a right to defend its democratic ways.

This further aiding their propaganda tactics and having us forget one of the actual motives of the attacks on the Middle East: Pay back for Saddam Hussein.

A documentary called “Reel Bad Arabs” by Dr. Jack Shaheen focuses on vital points regarding the representation of Arabs and Muslims by the West.

An excellent example from the documentary is how we sit humming, “oh I come from a land from a faraway place where the caravan camels grow. Where they cut off your ear if they don’t like your face, it’s barbaric, but hey! It’s home.” from the 1992 Disney film Aladdin, not realizing how we are being brainwashed into thinking that Arabs are indeed barbarians.

This belittles the Arab population and makes it seem like they are more eligible to carry out such inhuman attacks.

Does this mean that only Arabs are capable of attacking another culture or race?

It also should not be left unmentioned how the US interferes greatly in Middle Eastern politics for decades, which ultimately has not left a great image of themselves in the region.

Beirut-based journalist Malak Jaafar states, “The arbitrary killing in the Middle East is putting the country and its offshore army in more and more danger and doing the opposite of protection.

As we’re seeing in Yemen and Somalia, the US sporadically killing people through drones is not doing anyone a favor, especially themselves”.

The US government had also devotedly supported the corrupt Arab regimes that were overturned during the Arab uprisings.

By learning about both sides, people can play a vital role in finally ending these blood-steeped political battles, and the attainment of peace and freedom can finally be realized.

The so called “War on Terror” has never been black and white, but the shades of gray have been swept under the rug to distort the truth and hide the other side of the story.