Is this girl in the picture a friendly neighbor, or a terrorist waiting to bomb everyone I love and subvert government and religion? According to Rudy Giuliani's new campaign commercial which began airing in Florida recently (thanks Muslimah Media Watch), people with brown skin -- especially those from the Middle East -- are "an enemy without borders," "a people perverted" and part of "the next crisis a moment away."
Compare those images and messages with a music video posted on Sociological Images about "Humanizing American Muslims" in which American Muslims share some of the things they want to say to the rest of the world, to show the commonalities in all of us.
Both of these videos have been making the blog rounds lately, as bigotry, hatred, fear and propaganda regarding Muslims and Islam continue to flourish. Videos like these provide a great opportunity to discuss important issues with students regarding the messages prevalent in Western media about people of the Middle East and Muslims, as well as stereotypes and propaganda.
Some of the comments made & questions asked by bloggers about Giuliani's video include:
"What really busts my brain about this is the images of women he uses. He uses a group of women, clad in white (this color usually associated with purity, goodness, etc.) who are singing. What is threatening about singing?!" (from Muslimah Media Watch)
"...the first clip is of a group of dark-haired men pumping their fists in the air. We don’t know where they are, what religion they are, what nationality they are, or why they’ve gathered and are pumping their fists in the first place. These men could easily be at a political rally in India or even Venezuela. Lumping them in with images of Osama bin Laden plays on Islamophobic and racist assumptions that all brown (hypothetically Muslim) men do when they gather together is make trouble." (from Racialicious)
"There is a shot of a group of children in fatigues, with one child cheering while the voiceover reminds us that “the next crisis is a moment away.” So, despite the fact that this child might actually be cheering for a soccer match, the commercial leads us to believe that he’s really cheering for the destruction of America and freedom." (from Racialicious)
Another similar video that provides material for discussion is "Stop the Clash of Civilizations" from Avaaz.org. It explores the commonalities of cultures (primarily American and Islamic) and promotes the power of people to enact positive change. What's especially interesting (and sad) are some of the incredibly hostile and hate-filled comments from the video's viewers.
There are a variety of examples available in the news and media to explore messages we receive about Muslims. If we want a more just, compassionate world, it's important to make use of them to spark critical thinking and empathy with students.
~ Marsha, Web Content/Community Manager