Monthly Archives: September 2012

Reflection post

Due to the growing media influence, racism has evolved from “black and white” in the past to the multi-cultural issue it is now. Racism is a global issue faced by many countries. It is identified as a serious issue that can cause social unrest and moral panic in society. Racism also cause hate-crimes such as murder or racial harassment.

In the last few posts, we have looked into the growing influence that media possesses and also the issues on racism that grew along. We identified stereotyping as one of the main contributing factor to racism and have provided evidence to support the theory that media promotes racism by influencing the audience’s stereotype on different groups of people. This post will provide an insight on the role of media in contributing to the growing racism trend and the various theories that are involved.

Along with the improvement in the quality of life, access to different types of media is no longer limited to the rich and powerful. Mass media now serves as a convenient and important platform for people to gain knowledge and share information with the world.  However this convenience also has its disadvantages as people grew to heavily rely on media to gain new knowledge and information, so much to an extend it shape their mentalities and perceptions. As discussed in the second post, we explore how the abuse of Media Representation Theory in the media can influence the audience’s stereotype towards others. An example would be the reports on black people since the slave trade, how they portray black people and constantly associate them with terms like crime, drugs, rape and animalism (Diawara, 1993). This tend to leave a negative impression of the certain group in the audience’s mind and they are more likely to associate their future experiences based on their impression. Cultivation Theory is also being practiced in the third post, where we mentioned that racism is normalized. As the theory explains that media provide their audience a common perception and value based on what is portrayed on the TV, it could be due to the audiences constant exposure to racist context in everyday’s media contact thus they tend to get the impression that racism is normal.

As mentioned in the fourth post, we examined how the Agenda Setting Theory can have negative impact when the media is bias in being selective on reporting issues and how they tend to amplify certain issues or distort events because of various factors such as political reasons or for monetary benefit. There is also a higher tendency for headlines stories with racial dimensions as it usually creates much more commotion within the community demanding justice. An example from our own country would be the infamous ‘curry incident’ whereby the news reported that a new family from China demanded their Indian neighbors to stop cooking curry as they could not stand the smell of it. The report only state that the new family from China had to resort to involving the Mediation centre to demand that their Singaporean Indian neighbors not to cook curry when they are home, however the media didn’t report that the mediation was voluntary and that decision was agreed on between both parties and not imposed by the mediator. It is only made known when Minister for Law K Shanmugam came forward to clarify the issue. The report created a huge outrage from the local community with many Singaporeans coming out to declare their support by initiating a “Cook A Pot of Curry!” event on Facebook. This report also put the family from China in a negative light and further worsen the situation of Xenophobia in Singapore.

There is no denying that the media is to blame largely for promoting racism, there are also other contributing factors that further instill and sustain racism in the societies. One factor that was suggested that causes racism is our perceptual illusion. We tend to categorize things, and it is a form of stereotyping when we group things together. For example when 100 oranges are placed in front of you, you know there will definitely be some variation in the hues of the colors but you won’t notice it in a significant way as you will subconsciously group all the hues into the same category: ‘orange’. When a new color is introduced, a red apple for this example, that color is uncategorized under ‘orange’ therefore we notice the difference. These illusions lead to have the false impression that other races are different when compared with ourselves. Last but not least, I would like to share my opinion and express that racism is a personal thing whereby it depends on our perception of others. We have a choice to learn more and have a clearer understanding about a certain ethnic group instead of believing everything that the media report states them to be. It is essential to be aware of the threat that the negative media holds and everyone can do their part to contribute towards a more harmonious society.

Word Count: 839


Shanmugam clarifies “curry case”

Is Racism Due To Perceptual Illusions?



Islamophobia is a prominent example of moral panic. It is the dread or hatred of Islam and therefore, to the fear and dislike of all Muslims (Quraishi, 2005). There has been a significant growth in Islamophobia due to the increase of media reports portraying Muslims and Arabs in negative light after the September 11th attack.

A cartoonist’s view on Islamphobia in the modern society

Islamophobia has always been problematic in the lives of many Muslims. Through the media ,its toxic nature has also spread to the public domain as well . It is quite evident that the Western media has and continues to negatively portray Muslims and Arabs in both the news media and film. According to El-Farra (1996), many newspapers make liberal use of terms such as fanatics and extremists, in addition to the term ‘terrorists’ to describe individuals from the Middle East. In 1995 when the Oklahoma City bombings occurred, many early reports also suggested it was the work of Muslim terrorists, thereby reinforcing the notion of Muslims as anti-American criminals. In addition to the explicit discriminatory attitudes being expressed freely about Muslims in the news media, there has been much concern regarding a similar phenomenon in film. Shaheen (2003) has extensively studied stereotypes pertaining to Arabs in film. He describes how many of the films depicts, “Arabs are brute murderers, sleazy rapists, religious fanatics, oil-rich dimwits, and abusers of women” (p. 172).

Examples of Anti-Muslims cartoons.

After the September 11th attacks in which 15 of the 19 hijackers were of Saudi Arabian origin and all were of Muslim faith, Arabs and Muslims was subjected to increased scrutiny and racial profiling at airports. Many of the Muslims and Arabs have also complained of being detained without explanation and was made to undergo hours of questioning and even arrest without cause.

Immigration authorities from the US also initiated a program and gathered around 83,000 young men from Muslim countries and subject them to a series of questioning, and collection of their fingerprint, photographs. More than 14,000 of the men were deported and forced to leave their families as most of them were charged for minor immigration violations.

Media was used to further reinforce the islam moral panic issue in the case when Fox News radio host Mike Gallagher suggested that airports have a dedicated “Muslims Only” line in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, stating “It’s time to have a Muslims check-point line in America’s airports and have Muslims be scrutinized. You better believe it, it’s time.”

In summary, the media should provide an un-bias view when reporting. The Agenda Setting Theory and Media Representation Theory has been greatly abused especially in regards to Islam and Muslims. They are deprived of their basic rights and this affects lives of those innocent people when their image has been tarnished unjustly.

Word count: 460


Stoking racism after 9/11

The Silenced Victims of 9/11:Part I

Anti-Islam Cartoons